Friday, August 6, 2010

Six Questions for Deb Harris, Editor-in-Chief, All Things That Matter Press

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 (, “[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


  1. Jim,

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer your questions. I look forward to seeing what my peers have to say. What a great opportunity for all of us!
    Again, sincere thanks for asking me to participate.

  2. As one of All Things That Matter's authors, I can't recommend them enough as a venue for emerging authors as well as authors who value artistic integrity. I've read quite a few of the books that All Things has published, and it quickly becomes clear that, as the name implies, Deb and Phil are drawn to heartfelt work, work that has some punch. It's been a joy to work with them because I've learned so much about the business, and I never feel like a nameless author or a brand.

    Jen Knox, Author of Musical Chairs

  3. You're welcome, Deb. Glad to have you as part of the project.

    Jen, when asked by an author how to best evaluate a publisher, one thing I tell them is to contact some of the author's who books the house has published. You're a perfect example of why.

  4. Thanks, Jen! We're proud to have you as an ATTMP author.
    We're proud of all of our authors, of course, and we are so impressed with the way you've come together in the author's group, welcoming newcomers, extending yourselves to each other, always willing to lend a hand, sharing ideas, tips, advice. The ATTMP Family is awesome!
    Just wanted to say that publicly!

  5. I went through trial and tribulation with my previous publisher, whom I had to threaten to sue. From day one ATTMP lived up to their promise to deliver the best book possible. They assisyt with promotion and marketing and give you that personal touch,..which authors who are not million-sellers greatly appreciate.

    In short, they go that extra yard.

  6. In slightly over a year I've published two books with All Things That Matter Press. During that time, I've seen not only highly ethical and caring behavior from the principals but also a real growth in the company's catalog. Even more delightful has been the wonderful attitude among the authors as a group.
    If an author has good material and a good work ethic, All Things That Matter Press is a great house with which to work.

  7. I agree, Jim, research is so important when pursuing a publisher. Same is true of literary journals. This is a great resources you have here.

    Yes, Deb, ATTMP is like having an extended family (not the dysfunctional kind), and my experience has been wonderful.

    Reading authors, I consider myself lucky because there seem to be a lot of less-than-honorable publishers out there, like the one mentioned in the comment above, and it can be difficult to tell the difference sometimes (some of these guys look very reputable). One clue that ATTMP is upfront and honorable is the fact that they post their standard contract right on their website; if you read it, and the press sounds like they'd work for you, submit! I can't recommend them highly enough.

  8. ATTMP recently published my collection, Halibut Rodeo. My experience with them has been nothing but positive. The principles are efficient, professional, and friendly. Writers can be incredibly competitive, but ATTMP fosters an "all for one, one for all" attitude that's incredibly refreshing. In many ways, I feel like a part of the company, not a passing client.

  9. That's what we want, why we do this -- for all of our authors to feel like they're a very integral part of the whole process -- because you are! Each and every one of you is an amazing person, an awesome talent, and we're so pleased to be able to be the vehicle through which you share your SELF with the world!

  10. ATTMP is different than most POD publishers. Why? Number one reason is they truly care about their authors and it shows. My book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, will be released shortly and my Editor took time, care and patience making certain it was editing to perfection.

    Also, ATTMP, keeps its authors up to date on any and every type of tool they are aware of to assist in marketing your book. I can see great things happening with ATTMP. And it is justly deserved. Phil and Deb are wonderful.

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  12. I agree with all the comments above. Deb & Phil have been extraordinary throughout the process of accepting, editing, and publishing our novel Hammon Falls, in addition to offering great marketing tips and just being supportive. And they delivered a fantastic product. Hammon Falls looks impeccable. My co-author, Roger Hileman, and I have had a wonderful experience with them, and hope our relationship continues on with future projects.

