An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘editing’

Introducing Literary Agent Sherna Khambatta

Today’s interview is another international one, with a literary agent based in India. Here Sherna Khambatta discusses her role in the industry and the books and publishing landscape in her country.
SKLA Profhimalaya
Please introduce yourself and give a brief overview of your career.

I started the Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency in 2007 after gaining a Msc. in Publishing. The publishing system in India at that time didn’t have many agents and I thought it would be a good way to bring in a certain amount of structure into the industry and help authors get their work sold.
 

What were some of the challenges in doing so?
In understanding how the system worked/ works. The main challenge in India is distribution / visibility of books and marketing so for me, once the book has been published, that’s more of a challenge than getting a book sold.

Your website says “Literary agents are a new concept in Indian publishing.” How has the system worked previously and what do you feel your company brings to the indian publishing landscape?

There are a very few agents in India still, some publishers such as Hachette India now only work through agents so I think in a miniscule way we’ve been able to bring in some structure into the system. Previously authors could directly send in work to publishers by mail and now by email.
 

In what ways do you work as the liaison between the author and publisher?

I negotiate the contract, help out in editing the book, and if there are any issues whilst the publisher edits the work then I step in sometimes as a moderator between the two. I also help out in social media marketing, making sure the books are in store, sending out media copies, arranging interviews, organising events/book signings and with Literary festivals.
 

What is particularly exciting you about Indian publishing right now?

I think India is a country ever changing and there are so many stories to be told and so many individuals with a lot of talent so it’s always exciting!

How many submissions do you receive a month on average and what is it that you look for in a manuscript?

I receive about 70-100 manuscripts a week on average. I prefer working with non-fiction as I believe that no two people have the same experience and so that’s very interesting for me to see something written with a different perspective. I’m in search of well written narratives which I feel should be shared.
 

What’s been your biggest success so far?

I’m very proud to have worked on the newest book that we’ve released –  Himalaya Bound by Michael Benanav –  on a tribe in the Himalayas. It’s published by HarperCollins India and has been a very fulfilling experience.
 
The book The Nanologues by Vanessa Able, published by Hachette India, has had its rights sold in the UK & US by the publisher Nicholas Brealey and re-named ‘Never Mind The Bullocks.’ I feel this has been one of my biggest success stories so far.
You can follow Sherna on Twitter @ShernaKhambatta
Find out more about her company here: http://www.shernakhambatta.com/
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Introducing Publisher, Author, Editor and Blogger Samantha March

Today’s interview is with a woman who completely blew me away when I interviewed her. Her motivation, efforts and work ethic are really to be admired, I don’t know how does it all. Her experience in publishing is vast, and she spends her days editing, writing, blogging, publishing, and proofreading – my dream career! Here she explains how she pulls it all off…

Samantha March, editor, blogger, author, publisher.

Samantha March, editor, blogger, author, publisher.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself and all the different projects you work on.

Oh, where to begin! Maybe chronologically? I started Chick Lit Plus in 2009, a book and lifestyle blog. I was hoping to gain some connections in the publishing industry as I had high hopes of publishing a book, and I also simply enjoyed writing and giving my feedback and thoughts on a variety of topics. From there, I did succeed in becoming a published author. My first novel, Destined To Fail¸ released in 2011, and I also started my publishing company, Marching Ink, at the same time. I have since published two more novels, The Green Ticket and A Questionable Friendship, and Marching Ink has ten titles total between myself and four other authors.

Let’s see…somewhere in between all of that I started CLP Blog Tours, a blog tour company. I love being able to connect authors and bloggers and readers, and the first tour was ran in 2011, and I love that I am still able to do something I love so much.

I am also a freelance editor, offer manuscript critiques and other promotional services via Chick Lit Plus. I work in marketing for Booktrope Publishing, and I also have an Instagram yoga page with my best friend, The Cheeky Chicks. But for my most important roles, I am a wife to my husband of almost two years and a puppy mom to our adorable Vizsla, Aries.

