Saturday, October 16, 2010

Leucrota Press - Industry Leaders Series 2

Welcome back for the second installment of my industry leaders series. This week will feature the editor of Leucrota Press, Danielle Kaheaku. Leucrota is a small press located in California, whose primary clientele list includes novels and stories of speculative fiction. That's a big person word for fantasy, science fiction & horror.

I thank all of Leucrota Press for opening up for this interview. We hope to hear from them in the future.

Forgive the formatting. I don't know what happened.


JWP - Yours Truly
DK - Danielle Kaheaku

JWP: For the record, please state your name, title within Leucrota and what your primary objective is each day you go to work.
DK: My name is Danielle Kaheaku. I'm the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Leucrota Press. I oversee the company and handle crises when they arise. Obviously, my primary objective is to sell our books. I also have final say over what our next projects are going to be.

JWP: Speaking for Leucrota as a whole, what really draws you toward clients? I am aware you accept unsolicited work, but what sells in your eyes?

DK: Well, all of our stories must have powerful character-driven plots with original settings and articulate social systems. If the characters don't interest us, then it probably means the story won't either. A good, or even a great setting, can't make up for lackluster, boring, or one-note characters. Also we don't want projects that are playing it safe, or giving us a plot or setting by the numbers. People need things to be new or have enough of a twist to make them think that they haven't all seen it before.

JWP: How many novels or short stories does Leucrota publish annually, and do you have a high and low season for receiving submissions?

DK: We publish 4-6 novels a year. We try to make sure that we don't just focus on one genre at a time, though it all depends on the submissions we get. We used to publish an annual anthology of short stories, but we discontinued that. Now we have our imprint "Arkham Tales." It is a quarterly e-zine devoted to "weird" fiction: supernatural suspense and adventure stories informed by (though not imitative of) the pulp fiction of the early 20th century. We do have set submission periods, so it's very important for authors to submit only within those periods and to follow our guidelines in order to stay in line to be read.

JWP: Once Leucrota takes me on as a client, what can I expect from them? Are the editors of Leucrota like agents, and they will remain in contact when able, or do you only work on a project-to-project basis?

DK: Our editors are always reachable by email and we're also on Skype a lot. Once Leucrota takes you on as a client, you will go through several rounds of content edits with your editor. They'll read through the manuscript, looking for character inconsistencies, plot holes, stuff like that. Once we feel that the characters and plot are taken care of, we move on to the copy edit stage. By this time we like to have either an associate editor or an intern read through the manuscript for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It helps to have a fresh set of eyes reading the manuscript. After however many rounds that process takes, with the author also going through it after each round, we go into the final edits. Everything is looked over with a fine-tooth comb. The author always has the final say before we send the manuscript to layout. We prepare galleys and edit those. Once everything is done, ARCs are sent out to advance readers for reviews. It's a thorough and fairly intimate process because for a lot of it, the author works one on one with the same editor throughout the thing. We do keep in contact with all of our authors, helping set up signings, organizing reviews, and giving advice on future projects. We also love getting updates from our authors.

JWP: Do you see more new writers submit or seasoned writers with a track record? I assume there is an even balance, but what do your numbers really look like if you are able to disclose it?

DK: Writers with all levels of experience submit to us. Some submissions will be from a writer who already has other novel or short story sales under their belt. Sometimes it's from someone submitting a manuscript to a publisher for the first time. As far as who we publish, we publish new writers and seasoned ones. One of our authors, Shaun Jeffrey, had already made professional novel sales when he submitted to us. But we have others like Barry K. Nelson who was brand new. And then of course we have authors in between. It's all about the story. If we like the story, we don't care so much about the author's past publishing history.

JWP: Finally, becoming published is the dream of every writer. We as writers know that 95% of us, or greater, will not be published. Do you have any advice on what specifically to avoid on our roads to querying? 

DK: You have to have thick skin. Rejection will happen. There is no writer out there who has never been rejected. The trick is to not let it get to you. You have to absolutely make sure you follow a publisher's submission guidelines. If they ask for a query letter and three chapters, send them that. Don't send them the entire manuscript. You may be sure that they'll love it so much they're automatically going to want to read the whole thing, but let the publisher find that out for themselves after reading the requested sample chapters. Also making sure you come across as professional in your query/cover letters is a must. You are trying to enter into a business relationship with the publisher, so treat it like a business meeting. Keep those things in mind and they will definitely help you avoid being automatically sent to the rejection pile. And bribes never hurt... Just kidding.

I hope this interview has helped some of my cohorts in understanding the industry from another viewpoint, as is the task of this series. Please leave your comments for discussion.

Peace and Writing Love,



  1. Great interview, Justin! It's nice to have the perspective of a publisher to add to all of our writers' ideas.


  2. Nice interview. Thanks for adding me as a buddy on NaNo. Can't wait to get started.


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