Small & Indie Publishers Rock!

What a month I’ve had! July has been so exciting, I almost hate to see it go. And it flew by, don’t you think? Did you take a vacation? Go someplace really fun or restful?

I visited with three very busy people. Three publishers who are making their mark, pressing in and beyond to achieve their goals and dreams. Reaching out to bless others and speak living words into as many hearts and lives as possible. I’ve been blessed beyond measure just reading some of the comments left on the posts. Yes, these ladies are making a difference.

I would like to once again thank Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press, and Pix-N-Pens Publishing, Nike Chillemi of Crime Fictionista Press, and Nicola Martinez of Pelican Book Group, for taking the time out of their oh, so busy schedules to answer my questions.

Three outstanding interviews! If you missed one or all of them, click on the links here:

Tracy Ruckman
Nike Chillemi
Nicola Martinez

I enjoyed working with Tracy, Nike, and Nicola, preparing their posts, and reading their answers to my questions. It is obvious, all three of these ladies work hard at what they do. It shows through their most excellent work.

And most of all, thank you, dear readers, for stopping by. I hope you’ll check back in during the month of August when the subject is “Connections.” I have a couple of special guests lined up, who will share their take on the importance of connections in our lives.

Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief

Nicola Martinez is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Pelican Book Group where she is blessed to work with a group of talented authors and staff.

I’m so pleased she agreed to an interview. This month, I’ve talked to publishers who have started their own companies. How many of you have thought of doing the same thing? An intriguing idea, but a lot of work is involved. Work, prayer, and a learning process, every step of the way.

I hope you enjoy reading Nicola’s answers to my questions. Feel free to ask questions in the comment section. And check out the websites given on each of these interviews. Some of them contain guidelines for you to submit your query letters or manuscripts.


Betty: Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?

Nicola: Starting a publishing company was a desire I had many years before Pelican Book Group came to fruition, but ultimately, I see Pelican as a ministry–a way to bring the Gospel to people in an entertaining and approachable manner.

Betty: How did you begin? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?)

Nicola: I have to say I began by “all of the above.” I always do a lot of research of the market specifically and of business strategies in general–even today. But when it came down to it, I did rather just “jump in.” But, I didn’t just jump in without any relevant skills. I acquired many skills through a series of life experiences that seemed unrelated at the time because Pelican wasn’t even a thought back then.Through different employment opportunities, I learned hands-on about bookkeeping, taxes, business management, customer and employee relations, advertising and marketing, branding. Years before Pelican Book Group, I was self-employed and owned both a print shop and a Christian bookstore, so I got a taste of that part of the industry from graphic design to production, to retail. I’m a published author, and spent many years as an editor–first for a newspaper and then for a book publisher before Pelican Book Group launched. And, then there’s the fact that I’m a mother, so we know how to do everything, anyway, right? I could go on and on, but ultimately, a lot of what I needed to know was floating around in the vast, sometimes seemingly empty, expanse of my brain. 🙂 God prepared it all and then pulled it together. (Well, He’s still pulling it all together. We are a work in progress.)

Betty: What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?

Nicola: The greatest obstacle I’ve encountered–and one I think every small publisher and indie-author has to face–is that of discoverability. Reaching readers (and convincing them to purchase one of our stories) when there are so many titles published each day is a constant battle (So if you’re so inclined, please do “shout about us from the rooftops!”). Then, there are always the “normal” obstacles of technical glitches, personal illness, encountering the unscrupulous, etc. All-in-all, however, I think we’re pretty blessed that things run as smoothly as they do. We put out approximately four titles per month utilizing a very small staff. We have a process, we put out quality stories, and the obstacles, I give to the Lord to deal with. He’s better at that than I am. (although, sometimes I do have to scream and pout for a minute. We call it “Whiny Tuesday.”)

Betty: How do you stand out from other small publishers?

Nicola: I’m not sure how to answer that question accurately. I don’t try to stand out–just to stand firm. Perhaps other Christian publishers try to do the same, and if so, Pelican isn’t really standing out from those others. In standing firm, though, I do my best to uphold the Gospel in my life, business, and in the books we publish (I believe there’s a trickle-down to living for Christ: Our books can’t witness to the Truth, if I, as an individual, am not doing so in my own life); so I try to keep my focus on what He wants, not what I want. I believe the rest — the standing out from others, garnering readers, etc. — follows all that and will happen naturally as God wills it.

