Back in May 2013, I interviewed author and publisher Tracy Kauffman for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the six hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with writer and publisher Tracy Kauffman of K G Books. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Tracy. Can you please briefly explain the structure of your publishing house… perhaps who’s involved along the process of an acceptance to the book / story being published.
Tracy: First of all I want to thank you for inviting me to be a part of your wonderful blog. KG Books is a traditional type book publisher located in North Alabama. It is a part of a partnership and both my partner, Vicky and I agree on whom we publish.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Tracy. I’m delighted you could join me today. You’re also a writer – does this help with deciding which projects to take on?
Tracy: Yes, I started out as an author before deciding to start my own company. I had seen where certain companies published authors but charged a fee just to get the book to print. Our company charges no upfront fees. We only make a percentage if the book sells.
Morgen: They do and there are a lot of scams out there (which is where sites like http://pre-ed.com are invaluable). The $64,000 question: out of all the submissions you receive, what makes a book / story stand out for all the right reasons?
Tracy: First of all, the book has to make sense. You wouldn’t believe how many manuscripts have been sent to us that have not been edited. They are simply hard to read. Editing makes a huge impact on whether we accept the submission or not. Then, we look at length, genre, storyline, and if it is interesting to us.
Morgen: Submissions should be the best they can be. A book will be edited by the publishers but even so… Without naming names, what makes a book proposal / story stand out for all the wrong reasons? :)
Tracy: Our mission is to publish decent stories to the public. Therefore we will not consider any erotica type books at all. Excessive cursing is the second thing that makes us say NO. Cursing doesn’t make a book appealing.
Morgen: It would be out of character (literally) for a rough and tough antagonist to say, “oh darn”, but less is most definitely more. What genres do you accept? What would you suggest an author do with a cross-genre piece of writing?
Tracy: We accept all except erotica. Cross genres are actually easier to market because they reach a wider base of customers.
Morgen: I’m sure there’ll be so many authors reading this who will love to hear you say that. Is there a genre that you haven’t published and would like to?
Tracy: I hope to publish some Crime / Mystery books in the future.
Morgen: They are incredibly popular. Is there a genre that sells better than others or that you can’t get enough of?
Tracy: Although we haven’t published any Crime / Mystery books, they seem to be selling well.
Morgen: How can an author submit to you?
Tracy: They can submit directly through our website at: http://Kgbooks.org or through our email at: email@example.com
Morgen: Can you suggest some do’s and don’t’s when submitting to you.
Tracy: 1. Do take time to proofread. 2. Don’t be blunt and think we are at your mercy. 3. Do take time to research the market to see what sells. 4. Do give us time to read your manuscript.
Morgen: I have heard of authors submitting manuscripts then phoning up the next day to see if the agent / publisher has read it yet! Are there authors that you deal with on a regular basis and / or perhaps represent directly?
Tracy: We play a key role in marketing and helping our authors learn to market for themselves. One author which I will not name, calls almost everyday.
Morgen: This is a question that I ask authors but I think is just as relevant to you as a publisher: what was the first book / story you published?
Tracy: The first story was A Closer Walk but it was only in Ebook format.
Morgen: Do you run competitions?
Tracy: Not as yet. Most of our time right now is dedicated to publishing, marketing and educating our authors.
Morgen: To your knowledge, have any of your published books / stories won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Tracy: Not as yet, but we are hopeful.
Morgen: :) What do you feel about an author writing under a pseudonym? Do you think they make a difference to their profile? And would you recommend an author writing under different names for different genres?
Tracy: I think an author should take credit for their work. If they keep the same name throughout the process then it will be easier to market them.
Morgen: It certainly would. It takes a lot of work to get known. Another semi-priceless question: do you think an agent is vital to an author’s success? How would you suggest an author gets one?
Tracy: I know most publisher use agents but we prefer not to. At least not at the moment.
Morgen: Now for, in theory, a simple question: what’s your opinion of eBooks, do you publish them and do you read them?
Tracy: I think ebooks are becoming more and more vital to the publishing industry. So, yes we publish them.
Morgen: Poetry and short stories are, in my opinion anyway, the two most hard done by genres… what do you see as the future for them? Do you think the eBook revolution will help given that eBooks seem to be getting shorter?
Tracy: The way the world is becoming so fast paced, most readers like to read something quickly and then move on to the next book. So I think short stories are going to become more prevalent.
Morgen: As a short story writer first and foremost I’m biased, but I think so too. Is there a plot that’s written about too often?
Tracy: The vampire scene is getting redundant.
Morgen: I tend to agree but perhaps will return in another few years – Dracula will always be a favourite of many. Do you have to do a lot of editing to the stories you accept or is the writing usually more or less fully-formed?
Tracy: We have editors and yes, all has to be editing in some way or another.
Morgen: For your purposes, does it matter what point of view a story is written in?
Tracy: The point of view of a story depends on how the author wants the book to be viewed. So if it helps the story, I say go for it.
Morgen: Have you had any surprising feedback about any of your published works?
Tracy: My books have had lots of surprising feedbacks.
Morgen: Good, hopefully. Is there a story, section or theme of a book that you’ve printed, or yet to print, that you’re particularly fond of? And why?
Tracy: I enjoy reading more realistic type books but historical is nice to read too.
