Dawn Shea on The Ups and Downs of Small Press Publishing in Horror
It used to be that a writer had a one in a million shot of obtaining that coveted status—published author. It wasn't that the quality of their writing was bad or their story was subpar. No. It's simply that the market was (is) saturated, and getting your work in front of the right person at the right time was damn near impossible.
Now, anyone can self publish a novel. It's not for everyone, though. Publishing a book is an arduous journey which takes time and energy away from the craft. Building an audience, commissioning a cover, marketing, editing, formatting, and distribution are just the tip of the iceberg. A person truly needs to take on the entrepreneurial spirit and dedicate themselves to the process. Today, we have small press publishers who have become true literary heroes. They bring to life the stories we all want to read that haven't been given the time-of-day from the big five. Finally, readers get more options. Small press publishing has diversified the reading landscape and Dawn Shea from D&T Publishing is one of the people making that happen.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and D&T Publishing?
I am a wife, mother and RN by trade. We celebrated our one-year D&T anniversary in February. I have read and written horror since I was a tiny thing. I was suspended in middle school over some stories that I had written. My husband majored in Journalism in college and has always been huge into writing and reading, also. When we met, we started pursuing those things together. Life has thrown us lots of curveballs, so our dream project was started a little late. Our mission is to “Speak your truth, through words and deeds.” We want to publish unique books, help people get their books out, and help the horror community thrive as a whole.
What compelled you to start an indie publishing press?
It actually started because I wanted to write a book. Life had slowed down and I finally felt like I could tackle it. How it went from a single book to the actual press of D&T Publishing, I’m still not quite sure. I do know that I am blessed and thankful that our little project turned into something much more.
As someone who is a fairly new publisher on the indie horror scene, is there anything you wish you knew before embarking on this entrepreneurial journey?
I’m sure it’s the same in every form of entertainment, but literary horror in particular, is very “cliquey.” It often feels like I am still in high school. I’ve seen some low blows from people hoping to make themselves seem better or brighter. I’m not about any of that kind of stuff.
Are there particular things you look for in a story when choosing manuscripts from an open call?
We look for people that follow submission guidelines, obviously. We also look for unique and interesting stories. Is it an old trope, told in a new way? We love stories that shine through with original ideas and surprises. The market is saturated and I feel like you need some uniqueness to push your story over the edge and get the reader’s attention.
It's my opinion that there is an incredible amount of talent in the indie market and a growing number of impressive organizations representing writers. What sets D&T Publishing apart from other indie presses?
I agree, there are some impressive companies. D&T works very hard to ensure that our authors are well taken care of and are happy. We also show our support in every way possible.
I know the struggles of juggling projects and wanting to take on more than I can handle. The excitement of managing a business and continually working to scale is all consuming. What are some things you desperately want to do but find difficult to manage as a small business owner? Is there something you do particularly well?
I often think that if I had someone to cover the emails and social media, it would be that much easier for me. I have always been determined and self-motivated, as well as organized, so I haven’t had too many problems keeping up so far.
I strongly believe that the horror genre is making a comeback. Especially the ever-growing popularity in Splatterpunk. Have you found success in certain subgenres of horror?
Summer Feaker’s Haven Manor books have done extremely well. A haunting trilogy of the supernatural. It is hard to carry a ghost story, but she knocks them out of the park.
What is one of the hardest lessons you've learned as a small press publisher, specifically in the horror genre?
Not necessarily hardest, but most important has been to keep your eyes on your own goal. Don’t worry what others are saying or doing. Just do what you feel in your heart is right for you.
What are you currently working on? What do you have coming out that you're excited for readers to see?
Our newest anthology, ABC’s of Terror, Volume 3 is available on godless.com now and will be available on Amazon 5/21. In June, we have The Web of La Sanguinaire and Other Arachnid Horrors by Ronald Kelly, and then in July we have A Gift of Death by Daniel J. Volpe coming. I know lots of people are excited for those.
What is the one thing you want authors to know about D&T Publishing? Why should you represent them?
We will always work as hard as we possibly can to help you every step of the way through the publishing process.
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