Interview With Nancy Cleary Owner Of Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing.
1. Hello Nancy, can you tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a small town outside of Boston. I always had a passion for art and received my BFA from RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) with a major in graphic design. After graduation I went west, landing in Del Mar, CA, and scored a job as art director for Robert Allen’s seminar company which led to freelancing at Anthony Robbins’ events (this was the late eighties!). Not finding California a fit, I relocated to Deadwood, OR (population less than 200) in 1992, met a cowboy, launched a successful graphic design studio, and then had my kids, Wyatt (in 1997) and MacKenzie (in 1998).
2. What is Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing?
We’re an award-winning independent publishing house known for providing an unparalleled author experience. We have a soft spot for mom writers who are working hard to balance their entrepreneurial writing dreams with caring for their families. We began in November of 1998, as of summer 2011 we have 158 titles being distributed internationally, and we have launched 56 Imprints under the Wyatt-MacKenzie umbrella.
3. What is an indie publisher?
I’ve always liked the term “indie”—just like the music and film world, we’re independent companies bootstrapping our projects, not backed financially by big corporations with bureaucratic media machines. We support artists and writers, packaging their voices, words, and ideas with our talent for producing, distributing, and grassroots promoting—whether it’s bands, movies, or books.
4. How did Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing come about?
I was feeling an “identity crisis” between my growing business and growing family—Wyatt was 15-months, MacKenzie was 6-weeks, and I worked long hours for graphic design clients, often with the kids on my lap. Then something snapped. I knew I had to think bigger, for them. For years the women entrepreneurs I worked with begged me to “publish” them, so I figured out what that meant and poured everything I had into what is now close to a million distributed books, audiobooks, ebooks, digital albums, and an app—each with my kids’ names on it.
5. Can you walk us through a typical process once someone submits a manuscript and you like it!
When I receive a unique book proposal with a cover letter that piques my interest, I’ll do some quick research to see how large of an online platform the author has, and try to judge the book’s potential market. Often I’ll pick up the phone and begin a conversation with an author or their agent, or both, about all of our expectations and goals. If that goes well, I’ll request the entire manuscript and pass it by our acquisitions editor to talk about how we could position the book (and to see if she likes the writing as much as I like the writer!). Once a contract is signed we begin sharing creative ideas on packaging, branding, platform-building and draft a marketing plan. Next step is determining the level of editorial assistance needed and which of the Wyatt-MacKenzie editors will polish and proofread the manuscript. Then the fun part of nailing the perfect title and cover design, and assessing how to wrap the new book and marketing ideas into the author’s existing online presence. As part of the marketing plan, once the first round of copy-editing is complete, ARCs (advance review copies) are printed. At this time we’ll often create a number of marketing tools to help our authors—memorable leave-behinds such as business cards, bookmarks, postcards, plus letterhead, stickers and s.w.a.g. (stuff we all give, i.e, t-shirts, mugs, hats, iphone cases), along with unforgettable posters and online banners. We then have two to four months to collect endorsements, get reviews, and pitch to the media before the official publication date. Ideally, a month before the release, the author has final books in hand and will begin fulfilling her local, online, and national publicity plans.
6. Do you have certain literary agents you work with?
We’ve worked with many agents over the last 14 years, they often find us through Publishers Marketplace or see the success of one of our books. We draw in many “mom market” books—whether written by, for, or about—I think it’s refreshing for agents to find a publisher who values an “at-home” mom in Upton, MA, as much as a “celebrity” in Hollywood, CA.
7. What is the biggest difference between your publishing company and a self-publishing company?
There are two major differences and two sides of our company. On the traditional publishing side we pay for everything and provide a truly unique advance package including all kinds of great branding plus editorial, ARCs, and publicity support. On the other side of the company, I have done consulting for over 20 years—teaching women (and a few men!) how to truly self-publish by creating their own publishing company and keeping all of the control—this I do for an all-inclusive package fee.
The difference between what Wyatt-MacKenzie offers through our self-publishing program and what other “pay-for-publishing” companies offer is this—we remove the middleman and set authors up directly with the distributor (Lightning Source), so they are always in control, are paid 100% of everything, can check their sales any time without waiting for reports, and can order books at cost.
