Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Part 1 – Interview with Gaynor Stenson, Publisher









Considering this week's topic on our publishing progress, I thought it only fitting our guest be a publisher. So, today and tomorrow we will be talking to Gaynor Stenson of Vamplit Publishing. Here in part one, I asked her questions about her company. In part two, she'll provide valuable information for writers seeking publication, as well as provide her opinions on the future of publishing.

I met Gaynor early last year on one of the popular online writer's communities. In the beginning, I only knew her as a talented dark poet. As I got to know her online, I was intrigued when I found out she was venturing into the publishing industry. It was fun hearing about her progress throughout the year and being around for the launch of her business. I also enjoyed getting to know some of her authors and reading a few of the books she's published. I have to say, she has a keen eye for talented writers, one of which, Nicole Hadaway, author of Release, you'll meet next week as a guest blogger.

We are also giving away two of Vamplit Publishing's eBooks (your choice) next Wednesday. Leave a comment to enter the drawing in today and/or tomorrow's post. A comment on both days doubles your chances to win. Only one eBook per winner though. I will randomly draw two winner and announce them in my post next Wednesday.
 

Website & Submitions
www.vamplitpublishing.com

Purchase Books
www.ebookundead.com & Smashwords

Writers' Communities
vamplitpublishing.ning.com & vamplit.com

Networking
@vamplit


And now, without further ado...

You are a new publisher, Gaynor, releasing books for less than a year so far, how hard was it for you to start your company?

To start was actually easy. I placed my name and website address on a number of writers’ sites and ran a competition, it was that simple. I began to receive submissions almost immediately. That is really an oversimplification, as I spent the two years before researching and working on a business plan and have been proofreading and editing for years, but starting isn’t that difficult. Our vision for Vamplit Publishing is for quality, rather than quantity which we thought was more important in the beginning. I did start out with a couple of other editors prepared to come on board, but unfortunately they didn’t understand the genre and thought that copy editing was sufficient for our market. I have a passion for vampires and the fantasy genre and this is what drives our company.

How do you feel your publishing company stands up against the competition?

I think we stand up okay, on balance we are so very new that it is hard to make a comparison. We are interested in publishing more literary novels, Nicole Hadaway coined the phrase Literary Paranormal, and I like to think that will make us standout from the competition in the long run.

What is the best thing so far about having your own publishing company?

The writers are the best thing about having a publishing company; reading a manuscript and getting a tingle. Reading and editing it is a big responsibility and one we take very seriously. It doesn’t matter how many novels we have waiting to be edited, the manuscript we are working on at the time is the only thing that matters. I’m editing a novel at the moment and its turning out to be a longer project than anticipated, but at the end of the day we won’t drop our standards just because of time constraints.

What genre(s) do you publish and what made you decide to publish them?

Ours is a broad church as far as genre, we started out listing Gothic, horror, fantasy, vampire, sci-fi and crime. Now, thanks to Nicole who coined the phrase on Marrisa Farrar’s blog, we are going with Literary Paranormal. Really this answers another of your questions as well, because if I like a novel it doesn’t matter too much it doesn’t fit into a box. The best bit about being a publisher is that I can be flexible. Dear Diary, The Daily Thoughts of a Serial Killer by Raven Usher will be published later this year and I can’t say it fits into any particular category. If you imagine Hannibal Lecter and Bridget Jones having a love child, I think you get a fair picture of this novel. I absolutely loved this manuscript and when I read it, it gave me shivers.

Why I publish in this genre has nothing to do with the current boom. I discovered my love of the vampire as a literary icon at University ten years ago, when it was fairly unfashionable to be obsessed with vampire fiction and I can’t seem to let it go. I find it fascinating that we can chart changes in society from Bram Stoker’s Victorian morality to the heady days of 1970’s pre AIDS sexual freedoms and Anne Rice’s beautiful young male vampires. The title of my dissertation was The Vampire as Polymorphic Metaphor: A study of nineteenth-century and twentieth-century vampire fiction. Catchy isn’t it?

What would you say are your greatest challenges and frustrations as a small and new publishing company?

Challenges: working to very tight deadlines and the fact that what I do has a fluidity to it that can catch me unawares. When things change I have to make sure I change with them. Frustrations: well not the writers, they are the high point. I think the fact that I know where we are going and want to be there already may be the hardest thing. The next five years are going to be long and hard, and the vision I have for Vamplit Publishing makes me impatient.

