Meet Kathryn Magendie. An unpretentious, eclectic soul with depth of heart, she is one who shares the beauty and peace of her Smoky Mountain home and its inspirations. This woman's worth knowing, just for those things alone. But there's so much more.
Kathryn, a writer, is co-editor/publisher for Rose & Thorn Literary Journal, where her expertise in craft is put to creative and directorial use. She's also chasing (and catching!) a longtime dream, making her way in the written world as a novelist.
Her debut title, Tender Graces, was released in spring 2009 and has been embraced by both readers and writers alike. Her raw and unique writing brings a fresh voice to literature, while lending relevance and relatability to her protagonist, Virginia Kate.
Today Kathryn takes a break from Virginia Kate's sequel, Secret Graces (coming soon!), to offer us advice and publication insights. Please welcome her with warmth!
I thought I’d answer some most-often-asked questions about the publishing side of things, instead of specifically about Virginia Kate. If you have anything you’d like to know (about the book business, or about Virginia Kate), ask me in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer!
How did you find your publishers?
December 2008, while half-watching a Christmas show in front of the fire, on impulse I googled “Southern Publishers.” Bellebooks’s motto “Southern Fried Fiction” caught my eye. After reading their submission guidelines, I thought, “Aw, they won’t want what I have . . .” but instead of giving up and passing them by, I queried them on the spot. By the end of that December, I had a contract with their imprint Bell Bridge Books, and by April of 2009, Tender Graces was in my hands. Sometimes impulsive actions work out!
Do you have an agent/Do you need an agent?
I didn’t need an agent to query Bellebooks. However, agent representation can (maybe) open other doors that smaller publishers may not be able to open, which is why I may consider querying for agent representation at some point.
The answer to the question “Do you need an agent?” is really one writers have to answer for themselves. You don’t have to have an agent to be traditionally published; I am an example of that. However, having an agent may, and I say may, open bigger doors, or more doors. Just remember: There are no guarantees in this business.
I hate/love/somewhere-in-between your cover(s)/title(s). Do you get to pick your covers and your title?
My publishers titled Tender Graces; we both then came up with Secret Graces. Both covers are Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books cover ideas. Most of the time authors have no control over their titles or covers. Publishers study the market and make decisions based on what they think will capture attention for the author’s books. Covers and titles, for the author and for the reader, are very personal, and the publishers need to look at it from a “not personal” business point of view.
Will you read my manuscript and tell me what you think?
As much as love supporting writers, I now have to say “no.” I used to edit manuscripts for a fee; and as well, I used to read a bit here and there and give my opinion for free. However, now I have deadlines to meet, and I have to promote and market and this and that. It’s hard enough finding time to write my own words. I will, however, help and offer encouragement in other ways. I believe we should support each other.
Can I have a free book?
Writers have to pay for many things out of their own pockets, and giving away books or other promo items is one of them. I can’t tell you what I’ve spent on give-aways, because I’m afraid to add it up. *laughing* (Bellebooks/Bell Bridge books does their own part in promo/marketing, too, but that is separate from what the author does.)
When an author’s books first go to print, we do receive some free copies from the publisher (and Bellebooks is generous compared to many publishers), however, once those complimentary copies are gone, we pay for all our books plus any shipping costs to us and then to the receiver of the book, so that’s double shipping costs for the author!
Please, help out us poor writers and buy our books if you are interested—we do so appreciate it! This is one business where people want or expect free things because they don’t understand the costs to the writer, so it’s: write for free, edit for free, give away books and et cetera for free. Imagine asking your doctor for a free physical, or for free haircuts, free groceries, free handmade soap and jewelry, free manicure, free art, free meals at your favorite restaurant—this book business is still a business, even if it doesn’t always seem so. Just something to think about, okay? *smiling*
Once I’m published, I can quit my job while the money rolls in, right?
See above. *laugh*
Bellebooks pays a small advance, and their royalty rates are the industry standard, but know that some small/independent publishers may not pay any advance at all and only royalties. And folks, you should never have to pay your publishers for anything other than books you purchase from them!—if you pay fees this is self or vanity publishing. Be sure to do your research. Be knowledgeable, savvy, and aware!
On average, traditionally published authors receive less than a dollar a book in royalties. Yes, that’s right. Therefore, unless you are on Oprah, a best seller’s list, or have a movie made based on your book, the money trickles in instead of floods in.
It has to be about more than the money or else most writers would not be in this business. It has to be about love—of writing, of words, of language, of holding the published book(s) in your hands, of knowing people are reading your words you constructed with love and care and a bit of insanity (laugh). You just have to be a little bit crazy in love with this business, and expect to have an empty wallet, or else you should look into something else, perhaps? Or find a way to get on those best seller’s lists and stay there!
Thank you, Janna, for inviting me to your blog for my blog tour! Thanks everyone!
And thank you, Kat, for sharing your wisdom! Your answers were wonderful.
Don't forget to leave any questions you may have in the comments section. Kat will be by to check in.
This just in: Kat has some very exciting news today! Visit her blog for the details.