July 16, 2013 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Allison Bruning
According to recent statistics cited at http://BookStatistics.com, 8,000-11,000 new publishing companies are established each year, 42 percent of which are run by female entrepreneurs. Not surprisingly, their passion for the written word is matched only by the growing awareness that The Big 6 are making it increasingly harder for fledgling authors to get discovered.
Allison Bruning, CEO/Founder of Mountain Springs House (www.mountainspringpublishing.com), took the leap of faith six months ago to launch her own publishing company and put out the welcome mat for today’s new and emerging talents.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Starting any new business from scratch in a bad economy is always a risky proposition. What inspired you to launch your own publishing company and how long was it on the drawing board before you knew that the time was right to officially open for business?
A: The initial idea to open a publishing house came from my husband a few years ago. I had a bad publishing experience with the house I was with and had wanted to look for another house for my bestselling novel. My husband had suggested I open my own house but I didn’t feel like I was ready for that. Earlier this year, I had wanted to expand upon my writing by writing a book outside my genre. I am known for my historical fiction but wanted to try my hand at a high fantasy erotica. The publisher refused to release it because they don’t publish erotica. My bestselling novel, Calico, had been out of print as well. I approached them with the idea of releasing the third edition but they had refused that one as well because they felt I needed a fresh start (I had been working on a different series at the time and they wanted that one.)
My husband and I once again came upon the question should I self-publish the books my publisher doesn’t want or start my own publishing house. We decided to leave the house I was with and open a new one because I had wanted to do more with my writing career other than self publish the books my house didn’t want. I had wanted to give back to the literary community. I wanted to not only publish my books but also help new and self-published authors become bestsellers. We decided to open Mountain Springs House on March 1st because at the time I was in graduate school and my student loan refund was due to come a week before that. We used my refund to fund the startup costs of our company.
Q: Choosing the perfect name is a critical element in brand and image. What’s the story behind your decision to call it Mountain Springs House?
A: My husband thought of the name for our house. We wanted a name that would reflect our Kentucky values and something to do with water. Mountain Springs represent the literary haven we have created for our authors. It a place of rejuvenation for self published authors and of a refreshing break from the publishing sharks out there for new authors. The cabin on our logo stands on top of the mountain. Here an author can see where their literary career is headed because they have a higher viewpoint from the mentorship we offer throughout the publishing and marketing journey.
Q: And your company motto?
A: Our motto is A Publisher with a Personal Touch. I wanted something to show how much we care about our authors. I realize not every author and book is in the same condition when they come to our publishing house. Most houses will treat an author as a number regardless if they are accepted or not. We don’t do that. We work one on one with each author throughout the process. We teach them about marketing, social media, and whatever else they may need to know in order to succeed. Every author is given my personal number. They can call me anytime between 7a to 8p EST. I also make myself available to them on the internet.
I provide enrichment activities such as a CampNaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo Facebook groups, anthologies, marketing tools and a secret Facebook Author’s Group where the authors can interact with our staff and other authors.
Q: Tell us about the academic background and skills sets you bring to the table as a 21st century entrepreneur.
A: I have been creating stories since I could hold a pencil and have been writing ever since. In college, one of my professors had suggested that I seek publishing some of my stories but it wasn’t until five years ago that I decided to give it a shot. I wrote my first novel, Calico, during the summer of 2008. The first edition was published in 2010. The two years in between I had spent trying to get published and was scammed many times. I lost $3,080 on Vanity Presses that did nothing with my book. I have been with three publishing houses since 2010 and have learned much about the publishing world with each house. Each edition of my first novel has become an Amazon Bestseller. I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Full Sail University.
Q: What would people be the most surprised to know about you?
A: I failed English Composition II in college because I had the stomach flu and turned my research paper in late. The following semester I was invited to take Honors English Composition II and passed with a B.
Q: A book publisher dons many hats during any given day. Which one is the most challenging for you?
A: Marketing. I have a hard time marketing my own books now that I am focusing on marketing the house, our authors and their books.
Q: Which aspect of this business brings you the most enjoyment?
A: I love it when one of our authors succeeds. I am always their little cheerleader.
Q: How many people are on the Mountain Springs House team?
A: Seven, including myself.
Ian Smith : Marketing Director and Graphic Artist
Stevan Ray Richards, Jr. : Editor and Formattor
Ellie Mack : Editor
Lee Porche : Editor
Stacey Best : Editor
David Cleinman : Editor
Q: How did you go about choosing your editors, format expert and graphic artist?
A: It was very important to me that the staff at Mountain Springs House were all in. I didn’t want this to be just a job for them. I wanted them to care about the book and the author. The first people I chose were my editors. I only wanted the best for our authors so I was very picky. Lee Porche and Ellie Mack are my personal editors. I added David and Stacey soon afterwards because I knew their editing work.
My graphic designer, Ian Smith, is my literary manager. He also owns Film Smith Productions and has optioned my full-length feature film. When he learned of what I was trying to create he was excited and had asked if I needed a graphic artist. A few days after he came to work for us he introduced me to his cousin, Stevan Ray Richards, Jr. and asked if I needed another editor. I told him I did and hired Stevan. A month ago I realized I was not suited for formatting and asked Stevan to stop into the formatter position because he has the skills for that job.
Q: Is there an option for authors to provide their own cover art?
A: Yes but the cover has to be approved by the house and comply with our style.
Q: Are authors charged any fees for the multiplicity of services you offer? If so, what are they?
A: Never. We don’t believe in vanity services.
Q: From the time a manuscript is accepted, how long might a writer expect to wait until publication?
A: That depends on our schedule. We like to fill our entire calendar a year in advance with one or two books released per week.
Q: With so many publishing entities on the market today for aspiring authors to choose from, what do you feel best distinguishes Mountain Springs House from its competition?
A: We go the extra mile to help our authors succeed. Also if an author submits to our house and is declined, we don’t just tell the author their work hasn’t been accepted. We let them know why, how to fix it and then invite them to resubmit their work once the changes have been done.
Q: What genres are you currently seeking?
A: All genres with the exception of Children’s Book. We will only consider a Children’s Book as long as the author already has an illustrator.
Q: What are some of the most common mistakes you see from writers who submit their work to you for consideration?
A: One of the most common mistakes happens when an author will send us the first draft of a manuscript because they believe our editors will do all the work for them. We never want to see first drafts. We ask that authors send their manuscripts to a Beta Reader (a reader who is not paid but will give you constructive criticism of your book), write the second draft and then send it to us.
Another mistake I see is when authors think that one pass from an editor is enough. Our editors do three passes in a manuscript with the authors. A manuscript is never ready for publishing after the first pass.
I have also seen authors who think just because we have accepted their work the editor will begin right away on their story. Yes, there are some stories an editor will work on right away but usually the editor will wait. This is because the editor has other manuscripts ahead of the author’s story that must take priority due to the release schedule. Authors need to be patient and understand that just because the editor is not working on their story doesn’t mean they have forgotten about the author.
Q: What drives you to be successful in this business?
A:. I want to see aspiring authors with real talent achieve the highest success possible.
Q: What would you like to see Mountain Springs House achieve over the course of its growth?
A: I would love for Mountain Springs House to become a large publishing company whose influence is global. I want to stand out in the crowd, appreciate authors and be able to hold workshops where we can inspire others to express their creativity.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
A: Keep chasing your dreams and never let them go.
Editor Note: Publication on The Biz Buzz is not an endorsement of this company’s products or services.