Tell us a little bit about your press and how you came to be?
I should first state that we’re an entirely new model for the publishing industry, born out of the eBook revolution. For two stubborn years, during a severe economic downturn, I clung to the hope that I’d find an agent and get my book published through traditional avenues. I kept getting agent responses that said things like, “Your piece is intriguing and well-written, but I’m afraid we already have a full stable of thriller writers.” Or some other version of that; I had a good piece… and it didn’t matter.
As I watched the self-publishing eBook boom unfold, and read of more and more success stories, all the while hearing of horrors unfolding in the traditional publishing business, I concluded that putting my novel out as an eBook made sense. Except that everyone else, it seemed, had reached the same conclusion. The market was rapidly flooding with self-published authors, for whom certain time-tested stigmas remained.
So how does one rise above all that white noise? How does one get noticed, drive sales momentum, and build a solid reputation? How does one get to that point where he can actually make a living as a writer? The answers to those questions led to the idea of Evolved Publishing. I contacted a friend, author and editing client D.T. Conklin, whom I thought would find the idea intriguing. Turns out he was of like mind, and together we took the leap.
Evolved Publishing is a publisher, yes, but not in the traditional sense. You might say we function as an authors’ cooperative, with a bit more thrown in. The central theme is simple: it’s all about the author. The author and her work stand at the heart of the publishing industry, something the traditional business model never fully acknowledged. We built our author-centric model guided by that simple truth.
Yet we’re guided by a second truth: quality matters. Professionals will ultimately survive and thrive in a marketplace where, sadly, most will flounder as amateurs. Although our authors may not be professionals, in the accepted sense of that word, when they come to us, we will help them to adopt and employ the proven methods for achieving that status.
Are you open to publishing a wide variety of writing styles, or is there a specific style/voice you are looking for?
This is a tough question. The short answer would be, “Yes, we’re open to all styles.” However, so many authors today attempt to pass-off bad writing as a stylistic choice. We reject that notion. The rules of writing, proven through centuries of reader testing, exist for a reason. After all, what is language but a set of rules by which we’re able to communicate?
So we believe in following the rules… right up to that point where it makes sense to violate them. When an author breaks the rules, one of two things happens: it provides an effective punch, because the author has picked just the right, rare spot to employ it; or the entire piece is a mess because the author overuses those tools.
It’s probably fair to say that, given our belief in quality, proper writing, we tend toward the literary style. However, we try not to take a cookie-cutter approach. Every genre is different, and every author brings a unique voice to the table. That makes it a challenge for us as editors, but hey, that’s part of the fun.
How do you discover new writers? Do you take recommendations from authors or contacts you are already friendly with, or do they tend to be blind submissions?
Our initial authors were clients of my freelance editing service; specifically, those few in whose work I saw real promise and a strong potential market. As we’re still in the start-up phase (our first eBook releases won’t be until October of this year), we’re working to attract additional authors now.
As of August 15, 2011, we’ve only been open for business for about 7 weeks, so it’s early. We have six authors on board, and we’re presently engaged in active discussions with four potential authors. One of those is a referral, and the other three discovered us through our various online efforts to announce Evolved Publishing. We’ve had several other inquiries that, unfortunately, we had to decline—they just weren’t ready with their writing, at least not at the level we’re looking for.
I suspect that over the next several months, most of our author growth will occur through blind submissions. I also expect that many authors will take a wait-and-see approach, holding off until they see our initial releases. We’ve heard this from several authors who are intrigued by our model, but who want to see proof of delivery, as it were. I think they’re missing a great opportunity, but…. The fact that we now have a strong editorial team of 5 (website to be updated Tuesday night, August 16) should help attract new authors as well.
What is the most common mistake that authors make when querying that, in turn, causes you to lose interest in their work? (i.e., perhaps the way they wrote the query letter, a manuscript that is less than polished, etc.)
The most common culprits are spelling errors, terrible grammar (we make some allowances here, but there’s a limit), no real action in the first couple of pages (all description and setting, for example), mixed tense, garbled head-hopping narration or author intrusion, and dull, useless dialogue (Hi, how are you? I’m fine, how about you? Good, thanks, so what’s up? Oh, nothing much. – Yeesh! This is death to a story.).
