After working in a variety of occupations from actress to motorcycle safety instructor (both extremely valuable to a mystery author) she earned a degree in anthropology from UC Davis before deciding to return to writing. She now lives in Vermont with her dogs, kids, husband and currently several feet of snow.
by Kate George
At a time when publishing seems uncertain at best, and harrowing tales of cuts at the major publishing houses are making authors quake in their boots, there is a publisher that has been steadily increasing the number of books it publishes. Mainly Murder Press, LLC opened its doors in early 2009 and published its first novel, Moonlighting in Vermont in August of that year. They currently have twenty-one titles for sale with one release a month for the rest of the year. Not bad for a small press.
How do they manage? Well first of all your manuscript must be ready. MMP does very little editing or revision. If they like the story, great! But you are responsible for making sure there aren’t any typos in the manuscript.
They will format for the printer, and make small suggestions, but don’t expect to get a manuscript back with suggested revisions and a promise to re-read when the revisions are finished. Either it’s ready or it’s not. I suggest having someone read for typos before you submit. If you can’t afford a copy editor – and many of us can’t – then find a good friend or family member with an eye for detail and promise them dinner if they’ll proof your manuscript.
Up until January 2011 MMP only published mystery and suspense either set in New England or written by a New England author. However as of the next submission period, October 2011, they’ve opened the presses to all mystery and suspense authors. A wide spread of subgenres are represented among the MMP titles, from cozy to international suspense, so if your work is good and falls under the mystery and suspense heading then it’s worth it to give it a try.
The downside, because isn’t there always a downside? Is that MMP doesn’t pay an advance. The upside is that their royalties are somewhat higher than publishers offering an advance. So it balances out. It also doesn’t take quite so long to get your work into print. The tough part is that if you want your book to sell, you will have to do your own promotion. But that’s the case for everybody who isn’t a best seller these days. The advantage of being with one of the big houses is that they actually but books in stores. As a MMP author you will have to ask bookstores to carry your books.
And yes, if you were wondering, Moonlighting in Vermont is mine. I was the first author published by MMP and I’m afraid I let them down in the area of promotion. With my second book, California Schemin’, hopefully I’ve learned a little bit more, but I’m not sure. For me it’s the hardest part of being an author –discovering venues for meeting prospective readers and going to events. For one thing, I live in the hills of Vermont. It’s a hike to get to the bookstores. For another, I’m shy. Like many authors I find promoting my work to be excruciating.
I’ve been working on online promotion, following the methodology of Draculas and other online successes. So far I’m not doing that well. I haven’t been able to find that magical mix that gets people reading. But I’m working on it.
The long and the short? If you’re a mystery writer with a polished manuscript who’d like to get your work into print then give Mainly Murder Press a try. Go to mainlymurderpress.com and read the submission guidelines and while you’re waiting for submissions to open again polish your work.
And here's a bit about the book:
A California vacation sounds like a great idea to Vermonter Bree MacGowan until a dead woman falls into her life, she’s abducted from her bed, and her boyfriend disappears completely. It’s enough to make a girl wish she’d never heard of California. Luckily for Bree, a rugged undercover federal agent is determined to keep her from becoming a casualty in his latest case, but Bree is less than cooperative. It could be she doesn’t know he’s on her side, or maybe she’s just plain hardheaded. Either way, it’s enough to make a guy wish he’d never heard of Bree MacGowan.
California Schemin’ available at http://mainlymurderpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=52, http://www.amazon.com/California-Schemin-Kate-George/dp/0982795246/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1299175652&sr=8-5 and can be ordered from any bookstore.
Questions about small preses? Kate's publishing experiences? Any other Mainly Murder authors out there who'd like to chime in?
(Tomorrow--a true icon of the mystery world will be here to visit. You won't want to miss it! I mean, her.
And Saturday, a special offer just for JRW readers!)