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Introducing B.K. Bass from Kyanite Press
Currently, B.K. Bass writes at his studio in Tennessee. His Amazon bio says that he enjoys crafting science fiction, fantasy, and gothic horror. B.K. has long been an avid reader, film buff, and all-around geek. One of his all time favorite reads is The Dark Elf Trilogy by R.A. Salvatore.
B.K. Bass on his bookshelf:
I used to have a full library in my home of thousands of titles. Due to the chaos that life often throws at us, I have had to give up almost all of this collection. I currently have a limited selection consisting of a mix of my most treasured books and new ones as they are acquired. Many of them are packed for the reasons of space limitations, but I do have a cabinet where I keep those that I wish to have most readily at hand, am currently reading, are planning to read soon, or have recently read and have not packed away.
On The Brand(s) & the Niche(s)
Please describe Kyanite Publishing briefly and what genre(s) you serve.
Kyanite Publishing is an author owned and operated publishing company focusing on providing opportunities for aspiring and self-published authors of speculative fiction to break into the realm of traditional publishing. We picture ourselves creative a collaborative community around Kyanite, where everybody can take advantage of the success of other community members via cross-marketing programs and creative collaborations.
Do you have a staff? Can you introduce us?
Currently, Kyanite Publishing consists of three owner/operators. Sam Hendricks is our Marketing Director and the one who dreamed up the idea for Kyanite. She is also an author of science fiction and mystery. Sophia LeRoux is our Operation Director and is responsible for facilitating many parts of the production process, including managing our outsourced editors and cover designers. Sophia is also an author of fantasy romance stories. Finally, I am our Acquisitions Director. I am our first point of contact with all our potential authors and help to guide them through every step of the publication process. I am also Editor in Chief of the Kyanite Press, a bi-monthly speculative fiction journal.
Politics have become interesting these days. Has the local, national, or even international political climates changed the way you look at your business model or the titles you might put out?
We enjoy stories that examine our own society through the lens of speculative fiction. Just as Tolkein’s work reflected his experiences during World War One, we feel that all works of fiction can be influenced by our modern times. We do not specifically seek out works that do this, nor do we turn down works that do not. We do, however, have a soft spot for speculative fiction that tackles socio-political issues.
Telling Tales of One's Self
Tell us a bit about yourself before you put on your publishing hat. Where were you raised? How did you relate to others from your age group?
I was born and raised in Florida in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I was always the outcast bookworm, and did not engage with larger social groups. I did have a small circle of close friends who were like family to me. Since, I’ve always had very close connections to a small number of people. After graduating high school, I served in the U.S. Army for two years. After this I spent a lot of time in hospitality management back in Florida. Since then I’ve worked in medical administration, retail, information technology, and electronics manufacturing. I recently took the leap to be a full time author and now split my time between Kyanite Publishing and my own writing.
What was the Young You like? Would Young You recognize Current You? What would you tell Young You?
The young me was a bookish geek, simply enough. I read tons of sci-fi and fantasy, played Dungeons and Dragons, created my own fantasy worlds, and tried unsuccessfully to become skilled at drawing fantasy art. My early adult life was given over to the “day job”, and just recently did I finally decide to pursue what I really love. If I could tell the young me anything, it would be to spend every minute of free time writing, reading, and learning the craft.
What do your friends and family think of your publishing endeavors? Are they supportive? Have they tried to hold an intervention? Or do you find yourself reminding them of your true calling?
As both an author and a publisher, my friends and family have had mixed reactions. Fortunately, those closest to me are very supportive of what I am trying to accomplish. Even then, some don’t understand the investment in time and effort involved. Others do not understand, and although I attempt to share what i am doing some individuals are very set in the “pay per hour” model of our economy. I work day and night with no regular paycheck, but as any author knows the investment of time in our craft is a long-term investment.
On Community Interaction: Readers/Fans
How do you find your readers? Or do readers tend to find you?
We are employing a multi-pronged marketing approach to attract a dedicated readership. Our largest impact so far has been on Twitter, but we are also focusing on developing more of a following on other social media outlets. Kyanite Publishing is still in its infancy, but the community reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive. As we move forward, we will be branching out into print advertising, conferences, book signings, etc.
How do you interact with your readership? Do you have a forum? A newsletter? Pen-pals?
