Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview (Part II) with Louella Turner, CEO of High Hill Press -- and A Special Giveaway

As promised, here is Part II of my interview with Louella Turner, CEO of High Hill Press.

Today Lou answers questions about some of her authors, explains the process from acceptance to publication, shares some advice, and gives her contact information. She has also agreed to answer questions from visitors. So if you have a question about High Hill, the publishing process, or anything related to writing, leave it and Lou will answer it.

Oh, and Lou is also giving away a copy of Master Course in Writing by Jory Sherman. One lucky person who posts a comment or a question either on today's post, Monday's post, or on A Book A Week, my other blog, where I have reviewed Jory's book, will be entered in a random drawing to receive a copy of Jory's book.

Now, on to our interview:

Who are some of the authors you have published, and what are some of the titles in your catalogue? We've published the well-known Spur Award winning western writer, Dusty Richards. This fall we're launching Cactus Country, an idea that Dusty had last fall for publishing strictly westerns. We're doing an anthology of western short pieces to go along with it. The project is getting a lot of attention by some big names in the industry. Jory Sherman, a Pulitzer finalist, published “Master Course in Writing” with us, and we have his poetry collection coming out in the summer of 2011. “Geese to a Poor Market” by Lonnie Whitaker, a St. Louis attorney, was published in the summer of 2010. Brenda Brinkley, a Missouri native, published her first children's picture book in her Brenda's Barnyard series in the fall of 2010, and we're now finishing up the second in her series about a camel named Cleveland. All together we have published nearly 50 titles under High Hill Press, and worked with another publisher in Texas on 8 other books. We have another 40 books scheduled for the next 12 months.

Please describe the process from acceptance to completion of a project. When we get a query it can often takes weeks to respond. But if we like the idea for the book, we'll then ask for samples. If we like what we read we ask for the entire manuscript. If we decide it's a book we want to publish we call the author and then the adventure begins. A book usually takes between 8 and 12 months of work before it's actually published. Once in awhile we do one quicker than that in order to have it ready for a conference or event the author wants to attend. But the speed between query and publication depends on the amount of editing needed in the book, and our schedule.

In addition to being a publisher and an editor, you are a Pushcart Prize nominated writer. With so many writing awards and publishing credits of your own, what writing accomplishment makes you most proud? Just the fact that I've ever managed to write anything that people want to read is amazing to me. I love to write. I don't do as much of it as I'd like because of the time I spend on High Hill projects, but I still manage to polish a story here, or start a new one there. Lately I've been revising a western I wrote years ago. I've been very lucky in my writing career and managed to find a New York agent who has a bucket load of patience with me and is waiting for those revisions. My goal is to have at least one book published in NY before I die. So I've got plenty of time.

Do you have any advice for writers just starting out, or even those who have been writing for years? Do it because you like it and don't let anyone dash your dreams. If you simply want to publish a few stories or essays or articles, go for it. If you want to publish a book, you can do that too. If NY is your goal, don't give up. If you'd like to go with a small press, there are a ton of good ones out there. The word can't should never be in a writer's vocabulary.

What’s the best way to contact you or to find out more about High Hill Press? Probably e-mail. But don't expect an answer right away. When I'm working frantically to get a book out on time, I often don't respond to e-mails right away. And if I ask for a sample of your writing, don't write back the next day and ask if I liked it. I recently had a client write to me to say her friend told her that she should bug a publishing house to get their attention. That is NOT the way to do. Just because we're small, doesn't mean we're not as busy as the big publishing houses. We're probably busier because our staff is smaller. Just be patient. While you're waiting, edit, edit, edit.

Thanks for visiting with us, Lou, and for sharing your wealth of advice, experience and knowledge.

I will post the name of the lucky winner of Jory Sherman's Master Course in Writing on Friday.


  1. Just when I think I have the pub business (sorta, kinda, maybe) figured out something pops up to prove I still have no clue. I've heard of small presses, of course, but have always been told they are pretty genre specific. High Hill Press blows that out of the water. Best of all, Ms. Turner sounds like a joy to work with. She is obviously enthusiastic about the work and supportive of her authors. Thanks for introducing her and High Hill Press.