How many books have you published so far and how many more books will you publish in 2010? How many are new authors and how many repeat authors?

Last year we published eight novels and this year we have eight scheduled for the first half of the year. I’d closed our submissions before Christmas when my reading pile went over 50 manuscripts. The only limit we have is on editing and we refuse to drop our standards on that point. Two people work on every single manuscript. I have the final say on which novels we publish and I do all the substantive editing. When I’ve finished and the author has worked through all the edits, another pair of eyes proofreads before publishing. We have decided on quality not quantity. Realistically I think this year we will probably publish ten to fifteen new authors, four sequels and two or three second novels from authors we have or are publishing. I’m personally looking forward to publishing Return by Nicole Hadaway and Timothy C. Hobbs is working on a really great project, but I can’t really say anything about that yet as its still in the planning stage. Jevron Mc Crory is working on a second vampire novel for us and as his style is very gritty and British, I have every expectation it will be as powerful as Swan Song. I’ve read the prologue to the new novel and without giving away too much it is very different to his first vampire novel, much darker, but with more humour.

What has been the proudest moment of your writing or publishing career so far?

When we finished editing The Pumpkin Seed and Tim sent through the dedication and thanked me and my partner for all our hard work. I loved The Pumpkin Seed from my first read through and the fact that Tim had put it away and almost forgotten he’d written it gave me a personal sense achievement. Andy Boylan on Tailsen Meets the Vampire reviewed it and loved it, he saw in the novel exactly what I did, Tim’s writing is amazing.

Tell us about some of your successes and the successes of your authors.

We are starting to get some really great reviews from independent reviewers. Our success has been to actually start this business and we are working hard to make it a smoother process. Finding a print model, that we believe will work, has been the highlight, so far, of 2010. We are at the moment preparing our first manuscript for paperback publication and Release by Nicole Hadaway and Dance on Fire will be available this summer from, ironically, ebookundead.com. Although I am totally committed to ebook publishing, I know many authors want to see their novel in print and also for readers who haven’t made the leap of faith into ebooks yet. To fit with our green ethos, we will be using print on demand. I read an article in which they said that one of the materials used in road making is unsold, shredded paperbacks. The world’s mad really.

Nicole Hadaway, author of Release, had her blog highlighted on Anne Rice’s Facebook page, on February 27, 1010,  and we both got a buzz out of that as we are both fans of Ms.Rice. Sales continue to grow, but as we only started selling in September of last year, we know and so do our authors that we have a long way to go before we all buy villas in Italy or the South of France.

What is the future vision of your publishing company as in where do you see your company in the next 5 to 10 years?

The six million dollar question! I have a dream and it’s probably the same as all publishers. I want to make Vamplit Publishing known for our quality of content. I have a vision where our sales ensure our writers get a fair deal and that we never change how we deal with those writers. I don’t see us growing so large that I can’t be reached by email and I hope that we keep the standards high and aren’t seduced by the darker side of publishing. I want to be able to believe in the novels we publish.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of setting up their own publishing company?

Only do it if you like twenty hour working days. Before Christmas last year we worked all night through from the 23rd to the 24th because we knew the writer had Christmas week off from his day job and we wanted to give him as much time with the edits as we could. I think like writers, publishers need to love what they do and if you think this is a way to make a quick buck, forget it.

Thanks to Gaynor for taking the time for today's interview questions. Don't forget to drop by tomorrow for the continuation of the interview and to comment to win a free eBook.

32 comments:

  1. This is a great interview with lots of great questions! It was really interesting to read about writing from the publishers point of view!

    I just love this blog! You guys have such great posts!

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  2. Very informative, Gaynor! Thanks for sharing your experiences and vision with us. It's exciting. Although I don't think I'll be able to drive again without thinking about the poor paperbacks that might have been sacrificed. I look forward to part 2.

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  3. This was very informative and lets the reader/writer have a better understanding just what an publisher goes through. I also like the fact that you show the love that you have for your work Gaynor and that your not just another publisher like the thousands that are out there, you have heart, which still being new at this myself, I don't think most publishers have. Oh, I'm sure they care, but not to the extent that you have. You are truly awesome, Vamplit will be the cream of the crop I have no doubt in that.

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  4. Just to clarify -- after my blog was featured on Ms. Rice's Facebook page, I did go out and buy a picture of an Italian Villa ;-) It graces the walls in my writing room as inspiration!

