When some writers pursue publication, they only consider the large New York publishing houses. But the great news is that in addition to the “big boys,” the publishing world is home to a number of smaller presses and e-publishers. What does that mean to an aspiring writer? It means she must be savvy and research the best distribution option for her work. Today, Christi Barth joins us to talk one of those options—small print—and her publisher, Eternal Press. Christi, thank you for chatting with us about your publication experience!
Kelsey: Christi, could you give us an overview of Eternal Press?
Christi: They sell both print and ebooks through a variety of sites, such as Amazon and Fictionwise. Based in Canada, they were recently purchased by Damnation Books. They have a professional, great staff and a supportive group of authors.
Kelsey: As you know, “Sold! stories” keep unpubbed writers optimistic. Could you share how you sold to Eternal?
Christi: I’d been corresponding with them – submitted the full, and they said they liked it, but wanted to see one major revision, cutting out both scenes in a certain character’s POV. Painful? You bet, especially since one was a sex scene I’d slaved over. But I made the change (because at that point I was willing to do anything to get published!), and then sat on tenterhooks for a week. And to be fair, in hindsight they were completely correct. I had absolutely no business introducing a new POV ¾ of the way through the book. I guess editors do know what they’re doing!
We went to DC for Easter, and our hotel had computers in the lobby available to guests w/free WiFi. We came back from breakfast – I checked my email. Came back from the Air & Space museum – checked my email. My parents thought I was nuts, because I hadn’t told them what was going on (I didn’t want to jinx it). But finally at 5:00 the email came through (and yes, I squealed loudly enough to startle several other hotel guests passing through the lobby), and at dinner that night I got to share the good news! Followed promptly the next day with sheer panic when I opened the contract and discovered they wanted me to come up with a concept for the cover. Yikes!
Kelsey: What are some of the advantages to writing for a small press?
Christi: Oh, how I wish I had experience publishing in NY to be able to properly compare and contrast the two! I do know from a great workshop in my local RWA chapter that apparently small presses are much more willing to listen to/actually produce the cover art you request. Sure, I didn’t have an idea at first, but when I did, the heroine had the right color hair, the setting was right – they followed my idea to the letter.
The biggest advantage is that small presses are willing to take chances. That doesn’t mean they publish any old story that rolls in the door. There is still a high rejection rate. But small presses can work outside the trends. For example, in my upcoming release Act Like We’re In Love the hero is a movie star. Not off living the high life with caviar and starlets, but working in a small town dinner theatre. Nevertheless, at RWA Convention last year I had several agents and published authors tell me to stop writing it. They’d heard that because of the bad economy, nobody would publish a book glamorizing the excesses of a movie star lifestyle. Sure enough, once I started pitching it, I received quite a few rejections from agents who read the full and loved it, yet called it ‘unmarketable’. But happily, Eternal Press is willing to publish it.
Kelsey: How do Eternal’s distribution and marketing functions operate?
Christi: Ah, there’s the rub. This is the major challenge of writing for a small press. We do have a wonderful woman who works in promotion, but I’d say the majority of the marketing falls on the author. Every review I received, I went out there and snagged. I did the legwork to set up every blog interview.
Kelsey: What, if any, challenges have you encountered in writing for a small publisher?
Christi: Well, RWA still doesn’t consider me published after two sales, so that is an ongoing frustration. To me, the lack of a $1,000 advance doesn’t matter. People – people I’ve never met all across the country – are purchasing my book. Period. I’ve now worked with two great editors and cover artists at EP, and I can’t imagine anyone at a bigger publishing house being any more responsive or professional.
Kelsey: Do you see writing for a small press as only one part of a comprehensive career plan or can a writer sustain her career with a publisher like Eternal?
Christi: As with other smaller publishers such as Samhain and Ellora’s Cave, the erotica authors do very well on EP, and build up quite a following rather quickly. I think (Going out on a limb here – trying to be politically correct!) that if you can churn out a good story quickly, it is quite possible to sustain a career with a small press. I am grateful for the opportunities EP has given me. But don’t we all dream of the 25 city book tour with a limo and hordes of screaming fans? In the long term, I do view it as an important stepping stone to a New York publisher. .
Kelsey: Is there anything else you would like to share about writing for Eternal or your books?
Christi: My experience with them has been an invaluable tool, and helped me become a better author. And bottom line, my books are out there, brightening people’s days, which is all I ever wanted.
Thanks so much, Christi! RU crew, how many of you are published with smaller presses? Do you agree with Christi’s take on this part of the publishing landscape? Everyone, feel free to ask Christi questions as she’ll be popping in on and off today!
Stop by Wednesday when radio host Bruce Sallan discusses the state of gender affairs in today’s culture.
Bio: Christi Barth spent years performing in musicals, singing about love and giving people a happy ending in every performance. Then as a wedding planner she spent every day immersed in romance. Now she writes it! After winning several writing contests, she debuted her novel Carolina Heat to rave reviews. Her next single title romance Act Like We’re In Love comes out in October. She lives in Maryland with the absolutely best husband in the world (sorry ladies, it’s true!). Visit her at www.christibarth.com.
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