Monday, August 25, 2008

Publisher Update: Miriam Hees of Blooming Tree Press

We last spoke in December 2005! Over the past few years, I'm hearing more and more exciting things about Blooming Tree Press (blog). What's new?

We have a lot of exciting things going on! First of all, we have added a couple of new imprints to our house. Below you will find the list of all five, but the new ones are Tire Swing Books, which is our new children's paperback imprint, and Sentinel Books, which is our new adult paperback imprint.

1. Blooming Tree Press (Children's - Adults)
2. CBAY Books (Our Edgier Children's Imprint)
3. Ready Blade (Our Graphic Novel Imprint)
4. Tire Swing Books (Our new Paperback Children's Imprint)
5. Sentinel Books (Our new Paperback Adult Imprint)

We also have some amazing new books on the horizon. As of the end of 2008, we should have 24 titles in print. We have that many and more contracted for the coming three years.

What have been the greatest publishing challenges you've faced over the last few years?

Just keeping up with the industry and all it demands! You know, the market changes constantly, and being able to forecast it is impossible. So, we are doing the best mind-reading we can.

While we can't always pick what topic is hot and which is not, we are trying our best with constant research.

The greatest victories?

Little Bunny Kung Fu by Regan Johnson was selected as the February 2008 "Original Voices" for Borders Books nationally. This was a huge victory for us, being that our book was chosen out of all the books published.

What changes/expansions have you seen when it comes to staff?

Staff constantly changes at a publishing company. Ours is no different. Right now with all of our imprints we have made a few changes, and I'll try and list some of the top ones here.

Madeline Smoot is now the Editorial Director of CBAY Books.

Anna Herrington is now the Editorial Director of Blooming Tree Children’s and Tire Swing Books.

Bradford Hees is now the Editorial Director of Blooming Tree Adult and Ready Blade Graphic Novels.

Karen Wrigley is now our Marketing Director.

We have added a few artists to Ready Blade and an associate editor to our adult imprint as well as an intern to our children’s imprints.

What are a few of your favorite new releases for 2008?

Patrick the Somnambulist by Sarah Ackerley just took off for us this spring. I would have never guessed that a plunger-wearing sleepwalking penguin would have been so popular. But apparently he is because kids are just eating it up.

Knowing Joseph by Judy Mammay has also been well received. This middle-grade book about autism seems to have found its place. Because it is comes from the brother's perspective, it hits a boys' audience in need.

We will round out 2008 with Life in the Pit by Kristen Landon, Camp Lizard #1, and Dragon Wishes by Stacy Nyikos, illustrated by Regan Johnson. If you ever wanted to know where dragons came from, don't miss out on the October release of Dragon Wishes.

What advice do you have for writers interested in publishing with Blooming Tree?

Right now we are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts. If you have an agent or if you have attended one of the conferences we have spoken at, we will be more than happy to look at your work.

This was a hard decision to stop taking unsolicited submissions because we love you all, but we had to make that choice in order to have time to be a publishing company.

How about for illustrators?

Illustrators may send postcard-size samples to our address every six months. We'll be more than happy to have look.

More globally, in terms of publishing as an industry, what do you see on the horizon, and how are you preparing for it?

I don't see that people will ever stop reading books. Period.

But I do feel in these changing times we are going to see a difference in what people want to read and how much they can spend on that reading.

We are addressing this by opening two new imprints that publish only paperback, mass market, and trade paper books. We want readers to be able to get the best bang for their buck.

We are also constantly researching the market for what it is readers want. And of course, we want to be the one who puts out books that are totally original. Keep an eye on us. I think we are going to surprise you with some amazing things.

We also continue to address the green issue. We have always looked out for the environment the best we could, and we won't stop. Here are just a few of things we do:

a. We don't throw away books. All our titles are left in print for as long as possible. Any that go out of print are donated to various organizations.

b. We reuse all boxes, packing material and pallets, and we recycle office supplies.

c. We donate all our used postage stamps to an organization that sells them to support an orphanage in Mexico.

d. Our staff does not come into the office every day. They do a lot of their work from home. This saves on gas and energy. We have routine meets, the Internet, and cell phones for everything else.

You wear many hats--publisher, writer, consultant. Is there anything new in your writing life?

Screenplays. I have written several in the past, and I love writing them. I intend to pick that up again one day very soon.

Could you tell us about your work as a consultant?

Our new consulting company is called "Frontlist Media" (blog). It is a premiere professional Book Consulting Service for authors and small presses.

It is in no way connected to Blooming Tree Press--which is a traditional publisher. It has separate staff and a separate operation.

I get asked quite often if I can help someone get a book printed. These people are not interested in the standard publishing route. They just want to print a book about their family or a biography or something with a niche market that they want to pursue on their own. After being asked so many times, Frontlist Media was born. It provides a service for those who don't want to wait or go through all the hoops that a traditional publisher demands.

We provide authors with the guidance and tools necessary to create a market-ready and professionally designed book with top notch cover designers, editing services, layout and printing specialist, and marketing guidance.

This is not for everyone, but everyone's dreams are different. This is just one more way we can help a writer see their book in print. I am very excited about this new company. I hope it provides a much-needed service.

What do you do outside of the world of book publishing and youth literature?

Ah, so you do know I do other things! Well, let's see. I sew for an organization called Touch Global. It brings medical clothing, quilts, baby clothes and medical supplies to a hospital in Africa in the Tandala area. This organization has been around since the 1940s, and I am the fourth generation in my family to sew for it. My children are the fifth generation.

I also quilt in my spare time for family, friends, and the local Linus Project for seriously ill children.

I love to cook! I was raised by two Swedish caterers so I am excellent cook and pastry chef.

What can we expect from you next?

I hope and pray for success! And what I mean by success is: I expect to provide a publishing business that meets the needs of authors, illustrators, readers and fellow publishing people for years to come. I expect to be someone who gives back to the community and someone who holds integrity, honestly, happiness, and hope in all the things that I do in my professional and personal life. I expect to make some small difference.

I want to take a minute to thank all of you who have supported Blooming Tree Press all these years. You are awesome, and I will do my best not to let you down.

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