    Thank you for featuring Gaynor today: I can attest that she is great to work with and has an eye for spotting talent -- I'm currently reading Dance On Fire by fellow Vamplit author James Garcia, Jr. (on my iPhone) and I have trouble putting it down to do my own writing! I think her titles fill a niche for something a bit deeper, with layers of themes, yet at the same time paranormal. And if it hadn't been for her publishing my own novel, then Anne Rice never would have stopped by my blog!

    Nicole

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  5. Hi Wendy,
    Fantastic interview with a fantastic lady. I never tire of pushing and promoting all the hard work that Gaynor and you do. I believe whole heartedly in both of you and view it as a Blessing from God that I have had the good fortune to come into contact with you both. It both inspires me and gives me great hope in the furture of my own work to know that there are at least, two, wholly dedicated people in the world, hell bent on helping and advising authors, published, unpublished and new to the field, with so much passion. I cannot even begin to tell you how much the both of you have helped me and built up my confidence over the past year. As a result, I will remain your most humble and obedient servant, both of you. And can I just say a huge CONGRATULATIONS once again to the beautiful Nicole.
    Love Peace and Happiness to all three of you,
    God Bless,
    Your Servant,
    Randall

    PS/ As you probably know Wendy, I have started a Sister Site to Vamplit called "Dr. Terror's House of Horror". One of my dreams for the site was to have you as an Administrator on it and the reason I haven't contacted you over it was because I know how desperately busy you are with the promotion of "The Courier" and the running of Wicked Weriter's. I felt hard faced asking you, but the offer is always there should you decide. Like Gaynor and Nicole, I ask that you only contribute if and when and would not dream of putting any extra work upon the load you already carry.
    LOL
    Randall

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  6. Glad you enjoyed part 1, Harley. It's always great to have you drop by.

    So tell me, is this you on writing.com, http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/user_id/harleyhoney

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  7. Yeah! That was a bit of interesting info on paperbacks.

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  8. Well said, Searsha!! Gaynor has been an amazing inspiration to all of us over at http://vamplitpublishing.ning.com because of her huge heart and love of what she does.

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  9. LOL! Can't wait to read that one. I think I'll be reading Pumpkin Seed first though. Oh, and hurry up and finish Return. I can't wait to read it after getting a look at chapter 1 http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/51722-chapter-1-of-return-sequel-to-release

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  10. Mr. Stone, you are very talented and I repeat my hopes that you will soon write a guest post for us here. Please be my next guest blogger next month?!?!

    I love the name of the sister site! It's so vintage 1965 horror movieish like The Awful Dr. Orloff...LOL! But I don't think I've see Dr. Terror's House of Horror...hmmmm. I've joined. If anyone else is interested, it's at http://walpurgispublishing.ning.com.

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  11. Hi Harley
    Wendy is a great interviewer, isn't she. I must admit, if anyone else had asked, I probably would have said no. I think this site is great for writers, as Wendy and the others are very knowledgable and highly motivated about their writing. I hope you will come back and read part two as well and let me know what you think.

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  12. Hello Supriya

    We are very committed eco-publishers and use Hostpapa as our web hosts, largely due to their commitment to carbon neutral policy. Although we have had to compromise on some of our Green views to go into paperbacks, we are using a print-on-demand model to prevent wasteful printing of thousands of copies that may end up being pulped or buried beneath the highway. When you add the carbon footprint of manufacturing e-readers into the equation, the difference in carbon emissions between e-books and paperbacks is less clear cut. I think it's important to be a 'glass is half-full' type of person on the big issues. Oh and the paperbacks you're driving over are mainly romance; tall dark and handsome is now squished, compacted and covered in tar.

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  13. Hello Sue

    I do love what I do and it is kind of you to say I have heart. I would say that one of the worst mistakes I've made in this first year is over extending myself and not closing submissions earlier. I saw this as a defeat rather than the success it really was. My policy with editing is not to send a manuscript back to an author with a list of changes, but to actively work on the manuscript myself. This can be a very time consuming practice, and in future I may have to recommend that some manuscripts are edited before resubmission. I will be sad to do this, but the time involved in substantive editing is startling and as I like working with writers on a one to one basis, it is the part I personally get most satisfaction out of. Thank you for saying we'll be the cream of the crop and I will be happy if we can keep up the high standards in ethics that we have set ourselves from the beginning.