The other major difference is me. I write that with a smile on my face because I really enjoy what I do, and have made it my mission for my authors to enjoy their publishing experience with Wyatt-MacKenzie. My perspective is unique and I like to say my support is unparalleled—whether our branding and design exceeds their expectations, or our encouragement and ability to see more sides of a publishing situation makes the process flawless—I know I am good at what I do, the proof is in the incredible individuals I continue to attract.
8. When an author signs a contract with Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing do they retain the digital rights to their book?
In a traditional contract we share the digital rights 50/50. We’ve always listed eBook rights in our contracts alongside the other rights we share. The growth of eBooks has been exciting, but the packaging, editing, and promotion goes into both the printed and eBook editions at the same time. Imprints have the option of getting set up with their own accounts, pay for formatting once, and keep 100% forever.
9. Do you accept picture book submissions and do you have your own artists?
We’ve only published children’s books through our Imprint Program, which must come to us with illustrations. We’ve mastered color book production (which is not always easy!) and we are eager to provide our professional assistance whenever a great story is matched up with a great illustrator. We have a few very successful Imprint children’s books, one translated into Spanish as well.
10. After one of your authors is published are their books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble?
Yes, all of our titles are distributed internationally on all the popular online bookstores—every Amazon along with BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com, and Booksamillion.com, plus target.com and walmart.com—and available for order through brick and mortar bookstores.
11. What are the biggest changes you see happening in the publishing world right now?
I can’t believe how, in such a short time span, we went from trying to hide the fact that authors were self-publishing to now bragging about it. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic the stigma we’ve fought so long is gone, but now there’s a misbelief that self-publishing is easy. I believe you need a professional team to help you, no matter which path to publishing you take, now or in the future. Your goal should always be a great product with proper preparation for reaching the market. The ever-improving ease, access, and immediacy of worldwide distribution allowing authors to bypass publishers and reach their readers directly is the fuel for the change. Once a few high-profile writers did this successfully the floodgates opened and eBooks and POD technology leveled the playing field for those who know how to “do it right.”
12. Congratulations to you and Annie Burnside on Annie’s book Soul To Soul Parenting winning the Nautilus Silver Book Award. We are so thrilled for both of you. We are ecstatic we played a part in helping spread the word about her amazing parenting book.
Thanks! We’re so happy for Annie. She worked tremendously hard on the book and continues to plug away with her efforts to build her SOUL TO SOUL PARENTING brand. Do you know she came to me through Eckart Tolle’s agent? I almost fell off my chair when I received that pitch and did my due diligence.
13. Do you use social media to promote your authors, company and your body of work? Do you recommend your authors use social media? Which social media sites in particular would you recommend your authors become familiar with?
I confess, I came to the social media dance late, and I don’t follow all the rules myself. But yes, I absolutely advise my authors to be active on Twitter and Facebook. The power—the access—social media gives you to engage with influencers in your market is unprecedented. This month I was tweeting with the Nobel Prize organization at their annual ceremony in Germany—last year they gave one of our books as a gift, this year I used Facebook and Twitter to let attendees know its available on Kindle. As a result we had a sensational international launch for a Kindle I had formatted only a week before.
I also use social media to quickly evaluate a writer when they send a proposal—not simply to see the number of their followers, but rather to get a feel for their interactions, interests, efforts, personality, and overall savviness online and in their industry.
14. As the popularity of ebooks progress. Do you see them pushing out regular books? Do you attribute ebooks to be part of the cause of declining storefront bookstores?
I foresee packaging an eBook together when you buy a paperback, so if avid readers want to travel light they can still have their library on hand. Sadly, I believe the decline of bookstores is representative of the economy and an antiquated distribution model—we [humans] can’t afford to waste so much energy [real carbon-based, raw resources-using energy] printing, shipping and destroying books that never get sold. Looking down the road I see Espresso Book Machines in quaint “Reading (Slash) Printing” Rooms where readers can sit in big comfy chairs perusing eBooks on their i-device and then print what they want in the time is takes to drink their cappuccino.
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Deep in the woods of Deadwood, not far from the rocky Oregon coast, is an artist who loves books. A professional graphic designer for over 25 years, Nancy Cleary launched Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc. in 1998 to help entrepreneurs and writers advance their careers with creative packaging and promotion of their intellectual property. Nancy has stayed on the forefront of the publishing industry, evolving with technology, with a focus on providing every author who works with her a rewarding, joy-generating, life-enhancing, career-building publishing experience.
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Photo: Nancy Cleary and her chocolate lab “Book”
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