From the website:
"All Things That Matter Press, a no fee-royalty paying, POD small press, seeks to publish those books that help the author share their Self with the world. We all have something to say, and this is a press that wants to hear your voice. Our interests are on spiritual, self-growth, personal transformation, fiction and non-fiction books with a strong message. We understand that self expression occurs in poetry, collections of short stories, science fiction, thrillers and even novels with a bit of romance. If it is good, we will take a look. We are not actively seeking children and young adult books but if it WOWs us, we will consider this genre. 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?
DH: Brick and mortar venues are fast becoming a thing of the past. And, yes, e-books are the wave of the future, particularly now that there are options other than Kindle, which was certainly a ground-breaking concept. However, there are still plenty of people who prefer to hold a book in their hands, to be able to partake of the sensory pleasure of "feeling" what they're reading, to be able to slow the pace and just relax. As for the difficulty authors are having securing book deals, are you referring to established or new authors? Not having read the articles you're referring to, I'm going to assume (and hope the inevitable doesn't happen!) that you're talking about non-NY Times bestselling authors. There are several reasons an author doesn't get a contract offer, the primary one being their book falls short in some respect. Then there are the authors who, by sheer dint of will, it seems, do anything in their power--be exceedingly rude, demand contract revisions, tell you they have absolutely no intention of doing anything to market their work--to kill a potential deal. In the near term, there will still be a large market for print books. However, the traditional notion of going to a bookstore is being replaced with on-line purchases. Further, with new printing innovations, books are now being printed on site at stores. This is still in development, but a shadow of things to come.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a manuscript?
DH: It has to GRAB me in the opening paragraphs and make me hungry to read the rest of the book. I need to forget that I'm reading and be drawn in.
Does it flow? Is the story smooth and seamless from beginning to end, or is it choppy and unruly in getting from A to Z? Is it confusing, or is it the kind of book I don't want to put down? A few rough spots can be corrected, but reading a bucking bronco isn't for me.
Then I look at the mechanics. Did the author take the time to check for spelling/punctuation errors? Granted, not everyone who has a great story to tell is adept at punctuation, which is why someone on our staff edits everything we publish, but at least try! Is the sentence structure clean and concise? Would it take me the rest of my natural life to edit the manuscript? If the answer to that last question is yes, then the manuscript doesn't have a chance, no matter how great the storyline. Also, has the author taken the time to read what 'we' are all about, or is it obvious we were just part of a mass mailing campaign? We like authors who have taken the time to read our web site and have a grasp of our philosophy.
SQF: What major mistakes do authors make when pitching their books?
DH: Oh, lots, actually. Some we tend to overlook, but others are the kiss of death. Not following submission guidelines is a major faux pas. If you're not interested enough to pay at least a little attention to what we're looking for and how we need it to be submitted, we're certainly not going to spend a lot of time on that submission. Don't send us a submission in a different format than we specify and then tell us to "deal with it" that way. Don't send it pasted into an email. (Ever try to read three chapters of a manuscript that way? It's not a lot of fun.)
Another is overkill. I really don't need an 18 page synopsis of a manuscript. Again, clean, concise--grab me.
Please don't tell me how many other publishers have rejected your manuscript. Every author accumulates rejections. Not all publishers are looking for the same type of book.
And please take just two minutes to address your query to ATTMP, rather than a generic "Dear Sir/Madam" salutation. It's a two-second thing, and the lack of that little nicety tells me the author probably hasn't paid a lot of attention to our submission guidelines, either. We post common submission mistakes on our blog.
SQF: Of the books your company publishes each year, how many are by previously unpublished authors?
DH: Probably between 80 and 90 percent or so. The reason we started All Things That Matter Press was to give new authors a fighting chance to get their books published.
SQF: What is your advice to new, unpublished authors looking for a publisher or agent?
DH: Skip the agent. We don't accept submissions through agents.
Have a marketing plan. Plan to work your butt off.
Don't give up! Just because one publisher (or a dozen) rejects your book, the next one could be the right niche for you.
Edit, Edit, Edit!
We like to have a relationship with our authors. There needs to be a synergy. If an author does not take the time to read the information on a publisher's web site, it shows in the emails and is a turn off.
SQF: What question do you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And how would you answer it?
DH: I can only pick one, right? Well, gee. How about: What's the surest way not to get a contract with ATTMP? The answer: When we offer you one, you tell us you'd like to wait a couple of weeks to see what other offers you get.
Thank you, Deb. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 8/9--Six Questions for Anne Petty, Editor in Chief, Kitsune Books