Thursday, July 15, 2010

Editor Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads talks about epublishing

Today I'd like to welcome Jay Hartman, Editor-in-Chief, of Untreed Reads Publishing to the blog.  

How long have you been Editor-in-Chief of Untreed Reads?
I partnered with K.D. Sullivan in December of 2009, and we launched Untreed Reads in late January of 2010. Previously, I had been running Untreed Reads as a blog about the ebook world, and had previously been the Content Editor for which had been the Internet's leading site for all things ebook.

What was your inspiration for going into electronic publishing?
Publishing had always been a dream of mine. As the ebook landscape expanded, I found it more and more difficult to find ebooks that I wanted to read. In a business dominated by romance and erotica, I couldn't find enough literature or mystery to interest me. I felt there was a niche there that needed to be filled, and fortunately for me my business partner agreed with me.

What types of books do you represent?
We publish pretty much any genres except romance, erotica and poetry. We don't mind if a story has a romantic element, but that can't be the main focus. We're expanding out now into more non-fiction, children's and foreign-language titles. We hadn't planned originally on being so strong in short stories, but there's a big demand in the market and we're one of very few publisher willing to publish them as stand-alones instead of in anthologies.

How much editorial work do you provide your authors?
Typically, we expect the submissions to be in "ready-to-go" status. That means they've already been looked over by a copyeditor and a proofreader. However, we do provide what we call a "content assessment.”  Ours is really more of a surface polish, indicating sections that we think don't work particularly well for one reason or another. I'll send that back to the author to make changes or defend their manuscript. Except for actual proofreading, we don't do the editing for the author.

The author gets all of my content assessment notes, then has the right to defend any changes they feel shouldn't be made. We'll go back and forth, compromise and compromise, until the final manuscript is good to go. Then, after proofreading, the author gets to look at THOSE changes and give input.

Do you have a graphic artist on staff?
We do have a phenomenal cover artist named Dara England ( to see some of her work) that I work with directly on the ideas I have for the various covers. Sometimes I get stumped and forward the whole work to her to read and give me some ideas. She usually hits them out of the park.

How involved is the author with the cover graphics?
The author is EXTREMELY involved with the process. It is critical to me that no matter how big Untreed gets, I never lose that dialogue with the author. The final decision on cover art is ultimately ours, but we usually bounce three or four mock-ups off the author to consider. I can't think of a single time yet where the author and I weren't on the same page with the cover. Not bad, considering we have 25+ titles out there right now and a lot more in the pipeline.

How long does it take from submission to publication?
Due to high volume, it typically takes us 60-90 days to respond to submissions. Once we've approved a title, it takes on average 3-5 weeks to bring the title to market, depending on what types of editing or proofreading might need to be done.

Where do you distribute your client’s books?
The shorter list might be where DON'T we distribute! We have distribution agreements with Lightning Source, Overdrive and Kobo that take us throughout the world, but we also work with Apple, Baker and Taylor, Amazon, Smashwords and so many more. We are constantly researching new vendors with whom to place our titles. In addition to our site, Untreed Reads titles are currently available at about 50 retailers worldwide and for every reading device.

What is your royalty split with authors?
It's a 50/50 split after vendor fees. I know the industry has gone back and forth on this one, but we've received plenty of support for our model from not only our authors but from several very large New York literary agents as well. Incidentally, authors who have agents usually have to give up 15% of their royalties to their agent. We're very unique in that we actually split those fees with them if we work with their agent directly. We're now partnered with several agents who are bringing us some really great work.

How much publicity do you provide your authors?
Tons. We partner with a LOT of review and interview sites. We're also active on Facebook, Twitter, Kindleboards, Mobileread forums, Yahoo Groups and anywhere and everywhere we possibly can. Every release gets publicity blitz that goes out to approximately 30 different places, and we are always looking for more.

One last question, do you charge the author any up-front fees? 
OUCH! Charge the author fees?????? Are you kidding???

Ahem! REAL publishers don't charge their authors ANYTHING to publish. :) That would be vanity publishing or POD or something. We don't make any money if our authors don't, which is the way it should be. Our authors don't pay for covers, ISBNs...nothing. Just bring us clean manuscripts and we'll take care of the rest.

That's one of those touchy subjects for me. Too many ebook publishers forget that they are in business because of their authors. Authors should be treated like gold, ALWAYS. :) :)

Thanks Jay.  It’s been a pleasure learning about Untreed Reads.  I wish you great success in the e-publishing world.