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Editor Interview: Etopia Press

This interview is provided for archival purposes. The listing is not currently active.

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

A: Erotic & Trad. Romance

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

A: I admire any publisher who's managed to remain agile and adapt to the vast changes in today's publishing landscape--without sacrificing quality.

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

A: I personally read lots of genres, so my "fav" list is pretty far-reaching. I'm currently on a thriller kick and can't get enough Lisa Gardner.

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

A: I've been an agented author, an editor, and an award-winning cover artist going back nearly ten years, and have seen what works and what hasn't, and what's working and what's not working in today's new publishing environment. I personally oversee the marketing, editorial, and art departments to ensure that our staff constantly gives our authors the competitive advantage they need to succeed. Just because a cover is pretty, doesn't mean it will lead the right reader to the book. Just because an editor makes an author feel warm and fuzzy, doesn't mean she's helped the author showcase what makes the book special to readers. Just because a certain kind of promo worked last year, doesn't mean it will work this year. Staying on top of this is what dives us, and it's why we've remained profitable and growing when so many other digital publishers--even some of the large ones--have downsized or gone under.

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

A: Know the difference between traditional New York print publishing and the digital publishing industry, and decide before you submit which business model you're most comfortable with. No amount of "negotiating" is going to get you a New-York-type contract from a digital publisher--it's just not the same animal. And if you expect something other than what you get, you'll be disappointed. So if you don't read digital books yourself and really just want to hold that print book in your hands, digital wont' make you happy. Keep submitting to agents and work on getting that New York contract. Second, know the difference between romance and general fiction, and between erotic romance and porn. We publish erotic romance and mainstream romance, and not general fiction or porn. We can generally tell the difference from the first couple of paragraphs. You also need to understand that your adoring fans are going to want to interact with you one-on-one, so even though we do quite a bit of paid advertising for our authors, it doesn't replace your direct interactions with readers through blogs and social media. So if you don't have a blog and social media presence in place already, the time to get that set up is before you submit so you can overcome any shyness about tooting your own horn before your book comes out. Other than that, write the best book you can. Read lots of books (On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels is a good one. Avoid self-published titles as there's no "vetting" process to ensure their advice is any good). Read "how to self-edit" books (Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King is a good one, and again, stick to books published by actual publishers) . Read lots of books in the specific genre and subgenre you write in to know what's popular and has good market potential, and what doesn't, and what's been done to death. Then read our submission guidelines posted on our Web site and send us your best work!

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: The ideal submission: 1. follows our submission guidelines so our staff can process it and get it into the hands of the editor most likely to enjoy it; 2. shows me the author understands romance and/or erotic romance genres and subgenres, and knows what genres they've written in; 3. shows me the author's blog and social media, so I know they're going to be great at interacting with their readers and providing the kind of experience those readers are looking for; and 4. grabs me from the opening of chapter one. It needs to have a strong opening hook, a clearly defined place and setting, and a character with something to lose--and then we need to see the romantic love interest and fall madly in love with him--just in time to find that big conflict that's going to make it all seem impossible... so that I have to keep reading to find out how it ends.

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

A: They don't follow guidelines. These are posted on our Web site. We NEED to see the title, name, contact information, word count and genre, etc. etc. on the top left corner of the manuscript, the synopsis, and the body of the email that serves as the cover letter.

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

A: We don't need a fancy cover letter with a torturously crafted blurb or query. We read all submissions, anyway, so trying to impress us at the cover letter stage isn't important. What impresses us more is whether you followed our submission guidelines, and included your title, pen name, etc. and other contact information in the top left corner of the email body as instructed. As for publication credits, you don't have to be previously published--we love discovering talented new authors! It's personally what I live for, and I've launched some very successful writers. But if you are previously published, we'd like to see your list of published books. And we definitely want to know about your online/social media presence--we do go looking those up! Readers love authors who interact with them online... have I mentioned that yet? ;-)

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

A: I've been doing this for so long that in most cases, I can tell by the first page or two whether or not a book is going to be rejected. Generally this will be because the prose isn't polished enough, or because I can tell straight off that it's not going to be a romance. If I make it through the first few pages and I've found a strong opening hook, the identifiable pieces of an opening that need to be present, and a half-decent author voice that demonstrates the basics of grammar, spelling, style, correct dialogue mechanics, etc.--and that je ne sais quoi that makes an author's voice appealing--then I'll flip to the synopsis and read through it to see if the story structure is basically there. If it is, I'll go back and keep reading. If not, then I stop there. If I keep reading, and I think I'm leaning toward an acceptance, I'll read the whole book to make sure it has a satisfying conclusion. I know what kinds of things can be corrected easily in edits, and what can't--both with the prose and with the bigger picture story elements--and that's what makes the difference between a publishable book and one that's not. And those things might be different for every publisher.

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

A: We check out the author's online presence and previous publishing credits, if they have any. We search to make sure the book wasn't previously or currently self-published (we don't re-publish any work that has been previously or currently self-published) or isn't fan fiction (we don't publish that either). We try to make sure the book isn't out there already by someone else. We research the claims the author makes on their cover letter--we're pretty internet savvy, so we know the difference between a legitimate "best selling author" and those who participate in those "hundred-stories-for-99-cents" collections people put out there on Amazon and then try to convince us they're "USA Today Best Selling Authors" (which reeks of snake oil...). Basically, we want a strong, solid book, by an author who's willing to interact with their readers to build a following in conjunction with the marketing we do on this end. When all those planets align, boom, we have a contract offer.

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

A: I wear lots of hats as publisher, and as executive editor I do a lot more than just read submissions. So no two days are ever alike! But on the days I do read submissions, it's not really rocket science. I look up the author online, then I start reading. And if it keeps me interested, I keep reading until I send a contract. If it breaks down at any time, then the book is rejected. It's not really anything magical--and there's no magic formula, other than have a good internet presence, be sure you know what you're writing, read enough craft books so you know what goals and conflicts and opening hooks and info dumps and saggy middles are, and then do them, or get rid of them, depending. Then submit per the publisher's guidelines. If you do all that, the odds are greatly in your favor of getting a contract. Remember--we're LOOKING for books to publish! We WANT to publish your book. Just don't make it impossible for us to do that, and it's easier than you might expect! ;-)

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

A: There's an old saying from my corporate days: adapt or die. 'Nuf said. ;-)