  13. I too am a first time author published by All Things That Matter Press. I completely agree with Deb - marketing is key and as an author (unless you are a known best seller author), you are a small business owner and need to market your business in order for customers to a) know it's there and b) get excited about it.
    - Scott Hardy

  14. I am impressed with the sense of community that ATTMP has created with its family of authors. It's a wondeful place where the editors and authors share tips, advice and help each other learn about marketing and one another's books. There's a sense of warmth that is also comforting as one go about learning the new, latest and greatness tools for marketing a book.

    Like the others have contact with the editors has been very valuable. I've gotten answers to various marketing questions.

    Early on when I was querying ATTM for consideration of my forthcoming collection, Flashes of the Other I had various questions and concerns. Phil was totally upfront and accessible. This was important to me as an author. In the past I had other publishers consider both this book and my novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries. The other publishers lack of professionalism and accessiblity kept me from signing with them.

    I am totally comfortable and happy with ATTM. So far I've read Jen Knox and Kenneth Weene's books and loved them. I have so many more of the ATTM's books on my reading list.

    Julie Weinstein

  15. It's one thing to get your book published, but if you want to sell it, chances are you will need help and lots of it.

    With ATTMP you not only get a high quality finished product but the promotional skills are being honed from day one of signing. My novel, Song of George: Portrait of an Unlikely Holy Man, was just published in July, and although I have a mountain of promotional tools that I have yet to use or learn to use, I feel that I have a good foundation established on which to build. Without the assistance of Phil, Deb, and all the group authors, I would be floundering from one thing to the next, not knowing which way to turn. The internet is a big maze, most difficult to navigate.
    Direction is what we get from All Things That Matter. I certainly appreciate it. Thank you Jim for the opportunity to comment, and thanks to ATTMP for letting us know about it.
    Jesse S. Hanson

  16. My book will be released by ATTM press in 3 weeks time. For me, ATTM truly is an exciting and innovative press. I live in Ireland and even at this great distance I can only rave about Phil/Deb.
    An example; I could be sitting at home at 11pm on a sunday night when a thought re: my book comes to mind. I would then send a message to Phil/Deb, and then get a response within a minute! These guys work really hard, are uber competent and seem to have an intuitive understanding of where the world of publishing is going.
    Not only that, but they continually master and impress on us, their authors, the new tools of marketing/communication that will help enable our collective success.
    Their continued and future success, to my mind, is wholly deserved. Barry Fitzgerald.

  17. To echo the sentiments of those before me, everybody at ATTMP has proven to be helpful and professional in showing me how to enter the world of marketing. When ATTMP published my first novel, "Shooting Angels," I knew very little about the business side of things; now, thanks to the help of my publishers and fellow authors, I feel much more confident about entering the fray. As we enter a time in which self-marketing is becoming ever more important, having a publisher that takes the time to teach you how to do so effectively is absolutely vital.

    Nick Sansone, Author of "Shooting Angels"

  18. Nice interview.

    Like Jesse, my book was published in July by All Things That Matter Press, and I am thrilled with the arrangement. Phil and Deb are tireless promoters of the books they publish, and that is attractive to authors.

    Jerry Schwartz
    Author, Pixels of Young Mueller

  19. Hi Deb. Great interview! I know from my personal experience with you and Phil that you pay attention to details--which was really a switch from my first publisher, sadly enough. And that you are fair and equitable if you believe a writer has potential...and I thank you for taking me on. I've had a great time getting to know our other authors and working with them on sales and marketing tips! ATTMP rocks!!!

  20. I thank God everyday for leading me to Deb and Phil Harris at All Things That Matter Press. No publishers work harder than they to help authors promote and sell their books, plus they add something few publishers do: the human touch. They really care about their authors. I highly recommend those writers with a manuscript they believe in to contact All Things That Matter Press for possible consideration.

    The good folks at ATTMP published my collection of short-short stories, Flashing My Shorts, and I am nearly finished writing a follow-up collection. I know it will get the attention I believe it deserves. Thumbs up for Deb and Phil Harris!

    Salvatore Buttaci