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A roundtable for writers 

A publisher, an agent, a writer, oh my;

New Times How did you become a publisher?

Stephen Blake Mettee, publisher I started publishing 15 years ago because I felt small press had a voice in the world and I love writers, and writers often have trouble getting their work published. I want to show them that it’s not a closed industry.

New Times What sort of book genres does your company represent?

Mettee For instance we have ‘upbeat self-help’ and ‘how to’ books for people over 50 ; Dr. Ruth did the Sex After Fifty for us. We have a book on golf, on being creative. We only do non-fiction.

New Times Do you accept writers without an agent?

Mettee Absolutely. Our submission guide- lines are online (

New Times I noticed on your website you have a blog. Today, is the Internet and having a blog crucial to being a writer? I don’t have one and I’m starting to worry ;

Mettee Boy is it ever. Social media marketing is huge and needs to be embraced today by any authors who want their books to sell.

New Times What is social media marketing?

Mettee Things like, blogging, Journalism is being taken out of the hands of professionals, and is becoming much more democratic and is being done through the bloggers. The bloggers have become the mavens of the world. They’re the opinion makers today.

New Times What are you looking for from the attendees at the Central Coast Writers Conference?

Mettee Wonderful book proposals, books for a wide audience and that are well written. And preferably an author who has a platform. A platform is what the author can bring to the table in terms of marketing.

New Times What is the worst thing a writer would do at the conference?

Caryn Wiseman, agent [Laughs] Accost me in the bathroom. What the writers need to understand is that everybody needs a turn. If somebody sits next to me at every meal, that’s not fair to the others.

New Times So, over the course of the two days there is more than one opportunity to talk with you?

Wiseman Yes, absolutely.

New Times These days, how does a manuscript land on your desk?

Wiseman Online. We only accept queries via e-mail (

New Times What are you looking for at the conference from writers—an elevator pitch, a book proposal, an entire manuscript? People kissing your feet and ass?

Wiseman An elevator pitch is the best. I wouldn’t take a full manuscript. But if we’re interested in something that we hear, we ask people to send it to us. Anybody who attends the conference is welcome to submit to me directly. We primarily focus on children through young adult works, but two of our agents do some adult work as well.

New Times How does a Special Forces military leader end up as the keynote speaker at the CCWC?

Bob Mayer, writer and keynote speaker When I got off active duty I moved to the Orient to study martial arts and had time on my hands and ended up writing three books and someone liked them, so I eventually got an agent ; my first booked came out in 1991. And I’ve been doing it ever since. I started out writing military thrillers, fiction.

New Times Tell me about the book series with Jennifer Crusie.

Mayer We have two books out ; We met at the Maui writers conference. We thought it would be interesting to write together, since we have such different backgrounds (Don’t Look Down, Agnes and The Hitman). We are currently at work on our third book.

New Times What will you talk about at the CCWC?

Mayer I’ll talk about techniques I learned in the Special Forces that I apply in the writing world.

New Times What is an example of one of those techniques?

Mayer What (what are your goals)? At my writers retreat I run we spend the entire first day writing one sentence, getting the core of your book down to one sentence. It’s difficult to do, but it’s key. If you can make it that concise you will have a really focused book and it’s the key to selling the book. After what, then, why (why do you want to achieve that goal, what’s the intent), then where (where is the environment in which you want to achieve your goal)? I’m not a motivator—I give tools.

Christy Heron can be reached at

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