Editor Interview: Gypsy Shadow Publishing

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Most genres of eBooks

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: I admire other indie publishers like Gypsy Shadow Publishing, who strive for excellence in the written word. 4RV is one which comes to mind. I know they work very hard to produce professional books, working closely with their authors to produce the best possible work.

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: One of my favorite fiction authors (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) is Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, who has allowed us to publish eBook formats for 16 of her backlist titles as well as three never before published novels and two story collections never before published as collections. Working with her has been a joy and a privilege. We also like Steven King, Lawrence Block, and many other mystery, science fiction and fantasy authors. Ben Eden is one of our award-winning authors who writes engaging and suspenseful horror.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: We are a very small operation; our entire staff consists of two. We are both authors who love the written word ourselves, and try to treat each of our authors and their works individually. We want to give each one our personal attention and treat them as we would like to be treated.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: First off, read and re-read your manuscript to make sure it is free of typos and grammar errors. Manuscripts full of errors are often rejected, because we receive so many submissions. We don't have the time to walk you through English 101. We are looking for professional presentations we can polish to a fine level of excellence, and if your manuscript looks like it will take us weeks or months to edit, we will often reject in favor of one requiring less work.
Read and re-read our submission guidelines and follow those as exactly as you possibly can. Again, the time factor comes into play. Unless we feel your story is good enough to warrant the extra time required to re-format it to our specifications, not following our guidelines can get your story rejected.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission follows our guidelines exactly:
Send us a cover letter by email with the entire manuscript attached in Microsoft Word (.doc). Please title your email: Manuscript Submission: Your Manuscript Title (for example: Manuscript Submission: The Ides of March). In the cover letter, tempt us to read your manuscript with a short, vivid plot description. Please use only Times New Roman 12 point font without headers or footers in your manuscript. Also place the line spacing at 1.5 and indent to .3” throughout by Selecting All in Word and then selecting Paragraph and setting left margins at 0 with a .3” indent of the first line. Please proof your entire submission for errors before sending it. A sloppy submission does not impress us favorably toward reading or accepting your work! The cover letter should also include the genre of your work, the word count, your complete contact information (legal name and pen name, if any; physical address and telephone number). If you wish to submit a printed manuscript, please contact us BEFORE submitting.
We publish first novels if they are of professional quality. A literary agent is not required for submission. We WILL NOT consider simultaneously submitted manuscripts unless prior arrangements have been made with us directly BEFORE submission. Please query FIRST if you wish to submit to other publishers simultaneously.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: They do not read and follow the guidelines. Sometimes it appears potential writers have neglected the very important aspect of reading. An author who does not/cannot read and understand plain English is not as good of an author as one who constantly reads and devours the written word.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: We want to know full legal name, pen name, if different; complete mailing address, phone number, email; a brief bio; other published works, if any. Basically the brief bio lets us know a little about your writing style and attention to detail. If your manuscript is accepted, you will have a chance to tell more about yourself when we send out the information form for your page on our website and other sites where we upload.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: It depends on the length of the manuscript. On shorter works (10,000-17500 words) we generally read the entire piece. If it is a novel-length manuscript we read at least the first three chapters, unless the errors are so prominent we don't think we can work with it. If the manuscript interests us, we may skip through it and read excerpts throughout to get a better feel for the middle and end.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: Most of the time, acceptance is judged by the quality of the manuscript and the author's ability to follow instructions and willingness to work with us. Sometimes we find an author who isn't willing to allow us to do our job, and if we feel we can't work with the author we will reject the manuscript. We have even released the author after he/she has been contracted for reasons of the author's unwillingness to cooperate with us. This is rare, but it has happened.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: As I mentioned earlier, Gypsy Shadow is a two-woman operation. The editor (I am the production manager and the art director) has a full time outside job, so she is often extremely pressed for time. Luckily, she is a fast reader, because we receive between three and ten submissions per day, seven days a week. She spends a good deal of her time communicating with the authors and reading new submissions, as well as working with the authors on edits. She is also our bookkeeping department, which means she must spend a good deal of time keeping our records straight. An average day for her (and she does a great deal of this on the weekends) consists of approximately 15% communicating with new and existing authors; 50% is spent editing contracted works, while the other 35% goes to new submissions. When it is time to get out the quarterly reports, the ratio of other work changes a great deal, and about 50% of her time goes toward sorting through data while the other 50% is divided between the editor's "normal" routine.
As for my job, I generally try to work on a group of three to ten new books at a time. Once the editor has approved the manuscript for production, she sends it to me. I begin by sorting through the information forms for that group of books to see if I need any more information. Then I scour the stock photo site we use for possible images for cover art and send out samples to the authors for their opinions. Once I know which image each author prefers, I create a tentative cover image for each and send them out again. After the cover images are approved, I make the various sizes I will need for the different places where I post new books and promo and begin to process the manuscript for upload. I do three different .doc and .docx formats for upload (based on the different requirements of the various distributors) and two separate PDF documents. I send the final PDF I will be uploading to our own shopping cart to the author for approval and final errata. When the authors have approved the PDFs, I upload them to the shopping cart, create (or update) the individual author pages and list the new books on the appropriate pages on our website.
Next, I upload a .doc file to Smashwords, where it is converted into all the popular formats. I assign an eISBN to each on Smashwords and upload the finished PDF to all the distributors we use (those who accept PDF, that is); currently the distributors we upload directly to include: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books on Board, Bookstrand, Omnilit/All Romance. Generally the entire process for the current manuscripts I am processing takes between one and two weeks, depending on how long the manuscript is. Longer manuscripts take about a week each to process from start to finish.
I also spend approximately 30% of my daily activity answering questions and communicating with our authors, as well as issuing new contracts, processing contracts as they come back, and any other incidental tasks that arise.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: We believe the modern technologies are the wave of the future. Not to embrace them would be to risk falling behind the times and not being competitive in today's world. We still love printed books, and we know many readers are not ready to make the transition to all electronic media, so we also publish a limited number of print books. Our budget doesn't allow us to print all the novel-length manuscripts we receive, but many of our authors have asked to facilitate the printing of their books by paying the set-up costs with our POD printer (Ingram, the largest, and arguably the best, print on demand printer in the world) themselves.