Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Small Press 411: Authors Mary Gray, Rachel Harris and Heidi Kling

We have one more day of lovely small press authors. 

First up is Mary Gray, author of The Dollhouse Asylum which is out October 2013 with Spencer Hill Press. 

Mary Gray has a fascination with all things creepy. That’s why all her favorite stories usually involve panic attacks and hyperventilating. In real life, she prefers to type away on her computer, ogle over her favorite TV shows, and savor fiction. When she’s not immersed in other worlds, she and her husband get their exercise by chasing after their three children. The Dollhouse Asylum  is her first novel.

You can find Mary on her website and on twitter @MaryGrayTweet

Before you signed with Spencer Hill Press, did you have any ideas or notions about what small press publishing would be like? Has that proven to be true or false?

Admittedly, I was a little bit skeptical about working with a small press. Before I signed with my agent, I had a contract for a different book with a tiny press and didn't have the greatest experience. They were slow to answer my emails, never used the phone, and my editor didn't seem to know how to make holistic revisions at all. I actually grew so frustrated that I said never mind and shelved the book. I also saw that the book wasn't what I wanted my debut to be, so it actually all worked out in the end since THE DOLLHOUSE ASYLUM will make a much stronger debut for me. My experience with Spencer Hill has been vastly different. I'll explain more below.

 What made you submit to Spencer Hill Press?

 My former agent, Kat Salazar of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents, submitted to them. When she told me about the interest from one of their editors, she assured me they were a great press because her colleagues at the same agency had sold several books to them and had only had fabulous experiences.

 What has been the most surprising with SHP?

Not sure where to start! I get attention--so much attention--from emails, to texts, to tweets from my fabulous editor and publicist (not to mention the other authors and interns--we form a great family). And everyone is savvy, friendly, professional, and smart! I was worried my editor wouldn't know how to make those holistic changes, and Danielle couldn't be better at them. And Rich couldn't be better nailing those line edits. The whole system has made sense, with deadlines, and phone calls, and the give and take with edits. My only complaint is that I moved away from the east coast in time to sign with Spencer Hill (all the big team players seem to live over there). I never should have moved. I've had so much say on my cover (which couldn't have turned out better due to Danielle's help and Jeremy West's artistic genius) and they do ARCs! And listen to my promotional ideas! And believe in building MY career as an author. I couldn't be happier.

How would you rate your overall experience?


What would you say to writers considering small press publishing (and Spencer Hill in general)? 

We all want the million dollar advances. We all want to be the next big thing. Needless to say, those types of opportunities are limited. The large publishing houses have very small, specific lists they need filled. Small houses provide another avenue for authors to take. And if you find a press with an editor who REALLY knows how to edit, then what does it matter whether it came from fanciest-richest-most-bad-assery publishing house around or one that's a bit newer--AND has a fabulous reputation? Because, in the end, all that matters is bringing a great book to readers. Most of us go to the internet to find what to read, and guess what? Spencer Hill is mightily plugged into the web via bloggers, twitter, Facebook, Goodreads... and they're only growing bigger, so you better watch out!


As a teen, Rachel Harris threw raging parties that shook her parents’ walls and created embarrassing fodder for future YA novels. As an adult, she reads and writes obsessively, rehashes said embarrassing fodder, and dreams up characters who become her own grown up version of imaginary friends. When she's not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, you can find her homeschooling her two beautiful princesses, hanging out with her amazing husband, or taking a hot bubble bath…next to a pile of chocolate. 

MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY is her debut novel. She did have her own fantabulous Sweet Sixteen in high school. Sadly, it wasn't televised.  You can find Rachel on her website and on twitter @RachelHarrisYA.

Before you signed with Entangled Publishing, did you have any ideas or notions about what small press publishing would be like? Has that proven to be true or false?

Honestly, when I signed with Entangled, they were still very new. I didn’t have much to go on, other than that they seemed enthusiastic about my book and I had a really, really good feeling about where the company was going. That gut feeling only grew once I talked to my editor in detail, and got to know the other authors. And over the past year, well, there’s no doubt Entangled is made of awesome.