  2. Hello Donna and Lou in this busy week. Well, I guess they all are busy anymore. I have Dusty's book on writing fiction and thoroughly enjoyed it. I often refer to it in our writer guild meetings. Although I am not a western writer, the anthology of western stories sounds great...maybe I can become a western writer!

    I see a you mentioned a book of poems by Jory Sherman and you have done several other types of anthologies. I am wondering, Lou, if you plan on an anthology of poetry in the near future?

  3. Donna, thanks for Part II of Lou's interview. Since I know her so well, none of this was news to me, but I find it so interesting that Lovely Lisa (above) learned some things!! That's great!! Oh, and please enter me in the give-away! Thanks, again!

  4. jerry-mac johnstonApril 20, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    noticed no mention of poetry. does high hill look at poetry and if so what are the submission requirements? please enter me in the give-away.

  5. Hi, everyone. Glad you enjoyed Dusty's book, Bookie,:). It's a great how-to for any genre. And yes, you need to try westerns. When I wrote my first one it was really as kind of a joke for Dusty. But I fell in love with the unique way a western tells a story. I kept saying that I figured out why cowboys are so happy. And by all means, try your hand at a short piece and send it to me for our upcoming Cactus Country Anthology. There are some big names already in the book and we're trying to give a leg up to some new western writers too.

    We're always interested in poetry. We've done one collection of Tanka's by David Lee Kirkland and Jory Sherman's collection will probably be out the end of May. I'd love to consider an anthology of poetry. Send them my way and we'll see what we can do.

    I think the biggest goal of High Hill Press is to publish good work and to make a few dreams come true.

    Thanks all...

  6. Lou,
    I always love to hear your advice and you are very inspiring! Donna, thanks for the interview. I would love to win Jory's book!


  7. Thank goodness for Lou and publishers of small presses. Writers and poets need places that are willing to consider our odd quirks that the conglomerates dismiss.
    While at conference, it came up that there is still confusion between "small press" and "self-publishing." Presses like High Hill don't publish just anything. It has to be well-written and marketable. But Lou actually enjoys working with the writers she accepts.
    Enter me for the drawing please!
    Marcia Gaye

  8. thanks for the interview and the give a way. I enjoyed learning about High Hill Press. Do you publish many picture books? I'm a children's writer and most of my manuscripts are picture books.

  9. Lou is a delight to work with, and as Marcia Gaye said, she also enjoys the work she does. High Hill Press is a place where dreams come true!

  10. Thank-you for the behind the scenes peek at publishing! Please enter me in the drawing for the book. :)

  11. Count me in on the book draw. Enjoyed the interview!

  12. Hi, Lou and Donna! Great interview. I am so interested in hearing more about Cactus Country, because I love everything to do with the American West--its people, its landscapes, its history! I'll check it out on the High Hill website. Thanks again!

  13. I don't know that I've tried writing "western" but I loved watching them. Or was it just watching those rugged guys? :-)

    Interesting interview, and interesting press. I'll have to go check out more details! Thanks, Donna!

  14. I am also surprised by the variety of genre that High Hill publishes. It goes against the "law" of branding! Children's books, in particular, are a specialty - like a separate world of publishing. Takes a lot of skills and hard work to be so diverse.

  15. Thanks for sharing! I love getting a 'behind the scenes' peek at how the process works.

  16. Lou is such a great advocate of other writers' work. She is one of the many people who have given me a supportive nudge on the difficult road to publication (still on the road, but hope to get there soon). Thank you!

  17. I know Lou from Saturday Writers. She is a very warm and engaging lady. I love it that she told us not to "let anyone dash our dreams". Thanks to you Donna, for sharing this interview with us.

  18. Hi Everyone,
    Thanks for your overwhelming response to Lou's interview. You guys and gals are the best!


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