Betty: Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?

Nicola:  There are so many blessings, I’m not sure I can pin-point a “greatest.” Working with talented authors and staff is a huge blessing. If I didn’t have excellent, moral people to work with, I’d probably go insane. Then there’s the awesome blessing of hearing from readers who feel blessed themselves by our books, and of authors who are realizing a dream by being published. And, of course, there are untold and countless blessings that come from the peace of knowing we’re doing something for Him and because of Him.

Thank you so much, Nicola Martinez, for participating in my interview. Readers, you can find more information about Nicola, her companies, and books at these sites: 

Pelican Book Group (website)
Straight to the Books – see what they have available!

Facebook 
Twitter

Nike Chillemi, Author, Publisher

I became acquainted with Nike Chillemi on an ACFW critique loop. So I was privileged to read her suspenseful stories before they went through the publishing process. I was in the background, watching and waiting as she started her publishing company. I waited for the book I’d so enjoyed critiquing, Harmful Intent.

I’m so excited for her to share a little of her story here today. Thanks, Nike for taking the time to answer my questions about your publishing journey.

*She’s giving away the ebook, Harmful Intent, to one of our readers (see details below).

1. Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?

Nike: It started with the moniker Crime Fictionista. Before I started seriously writing for publication, I worked in the bridal industry. I traveled to industry bridal fairs in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and of course in my home town, New York City. That’s where I heard the term “fashionista.” When I got my first contract, I jokingly called myself a crime fictionista and it stuck. I liked the name and thought it would be just the thing to publish under when I went indie. So, the name of my company is Crime Fictionista Press. BTW, if you notice detailed descriptions of fabrics, necklines, and the like in my stories, that is a throwback to my days in bridal.


2. How do you stand out from other small publishers?

Nike: Crime Fictionista Press has only one name on its author list, one author…moi. The name is part of my brand and is identified with me. So, that, in and of itself makes it stand out. At present it has only one title as well: HARMFUL INTENT, a Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes Novel. ~ Betrayal runs in private investigator Ronnie Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect. 
My very talented daughter Delayne drew the Crime Fictionista Press logo.   

3. How did you get started? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?

Nike: I was quite naïve and simply started writing. I still keep my first manuscript around for a good laugh. I didn’t understand character point-of-view. Didn’t know what head hopping was. But I caught on quickly. I took the free online writing course then offered by Harlequin. I also came across a quote, by Stephen King, I believe, advising writers to read the best authors in their genre. To read the authors who excite them, whose book they can’t put down. He wasn’t advising to copy a bestselling author, but to see how they construct things. One aspect of Michael Connelly’s writing I’ve noticed is he doesn’t waste anything. In one novel, I think it was LOST LIGHT (there are so many Harry Bosch novels) Harry drinks a can of soda. He loses hold of it and it falls over the side of his deck into the weeds below his house, hanging over a canyon. Later when the bad guys come to kill him, he flees with a younger, faster bad guy following him under the house. The bad guy trips on the soda can and Harry lives long enough for the police to arrive. I’ve done things like that a few times in my novels, and it tickles me every time I do.

4. What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?

Nike: When I first started out, things I thought were obstacles were simply part of the process. Everybody has to pay their dues. The publishing business is changing so quickly the biggest obstacle is to keep informed and one step ahead. 


5.  Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?


Nike: My blessings started before my publishing company. My greatest blessing since I started writing seriously has been the friendship of other writers, most of them Christian fiction writers, but not all. You, Betty, are one of them. I can’t tell you what the support, encouragement, and the laughs shared with other authors means to me.

*Crime Fictionista Press would like to give away an ebook for Kindle 

to the most interesting, creative, and engaging comment.

A Bit About Nike –
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category, a judge in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories, and a judge in the Eric Hoffer Awards in 2012 and 2013. 
Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press, made an impressive showing in Amazon’s mystery > private investigator category.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN). http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

 

Tracy Ruckman, Publisher


Tracy Ruckman is publisher, writer, wife, and mom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in May 2014 and is now pursuing an MFA in Screenwriting. When she’s not working, studying, or writing, she likes to eat, sleep, cook, and explore.
One question I didn’t ask Tracy is, how in the world do you keep up? 
I am so grateful she set aside some time to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy her interview, check out her websites, and please feel free to ask her a question of your own in the comment section of this blog post. I’m sure she’ll be glad to answer.

