Flying Pen Press: The Hunt for Great Authors

guest blog by David A. Rozansky, Publisher, Flying Pen Press 

booksExactly how does Flying Pen Press find its authors?

To answer that, one must understand that, as publishing houses go, Flying Pen Press is different, in many ways. 

Who is Flying Pen Press? 

Flying Pen Press is a small, independent publisher. We have neither staff nor funds to read unsolicited manuscripts. Literary agents overlook us.

Authors and readers now connect directly without the “book trade” involved. Authors have become our clients, not our suppliers. We help authors connect with their readers. Notice, I say “their readers,” not “our readers.”

We use print-on-demand technology. There is no need for warehouses and no inventory risk. That reduces costs over a traditional print run. We can take more chances on unknown authors.

We pay royalties differently. Authors receive a share of the book’s gross profits—net receipts less printing fees—usually 35% to 46%. As more books sell directly to readers, profit margins increase and greater royalties go to the authors. 

What Does Flying Pen Press Publish?

When we look at a proposal, we ask if the book fits our imprints. Flying Pen Press publishes a variety of books, fiction and nonfiction.

In fiction, we publish most all genres except erotica, YA or poetry. We have a many science fiction titles right now, because we found our first authors at Mile Hi Con, a science fiction convention in Denver, and our first catalog focused on the World Science Fiction Convention last year.

Because of our experience with Science Fiction, it is easiest to publish, but we are not limited to any one genre.

In nonfiction, we look at most topics. We do not publish New Age, Religious or Art books. We do have some specific nonfiction imprints.

  • Game Day: game books and books about games
  • Flying Pen Press Aviation: technical, travel memoir, how-to and fiction subjects, for aviation enthusiasts and professionals.
  • Flying Piggybank Press: business, finance and career.
  • Traveling Pen Press: travel memoirs.
  • Flying Pen Press Travel Guides: directories and guides for travelers.
  • We have four regional imprints: Flying Pen Press Colorado, Flying Pen Press Southwest, Flying Pen Press Rocky Mountain West, and Flying Pen Press Park Trek for national parks and monuments of North America.
  • The Press for Humanitarian Causes: a non-profit imprint to give a voice to those in developing nations who do not have a voice, and those volunteers who serve them. 

What does Flying Pen Press Look For?

If the concept meets our imprints or marketing channels, we look closely at the author. The quality of the author is far more important than the quality of the manuscript. If the author is not ready for the book trade, their books do not sell. Therefore, we ask questions and do research on the Internet.

Naturally, the author must be able to produce great material. We go to the public and see what they are saying on the Internet. We also read a small sample of the author’s work, preferably from material published on the Internet or in magazines or other publishers. An author who needs remedial training in grammar is of no use.

Then we search the author’s name, through Google, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Technorati, and this is often where we weed out most of the submitted queries and proposals. We read comments by fans and lay readers.

Next, we determine the visible size of the author’s platform. A platform is a fan base or following that regularly reads the author’s material and is likely to buy her book.

We consider the platform in three ways:

  1. We can work with an author of promising talent who has started the process of developing a platform, and mentor them. This usually requires local authors. Telecommuting just does not work at this level of personal tutorage.
  2. The author has successfully built a sizable platform. We can see that the book will sell in profitable numbers rather quickly. Often, this is a quick decision for us because certainly, the author has approached other publishers.
  3. The author’s material easily fits into a platform we already have in place, like one of our nonfiction imprints.

In most cases, we are looking for authors who are building steady platforms of their own.

We want to see a blog with a lot of regular, repeat traffic. The number of “unique” visitors is not as important as is the number of “repeat” visitors. The blog should also be relevant to the author’s work. Novelists should post short stories.

The author should also participate in social media. We look at the size of the followers on Twitter, the number of fans on Facebook, and the number of friends on MySpace, as well as the intensity and authenticity of the discussions.

The author should have an electronic newsletter and a print newsletter. The number of regular subscribers to this newsletter is important. The size of the author’s mailing list is important, too, and we look at how she built it.

Basically, it all boils down to how the author attracts a fan base, and how she communicates with her fans.

If the author seems promising, we move on to an author interview and try to assess a number of factors:

  • Can the author write prolifically? We want an author to be able to produce two to four novels a year, regularly, a pace that unnerves many new authors.
  • Can the author accept writing assignments? If the author is not an assignment writer, can she write on the same subject or with the same characters and setting for many years?
  • Does the author blog regularly? Is she capable of producing a wealth of material that is always fresh, or is the blog merely a revolving advertisement? If the author is a novelist, can she supply short stories to feed to her fans between novels?
  • Is the author prone to miss a deadline? Ever? This is a vital concern.

