Betsy Thorpe kindly took the time to answer a few questions about publishing and how to make the most of your time at the NC Writers’ Network Fall Conference’s Manuscript Mart, where she will be reviewing manuscripts. She is the director of marketing for Novello Festival Press, and runs a freelance editorial services company that advises authors on how to best prepare their works for consideration by agents and publishers.
1) What types of work does Novello publish?
We have the annual Novello Literary Award, which is open to residents of the Carolinas, and we publish the winner of that award. That award is given for fiction or narrative nonfiction. We also publish books on such things as music of the Carolinas (Making Notes, edited by Ann Wicker) and Sports in the Carolinas (edited by Ed Southern) and Thriving in the Shadows by Fannie Flono. Please read more about Novello on our Web site: www.novellopress.org.
2) How has the publishing landscape changed since the recession of 2008?
I think there are a few trends. We have had many comments made to us that people are looking for books that are escapist in nature—that take them away from our everyday worries and transport them. There are also quite a few excellent nonfiction books on what caused the recession (House of Cards, by William Cohan, I have heard is a real page turner). And as far as the publishing landscape for getting your work published: there are fewer publishers, with fewer editors, out there. But publishers need a frontlist in order to survive, and I think everyone is just beginning to crawl out from under their shells and to get the OK on buying books again.
3) What are the benefits of having an agent and meeting with an editor face-to-face?
An agent who may get one hundred queries a day from all over the world is able to attach a name and a face with a particular project, and that is golden. To be able to say: “We met at XYZ, and you asked me to send you my manuscript” places you at the top of the pile. I always recommend that people go to conferences to meet editors and agents. Even if the editor or agent cannot personally take you on, they may well know some good places to look.
4) What can registrants do to make their Manuscript Mart session as successful as possible?
Ask as many questions as you have about the marketability of the book, the future development of it, any ideas or suggestions, etc.
5) What are some future trends in publishing?
The publishing community needs to figure out what we’re going to do about e-books—with Kindle, the Sony Book Reader, and whatever Apple is about to come out with. Right now, prices for the individual books are so low on these digital books that they’re unsustainable, and many publishers are now learning that it’s better to do a release in hardcover first, and then Kindle a couple of months later, because everybody makes more money off of a hardcover. Also, I’m intrigued by what authors are doing to promote themselves with social networking. I encourage writers to look up some of their favorite authors and find out how they are engaging their readers on the Internet. With marketing and publicity dollars down, how do you get your new novel publicized?
To sign up for Manuscript Mart and Critique Service, please go here.
Anyone can join the NC Writers’ Network and come to the Fall Conference. You don’t have to be a member to register and registration is available for the conference until November 12. Spaces are still available for Manuscript Mart, Critique Service, and Master Classes. You have until November 2 to register for these added features.