Tours are a great way to help increase exposure, make a connection with book bloggers, get more reviews for your book, and get more social media presence.

How did The Cheeky Chicks come about? How much success have you had since you started?

Oh, The Cheeky Chicks! My friend Holly and I had been trying to think of something fun to do for months before we decided on joining the Instagram craze. We actually started talking about fitness and beauty, two things we really love, but once we started we quickly fell in love with all things yoga and decided to dedicate our page to showing our daily practice and progress. We started in September and we’ve had an absolute blast. It’s fun, it’s good for our health, we’re learning new things, but we get to do it all together, which really is the best. As friends get older and get married and get new jobs, etc, sometimes friendships can slowly fizzle out or not be as strong as they once were, and this gives us another reason to talk pretty much throughout the day and see each other often for practice 🙂

How did you get into publishing? In what area of publishing do you work as an editor?

I first got into publishing when I released my first novel, and I also bought the rights to my own LLC, Marching Ink. My goal was to maybe one day publish for other authors too. Cat Lavoie was an editing client of mine, and I fell absolutely in love with her debut novel, Breaking the Rules. I put it out there to her that I was brand new but I felt passionately about her book and would love to publish for her, and she said yes! She also has published Zoey & The Moment of Zen with Marching Ink, and I’ve been so fortunate to meet her in person twice!

I do freelance editing with Chick Lit Plus, offering my services through the website. I also do proofreading and manuscript critiques!

You’re an author – tell me a little bit about your work and your journey into becoming an author.

I was nine years old when I knew I wanted to be an author. I always loved reading and wrote my own stories for years, and even though I still had the dream when I was in high school, I thought being an author was not very achievable. I told myself to get a “real” degree and if I still wanted to purse writing after graduation, I could. Well, one year prior to receiving my Bachelors degree in Business, I started writing Destined to Fail. Two years after graduation, it was published 🙂

With so many successful projects going on, how do you manage your time effectively? (I know I find maintaining a blog alongside a full-time job challenging, let alone working out and hosting a number of social media channels!)

It’s hard. Time management is by far the most challenging part of my day. I have myself to think about, but then my Marching Ink authors, my Booktrope authors, my blog tour clients, my editing clients. I need to be reading for book reviews and writing blog posts and keeping my social media up to date. It’s all me, I have no virtual assistant or anyone else helping me out with my social media feed, though I do have a team of reviewers with CLP and they totally rock. Little things I do to try to help is make lists and don’t turn the TV on while I work. No really! But my lists are a huge help. I have so many to-do lists and calendars it’s comical, but they really help keep me on track and not miss a deadline or special project. I also have my own office in my house, so I don’t work on my couch with my laptop on my lap with E! turned on. I have specific hours (that I make myself, yes, but I hold myself to them) and do regular things like give myself a lunch break and only a lunch break during the day. I try to remember this is my full-time job, and I need to treat it like that, not like a hobby. That really, truly helps me. And I love what I do 🙂

clp button

What work is involved in organising blog tours? What are benefits of blog tours?

When booking a tour, there are several packages to choose from. Authors can select tours with only reviews, release day blitz tours, tours with interviews and guest blogs, etc. I try to have a little of everything in there, because each individual case is different. My part is getting book bloggers interested in joining the tour, which means sharing a post on their blog on a particular day. Tours are a great way to help increase exposure, make a connection with book bloggers, get more reviews for your book, and get more social media presence. CLP Blog Tours sets up a tour page for each tour and promotes it even before the tour starts, and tweets 2-4 times in a day on each specific tour.

Which part of your vast career and experiences do you find the most rewarding?

Oh boy. I love making connections with readers and other authors. I think it’s really rewarding with blog tours to help authors gain that connection as well, because these are really so beneficial in our line of work. I love being able to meet someone online, and after months of chatting and finding all these bookish things we have in common, be able to call them my friend. I have met several authors and other bloggers at book events through the years, and that is probably my favorite part. It’s amazing what the internet gave us, truly.

I have met several authors and other bloggers at book events through the years, and that is probably my favorite part.

