Cervena Barva Press publishes fiction and poetry from "writers who have a strong voice and who take risks with language." The reading period is from January 2 - February 28. Learn more here.
SQF: According to a report by Foner Books (http://fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm), “[g]rowth stagnated for booksellers in 2008, and overall book sales barely moved according to the government.” In addition, I’ve read a number of articles concerning the difficulty authors are having securing book deals. In your opinion, what is the current state of the print book market?
GM: I think this is a scary time for many publishers. I have heard of lay-offs and the big publishers cutting down on acceptances. Many are not accepting anything unless it will make huge sums of money for them.
With the small press, I see so many of them still continuing to publish writers, though some have cut down on the amount of books they publish. It is a labor of love. With the economy being so bad, we will probably start to see more books being published by POD companies and e-books. The stigma is getting better concerning books being PODs. I have heard that even some of the big publishers are starting to use POD printers.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?
GM: I want manuscripts that have a strong voice to them, are edgy and take risks. Surprise me! I want manuscripts that hold my attention. Also, manuscripts must be neat and readable.
SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?
GM: When the pitch goes on too long or is too flowery in its language. This bores me. I want straight and to the point. I think most editors would agree with me on this.
SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?
GM: All my authors have been published before. Some writers are emerging and others are well known. I don’t care whether a writer has been published or not. If I like their work, I will publish them.
SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?
GM: Don’t give up and be persistent. There are many publishers out there. Try to get your work published in magazines first before sending out your manuscript to publishers for a possible book. Network and meet other writers and editors at readings and events. Sometimes, you will hear if they are looking for work. It’s not good to ask them if they will read your manuscript when you first meet them.
Buy the International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses and other directories. Look online also for magazine/press listings. Go through the whole thing and look at what magazines you think your work is best suited for. Look at who they published; and if your work is somewhat similar, send work to that magazine. You should look at the literary magazines in bookstores to see if you like them before sending them your submission. Also, always follow the guidelines for the magazine or press. I am amazed at how many writers don’t do this. If you don’t follow the guidelines, this will hurt you.
SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
GM: Why do you publish books?
How could I not? There is nothing like the feeling when you read a good manuscript that you must publish. It is such a natural high to read good writing. Once the manuscript is published, I feel on cloud nine and am very happy for the author; and I want others to read it. It is important for me to publish many translations yearly. We don’t have enough translations here in the USA. I want to bring the voice of other countries here. Because of Cervena Barva Press, I have met and corresponded with so many wonderful writers and editors from all over the world. For me, this is pure heaven!
Thank you, Gloria. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
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