Please welcome Chila to the blog!
1. As the publisher of Port Yonder Press, you must read a variety of manuscripts. What type of story grab’s your attention the most?
Authors should stick closely to our posted needs. I place them on our main page in the upper right hand corner. If an author has a manuscript that deviates from those, I lose interest immediately because I feel they haven't spent time perusing our site. We're a small, diverse press, and I must keep my focus. I can't accept too many "well, this manuscript isn't covered in your list, but it's a really really good book and I think you need to see it" type of submissions. I simply don't have the time.
Since an author initially only sends an equery, then a few chapters, if we request them, the writing has to be exemplary right off the bat, the flow smooth, the text engaging. The characters and how they interact must be true to life and appealing to me as a reader. In short, the top two considerations at least initially are 1) a very well written manuscript, and 2) a story or genre that we're currently seeking.
2. What triggered your desire to enter the POD publishing industry?
The empty nest syndrome combined with a long-lasting love of writing and editing. From there, I met Grace Bridges (Splashdown Books) through an online writing group and she coached me in a number of initial steps. Jeff Gerke (Marcher Lord Press) was also a big help.
3. How many manuscripts does PYP receive monthly? What is your primary reason for rejecting a submission?
We receive anywhere from a couple dozen to many more than that, depending on the time of the year possibly, I'm not sure. My latest attempt to keep the submissions manageable is a refusal to accept anything that's currently out to another publisher, that is, we now only accept exclusive equeries and submissions.
My primary reason(s) for rejecting a submission are: 1) it doesn't read well (too much work would have to be invested to make it a truly good book, 2) it's in a genre we don't currently need, 3) it's a simultaneous submission / equery.
4. What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen writers make when submitting to PYP?
I'm an author myself so I'm not very hard on *how* an author submits to us. What I'm interested in is *what* they submit to us. Frankly, I could care less if they use a proper book proposal, if they have a fancy list of credits, if they're on hand-shaking terms with an ex-president. If it doesn't fit our needs and my vision for PYP, it simply won't work. I've turned down Pushcart winners and NYT bestsellers. I have no agenda other than to publish great books that fit within our paradigm - "family-friendly-mature."
5. Do you have one or two key pieces of advice for aspiring novelists?
Read more than you write, as in 10 to 1 in time spent, but only read the very best of the best books you can get your hands on: Newbery winners, NYT's top of the heap, Hugo winners, Pulitzer Prize winners. Go out and get the book, "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King, if you're writing a novel. Don't just read it, study it, take notes, do the exercises, refer to it constantly when writing. If you love creative nonfiction, read and absorb the works of Annie Dillard. When it comes to submitting your work for publication, shoot for the largest and most prestigious presses you can find. If that means trying to acquire an agent, do so. Never sacrifice your dreams for wishful thinking or compromise. Reach for the stars and you're sure to end up with at least a handful of stardust. Its warmth and luminescence will make it all worthwhile.