We also shy away from authors who employ consistently weak prose: heavy reliance on SOB (state-of-being) verbs (was, were, is, are, etc.), and on other weak, inactive verbs (had, got, went, took, looked, etc.). We like strong, action-centric verbs that evoke a clear image in the reader’s mind. We also agree with Stephen King, who said, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” We avoid authors who live in passive voice. Finally, if a piece is all TELL and no SHOW, we pass.
In other words, we expect an author to have already engaged in the kind of due diligence that makes clear the he’s serious about his craft. We expect to edit the piece, but not to rewrite the entire thing. It’s easy to separate authors who have worked at being writers from those who haven’t. Sadly, too many occupy the second category.
A lot of writers submit to multiple presses at a time and are naturally anxious to hear your thoughts on their work. What is the protocol for an author to follow-up with a press about the status of their query? Is it appropriate to follow-up, or is this something that is off-putting?
Traditionally, most agents and publishers have considered this off-putting; just one more way the industry is broken, in my opinion. We take a different approach. We respect the author’s time and aspirations, and understand that she does not exist to support us, but that we exist to support her. I hope authors appreciate that refreshing attitude. I think they will.
Thus, if we haven’t responded to a submission within 3 weeks, you, Dear Author, should follow-up with us.
What do you take into consideration when you’re thinking of publishing an author’s book/novel/whatever? Is it the writing alone, or is it more than that?
We want a good story, well written, with fair market potential. That takes care of the piece.
Now, on to the author: we want someone who will devote himself to our philosophies of quality, teamwork, and tireless promotion of not just his own work, but the work of his teammates.
Since so many authors are going the self-publishing route, why would an author go with you?
Ours is a new model devoted to those who would otherwise self-publish. You might say that we offer them the chance to self-publish at a higher level. While it’s not technically true that they’ll “self-publish” with us, our model is closer to self-publishing than it is the old publishing model.
We offer those few extra services an author needs to maximize her chances of success, and we do so at a rate far, far below what traditional publishing houses and agents have taken. Again, it’s all about the author. In fact, we approach our business model not as publishers, but as fellow authors.
What can you do for them that they might not be able to do for themselves?
1) Provide quality editing. That’s a biggie. We function as a gatekeeper, one readers will come to depend on.
2) Provide professional cover art.
3) Provide beta-readers to help them iron out any problems with plot, characterization or setting.
4) Facilitate eBook file creation and upload.
5) Assure readers of high quality, professional work through the power and reputation of the Evolved Publishing name.
6) Provide a team of dedicated, like-minded individuals to increase their online footprint, to market their work, and to sell, sell, sell.
How do you feel about self-publishing and where it is headed?
It’s here to stay. The new paradigm shift puts control where it belonged all along—in the hands of the author. It will offer tremendous challenges, however. Self-publishing has languished under a hideous reputation for a long time, and—let’s just be honest about this—for good reason. Most self-published material has been… err… not very good.
For authors to rise above that stigma, they must act as professionals. Yes, you need quality editing and review. Yes, you need quality cover art. Yes, you need the help of others to market your book and gain the widest possible audience. Yes, you need an imprint that is synonymous with quality. (Note the focus on quality.)
That’s my opinion. I know many disagree, or perhaps they agree but think they can slip by on their own, whether out of concern for money or time. I fear they doom themselves to failure. The eBook markets are a jumbled, crowded mess. If you attempt to prosper in that hurricane as a single raindrop, you’re in for a tough slog.
And lastly, if you could publish any author in history (dead or still alive) who would you publish and why?
Mark Twain. The man offered an extraordinary mix of genius and wit. He could take you from horror and tears to hope and laughter in a flash. A rare bird.
~Learn more & connect~
Want to learn more about Evolved and it’s authors? Click on the links below and also check out my book review of FORBIDDEN MIND, written by Kimberly Kinrade, an Author with Evolved Publishing.
Twitter: http://twitter.com/?lang=en&logged_out=1#!/Lane_Diamond and http://twitter.com/?lang=en&logged_out=1#!/EvolvedPub