This is the second post in a series I’m doing on small presses. Please follow this blog or my Twitter feed if you’d like to see more posts like this one.
Tawn Holstra was the representative from Brown Sparrow Publishing who spoke at the PNWA Summer Writers’ Conference where I took this class on small publishers and how to work with them. She was a very friendly lady. She greeted me before the class started with a kind smile. Since she publishes YA, she asked me to submit my latest novel to her, but of course, I already have a publishing deal with Reputation Books for Sunkissed Sodas right now. So I had to decline the invitation for submission.
Ms. Holstra started in the publishing business in New York, but the environment is completely different now than what it used to be. She said, from time to time, we “feel like we’re drinking out of a fire hydrant” when trying to keep up with demands. Now, as a newer publisher, she gets one or two e-mails a day saying, “Will you please read my…..” but instead of feeling overwhelmed, she thinks, “Of course I’ll read it!”
She doesn’t want you to be afraid to submit to her. Your book doesn’t have to be perfect. A good plot twist, a good idea in rough form is better than a brilliant, well-written average idea. You might not like the feedback, because Holstra will be honest after reading it, but she doesn’t want you to be too afraid to submit your manuscript to her.
Catherine Treadgold (from Coffeetown Press, which I featured last week) seconded this thought, saying, “For me, someone who can really tell a story combined with a distinctive voice—plus characters you can really care about—that’s what makes literary fiction really good.” She publishes literary fiction with a really good story behind it. If it’s grammatically correct but doesn’t tell a captivating story, she won’t publish it. But if it needs a little grammar clean-up, yet it’s a fabulous story, she’ll publish it.
Both Brown Sparrow Publishing and Coffeetown Press work with agents, but it isn’t required for an agent to be the middle man. That’s one of the nice perks of working with a smaller publishing house.
I’ll continue next week with more notes from the class I took on small publishing houses. If you want your book to be published, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to visit these publishers’ websites and strike up a conversation with editors Tawn Holstra or Catherine Treadgold. You never know… either of these ladies might make your publishing dreams come true!