1.       Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?
In 2009, my husband was forced into early retirement. We knew we needed to do something big and bold, so after lots of prayer and discussion I decided to go back to school. As I enrolled, I realized that the publishing industry had just taken a huge turn, and now was an excellent time for both authors and entrepreneurs. 
2.       How did you begin? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?)
In 2008, Jeff Gerke had launched Marcher Lord Press, and his publishing model intrigued me. I corresponded with him for a while, asking a lot of questions to determine whether this was something I could do with a different focus. Jeff published sci-fi/fantasy/spec fiction, and I wanted to publish other genres. We first opened Pix-N-Pens publishing, with a focus on evangelical books. Then a manuscript arrived that didn’t have a strong evangelical message, but the story was exceptional. I sent a rejection, although I really didn’t want to send it – I wanted to publish the book! Tim and I talked about it, and I decided to open a second imprint – Write Integrity Press – to have the ability to publish quality books that don’t necessarily have a gospel message, but that are still clean and wholesome. I then contacted the author I’d previously rejected, Jennifer Fromke, and was delighted to learn that her manuscript, Docking, was still available. We changed the title and A Familiar Shore became WIP’s first novel. 
As of this writing, we’ve now published 32 books in print and/or digital formats.
3.       What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?
Where do I begin? LOL! The enemy – satan – does not like our work. We’ve learned to recognize some of the attacks we face – his demons seem to hit all of us, publisher and authors – on a regular basis. From wacky computer issues to household disruptions (busted water lines, blown fuses, leaky roofs, etc) to wayward children to major storms (two tornadoes hit our house four days apart last summer, and there had never been a tornado in our area ever before!), we usually see an increase in life disturbances right before a major book launch. There have been so many, it’s almost become laughable (except for the one being hardest hit), so we call out the prayer warriors and push through.
Marketing has been another obstacle. We have some really excellent books, but getting the word out to more than just the hundreds of thousands of connections we have on Facebook and Twitter is proving to be a challenge. We’ve had some fun events in previous years that have helped generate buzz, but we’re ready for the next level now, so that’s what I’m working toward this summer. We’re still fairly small, and the business isn’t supporting itself yet. So our marketing efforts can’t be too costly – and that just presents the ever-familiar Catch-22 of needing money to make money. 
My health has also posed its own set of problems in the past two years. If anyone had told me that approaching menopause would cause all the problems I’ve had, I might have rethought both school and publishing. But I push through. And thank God for iron supplements, protein bars, and B-12. 
4.       How do you stand out from other small publishers?
I’d like to think it’s because we treat our authors like family. We all work together as a team to market each other, and we pray for, support, and encourage one another. From the reader’s perspective, we may be different because we publish clean and wholesome books. I want readers to know they’re “safe” when reading our books. 
5.       Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?
Watching our authors grow and blossom. I work with some of the finest writers in the industry, and to be a small part in their writing dreams being realized is a huge blessing. I have a deep, deep desire to help them realize even bigger dreams. We’ve just got to get there. 

Thanks, Tracy! 
You can find more information about Tracy Ruckman and her companies at these websites:

Pix-N-Pens Publishing – www.PixNPens.com
Write Integrity Press – www.WriteIntegrity.com

Small Publishers – Indie Publishers

Happy July! Happy 4th of July!

July’s theme has a lot to do with freedom. We have the freedom to choose how we want to publish. We have the freedom to become our own publisher, or to start our own company.

I hope you will come back every week to read about these publishing journeys and be inspired!

Quality is the key. The editors and authors I’m highlighting this month are quality. I’ve known a couple of them for several years and can attest to the quality of the books they publish. I think you’ll agree.

Here’s the schedule:

Thursday, July 10th
Tracy Ruckman
Write Integrity Press
Pix-N-Pens Publishing
TMP Books
Thursday, July 17th
Nike Chillemi
Crime Fictionista Press
Thursday, July 24th
Nicola Martinez
Pelican Book Group
Thursday, July 31st
Hallee Bridgeman
Olivia Kimbrell Press
Sign of the Whale Publishing

 Mark your calendars. Or sign up to receive my blogposts via email. “Like” my Facebook page.