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  14. Hello Nicole

    I hope this is the same Italian villa I will be spending Christmas at in the 'near' future.
    I loved working with you on Release; it was in fact one of the highlights of 2009 for me. I remember, when I read the first three chapters, saying to my business partner that if we don't get this novel I will be gutted. Thankfully you took the leap of faith and we have been working together ever since. I hope that what will show when people read our novels is that I pick novels based wholly on quality and not just on my and others predictions of what is and will be hot in the market. That isn't to say we would turn our nose up at a commercial success, but by publishing novels with a more literary bent we will find our place.

    Finally the highlight of our weekend was Anne Rice, the mother of the modern vampire novel. I still can't believe she put the link to your blog on her Facebook page and blog. Even my friends, who look down their noses at genre fiction, were impressed with that.

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  15. Hello Randall

    Thank you again for all your kind words of support. For me, meeting new writers, like yourself, who are so passionate and prolific on their subject inspires me. Anyone who reads your writing knows that you have an encyclopeadic knowledge of paranormal fact and fiction. I'm often humbled by your commitment and know, if there is any justice in the world, you will make a great success of your writing career.

    Dr Terror is looking great and I love the site, I'm hoping to post there soon as I would like to write up my reviews for the Story Wings Paranormal Reading Challenge there. Thank you again for all your hard work on Vamplit Writers, you and Sue have done so much with the site this year.

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  16. Gregory Marshall SmithMarch 4, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    Yes, that is Harley's WDC address.

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  17. Gregory Marshall SmithMarch 4, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    An excellent interview and, wow, only Part 1? I can't until tomorrow. I might even skip the basketball tournaments for this.

    Thank you so much for guesting with us.

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  18. You need to take lessons from Nicole. Read the interview from your iPhone while editing your novel at the basketball tournament. Multitasking ;-)

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  19. Thank you for the insiteful interview, Wendy and Gaynor. I really appreciate the mentions (sorry about Christmas), and more importantly the reveal on how things go on the other side of publishing. I re-read the entire article for my wife and oldest son when they got home. I told my wife, after hearing about all of the hard work and the mentions of my novel, that I feel like mailing bottles of wine to everybody as a thank you. Perhaps I'll hand deliver them to Nicole's Villa! Wendy, Randall, are you comin'? LOL!
    Seriously, it was a very good interview, surprising me in a lot of ways. I'm looking forward to part two.
    --James.

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  20. [...] have a publisher join us. I did an interview the Gaynor Stenson of Vamplit Publishing in two parts. Part 1 was about her company and their approach to publishing. In Part 2 she provided valuable information [...]

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  21. No, thank you Gregory. As my daughter says 'it's been a bubble' although I will enjoy getting back to the anonymity of editing.

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  22. Hello James

    Christmas was fine James I edited and my husband wrapped presents, we might actually make it a tradition.

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  23. [...] Categories: C.J., Craft and Guest Blogger Tags: Nicole Hadaway Last week, Wendy posted an in-depth interview with the founder of VampLit Publishing, and today’s guest speaker ties in exceptionally [...]

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  24. Very informative and interesting interview!
    I love what Gaynor has to say about publishing: quality over quantity.
    I love gothic and I adore vampire fiction (especially if it is extremely dark, decadent and somewhat erotic)! I am working on something now as a matter of fact.
    What an interview, thank you ladies!

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  25. Hi Harley. You were one of the winners of the book give away. Sorry about such a late notice. You can go here to choose a book published by Gaynor http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=vamplit CONGRATS!!

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  26. Oops, hit the submit comment too soon. Email me at by.wjhoward at gmail dot com with your choice and I'll get you the ebook.

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  27. You're welcome Carole. What is it you're working on. Do you have website?

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  28. i have ablog which is more fun!
    above http://demonvampirehorror.blogspot.com/
    and
    http://www.carolegill.co.uk/

    I'm working on second draft of a really dark historical horror novel.
    themes: vampirism, madness, obsession and devil worship in 19th Century Yorkshire.
    it's like Jane Eyre/Wuthering Heights if Lovelace or Hannibal Lecter wrote it! honest!

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  29. Hi Carole

    Thank you for reading the interview and I'm just heading over now to read your website. I love you take on writing the vampire and can't wait to see what you do with the genre.

    Take care

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  30. so made my day, Gaynor! thank you ! extreme thanks!
    btw i put up an excerpt from my vampire novel on Vampit!

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  31. [...] tale. Or, take a step back and write my entire novel in 50 words, a little trick I learned from Gaynor Stenson, the publisher I interviewed here a couple weeks ago. Over at Vamplit Writers, she challenged us to [...]

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