What would you say is the most effective way to market your book blog?

I think social media is huge. No doubt. Daily content is really big too. I have at minimum one new post a day on CLP, but more like 2-3.

Do you like to read other genres?

I do! I love a good mystery or supernatural book – those are probably my next favorites 🙂 And I would love to try a supernatural!

A Questionable Friendship, Samantha March's novel.

Happy Publication Day, Samantha!

Today is the publication date for Twenty-Something: A Collection, published by Marching Ink! The first collection from Marching Ink features three full-length novels in Twenty-Something. From the good girl that is tired of playing by the rules in the new adult novel from Laura Chapman, to the friendship between two women that isn’t what is seems in the women’s fiction novel from Samantha March, and then the loveable Roxy that will give us plenty of laughs and touching moments in the chick lit novel from Cat Lavoie. While all characters are indeed Twenty-Something, we believe this collection can be enjoyed by readers in a variety of ages.

20%BlogTours

Samantha’s blog tour company CLP currently has an offer of 20% off blog tours until 30 April! Check out http://www.clpblogtours.com/ for more information.

Connect with Samantha!
http://www.samanthamarch.com/

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Twitter
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Chick Lit Plus Links
http://chicklitplus.com/
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Buy A Questionable Friendship:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble – eBook

Introducing Red Button Publishing

I am extremely excited to share with you all my interview with Caroline of independent publishing house Red Button Publishing. She has kindly taken time from her busy schedule to share with us insights into the independent publishing world, information about their upcoming titles and a wealth of knowledge and experience gained over her years working in the publishing industry…

Caroline Goldsmith, one of the lovely ladies behind Red Button Publishing

A shelfie from Caroline Goldsmith, one of the lovely ladies behind Red Button Publishing

Please introduce our readers to yourself and to Karen Ings. What are your backgrounds and career journeys?

I met Karen nearly fifteen years ago when I started in my first job in publishing at Aurum Press where she was Commissioning Editor. We’ve been close friends ever since. We both moved through various roles over the years. Karen curated her list at Aurum Press for ten years before moving into a freelance role and working for companies like Penguin, Macmillan and Quercus. I worked my way through various departments including sales, rights, marketing and publicity for companies like Tate Publishing and finally DK where I worked in International Sales.

Tell us about Red Button Publishing. How and when did the company begin?

One of our regular conversations, usually over a glass of wine, over the years has been about how we would run our own publishing house. In 2012, Karen was freelancing and I was in the process of leaving my job in International Sales and moving from London to the countryside. We had both taken a keen interest in how digital technology was changing our industry and we saw opportunity. We had little funding but we had nearly three decades worth of experience between us and a lot of energy. We drafted a plan for Red Button over lunch one hot August day and decided on a name the following day. Red Button Publishing was born.

The big guys still rule the roost, but this is really the age of the independents.

What kind of literature do you focus on? How successful have you been so far?

Our aim has always been to give a voice to really outstanding fiction that might be overlooked by the mainstream. This idea was encapsulated in our first publication, The Human Script by Johnny Rich, a poignant story of a doomed love affair and also a mind expanding journey through philosophy, science, art and religion. Johnny had written the novel over a decade ago whilst on the acclaimed Creative Writing MA course at the University of East Anglia. It had been heaped with praise by writers like Ian McEwan and Tom McCarthy and was signed up by one of the top London agents. The book continued to meet with praise from commissioning editors at the major publishers but never quite made it past the commercially minded sales departments. As a sales person, I knew that a lot of good writing was deemed too risky and never saw the light of day. This was what had happened to The Human Script. We read it, we loved it and we published it in April 2013 as an ebook. It’s again been met with almost universal praise from people who’ve read it and we hope that when we publish it as a paperback later this year it will be discovered by even more readers.

Since then we’ve published three more titles and they’re all very different. The Anchoress by Paul Blaney is an exquisite novella about Maggie, a woman who locks herself in her wardrobe. As the story progresses you find out why Maggie has really decided to escape the world. It’s a very moving story about memory, childhood, grief and acceptance.

