Welcome to the four hundred and thirty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with mystery writer and Cozy Cat Press publisher Patricia Rockwell. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Patricia. You’re a writer but I’d like to talk about the publishing side of you if you don’t mind. Can you please briefly explain the structure of your publishing house… perhaps who’s involved along the process of an acceptance to the book being published.
Patricia: Hi, Morgen! I founded Cozy Cat Press about four years ago shortly after I retired from my career as a Communication professor and researcher. After about two days of retirement I was bored and began writing mysteries. Soon, I realized that the chances of getting my books published by a traditional book publisher were slim, so I embarked on my new career as a publisher. As I had publishing and editing experience from my eight years as an editor of a small regional academic journal, I put this knowledge to immediate use. Unfortunately, my tenure as an academic editor and publisher didn’t prepare me for the book industry as much as I would have liked.
To start out, I found a like-minded writer who lived in my area–Diane Morlan. We discovered we both liked the same kind of mysteries and we helped each other hone our books. Diane was my number one supporter as I started to put Cozy Cat Press together. She then became my first author. Today, CCP publishes Diane’s two cozy mysteries ‘Too Dead To Dance’ and ‘Shake Down Dead’. Because Diane and I worked together on polishing our first books, she didn’t really need to submit her book to me, per se. I simply formed the company and started producing my books and hers. As our books began to sell, I decided to encourage other mystery writers to submit their manuscripts.
As of now, we are four authors strong. In addition to Diane’s two books, we also have Allen B. Boyer, who writes the Bess Bullock retirement home mystery series. His books include ‘Gumshoe Granny Investigates’ and ‘Clues Over Croissants’. Sharon Rose writes the Parson’s Cove cozy mystery series. Her books include ‘Slip And Go Die’ and ‘Perplexity On P 1/2’. My own books are comprised of two series: the Pamela Barnes acoustic mysteries — ‘Sounds Of Murder’, ‘FM For Murder’, ‘Voice Mail Murder’, and ‘Stump Speech Murder’; and the Essie Cobb senior sleuth mysteries—‘Bingoed, Papoosed’, and ‘Valentined’.
Today, the Cozy Cat website has a contact page that indicates where prospective authors can submit manuscripts for consideration. I receive manuscripts on a regular basis. Many I dismiss immediately because they simply are not cozy mysteries (a cozy mystery being a gentle tale with minimal amounts of blood, violence, coarse language, or gratuitous sex). Many manuscripts are well written but simply don’t fit the cozy model–and if Cozy Cat Press is anything, it is a publisher of cozy mysteries.
When a manuscript is submitted, I read it. I usually can tell quickly if it has potential for CCP. If I believe that it is something that we might publish, I will contact the author and discuss publication or possibly suggest revisions. If and when the author and I agree that a particular manuscript is ready for publication, I will send the author a contract that indicates our policies and when that is signed, we proceed with producing the book.
Morgen: You’re a publisher of cosy mysteries, do you just accept the one genre? What would you suggest an author do with a cross-genre piece of writing?
Patricia: This is a common occurrence for CCP. Authors frequently submit manuscripts that tend to be more “thriller” than “cozy mystery” and, in these cases, I suggest that the author submit to another publisher who would be more open to producing this type of mystery.
Morgen: The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, Writers’ Handbook and Writer’s Digest would be good places to start. How can an author submit to you?
Patricia: If the author is certain that they have written a cozy mystery, CCP will want to read it. Go to our website: www.cozycatpress.com to the contact page for information on how to submit your manuscript.
Morgen: Now for, in theory, a simple question: what’s your opinion of eBooks, do you publish them and do you read them?
Patricia: Yes to both questions. As a small publisher, ebooks are the primary way our authors make sales. Small publishers find it virtually impossible to get their books into brick and mortar bookstores, so we have to rely on ebook sales to be successful. Certainly, with the Amazon Kindle, our authors are finding that ebook sales far surpass the sale of print books. I own a Kindle and I not only read books on it for pleasure, I also read all manuscripts that are submitted to CCP on it.
Morgen: Most of the authors I’ve spoken to say they sell more eBooks than pBooks these days so I think you’re very wise. Do you have to do a lot of editing to the stories you accept or is the writing usually more or less fully-formed?
Patricia: If I see that I would have to do a lot of editing, I probably will not accept a manuscript. There are far too many excellent manuscripts out there that do not require editing, that it would be foolish to waste a lot of time on one that was unpolished.
Morgen: That’s the key, isn’t it. To get it as good as it can be before submitting it anywhere – this is where writing groups, a critique partner or editor would be essential. Apart from your website, how do you market yourselves? Are your authors involved in marketing for you / themselves?
Patricia: All authors these days have to do a lot of their own marketing–even traditionally published authors. The Cozy Cat Press authors all market their books in their own unique ways. Some are very hands on and like to take copies of their books around to various stores and organizations. Others seek out ways to get their book featured in local newspapers. I work hard at trying to get the CCP name out to the public and bring attention to our authors and their books. Some methods work; others don’t.
Morgen: It’s all a learning curve, isn’t it. Thank you so much, Patricia. Do come back sometime and talk more about your writing and I’d be more than happy to chat with your authors.
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