As we get closer to the opening of the Great Novel Contest 2015, we’re posting a few Q&As with this year’s participating publishers. This post comes courtesy of Columbus Press, which has had an important partnership with Columbus Creative Cooperative for a while now. Columbus Press founder Brad Pauquette (who also happens to serve as CCC director) answered a few of our questions about Columbus Press, The Great Novel Contest, and the publishing industry.
Edit: The Great Novel Contest is now open for submissions! Find instructions for entering here.
What makes Columbus Press different from other small presses?
There’s a big (and smart) movement among most small presses to really capitalize on the press’s brand. That’s not our style. I want the published work to stand on its own, and I want the credit to go to the author. I want to build strong authors who can be the face of their own brand, not the face of mine.
When we published Hagridden, for instance, I didn’t want it to be Columbus Press’s Hagridden, and then in small print somewhere, by Samuel Snoek-Brown. I want it to be Samuel Snoek-Brown’s Hagridden, expertly produced and marketed by Columbus Press. I think Sam’s earned that, and it’s how I would want to be treated.
Our collection is also too eclectic to push our brand hard. We’re small enough that I have the freedom to publish whatever I think is cool at the time. If you liked Hagridden, you may hate the book that we release next. And vice versa. We have to find a new market for every book we produce (which is a ton of work), but I think we get the advantage of being totally stoked about every project we publish. It’s never the same old slog, we’re always experimenting with new campaigns and initiatives, and we’re always exploring new ground.
Browse all of the Columbus Press titles here.
Why is Columbus Press participating in The Great Novel Contest?
Obviously, I have a close relationship with Columbus Creative Cooperative, since I’m the director, which is a volunteer position I do in my spare time. When we started The Great Novel Contest, it seemed natural and easy that I could support the group by offering the prize. As the name of the contest implies, it’s been a great experience every year.
I’m excited to see new publishers entering the mix, though. I think it makes the contest that much stronger, and it’s an even better resource for authors.
One of the advantages of small or mid-size press is that an author can find someone that’s really a good fit. Your book doesn’t just make sense on a spreadsheet, but it’s something the publisher can really get excited about and roll with month after month. With the group of publishers participating this year, the winning authors will not only have an opportunity to work with a great business, but hopefully they’ll find some people that really match their style. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to review two manuscripts, which I’m confident will be exceptional, and to make an offer to somebody that I think could really groove with my company.
And of course, like every year, I’m hoping the contest will expose new readers and authors to our brand, and you’ll pick up one of our great books like Hagridden or Seven in a Jeep.
Can authors submit to you directly if they don’t want to participate in the contest?
Absolutely! We accept unsolicited submissions year round. Just make sure to follow the guidelines and instructions on our website.
But, you should be warned, we receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions every year, and we only choose one or two to work with. So the odds are slim. Not to sell the contest too hard, but if you win this thing, your manuscript will come straight to me, I’ll read the whole thing, and we’ll make a decision right away. That’s a tremendous asset.
We turn down exceptional books from the slush pile every day, because we just don’t have the time and resources to produce at a faster schedule (and frankly, I don’t think we’d want to move any faster). This is a legitimate opportunity to bypass all of that.
What is Columbus Press looking for right now?
Good question. We’re always on the lookout for work that is exceptional, regardless of genre or audience.
Right now I’m in the mood for a book that’s really funny. I mean laugh-out-loud Kurt Vonnegut funny. I’ve had my eyes open for this one for a long time and haven’t found it yet.
Also, I admit, I’m a sucker for a fast thriller—a la Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Dan Brown—I love a good page turner. I also like socially relevant science fiction, and I don’t find a lot of that in the market today. Who’s filling Isaac Asimov’s shoes?
I don’t go for a lot of navel-gazing, but I’m also on the lookout for excellent literary fiction that moves. Some of my favorite authors run from John Steinbeck to Cormac McCarthy. That’s a huge open space, and I’d love to find a book that excites me. Something that makes me think. Something that won’t leave my mind, and I ponder while I’m doing the dishes or driving to work or trying to fall asleep.
I’ve often thought that I’d like to publish a book with a strong spiritual component, something like what Donald Miller writes. But I have yet to see a manuscript that can really pull that off.
So the answer is we’re open to whatever. We want books that excite us, the rest is up for grabs.
We’re thrilled to have Columbus Press as a participating publisher in The Great Novel Contest 2015. The contest opened on January 1, 2015 and closes on January 31, 2015. Submit your manuscript today!
Find the the contest rules and instructions for entering here.