Morgen: I have had agents say to me they want more crime and historical (and a mixture of the two!). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Tracy: Don’t be so quick to get your manuscript in print. A polished book takes time, energy and lots of editing.
Morgen: It certainly does. I’ve done six NaNoWriMos and soon learned that the writing was the easy bit. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Tracy: I see more and more writing careers out there other than just writing a book.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you could recommend?
Tracy: Here are a few I have found. http://www.writerscafe.org/, http://www.writersdigest.com/, http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/, http://literary.yolasite.com, http://thewomensnest.com/
Morgen: Given that more emphasis these days is put on the author to market their published works or indeed themselves as a ‘brand’, how involved are you generally with your authors post-publication?
Tracy: We help the author not only market some themselves but we use different venues to market them too. If they succeed, we succeed. We don’t get anything if the book doesn’t sell, so we strive to make sure it does.
Morgen: That’s a very good incentive. Apart from your website, how do you market yourselves? Are your authors involved in marketing for you / themselves?
Tracy: We use various ways to market including cold calls, social media, book signings, etc…
Morgen: In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about, or distributing, your publications?
Tracy: We are based in the United States. No, it is not a hindrance at all.
Morgen: What do you think of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and more business-related such as LinkedIn? Do you think they’re invaluable or too time-consuming?
Tracy: They are definitely ways to market an author and are invaluable.
Morgen: Apart from the stories in your publications, what do you like to read? Any authors (including those you’ve published) that you’d like to recommend?
Tracy: There are too many great authors to name just one. I encourage readers to give Terry Bradley’s new children’s book: How Bees Came to Make Chili a try or my book: Southern Attraction.
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related?
Tracy: I write three blogs. One for the publishing agency, two myself.
Morgen: Again I’m biased, but blogs are a great way to get noticed. What do you do when you’re not working?
Tracy: It seems like I am always working. I do enjoy spending time with my family.
Morgen: I ask my guest authors for their least favourite aspect of their writing life and the answer is usually ‘marketing’. Even those who enjoy it resent the time it takes away from their writing – we are writers, after all. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Tracy: We are taking submission in any genre except erotica at Kgbookspub@yahoo.com or through our website at Kgbooks.org
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Tracy: No but I appreciate the interview today.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Tracy. Thank you for joining me.
I then invited Tracy to include a self-contained excerpt of her writing…
Excerpt for: Southern Attraction, Chapter Five
Heather was awakened by the sound of her alarm. Today is the first day of the rest of my life, she thought as she stretched and yawned. She jumped up out of her bed, hit the silence button on the alarm, and went to her closet to pick out her clothes for the day. After looking through all her clothes, she sighed deeply.
What can I wear to this illiterate, rustic school. If I dress up, then people will think I’m a snob and snub me. If I dress down, then I will blend into the crowd, and I will not be able to accomplish anything. I guess I have my answer. I need to be seen in order to make a difference, whether good or bad.
Heather picked out her black leather skirt, a white dress shirt, a black fringed soft leather jacket and her black leather boots. At least I’m wearing boots, that way I’ll blend in somewhat, she thought. She styled her hair the way she always did and put on her makeup with a little more emphasis than usual.
Heather heard a knock on the door, “Yes, what do you want?” she asked. “I’m going to be outside. My cotton pickin’ cow, Molly, got out of the fence, and I have to round her up. Be back after a while,” Mick said through the door. “All right, but I’m leaving in a few minutes, so I’ll see you after school,” Heather replied.
“Okey dokey, see ya later,” Mick responded.
“Okey dokey! I can’t believe I’m living with a redneck, dirt farmer,” she said as she rolled her eyes. Heather glanced at the alarm, “Crap, I’m going to be late”, she said as she grabbed her purse and ran out the door. The door slammed behind her as she ran to the car. She looked around for Mick, but didn’t see him anywhere. I guess he’ll realize I’m gone when he doesn’t hear from me, she thought.
As Heather drove down the narrow gravel road she looked for the right road to take to get her to the school. She saw Mick with a belt whipping his cow. “Now I’m seen everything,” she said as she laughed.
As Heather approached the school, a green ford truck ran right in front of her. She paused for a second after giving him the finger. I can’t believe these idiots, she thought. She pulled into the parking space closer to the front of the school, and she looked over to the green pickup truck.
A scruffy looking guy with long hair climbed out of the truck. “You need to watch where you’re going. This ain’t New York, this is my town,” he said very hatefully with a smirk on his face. “No, you need to watch where you are going, you hick. You’re the one who ran in front of me,” Heather replied as she pointed her finger at him. Heather was a little tougher than she looked. She wasn’t going to let some corn fed hillbilly talk to her like that.
“How do you know I’m from New York anyway?” she asked.
“That is for me to know and you to find out,” he replied as he turned away from her.
Heather wasn’t used to people treating her this way, especially boys. She was the most popular girl in the whole school at Manhattan High School. Now she was in a place that was oblivious to the fact that she wore an eighteen hundred dollar Armani jacket and Louboutin boots. How can anyone not care about fashion, she thought. Fashion is what made her so popular. Everyone in Manhattan wanted what she had. She was the envy of all the girls at her school. Now she felt like she was an outsider looking in through a dark stained glass and no one could see her.
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