- Executive Publisher and Chief Editor
with Bothsams Publishing -
I am always seeking a variety of people to interview. Here is a writer and publisher, which is exactly what I am.
Welcome, Lourdes ...
1. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A PUBLISHER?
I began originally as a musician and composer/songwriter with the old BMI songwriter’s guild in the 90s. From there, I became a licensing agent for multi-media content in 2002 (music, video and film licensing and publishing) and eventually realized, with distribution and promotion and editorial services, I could do a lot for the independent writer’s industry as well. I registered my music licensing and publishing previously, so I refiled to include book publishing early in 2018.
2. WHY A PUBLISHER?
When I published my first book, I encountered so many difficulties dealing with publishing resources, that I took my licensing agency with ASCAP and converted to full, traditional publishing, but for multi-media content and designed to assist independent artists. Independents cannot get to traditional publishers, most of whom are not authors and don’t understand authors’ needs, so, my company goes to the authors, instead, accepting unsolicited submissions, doing pro bono consulting and contract review, and promoting selected authors/artists whose work we really endorse.
3. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A PUBLISHER?
As a publisher, I can do so much more for other artists. Traditional publishers just squat on their catalogues, do not foster artist communities or “scenes,” do not meet contributors face-to-face, and pretend that they know what “quality” is, as if they hold the golden keys. It’s just not true. I’d like to bring the traditional industry out from behind its veil of secrecy so artists can make better decisions and have traditional resources that formerly would be completely inaccessible to them. I saw “the machine” of the music industry just chew up so many good, talented artists. I’d like to provide an alternative for independent authors before all that good work goes down the drain.
4. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I was an industry artist – I had the full backing of guilds, agencies, labels, conductors, etc. Independent artists generally have not had that “grooming” experience, and they’ve been burned. They are very distrustful, and extremely worried about misappropriation – rightfully so. So, the dialogue and outreach we do is often met with extreme scepticism, which is understandable, but from our perspective, is virtually a sign of a history of abuse and neglect, as we call it, on the part of the industry. To us, it’s just a reminder of how awful that machine really was, and still is. Ironically, as a publisher, we face more “rejection” than I ever did as an artist LOL But...the industry gives you patience and a thick skin.
5. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A PUBLISHER?
Musician, performer, martial arts choreographer, Air Force veteran, scholar, spoken word performer, consultant, film, TV and broadcast producer and licensing agent, educator, writer...finally publisher. And, for several years, an equestrian and athlete (track).
6. HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
I have published two, with three in the queue.
7. WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?
Actually, two academic manuscripts about decolonizing education, but I am a big fan of John McWhorter (linguistics).
8. WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS A PUBLISHER?
Straight up...original, crafted language in an authentic voice, really thick situations, no contrived, superficial, plug-and-play tropes or characters that are like paper dolls – you could just switch them out or redress them and they’d be essentially the same with different names, etc. I love authentic dialect. And most of all, a surprise ending. I hate warm, fuzzy, safe, typical, snarky, superficial (“trendy”), vapid, or malicious stuff...it’s tripe. I especially enjoy extremely well-researched historical fiction, and biographies, and authors who bother to deliver elegantly produced manuscripts (layout and graphics, font, etc., were all carefully chosen and reflect the author’s intent and perspective, for instance).
9. DO YOU PREFER TO PUBLISH A PARTICULAR GENRE? WHY?
No, actually, I will publish and/or promote and endorse what I consider superior, rich, authentic writing, regardless of genre. Also, I have a sense of what’s relevant and “important” in contemporary culture and society, and what’s the “next new thing.”
10. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
New writers are very...integrated in their relationship to themselves and their own experiences. You want to try writing about things you actually know nothing about or even vehemently disagree with, to find out what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Can you characterize and even come to understand – if not forgive – a monster, for instance? With that distance, your craft, and instrumentality, and particular style, will shine through much more strongly, but this is counterintuitive to most new writers. If you’re just putting out your diary with some name changes and a bit of personal indulgence, you’re not really working toward mastering your craft. Also, in our case, please do not worry about sending us a perfect manuscript. We will work to develop it. Do not be afraid to reach out to publishers and publicists to pitch yourselves and your work. Know your worth, and the value of artists in society, and believe that you matter. Do NOT take no for an answer, or let bad reviews or disinterest dissuade you - ever.
11. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE TO WORK?
Kitchen table, way late into the night, with a couple of candles glowing, and I handwrite my drafts...(way too Gothic, I know LOL)
12. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN PUBLISHING A MANUSCRIPT?
There are a couple of joy bumps...when you see the finished layout, when your Kirkus review comes back glowing, when your reviewers say, “I’ve never heard a voice like this,” and then when the book finally arrives and you get to sign it for those people who supported you all the way. Seeing it on a shelf in a bookstore...that’s a bit of a mixed bag.
13. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE ALL TIME AUTHOR? WHY?
Of authors...I will read everything Neil Gaiman puts out. His incredible grasp of literature, his wry and prosaic phrasing, and the beautiful, dangerous worlds he creates...mesmerizing.
14. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A CLIENT?
“I could not have done this without you.”
15. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A CLIENT?
When a deal for licensing fell through, the client, who was representing his son, said, “You didn’t tell the world how important he is...” He just didn’t understand that there’s always another, and usually a better, deal when the first one dries up and blows away.
16. DO SOME OF YOUR CLIENTS FRUSTRATE YOU?
Always...they’re frustrated, and anxious, anyway, so, eventually, it wafts over through the phone and email, but it’s expected.
17. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU AS A PUBLISHER?
Certainly. I am indigenous (Acadian-Cree: Quebec) and I also work with human rights practitioners in heavy conflict areas, globally. Some of the stories that come to us are so incredibly painful...it gets to you.
18. OTHER THAN PUBLISHING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
19. DO YOU ALSO WRITE?
Of course...and I teach creative writing, linguistics and poetry, as well as scriptwriting, speechwriting, and documentary production.
20. ARE SOME MANUSCRIPTS DIFFICULT TO REVIEW? WHY?
Of course...you can see that the author, thinking they need to appeal to what they think a publisher wants, had sabotaged the manuscript with unnecessary alterations...especially, when they dilute the impact or clean up language unnecessarily...I understand it, but, we have to go back in the editorial phase and say, basically, “Look, Mozart, put the ballet back in.”
21. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Ah...strolling, stopping in to see friends, getting a good sing-along going...no phones or devices dinging anywhere, no one in a rush, no particular place to be.
22. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Launching our new series, a translation project with two NGOs in Ghana, two festivals, exhibitor’s tours, and securing a cable media channel.
23. DO YOU HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH OTHER PUBLISHERS?
I do have contact with a few, but they are, as I said, notoriously secretive and proprietary...almost “stuck up.”
24. HOW DO YOU SEE PUBLISHING IN GENERAL? POSITIVE?
Well, if you don’t distribute your work (“publishing”), how is it going to get into the hands of readers? Even uploading it to social media channels is publishing.
25. WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON E-BOOKS VERSUS TRADITIONAL BOOKS?
E-books give more options, are easier to produce, easier to share and use for promotional ops, and fantastic for ease of access by reviewers. Many print books cannot contain graphics, due to cost, but ebooks can be little mini art galleries. Audio books, as well, are fantastic as e-format material.
26. IS THERE ANY ONE THING THAT ‘SMACKS YOU IN THE FACE’ AFTER READING A MANUSCRIPT, OR IS IT A COLLECTION OF THINGS?
Glaring tropes...instantly recognizable and a massive “no,” for me. A good manuscript starts with an incredible situation, crafted language, and atypical characters and reactions/plot twists. The emotional or intellectual impact is full, something you have to process, right from the get-go. When you’re afraid to turn the page but can’t put the book down – yep. That’s a bestseller.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Lourdes. Very interesting indeed, and I enjoyed your easy writing style.