As you may or may not know my first book “The Keepers” was published by a press which was the brain child of Stephanie Taylor. Astraea also published my short story “The Mulligan Man”, and will be publishing my second novel “Jamais Vu” in September. Needless to say, I’ve been overjoyed with the experience. Stephanie is an author, editor, and now operates her own publishing company. This isn’t just any publishing company, but one based on the concept that romance can be sweet and that there is a market for great books with strong writing that leave out profanity and erotica. If you haven’t read anything on Astraea’s line-up you are missing out. Stephanie has an eye for talent and is a huge team player when it comes to helping her authors produce their best work. She let me ask her a few questions recently and I hope you enjoy getting to know her and Astraea Press’ mission.
1. What made you want to step out on your own and create a publishing company?
Steph: I had been editing all genres, including erotica for longer than I really wanted to. Once I kept hearing that people were getting sick of erotica and wanted stories to go back to the actual STORY instead of focusing on the sex, I realized this was the kind of home I was looking for with my own writing. I don’t write erotica and I don’t write inspirational. Astraea was born after I decided that things all come full circle. Certainly, sex will always sell better, but I dare you to try one of our books and tell me what you think!
2. Astraea’s guidelines for publishing are a bit of a diviation from the norm. Have you found readers have been receptive to the sweeter romances?
Steph: After being in business for only six months, Astraea has proved TEN FOLD that there is a market for sweeter romances. Sensuality isn’t compromised and everyone has loved our books. We’re close to operating in the black after only a few short months. How’s that for receptive? ;o)
3. I love it! We knew it all along right? What has surprised you the most about the venture into the publishing world?
Steph: That everything everyone else before me has said is true. People always rush through their edits to submit; they don’t have critique partners when they should, and some write just to write without really learning the “formula”. Some would argue the formula is a bad thing, making books cookie cutter, but I assure you that the romance and fiction formula is there for a reason!
4. I agree. It takes time to learn, but really works when you listen and are receptive. How are you managing to juggle your family, home schooling, being a wife, mother, editor and all the responsibilities of the publication process?
Steph: That is the question of the day! ;o) I typically only work after my kids are in bed. We have strict bedtime schedules so I can get about four hours in before I go to sleep. So my work hours during the day are only sporadic because my family does come before work. I have also been blessed with a wonderful team of people who help me every day with the publication process and editing. It really does take a village and everyone from my husband, to a local friend to some online friends have helped me make Astraea what it is. We can only keep going forward.
5. You’re also a writer. Have you found it difficult to fit in time to work on your own novels?
Steph: What writing?
6. Okay, Okay. I can totally understand. I just thought maybe you had the superwoman secret! What do you look for in a prospective writer?
Steph: I look for a good attitude, a good knowledge of punctuation and GMC (goal, motivation and conflict) and general story telling ability.
7. What is the one thing which will make a manuscript stand out and grab your attention?
Steph: GMC. If you’ve got that, you’ve got a great story. Period.
8. How do you deal with the various personalities you encounter while working with authors?
Steph: That can be challenging, but I try to remember that without these authors, I wouldn’t have a business and without me, they might not have a publisher. We all make the world go ’round!
9. That’s a refreshing attitude. We all need to lean on each other. Do you have any advice for prospective authors who would want to approach Astraea Press?
Steph: Know your publisher. We’re the kind of publisher that takes the approach of ‘better safe than sorry’. If the content is questionable, it won’t fly with us. And for the love, don’t put curse words in your story. They’re not necessary and you won’t hear a single complaint that someone is disappointed you didn’t put them in.
10. Are there any particular genres you would like to see grow?
Steph: I’d love to see fantasy and sci-fi grow. Young adult is my favorite but e-books in that genre aren’t as popular as print.
11. How do you feel about the authors creative control over their work?
Steph: It’s extremely important and I THINK my authors would all say that I’m good about listening to their views. As long as their views don’t compromise my morals and the mission I’ve set for Astraea, we can work on anything.
12. I can vouch for that. I’ve felt like you were totally open to my point of view. You win some, you lose some 🙂 What is the most important thing you have brought to the Astraea from your editing background?
Steph: Understanding. I have over 100 published novels under my belt, either my own or other publishers and I KNOW what its like to get a gruff editor or business owner. Basically, when I opened AP, I decided I wouldn’t treat any of my authors any different than I wanted to be treated as an author. You’ll have to ask them if I’ve succeeded. ;o)
13. Being an Astraea author I have to say mission accomplished. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the authors out there?
Steph: For some, it’s a big leap to write sweet (heh, that rhymes), but it’s not as compromising as people think it is. In fact, it’s HARDER to write sweet and keep the story focused on NOT allowing your characters to tango. I dare everyone who reads this to write me something and see how it goes!
She’s not kidding! Write something and send it over to her at email@example.com! If you get a contract you will enjoy the exprience. If you don’t you will get valuable and sincere feedback. Hope you enjoyed Stephanie as much as I do!