A lot of writers, including myself, have had the fun of being interviewed on other blogs (see Jae’s blog for her interview with me).
Today, I thought we’d turn things around. I have the honor of hosting Astrid Ohletz, the founder of Ylva Publishing. Ylva has only been in existence for a couple of years, but they’ve made quite an impact in the lesbian fiction world, publishing a number of fantastic books and posting numerous entries on the Ylva Blog covering various aspects of writing, publishing and marketing. They’ve also hosted interviews with several non-Ylva authors – a very generous thing to do! Here, we finally get to meet the woman behind one of our most exciting new publishers! She will also be telling us a bit more about Ylva’s upcoming Christmas anthology.
As if getting to talk to her wasn’t cool enough, she’s also giving away 3 e-books. All you have to do is comment on this blog before 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, 27 March. The winners will be picked that evening.
Astrid, welcome. Let’s start with a few simple questions:
Coffee, tea or other?
Both—but ever since we got one of those shiny Nespresso machines, I drink much more coffee than tea.
Favorite food indulgence?
Oh, what a dangerous question. I love to cook. And I certainly do love to eat. Favorite food… Well, I have to admit that I, unfortunately, love chips and pizza. And don’t even get me started about M&Ms. I try to behave though.
Favorite travel destination?
No second thoughts here: New Zealand. My wife and I have been really lucky to be able to travel twice to New Zealand. The first time for four weeks and the second time for five weeks. We fell in love with the country and the people and even considered moving there. This, unfortunately, didn’t happen.
And, wanting to mention a European destination as well: Edinburgh. We’ve been there once, and I love Edinburgh.
Now, to the writing stuff:
Are you a published author yourself?
I published two short stories in anthologies. My pseudonym is Emma Weimann. I thought long and hard if I wanted to publish under my real name or not, but after talking it through with friends, I finally decided to go with a pseudonym, simply to separate the publisher from the author.
My first novel will be published in June. It’s called Heart’s Surrender and will be an erotic romance. My real love, however, is the urban fantasy and/or paranormal genre, and this fall, my first urban fantasy will be out.
Do you have time to read for fun, and if so, what are you reading?
Gosh, that’s a good question. Honestly, one of my jokes for months has been “Ever since I became a publisher, I hardly have time to read for pleasure.”
If I have time to read anything besides submitted manuscripts, I go for urban fantasy and well-written all-age books.
What prompted you to start your own publishing company?
I wanted to publish my own stories and had decided to go the self-publishing route. But then a friend said that she wanted to publish as well but couldn’t do it under her real name. So, I decided to found a publishing company. At that time, I still worked as a legal secretary in one of the world’s largest international law firms and had colleagues that could advise me in a lot of the decisions I had to make.
Initially, I was only thinking in terms of German books, but around half a year later, Jae asked me if she could join us, and there we go. Now we are an international publishing company. And I like the way that sounds…
What was the hardest part of the learning curve with running the company?
It was a steep learning curve and still is. Honestly. There is so much legal and tax stuff involved. At least if one wants to do it properly. And even though I’m a trained library assistant, I had to learn so much about publishing.
Even now, after more than two years, we’re still learning and improving. We publish German and English titles, have authors from all over the world, and the German market works differently than the one in the UK or in the US.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of running your own company?
Should I really admit that I hate everything related to numbers (bookkeeping, taxes, and so on)? Fortunately, my wife does love anything with numbers and is the queen of royalty reports.
My favorite part is being the acquiring editor. I love interacting with authors, in person or via Skype. Even though I’m an introvert, I think that being able to stay in touch and chat with authors all over the world is one of the coolest things ever.
Do you personally read every manuscript submitted, or do you delegate?
I do read every manuscript. But I don’t decide alone. There’s a team of trusted advisors working with me.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Good question. As a publisher, I’m really happy when authors do their homework before sending us a manuscript. We did a series on our blog, explaining “The top 12 reasons manuscripts are rejected,” (http://ylvapublishing.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/the-top-12-reasons-manuscripts-are-rejected/) and I’d advise authors aiming for publication to keep those in mind.
If you want to get published, it also doesn’t hurt to check the submission guidelines and try to do what the publishing houses ask for.
But, first and foremost: write what you love. Don’t write romance if you don’t like to read it yourself. Yes, romance sells better than most other genres, but readers will know if your heart isn’t in it. Follow your heart.
Tell us about Ylva’s upcoming Christmas anthology.
Oh, yes. I’d love to. R.G. Emanuelle and I are the “brains” behind the Christmas anthology. We are looking for lesbian fiction. At least one of the main characters must be a lesbian. If the story is erotica, it must be F/F.
All submissions should have Christmas as the main theme. The stories can be romantic, humorous, or erotic. More information can be found here.
Most important, however, is that all profits of this anthology will be donated to the Albert Kennedy Trust (http://www.akt.org.uk/) in the UK and the Ali Forney Center in New York City (http://www.aliforneycenter.org/). Both organizations provide housing for homeless LGBT youth.
We really do want to make a difference with the anthology. And that is the coolest thing about being a publisher: being able to make a difference.
Astrid, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. It was very interesting to get a publisher’s view on things. I wish you all the best with the company and with the upcoming anthology.
Remember, folks, all you have to do to be entered in the drawing for the e-books is leave a comment!