Wednesday, April 04, 2007

M. D. Benoit on Publishing

M. D. Benoit on Virtual Book Tour in front of famous rail bridge, Lethbridge Alberta, via this blog

Interviewed by Robert Runté

Robert: As the big monopoly publishers increasingly focus on a few blockbuster-style titles/authors with sales in the millions, we've seen the emergence of many more regional and specialty presses to fill the vacuum for titles with more limited local or genre appeal. I'm interested in how authors decide where to position themselves in the market. What made you choose to go with a small specialty press like Zumaya, rather than a more mass market publisher?

Dominique: In the beginning, I tried the large presses (Tor, Baen, etc.) and I had some nibbles, but the responses always ended up as "we like what you write but we can’t fit it anywhere." I've learned that large publishers are not flexible with mixed genres or difficult to classify books, and my books definitely are. So I decided to look for a publisher that could be more flexible in its approach. I found this is the case with small independent publishers. I liked what Zumaya Publications published, so I submitted to them.

Robert: What drew you to Zumaya Otherworlds specifically?

Dominique: The imprint was created last year. Even though they’re small, Zumaya puts you through the same rigorous submission and edit process as any other respected publisher. They're very professional, but because they have little overhead, they can spend more time with their authors. All the books they publish are different. I liked that, too. Instead of feeling like a misfit, I feel I found a home. Yet, even though Zumaya Publications takes in a different kind of fiction, it doesn't accept every manuscript that comes across its desk. They receive about 25 submissions a week. The rate of acceptance is around 1-2%. They’re looking for quality writing as well as the different.

Robert: Some small presses make a point of providing much more intensive support for authors than the big mass market houses do these days, in hopes that the extra editorial support will compensate for the lack of big $ advances. Other small presses make a point of “not tampering” with the author's manuscript, protecting them from the over zealous (and not necessarily SF-savvy) copy editors sometimes encountered in the big publishing houses. Where does Zumaya fall on that continuum in terms of the kind of editorial support you have received? What has working with Zumaya been like?

Dominique: At Zumaya, you can develop a relationship with your editor. There’s a real give-and-take, but the editor has the final say in some cases. Once trust has been established, as happened with my editor, Liz Burton, there’s a sort of symbiosis that happens. A lot of the editing is done through Instant Messenger, a sign of the times, I guess. We’ll discuss something through the chat, the same way it would’ve been done on the phone or through email, and we solve issues a lot faster.

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