Caitlin Jans is the editor-owner of Authors Publish, a website and newsletter devoted to providing writers with sources – and resources – for publishing their work. Once a writer signs up, they receive periodic email messages with new leads for their literary aspirations. Caitlin was gracious in answering some questions from the Fictional Café editors about her work, as well as her own writing.
FC: How would you describe Authors Publish?
AP: We are a weekly eMagazine that publishes information for authors, including reviews of literary journals and manuscript publishers open to submissions from authors.
Of course, we have changed a little over the years. We now publish eBooks and special issues that focus on just one topic, but we can still be mostly summed up in that first sentence.
FC: What inspired you to launch the site, and how long ago did you start it?
AP: My husband, Jacob, has long worked in web publishing. For the first year of our marriage, I taught at Berkeley College in New York City (not the famous UC Berkeley). When we moved to Washington State, I was in between jobs for six months. During that time I had an idea for how to promote Jacob’s site, Freedom with Writing, on Facebook using memes. I started working with him on it. The idea was a good one and it really helped Freedom with Writing get a bigger subscriber base.
I got a job around the same time, teaching at Seattle Pacific University. Halfway through the first year teaching there I started Authors Publish. Duotrope, a literary journal submission resource I had used for a long time, recently started charging fees and I really wanted to create a good fee-free source of information on literary journals for new submitters. Because Freedom with Writing had a large audience already, it was easier to get subscribers.
For two years I ran Authors Publish and taught. Both jobs hit a certain point of work where I had to choose between them. I chose Authors Publish and it is now its fifth year of existence.
FC: Do you “advertise” your site elsewhere, like social media or in magazines?
AP: We have a very large following on Facebook. We also promote it through Freedom with Writing. When you sign up for Freedom With Writing, one of the links you get is to Authors Publish. Those two places are really how we get most of our subscribers, although writers share links to our articles, and that does attract a fair amount of attention to.
FC: How many subscribers have you?
AP: We have around 90,000 subscribers.
FC: In a world that seems to want to monetize everything, Authors Publish is free. How come?
AP: It is free for everyone who subscribes. We would never charge subscribers. Writers are charged for so many, mostly ridiculous, things. We really want to be able to offer good information for free.
But we do make money through Authors Publish. It is how I make my living and we are also able to pay all our authors. We are able to do this through Google ads. All of our articles have ads on them (but I read them all the time without even noticing them), and our free eBooks have ads on the download page. We would love to be ad-free, but we don’t know of any way to be able to make that possible, practically speaking.
FC: You publish your email newsletter quite frequently. How and where do you get your info?
AP: We spend a lot of time doing research. When we were just starting out, I wrote most of the articles under a pen name because I was still teaching and I didn’t want my students to Google me and find the articles. I still use the pen name, but less and less.
Now we have a huge range of frequent contributors. Some of these contributors we have worked with for three years at this point. We also sometimes just publish one article by an author. This allows us to publish from a wide variety of perspectives. We do make sure all the articles we publish reflect our guiding principles.
I talk a lot about the sources I use for information in the articles, to help writers learn how to better their own research skills, but I am indebted to the Water Cooler at Absolute Write, to Writer Beware, The Review Review, Duotrope, Poets & Writers and a number of other websites.
Many authors have told us that we have replaced Preditors & Editors for them. Some authors have started reporting issues with publishers directly to us, which has been very helpful.
I also submit regularly and have learned a lot through that process. I also learned a lot through various life experiences including editing a literary journal, founding and running The Poetry Marathon, and completing an MFA program.
One of our most successful eBooks, The Six-Month Novel Writing Plan, came out of my personal experience writing a novel.
FC: Your interest in publishing seems quite diverse. You’ve published several poetry anthologies and have been writing novels. What’s your first love?
AP: I have always written poetry and prose, so it is really hard for me to choose a favorite or call one my first love.
But to make it a little more complicated, my poetry is literary and my fiction is not. I love writing genre fiction. My MFA is in Poetry and I have had three of my chapbooks published by established presses. My poetry has also been published in many prestigious literary journals and anthologies, and nominated for prizes both major and minor.
In terms of fiction, I am just now attempting to publish my novel, though I have written at least eight novels at this point. I really enjoy writing fiction. My husband says I am never happier than when I am writing novels.
Now of course, more or less by accident, I spend most of my time writing non-fiction about writing, publishing, and reading.
I am working on publishing my first two poetry manuscripts, which is almost a completely different process than publishing a fiction manuscript.
The novel I wrote according to my six-month plan is in re-writes right now, but I did submit it using the resources I write about, and I got some nibbles, but I was also very ambitious. I only submitted it to three top tier publishers. I am hoping by winter I will be submitting it again.
I also had an unprecedented number of literary journal acceptances lately, five in one month, so that felt good.
Caitlin Jans is founding editor of Authors Publish and the co-founder of The Poetry Marathon, an international writing event. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including: The Adroit Journal, Rust + Moth, Barrow Street Journal, and Killer Verse. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, BILiNE, and The Best of the Net . Her third collection of poetry, Territory Prayer, was published by Maverick Duck Press. You can learn more about her writing at www.caitlinthomson.com.