We currently use existing social media platforms and our own website at kyanitepublishing.com to interact and share information with the public. We also have an email newsletter list that we are building and will soon be sending out monthly newsletters. We are planning interactive events such as book launch parties via platforms such as Google Hangouts On Air, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.
Fill in the blank: Readers who like _________ are going to read your books?
Science Fiction and Fantasy that transports them to other worlds and mystical realms while hopefully inspiring thought and discussion regarding meaningful issues
On Community Interaction: Writers
How do you attract writers? Or do they tend to find you? From submission to publication to marketing, how closely to you tend to work with your creators?
Similar to our reader attraction, social media platforms such as Twitter have been fundamental in our growth. As the Acquisitions Director of Kyanite Publishing, I personally review each submission and interact daily with our potential and current authors. I am their liaison throughout the entire process, and see myself as acting as much as their advocate as their publisher. My goals are for each of my authors to present the best possible product without affecting their literary and artistic integrity. My partners agree with this philosophy and respect my position as an advocate for our authors. While they may be more focused on finance and operations, I consider myself the balancing force that ensures that each of our authors enjoys the best possible experience and is compensated for their work as generously as possible.
Even ebooks have to have covers. How much say do your creators have in selecting a cover artist? How much say in the layout and design?
We consider the cover design stage of production to also be the first - and most important - step in the marketing process. We form a collaborative relationship with our authors and will never approve a book cover until both our editorial team and the author are happy with the design. We encourage our authors to provide a design concept and examples of artwork they would like to appear on the cover. We have a set of outsourced design artists that we use regularly but are open to suggestions from our authors regarding alternative sources.
How do you reach out to your existing writers? Do you have a forum? A newsletter? Personal emails? Do you host panels at conventions and such?
We communicate directly with our authors via email, social media messaging, and any other means that foster efficient and personable relationships. We consider each of our authors to be part of the Kyanite Publishing family, and also encourage them to interact with each other on a regular basis. We are looking forward to attending conventions with our authors, and are even planning an annual “reunion” style author’s retreat. Our vision for this is to not only discuss as a group our successes from the prior year and plans for the future, but to also bond as a community and spend time together in a casual environment.
Most indie authors understand that they must do some marketing of their book, once it’s published. If publishing was a pool and marketing was swimming, are you the doting parent that shows them a video, buys them water-wings, and eases them in? Or are you more the uncle that throws them into the deep end with a slap on the ass and a hearty “Sink or Swim!” shout?
We would definitely be the doting parent who teaches our authors to swim. Beyond that, we are swimming with them the entire way. Our entire vision and philosophy is a collaborative community, and this extends beyond the release of a book into marketing and indeed for the entire life cycle of the publication and beyond. Once an author publishes with Kyanite Publishing, they are a part of the Kyanite family for life.
Do you have a regular release schedule or is each release customized for each book?
Each title will be scheduled for release in a timeframe that gets it into the hands of the readers as soon as possible after the manuscript is finalized, with adequate time for editing, pre-production, and marketing before release. Releases will usually be staggered so that our own authors aren’t competing for attention with each other and can even help to support the releases from their peers. We have a basic release checklist that covers all of the basics of production, distribution, and marketing. Beyond this, each book might receive special attention in areas that will best serve the success of that particular author or volume. Our checklist serves simply as a foundation to build upon.
On Community Interaction: Local Real World Stuff
Do you, as a publisher, reach out to locals through bookstores, craft fairs, or the local chamber of commerce? Do you maybe sell your books at farm markets and the like?
As a new company, and a small publishing house, this is one area that we are hoping to exploit to its fullest potential. We are planning on reaching out to local book stores, novelty stores, hobby shops, libraries, and any other local venue that might have an interest in our products. We will also encourage our authors to do the same, increasing our “local” marketing reach to an international scale. When author “Joe” gets a local bookstore in Nevada to take interest in his book, this opens the door for all of our authors to have placement in the same bookstore, and so forth. We are examining the concept of recruiting a “Street Team”, where interested individuals can sign up to do some of this leg work in return for compensation such as signed copies of the book they are promoting, discounts on other books from Kyanite, etc.
What is your area like? What attracted you to it? Do you find it inspiring in any way?
I’ve been living in or near the Appalachian mountains for almost a decade. I love the weather, scenery, and the culture. I find the natural landscape to be inspiring, and am actually writing a science fiction novel set in the Appalachians.