But yeah, probably in the back of my mind at the beginning was wondering if I was giving up the publicity and marketing help that I’d get with a bigger house. People would tell me that going with a smaller press wasn’t better than self-publishing. So going in, I was optimistic but curious. And I quickly learned that, for me at least, going with a smaller publisher was the best decision I could have ever made.

Our author loop is the most supportive place ever. Our publicists are crazy fabulous. Our editors rock. And Liz Pelletier has the heart of a teacher. She is transparent and real and honest with us in a way that is just refreshing and amazing. I’ve learned so much about the business from her and the rest of the Entangled staff.

So not only were any minor concerns I might’ve had proven false; they were drop kicked to the curb.

What made you submit to Entangled?

My agent submitted to them, including them in our first round. She had a great feeling about where they were going, too, and I’m very glad she did!

What has been the most surprising thing about being with Entangled? 

The family aspect. Every day our loop gets an Entangled Family email that includes all of the latest news and events our authors have, and we share that because we really are a family. We truly cheer each other on whenever anything remotely good happens, and if someone has a bad day or gets a bad review, everyone jumps in to lift them up. Our inboxes can get a little crazy at times because of all the love, but it’s a great problem to have.

I know if I have any questions about anything, I can turn to them and have an answer. Our authors are bestselling phenoms with a staggering amount of books and years of experience under their collective belts, and they are more than happy to share their wisdom with the group.

How would you rate your overall experience?

Fantabulously happy and exceeds all expectations.

What would you say to writers considering small press publishing, especially Entangled?

My advice would be for ANY publisher you are considering. Check out their website, look at the authors and type of books that publisher is selling. Does your work fit with their brand? Find out who their editors and staff are and Google any interviews they may have done in the past. Get a good feeling for the people you’ll be doing business with and for the company—and then listen to your gut. Also, if you know how, I always suggest reaching out to a few of their authors.


Heidi R. Kling earned her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School, and is the author of multiple-award nominated novel Sea (Putnam/2010). She’s published short stories and essays to anthologies Truth & Dare(UK/US), The Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls (Smart Pop), and The First Time.  Heidi loves to obsess over young adult lit and pop culture, so make her day by visiting her on heidirkling.tumblr.com or on Twitter at @heidirkling. She lives with her family in Palo Alto, CA, near the real Black Mountain and coastal towns much like Melas County. She hasn’t spotted a warlock in real life. Yet.

Before you signed with Coliloquy, did you have any ideas or notions about what small press publishing would be like? Has that proven to be true or false?

I didn't think about Coliloquy being a "small press" when I signed my Spellspinners of Melas County series with them. I thought of them more as innovative, start-up, boutique--I live in Palo Alto, so the whole idea of a successful tech start-up is obviously the norm here. Essentially, Lisa Rutherford, Fab CEO, pitched it as a modern day "Choose Your Own Adventure." I had an offer from one of the Big 6 for the first book (which was, essentially, the first three installments of Spellspinners), but went with Lisa because of the innovative way she'd publish my series. As a planned 10-book series, is not insignificant.

What has been the most surprising thing about being with Coliloquy? 

It's not a surprise, because if I didn't trust my decision to go with them, I wouldn't have done it, but what I love is my autonomy and flexibility. Ten books under contract at one of the Big Six, first of all, just doesn't happen. I have two young children and I'm heavily involved with their upbringing so being under constant deadline would be too stressful for our lifestyle. I just couldn't do it. Because Coliloquy is e-books, I can have an extra month to work on a first draft if I need it. And because Lisa is amazingly creative and insightful, I can run anything by her from marketing ideas to plot stickiness to a Con I'd like to attend. Coliloquy--all of their staff, are so friendly and helpful and just lovely. The books are shorter than traditional books, so that's another thing I like. Also, we're able to play with POV, Choice Points, little games, and my favorite, Grandma Rose's journey which fades as a techie "magic trick". This press is perfect fit for this series. I'm grateful and happy to be with them. 

What would you say to writers considering small press publishing, especially Coliloquy?

I say think about your story and what publisher would best fit its needs. My next novel might fit better at a Big 6, and that would be amazing! I love traditional publishing, too. I love paper books. And bookstores. Again, it's not Big Press vs. Small Press. It's the Right Press for your story. Also, please get an agent before you start submitting. Your agent will place your hard work in hands of the right editor. That's their job. :)

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