Monday, April 18, 2011

Interview (Part I) with Louella Turner, CEO of High Hill Press

I'm pleased to welcome Louella Turner, CEO and Publisher of High Hill Press to Donna's Book Pub.

Full disclosure: Lou is one of my dearest friends. She and I met about twenty years ago at a critique group and have been friends ever since. She not only is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer, for the past three years she and her husband Brian have operated High Hill press, a small publishing company dedicated to publishing well written books that otherwise might not have gotten noticed.

In Part I of our interview, Lou discusses how she got started in the publishing business, the mission of High Hill, what types of books she publishes, and the services her publishing company provides.
My questions are in black, and Lou's responses are in blue.

    You and your husband Bryan are CEOs and publishers of High Hill Press, a small press. Can you share with us a bit about your background and what inspired you to begin High Hill Press? My background is all over the place. I enjoyed a long and successful career as an artist, art teacher, and a Tea Room and shop owner. Then in 1992 I retired to write, and in 2008, my husband and I formed High Hill Press. After attending a writer's conference, I realized there was a need for something in between NY, and the Print on Demand publishers that were popping up like mushrooms. A good friend of mine published a beautiful book with Publish American and was very disappointed. On the way home from the conference I talked to my husband about starting a retirement business and that's what we did.

    What are the goals and mission of High Hill Press? We want to publish as many great books as we can. New York overlooks so many wonderful stories and writers because their goal is simply to make money. Our goal is to hopefully break even, which gives us a great advantage over NY. We can take our time with an author that might need a little direction. We also look at the author too. I've recently had a query from a woman who grew up on a river boat. How neat. Her story needs a little tweaking, but I think working with her will be wonderful. We've also got a client that was a famous country western singer. He wants to tell the story of his younger years, NY is only interested in his music years. So we're doing one book for him, and hopefully NY will do the other.

    Do you specialize in any area of publishing, or are you open to all types of submissions?
    We'll take a look at any genre. The only requirement is that it be written well.

    What are your criteria for submissions? Query letter? Synopsis? Proposal? Personal pitch? Word of Mouth? We try not to advertise too much but we're still getting an average of 80 contacts a month. We ask that they send the first and last chapter of a novel, a short story or two of a collection, a chapter and further chapter outlines of a nonfiction. And we want a bio of the author. If it looks like something we want, we ask for the entire manuscript and then we do what I refer to as the long and windy phone call. I won't work with someone I don't feel comfortable with, and that phone call tells me alot.

    What services do you provide that sets High Hill Press apart from most other small presses? A High Hill book will stay in print as long as the author wants it to. And while we're working with the author, we try to use as much input from them as we can with title, layout, and cover designs. Lately I've also been working on making our layouts prettier than the average perfect bound book. I'm paying attention to fonts and chapter headings. Most small press just do a simple layout, we're trying to make ours special.

    Tune in Wednesday for Part II of the interview, when Lou will discuss her process for accepting manuscripts and what authors can expect after they sign with High Hill. She will also announce a giveaway of a book by one of her authors.


    1. Thanks for sharing this info on Lou. It is nice to know the benind the scenes of a person. I feel like I know Lou even better now. What a lovely friendship you two have.

    2. Great interview, Donna! And Yay for Lou!! One of these days, she'll be publishing my soon as I get it completed! :D

    3. Hi Barb,
      You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment.

      Hi Becky,
      I can't wait to buy a signed copy of your memoir when it is done.


    4. Donna--
      This was a great interview---full of some tidbits about Lou. It's marvelous to have a friend for that long--you share such a history when your friendship spans over a couple of decades.

      I look forward to the other parts of the interview.

    5. Yay, Louella. That's especially nice she knows to pay attention to interior design as I've seen enough small presses that don't, and so their books aren't dressed to play with the "big boys."

    6. Nice interview! I don't know anything about the ins and outs of the publishing business, so any information is most welcome!


    7. Hi Sioux,
      Thanks. It is great to have a friend to lean on in bad times and celebrate with in good times.

      Hi Linda,
      Lou does pay attention to not only the contents of the book, but also the look.

      Hi Pat,
      Thanks for your comment. There is so much to learn about the business. Sometimes it makes my head spin.


    8. Hi everyone. Donna and I do have a special friendship, and one I cherish a lot. And thanks to her for doing this Q & A with me for High Hill. I love what we're doing as a small press, and hope that comes through in my answers. There's so much more out there, though, that I've yet to learn about the business. But everyday it seems I learn a little more. And I think my wanting to make the books pretty comes from my long years as a devoted bibliophile. I always collected books that were pretty. Some of the old ones were so decorative on the inside, I'm trying to copy that a little. Thanks for all the comments and if anyone has any other questions, just ask away.

    9. Well, I'm arriving a few days late, but so glad I got here. Moving on to Part II!

    10. I loved the interview. I think it is wonderful that there are publishers out there between the big shots and being self published. It gives us beginning writers a little more of a chance.

    11. Publishing with Lou Turner and High Hill Press was a good decision for me. It was really becoming part of a team making editing and design decisions, with the main goal of putting out the best product possible. Lou is something of a Renaissance woman--artist, poet, writer, and alligator wrangler--whose talents serve High Hill Press and its authors well.

    12. Great interview! Off to read part II....

    13. Thanks everyone for all your comments, and Lonnie, you weren't supposed to tell about that stint as an alligator wrestler. It was just one summer! If there are anymore questions just write and ask. And congratulations to all the book give away winners. That's really a neat thing for Donna to do. She does a lot for writers, probably more than anyone in the St. Louis area. And I have no idea how she keeps up with everything and still manages to do such a neat blog. Yeah Donna!

    14. I don't know how I missed this earlier. Wonderful interview!


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