Once all of these questions are resolved, only then do we ask for the complete manuscript. We often find 5-10 lay readers who volunteer to review the manuscript, and if their reviews are positive, an editor reads it. If the editor likes it, we perform a marketing analysis, and if all is well, we make an offer on the book. 

Where Does Flying Pen Press Find Authors? 

Flying Pen Press editors actively seek out authors. Our primary hunting ground is any gathering of authors. This includes writers conferences, genre-specific conventions, and writers association meetings. We also turn to social media. I am on Twitter most every day, looking for new authors and stating my immediate wishes subjects and story ideas.

Of course, email continues to be the busiest channel for reaching us. We look at proposals and queries, but it is a longer process because there is a delay in communication, and our email is so full of spam and frivolous submissions.

Do not even think about mailing a manuscript. A simple query letter is fine, but a manuscript by regular post tells us that the writer clashes with the electronic world that is publishing.

Sometimes, our Net surfing allows us to find an author’s platform without any previous contact. At those times, we will often initiate the contact with the author. 

About David A. Rozansky and Flying Pen Press 

David A. Rozansky is a writer with 23 years experience in journalism, public relations writing, magazine publishing, and book publishing. He has more than one million words published. He founded Flying Pen Press as a writer-centric publishing company that uses new rules for the new century.

David A. Rozansky receives emails at Publisher@FlyingPenPress.com. He can be reached directly at 303-375-0499. His Twitter account is @DavidRozansky

Flying Pen Press is located at 5491 E. Jewell Ave., Denver, CO 80222. The company website is FlyingPenPress.com.

Query letters and book proposals can be submitted to Flying Pen Press by email at Submissions@FlyingPenPress.com. Include the word “Submission” in the subject line.

All Flying Pen Press titles are available wherever great books are sold. 

Acknowledgments 

I would like to thank Deborah Riley-Magnus for inviting me to participate on her blog as a guest writer. The advice she gives to writers is invaluable, and I am proud to be a part of this experience. I met Deborah on Twitter, and she has been kind enough to point other authors my way.

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About Deborah Riley-Magnus

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations as a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and non-fiction. Since 2010, she had two novels released. In 2013 her nonfiction, Finding Author Success (Second Edition), and Cross Marketing Magic for Authors were released. Her newest book, Write Brain/Left Brain, focuses on bridging the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Deborah produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She writes an author industry blog and teaches online and live workshops as The Author Success Coach. She belongs to several writing and professional organizations. Deborah has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely. She is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and recently returned after living in Los Angeles, California for several years. View all posts by Deborah Riley-Magnus

6 responses to “Flying Pen Press: The Hunt for Great Authors

  • Michelle

    Thanks Riley & David for yet another value added blog post. I think David brings up some points that are just bang on, namely around author quality and their platform. In many instances, writers feel that if they got picked up, they can sit back and wait for the royalty cheques to arrive. This just isn’t the case. Our biggest sellers have been by authors who put themselves, as well as their books, out there as a brand. I try to quote their examples to our authors who are less adept at doing this. Unfortunately, for many writers, writing is something they do outside of their day job, and to then go and market themselves means trying to carve more hours out of a day. However, doing so means book sales – and if they do it well enough, they just might be able to leave that day job. Thanks for the insight into your business and for your perspective and advice to writers, I’ll be sure to point ours and others to this post.
    Michelle Halket
    ireadiwrite Publishing

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Thanks Michelle. Looks like we need more exploration of “platforms”, how to build them, how to overcome time-planning issues and maybe even shyness.

    Deb

  • medleymisty

    I found this by googling David Rozansky after finding him in my Twitter followers. 🙂

    My story is made with the Sims 3 game. I plan on writing a non-Sims version after it’s done. I do market it a lot – I’m sort of addicted to seeing new clicks on my stats page.

    It was the bit about overcoming shyness in Deb’s comment that made me want to post. I am naturally very introverted and shy and even have a touch of social anxiety. Back in the days of Sims 2 I would avoid my guestbook and not read comments on forums.

    I think that what helped me was gathering the courage to just look at a few comments and see that they were positive and that it wasn’t the horrible negativity I imagined. That and a great overwhelming passion for this particular story.

    So, I guess my point is that one way to overcome shyness is by exposure – putting yourself out there bit by bit until you see that it’s not at all what you imagined and that people aren’t really that scary.

  • Deborah Riley-Magnus

    Nope, people really aren’t that scary. In fact, most want to support and help. Best of luck with all your endeavors and stop by often!

    Deb

  • Normand

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It truly helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to present one thing again and help others like you aided me.

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