Manic D Press publishes poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction with a focus on good writing. Recent authors include Amber Tamblyn, Lynnee Breedlove, Cheryl Klein, and Francesca Lia Block. 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?
JJ: The current state of the print book market is in the toilet ... double-barreled factors of cultural shift towards visual, non-verbal entertainment plus digital media takeover equals limited market for printed matter including books, magazines, newspapers, etc.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?
JJ: Great storytelling abilities, excellent attention given to correct spelling and grammar, uniqueness.
SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?
JJ: Forgetting about the end user (the reader) and not realizing that writing a book is only the beginning of the publication process.
SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?
JJ: Depends on the year: sometimes all, sometimes none.
SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?
JJ: Try to place pieces or excerpts from the book in literary magazines, etc. Get your name out there and get some experience first. Really ask yourself if having a book with your name on it is worth the time and energy it will take, because once the book is in print, it'll be up to you to help find readers for it (or else a lot of trees were killed for nothing).
SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
JJ: Is the joy of writing enough, or is it only meaningful when the writing is read by a stranger who might hate it and post a vitriolic review on Amazon? Is it enough to be published online, or will it only be satisfying when the writing is printed on a dead tree? All writers seeking publication should dig deep inside and honestly ask themselves, "Why do I really want to be published?"
Thank you, Jennifer. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 7/14--Six Questions for J. Michael Wahlgren, Founding Editor, Gold Wake Press.