I wanted to share my experience with one of my publishers—Musa Publishing. Many of the authors there are turning the spotlight on our publisher this weekend to give Musa some much deserved attention. It’s a small press that was formed last year and that opened its doors in October of 2011. I was one of the early authors to get in, and I’m so glad I did. What do I love about Musa? Let me count the ways. If you read many of my blog posts, you know I love a list (it’s the ISTJ in me), so I’ll do a little one here. I’m sure I’ll leave something out, but I want to hit the high points for authors who may be looking for a great small press (who publishes a lot of good e-books primarily at this point) and for readers who are looking for high quality books.
1. The Staff and how they do business— Celina, Kelly, Kerry, Elspeth, Coreen, Matt, Jeanne, and so many others are just fabulous to work with. Any time I have a problem, I can email, and I’ll get a quick response—less than 24 hours. That’s amazing in itself. Also, authors get a chance to take workshops with masters in writing and publishing (bestselling and established authors, agents, formatters and more)—free via Skype. If we can’t make the meeting, we can read the transcripts. These seminars are worth gold for writers who want to better their craft.
Also, Musa began with a bunch of books and authors they acquired from another publisher that went under. Many of these books are still rolling out. This backlist of books in queue bolstered the business model and the new publishing company from day one.
2. My cover art— I really like my covers, and I get a large say in them. If something doesn’t work, I can accept or reject a mockup and work with Kelly and her staff until I’m happy and they are, too. I can honestly say that I’ve had a couple covers that they pegged the first time just right! Secrets of Summerspelle was one of those. I also love what they’re doing for my Montmoors serials.
3. Delphi— Musa has a great system that tracks sales on their website in real-time. That is pretty helpful, and it’s great to know how a book is selling. Statements and royalties from other retailers are also online and are updated weekly. I usually know about what to expect when royalties are paid out. Another cool thing about Delphi is that I can see how the company is growing, and I can easily track that I’m making more money on my books from last year to this year. The transparency is amazing! Another awesome thing Delphi does is house all our manuscripts as we edit and upload them. In addition, we can make changes to cover art forms and genre information, blurbs, and excerpts via Delphi. It’s really cool and a lot easier than nagging someone to do it for us all the time. The updates get sent to the writer, his or her editor, and other Musa staff.
4. My editors— I have a really smart editor at Musa. She has helped me grow so much in the past months. She is tough but kind, and my work is the better for it. Thanks, Ang!
And I have to mention Celina Summers, the head editor. She personally helped whip several of my manuscripts into shape, and she has enabled me to see where my serial set needs to go. This sort of feedback is priceless to a writer.
If your publisher doesn’t offer editors who have more acclaim than you do or who are better published or have more books out than you do (or who have other great accolades), may I suggest taking a look at Musa? I firmly believe that good editors will have a track record of their own in writing and publishing.
5. Book formatting— Coreen Montagna is responsible for doing the formatting for our books, and they are gorgeous. When a character writes a letter, you see letter script. Different fonts abound to make the reading experience fun. Each manuscript has clip art that is unique to the story. Musa makes the prettiest e-books I’ve ever seen in terms of what’s inside! And Coreen makes it easy on us as authors. We get a template document for Musa manuscripts, and it makes the formatting process so much better for a person like me who is not spatially inclined.
6. Print special edition— Since I was lucky and got one of my novels published in March with Musa, I got to get in on a special limited edition print run for that novel—Secrets of Summerspelle. The heads of Musa are wise: rather than run into print publishing (and have to pull back later, go under, or change the rules for how to get your books in print as many, many publishers do), they decided to be cautious and not rush into anything. Now that the company has some stability, a first print run is in progress for a couple dozen books (I think that’s about right as far as the number goes). As the company grows, if all goes well, more print is likely in the future. I think that’s smart business.
I’m really excited to see my novel in print in the next few weeks!
7. The writers at Musa— The writers’ group at Musa is great one. I’ve worked with many, and Musalings are professional and stay focused on writing. They share tons of articles and tips on marketing, craft, and more. We like and tag each other’s work. We promote our fellow authors’ books. In short, Musa is like a family but without a lot of the immaturity and backbiting that often goes with that. The support has been awesome.
8. The innovation at Musa— The head editor and staff have a vision to make Musa a high quality publishing house and to push the envelope. That’s obvious when I consider that they have a speculative fiction e-zine, Penumbra, in addition to all the books they are putting out. Also, Musa is publishing never before seen works by Homer Eon Flint, and classic works by other authors.
In my case, Musa’s head editor approached me a few months back about writing historical gothic romance serials. She knows what trends are going on in publishing now (there is a huge resurgence of serials in Japan, for example) and what the history of the serial format is. I was excited to say the least, and I still am. In fact, the Montmoors set is my primary project these days. And those serials are rolling out right now. The second one is coming out tomorrow, and I have six under contract (so far). Other authors in different genres are doing serials, too. I love the freedom to spread my wings as a writer and innovator, and the support of a publisher in doing so is priceless.
9. The distribution at Musa— Our books are everywhere. That’s what I like most about being with a small press. I have self published some books, and I don’t enjoy doing the formatting and distribution side of things. Musa handles this all beautifully for me so I can spend more time doing what I really love—writing. Recently, they’ve also started putting our e-books into Overdrive which services libraries around the nation and in Canada.
I’m sure I’m forgetting many things I’d like to say, but I hope you’ll check Musa out if you’re an author looking to submit your work. Musa takes works 5000 words and up (another plus!) in tons of genres.
10. And reviews!— I knew I’d forget something, and I did! Musa has gotten me tons of great reviews for my books. Getting reviews in the past has been tough because many publishers don’t have a dedicated promotions person/review coordinator. I really appreciate that, and I’ve seen a noticeable jump in sales each time I get these reviews. Thanks to Elspeth who makes that happen.