We followed this with Home by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, a powerful and dark novel about a caretaker at an old people’s home who discovers something horribly disturbing about his workplace. It’s a compelling and chilling novel that asks questions about how we treat our elderly and what it means to be forgotten.

And then we published Mockstars by Christopher Russell which is a comic, coming-of-age novel best summed up by author Alex Marsh as “The Inbetweeners meets Spinal Tap’. It’s a brilliantly funny story about a group of friends trying to make it as a band, based in part on Christopher’s own tour diaries with his rock band.

Red Button Publishing's upcoming paperbacks.

Red Button Publishing’s upcoming paperbacks.

Your website states that you publish ‘fantastic fiction.’ What, for you, constitutes fantastic fiction?

We’ve often said that we’re looking for fiction that really jumps off the page, stories that are just crying out to be published. When we read a submission we’re looking for something that we would recommend to others. We both have to be completely on board to make it work. We have similar tastes in many ways but we also differ. I am a sucker for a horror story and Karen has still never quite understood my distaste for Jane Austen. We challenge each other and that’s a good thing for the list. I think it means that the books we publish are really special.

What has been the most rewarding part of the Red Button Publishing journey? Just how difficult (or indeed easy!) has it been carving a way for yourself as an independent publishing company when the competition in publishing is so large and dominating?

It’s always going to be hard for smaller companies to make their voices heard. We don’t have the marketing budgets that we were used to working with in our previous publishing lives. I think there’s an appetite for something a bit different though. People seem to like what we’re trying to do and we’ve been really overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from readers and publishing colleagues. The big guys still rule the roost, but this is really the age of the independents. We really take inspiration from other independents like Galley Beggar Press, Salt and And Other Stories who are out there doing great things for fiction.

Writers are very much front and centre of the publishing industry today, in a way that they haven’t been before.

What upcoming titles (that you’re allowed to mention!) are you really excited about?

Currently we’re working on bringing all four Red Button titles out as paperbacks. The Anchoress and Home will be published in paper on April 9th. The Human Script and Mockstars will follow over the summer. We’re big advocates of digital reading but the paperback remains a strong format for fiction and we want our books to reach as many readers as possible. We’ve also got another book from Paul Blaney lined up later in the year. It’s another challenging piece of writing that will raise questions about parenthood and biology.

Do you find that you receive a lot of submissions? If so, why do you think more and more people are looking to get published?

We read every submission that comes into our inbox so yes, it sometimes feels that we do receive a lot. I don’t think that there are more people looking to get published than before though. I just think that there are more options open to writers than there ever have been. They are very much front and centre of the publishing industry today, in a way that they haven’t been before.

You also offer consultancy services. How successful has this been?

Writers have a lot more choice in how they publish their work these days. Essentially you don’t need a publisher to get your work out there. We’re grateful that some writers still prefer to work with a publishing team but we’re also aware that many writers prefer to publish independently. But good publishing still requires work, it’s not, as some commentators have suggested ‘simply pressing a button’. And that’s where we can come in. We offer a range of services including editorial, typesetting, ebook formatting, book cover design as well as guidance through the publishing platforms. We’ve worked with some lovely writers and it’s always a good feeling to know you’re helping someone achieve their dream.

The online book community is huge and if you’re not engaged with it you’re missing out.

What do you feel are the most important skills needed for independent publishers who do all of the work for their companies themselves?

Adaptability. Things never stay the same in any industry but the pace of change in publishing has really accelerated in recent years. I have learned more in the past five years than at any other time in my career. You have to keep taking on new ideas, learning new skills, challenging your preconceptions and trying new things.

And lastly, how important is having an online presence for publishers today and why?

Hugely important. It’s not just about book discoverability either, it’s about being part of the publishing dialogue. 

Red Button floating logo

Discover Red Button Publishing online:
Twitter @RedButtonPubs
Caroline and Karen are also on Twitter (@goldcaro and @ladykarenza respectively)

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