On Business vs Passion, Publisher vs Creator
Do you publish your own work? If so, do you handle the work differently from idea to distribution?
We do publish our own work. As a new publisher, we see our own catalog of work to be a source of establishing a variety of titles to attract an audience which can be exploited by our future client authors. All of our own books are published on our standard contract, so we are paid royalties at the same rate as any of our authors. The remainder of the profits will go back into Kyanite Publishing to be used for advances for future contracts, marketing, etc. We feel that our own book sales will help establish a foundation of capitol upon which to support our other contracts. Our approach to design, distribution, and marketing will be equal for any title, no matter who the author is. As a team of three, we all have say in whether a title is published or not based on a ? majority vote system. This includes our own titles, as they are subject to review and denial. There is no chance of me writing and publishing a book with Kyanite Publishing if my partners do not think that it should be published by us.
How often do you get the chance to write for other markets? Do you do so grudgingly, or do you prefer the change of pace?
I write short stories and articles for both my own personal website and for other online journals. I am seeking publication with print magazines as well. My main focus is on Kyanite Publishing, but I see all publishers and publications to be part of a literary community, not as rivals or competition. I am happy to have my work shown in a variety of venues, and as an author I have a preference to publish with Kyanite but do not see any reason to limit myself from exploring other avenues of sharing my work and expanding my own personal brand.
On That Damn Slush Pile
How often is your “open” period, and where do writers find your latest story needs? Do you announce on sites like Horror Tree or Submittable?
We have a year-round open submission policy for our bi-monthly literary journal, the Kyanite Press. From these contacts, we hope to foster relationships that will grow into regular contributors to both the journal and for book publishing. In addition, we have an open submission period in the fall of every year for 90 days. This may change in the future depending upon the volume of submissions versus publications. We do not want to churn out so many books that we cannot properly support them all, and we do not want manuscripts waiting in a pile to be addressed or published. Our authors have spent a lot of time writing their books, and we want them to get their work out onto the market as soon as reasonably possible whether it be with us or via an alternative avenue. We hope to never have an author waiting more than two weeks to hear back from us on the progress of a submission.
Anthologies? Love them or hate them?
We absolutely love both anthologies and omnibus collections. We are planning an annual anthology of all of the stories that we print in the Kyanite Press. We also have an eBook imprint called Kyanite Glass which focuses on novelettes and novellas, and we plan to collect these series titles into omnibus form for traditional paperback and hardback printing.
I’m sure you have this posted in at least two places on the Internet, but what is an acceptable format for you and how easy-going are you about it?
We prefer to receive a query via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For book submissions, we like to see a short introduction accompanied by a full plot synopsis and either the first chapter or first 2,000 words of the manuscript. We are flexible, but any missing information may slow down the review process as we may need to request more information from the author. If a submission were to come with a full manuscript, that would not be a problem. For submissions to the Kyanite Press for short fiction, we do request a full manuscript of the short story.
How do you read a full book submission? Almost every book is going to need some work. How much interaction and work are you willing to give on a new book? And how do you make that determination?
We prefer submissions with a full synopsis and a one chapter or 2000 word sample. Each submission in this format is read in full, and if we are pleased with this we will request a full manuscript so that we can read this in its entirety before making a decision on moving forward with making an offer.
On Current and Future Plans
What was/is 2018 like for you and Kyanite? What were some of the highlights for you?
We have just launched our company and so far have three eBook titles scheduled to release this fall. We are hoping to add one or two more. Our launch has garnered overwhelmingly positive response from the writing community, and we are excited to be looking at so many wonderful submissions.
What are the plans for the immediate future? What books will be rolling off the presses shortly?
We have a definite launch schedule for the first quarter of 2019 which will be launched at our full launch party on 8/11/2018. We also have a tentative schedule for the rest of the year. We are already in the process of selecting several titles to add to both the first quarter and later in 2019.
Do you have any long range plans in the works?
Our biggest long-term plan is for the three of us to relocate to a central location where we will established a shared physical office. We also hope to host events for our authors to gather in person on at least an annual basis.
Thank you, B.K.! It was a pleasure meeting you over the magic of the Internet. Thank you for taking the time to speak to our readers. May some of them soon be yours, too!
Note: Shortly after this interview, Kyanite Publishing announced their new imprint for horror: Kyanite Crypt. Details can be found here.
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