Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interview with Children's Book Publisher Lynda Burch

How and when did Guardian Angel Publishing get started?

We incorporated and opened our e-doors in Fall 2006. I had invented kids’ musical eBooks in the late 90’s and in the process of selling them I learned that traditional publishers liked the concept but didn’t have a clue how to make the books or market them. Sandy Cummins, CEO & Publisher, at Writers Exchange International (now Reader’s Eden) had published seven of my children’s books and set an example for me as a good e-publisher which pointed me in the right direction. Many of the early kid’s book e-publishers had already folded or moved on to greener pastures but children’s eBooks are my passion and here to stay.

What is your mission statement?

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. where our publishing goals are to lovingly create fun, affordable and educational eBook computer experiences for preschoolers and primary age children; and we wish to embed positive, loving and worthwhile meaning into these eBooks.

In other words we want our books to have values, morals and issues that kids can think about, not just a book about a cat and a rat. And we love educational books that can expand a child’s learning experience.

How many imprints does GAP publish? How many books do you publish a year?

At present we offer: Academic Wings- our educational line; Angel to Angel- where kids write and or illustrate for kids; Angelic Harmony-our musical books; Guardian Angel Pets- stories where our furry and feathered friends are the stars; Littlest Angels- learning, caring and sharing books for our youngest audience; Wings of Faith- our inspirational line of faith based stories; Guardian Angel Chapbooks for Tweens- with chapter books for older children. We are adding Guardian Angel Health & Hygiene- dealing with health issues.

We publish at least 24 books a year- as both eBooks and Print on Demand.

Tell us about your new imprint, Angel to Angel. What has been the public response so far?

Angel to Angel is the imprint where we encourage children to read, write and illustrate. A number of our authors carry this program into elementary schools where the school’s host writing and drawing contests to come up with winners who get their book published online for a year. We also publish young authors and artists who show great talent in writing stories and illustrating them.

The response has been very positive. Teachers and educators love it. Parents love to use it to inspire their own children.

I understand GAP’s books are distributed by Follett, Inc., the largest distributor of eBooks to schools and libraries. How has the public’s attitude toward eBooks changed in the past five years? How do you see the future?

We use multiple resources to distribute our books. Follett Digital Resources are just one of many. Distribution seems to be the name of the game. The more locations the books are sold, the better. Since the eBook market has been growing at a rapid rate and eBooks are available to be downloaded and read on multiple devices not just PC’s our market has been growing too. Even the old traditional print publishers are contracting e-rights to books so that may gain their share of the market. It’s just a matter of time before eBooks sell more copies than print. We will see it sooner than we think.

What about bookstores? How does a print-on-demand children’s picture book publisher set about selling books to booksellers?

Bookstores can purchase GAP books through all their wholesalers and suppliers. All they need to do is access their online suppliers- Ingram’s, Baker & Taylor, etc and order their books.

Who is Lynda Burch-the person, author, publisher? Describe a regular day in your life.

I start my day by swimming laps, wherever I am if possible. We spend three months at the beach in the winter and if I don’t start out by exercising it doesn’t happen. Then I hit the computer for three or four hours fielding calls, putting out fires, emails, reviewing any submissions, take a break in the middle of the day for errands mail etc and then back to the computer for another 4-6 hours.

I am a very hands-on person. I built this company from scratch-- learned how to do every single job because you can’t train anyone unless you know how to do it yourself. I built the website, build the books in all formats, handle the marketing up-lines- distributors etc. The only thing I do as little as possible is the bookkeeping. That’s not creative enough to keep my attention.

Are you open to submissions at this time? What are your guidelines?

We closed to submissions right now because I was teaching at the Muse Conference online and knew I’d be bombarded by submissions from that class for a couple months. Our guidelines are on the submissions page of our website.

On average, how many manuscripts do you receive a month? How many of those get accepted?

When submissions are open I receive about 50-100 a month. 2-3 might be accepted.

You’re also an author. Tell us a bit about your books and the type of fiction you like to write.

I try to find enough time in my week to work on my own books. I have about 100 musical and picture books in progress. I do the art and photography for them. I have 2 suspense novels WIP, too. I have one suspense published- Edge of Paradise. And I read 150-200 books a year but that’s not counting kid books. : )

What is the most challenging aspect of being a children’s book publisher?

I love having the ability to see a story of words come to life in a book. But the job requires keeping up with the fine details of not just the books but the intricacies of balancing the authors and artists and their creativity and expectations, too. But it is definitely a labor of love.

In spite of being a traditional publisher in every sense of the word, your authors must pay a $100 fee in order to have their books available in print. Could you please explain to our readers the reason behind this?

Although Guardian Angel Publishing adores the creative process of making children’s books we are also a business and in order to make revenue and make our business a success we want our authors committed to us and their books.

Since our books are in print, like all publishers, we must use a printer. Printers either make their money on traditional print runs where thousands of books are printed (and by the way many are stripped and discarded later) or they charge a one-time setup fee and take a larger piece of each book’s print costs. It’s rather like a mortgage- the banks get their money up front with points on the loan or over the long term of a loan repayment. But they always get their money.

With authors investing in the printing process (paying their setup fee for each book), independent small publishers are assured that authors are going to get out there and sell those books. Marketing their books is an ongoing need for both small and traditional publishers. Many independent and traditional publishers require a comprehensive marketing plan with a book submission for one reason only. All publishers want books to sell not sit on a shelf or cyber shelf.

And committing some of the author’s own money is more likely accomplish a more active participation of successful sales.

Thanks, Lynda!
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