Monday, October 25, 2010
Interview with Judith B. Glad, senior editor at Uncial Press
Today my special guest is Judith B. Glad, Senior Editor at Uncial Press. Judith has agreed to share some information about her publishing house. She is actively seeking submissions, so if you write romance, check this out.
1. Tell me about your publishing house, Uncial Press. For example, how long have you been established? Who are your editors? How did Uncial come into being?
We opened our doors in June 2006, and released our first titles in October 2006. My partner had been a bookseller for a number of years, and had website experience. My background included both technical and fiction writing, as well as converting books to ebook formats and creating bookblocks for print. After whining and complaining for years that too many ebooks were poorly edited, we decided to see if we couldn't do better. I hope we are.
Just in case your readers aren't aware of this, we publish only ebooks. We sell seven formats, so they are readable by pretty much anything out there. We distribute widely, too, through most major and many minor ebook retailers.
2. What types of manuscripts are you actively seeking?
Pretty much all fiction genres except erotica, horror and inspirational. Right now we're long on fantasy and short of contemporary romance, but that could change at any time. We love Regencies, but are really picky about them being historically accurate and written in a strong Regency voice. We also take on the occasional humorous or light self-help nonfiction, and once in a very great while, a poetry collection.
3. What types of stories do you feel your readers want?
Well-written stories about interesting people. Isn't that what we all want? Both of us are voracious readers, but really choosy about what we read for pleasure. We try to apply the same standards to submissions. Too many we get are heavy on narrative, take pages and pages to get into the story, and don't make us fall in love (or in hate) with the protagonist/hero/heroine/villain. If I can't care about the main characters in a book, why should I waste my all-too-scant leisure time reading it? We figure our readers feel the same way.
4. Are there any genres which you feel are overdone and why?
Isn't it more a matter of the market being saturated? Right now Erotica seems to be holding strong, and fantasy is very popular. That could change next month. We recently received a steampunk submission and expect a Cthulu offering any day now. Trying to guess what the market will be in six to nine months (which is how long it takes us to go from submission to release) is a real challenge. We have found that there is always a market for a good story. Some of ours keep surprising us, with no sales one quarter, then a whole bunch the next.
5. What do you look for in a manuscript?
I'll give you my stock answer here, because I haven't figured out a way to say it better: What grabs us is a story that within the first three pages makes us want to know what will happen next, that introduces us to a character we can love or hate, someone whom we'll be rooting for as hero or hoping for his comeuppance as villain. We want to live the story through the senses and emotions of the characters (that old show, don't tell thing), and we want to be emotionally involved with them. Most of all we want a story that will keep us guessing right up until the last page. Of course we know that the hero will get the girl, the villain will be vanquished, the mystery will be solved, but we want to wonder HOW until the last possible moment.
6. What would cause you to reject a manuscript?
In order of where in our submission queue we'd reject it:
(1) a submission that clearly shows the author didn't bother to visit our website. Our guidelines are simple. There is no reason for someone not to follow them. We set guidelines for several very good reasons, and we really appreciate authors who take the time to read and follow them.
(2) a story that starts with five or ten pages of narrative backstory. We see all too many of these, unfortunately
(3)wordiness , e.g., using two or ten words when one would do, over-describing simple actions (it doesn't take a paragraph to park a car), strings of prepositional phrases instead of succinct wording
(4) bad grammar, incorrect punctuation, spelling errors
(5) and then there are those stories that simply don't appeal to us. We try to set our likes and dislikes aside and look at commercial potential, but once in a while something will come along that just pushes our buttons. We can't publish something we don't like.
7. What is the relationship between your authors and your editorial staff?
We hope our authors like us, but we don't require it. The publisher-author relationship must be, first and foremost, professional. We like our authors, but the same principle applies. Sometimes we have to be strict, harsh, or critical. We always try to be encouraging.
We only have one editor other than myself, and she and I get along quite well, We even agree on most stuff.
I'd like to add here that we have deliberately stayed small. We feel that we can do our best with two titles a month (or three, if two are short), because that lets use give each the attention and care it deserves. The quality of our books is very important to us.
8. How are your covers created, and do your authors have a say in the cover art?
I create most of our covers right now, because it's how I relax from editing. Love playing with graphics! I use royalty-free stock photos for the most part, although occasionally I will draw something or use a graphics program to create something non-objective. We've won a number of awards for our covers.
Our authors have the option of filling out a cover art questionnaire. If they do, we try our best to follow it. The final say, though, comes from the cover committee, three non-artists who look at how well a cover catches the eye, how appealing it is, how good it looks in a small size on a computer screen, if the title and author's name is readable in the small sizes, and just how well they like it. They're pretty picky. I often have to send a concept to them several times before they're happy.
Very rarely we will accept an author's cover, if it meets our specs and passes the cover committee.
9. What type of marketing assistance do you offer your authors?
We attempt to obtain reviews for all titles, sending out ARCs about three months before release. At release, we announce widely, offer one copy in a drawing on The Romance Studio, and send out a newsletter to a large subscription list. We also announce on Facebook and Twitter. When we hear of a good promo op, we share it with everyone.
Otherwise, we market our entire booklist.
We do expect our authors to market actively. Our contract requires that they have a website or other strong web presence, linked to their book pages at our website. Occasionally we've waived the website in favor of an active blog or other strong web presence, but we consider a website essential in most cases.
10. Where can authors find out more about Uncial Press as well as your submission guidelines?
Our website is at http://www.uncialpress.com and our submission guidelines at http://www.uncialpress.com/submissions.html . There are links on the main page with more about the staff, what an uncial is, and of course, introductions to our talented authors and samples of their wonderful books.
Thank you for being my guest today and giving me this useful information about Uncial Press.
Thank you for inviting me. It was a pleasure.