Mantle Rock Publishing – Kathy Cretsinger

Mantle Rock Publishing, LLC, is a family owned Christian publishing company. The company is owned by Kathy and Jerry Cretsinger. When I asked Kathy for an interview, she graciously accepted, though she was quite busy at the time. If you visit their website, you’ll find a friendly, welcoming vibe. Somewhat like the feeling you get when you enter a love-filled home or a family-owned business where they know your name and truly care about you.

♦ Kathy, please tell us a bit about yourself, how and why you started a publishing company.

Kathy Cretsinger: I am a wife, mother, grandmother, and step-great-grandmother. My husband and I are both from East Tennessee. We’ve been married for 56 years, and we’re still counting. After our parents passed away, we wanted to live closer to our children. Our daughter lives in Nashville, TN, and our son lives in Benton, KY. We’re not big city people, so we decided to buy a small farm in Benton. In 2012 we published our first book. We knew of authors who were having a hard time publishing their book, and I was enduring the same thing. We started Mantle Rock Publishing to publish only my books, but other people wanted us to publish theirs. It has grown from two books to a lot more.

♦ That’s wonderful. Fifty-six years! So, Mantle Rock, that’s an interesting name. Is there a story behind it?

Kathy: There is a story behind it. Mantle Rock is between Paducah and Hopkinsville, KY. During the Trail of Tears, the Cherokees spent the winter at Mantle Rock until the ice thawed and they could cross the river. There is a big granite rock that looks like a mantle over a fireplace. The Cherokees camped in the field.

When we began thinking of a name for the company, we thought about Mantle Rock. The mantle there covered some of the Cherokees like a mantel of love covers us from God. We try to cover our authors with our love for them and their writing.

Our mission is to help first-time writers publish their book. A new author will have her book edited, and they’ll learn about the new grammar rules, how to format their book, and how to market it. All aspects of a good author. We guide them through the publishing process. Of course we do not take every author, but we do concentrate on first-time authors.

♦ How great that first-time writers will know their “baby” will be so well cared for.  Mantle Rock has published a good number of books, and some of your authors have been guests on our blog at one time. I know you can’t play favorites, but is there a standout among your published books? And/or a most surprising success?

Kathy: I don’t have favorites, but some authors pull on your heartstrings. In 2014 we published A Most Precious Gift by Jacqueline Wheelock. We worked to get it out before her sister passed from cancer. We made it by about two weeks. Jacqueline did not use Facebook, Twitter, any social media, and did not have a website. She began telling everyone about her book. Word of mouth works very well. Even today when Jacqueline goes on a trip we get an increase in her sales. My husband will come in my office and say, “Jacqueline must have traveled someplace. She’s sold X number of books.” She is our top seller today. She still doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter. She talks her book up. I’d love to have more people be energetic about their books. She’s been on Amazon’s #1 Top Seller in both regular books and Black American Romance. It’s such a good book. It still sells well today, after five years.

♦ Now, that’s a great success story and very encouraging to those who are media-challenged. 🙂 Congratulations, Jacqueline. What catches your eye in a proposal or a manuscript?

Kathy: A manuscript that is well written, punctuation is correct, and the story is one that I don’t want to put down.

♦ Right. That’s exactly the type of book I like to read. After the contract is signed, what is a realistic publishing timeline?

Kathy: At this time we are looking at a year or a little more. All of 2019 is full, and we have just filled all of 2020. If we get something we cannot resist, we will find a place next year. We want to keep it a little slower and try to get better manuscripts.

♦ That’s understandable. Quality vs. quantity makes sense. Let’s talk about compromise – how much is too much; how much is too little, on the part of either party. 

Kathy: We need books to sell. If the author won’t work on sales, they will get their rights returned. I hate to do that, but that is business. Too much? Refusing to market their books and wanting all of the commission we receive. Also not respecting our time.

♦ Good answer, Kathy. That brings your role as a publisher into focus. Your hard work up front delivers the finished product, but it’s not your job to sell that product. Your return on investment is at stake, even if that investment is labor only. Knowing this upfront can help weed out those who are not interested in doing the hard work of marketing.

♦ What is the danger you see in following trends versus following the Lord’s leading and what is your advice to writers who are passionate about their message?

Kathy: Several of our authors write feeling they have a mission to share God’s love. I also know it offends some people. I had a review on my first book. The reviewer said, “If I’d known it had so much religion in it, I wouldn’t have bought it.” That made me stop and think. Could a book be written showing God’s love, but not talk a lot about God’s saving power? Several of our books go into Clean Fiction. No preachy, but comfortable in God’s love. I’d tell any author to write what their heart tells them.

♦ Thanks for saying that. In your opinion, at what point should a writer say, this is one for self-publishing? 

Kathy: When no company will pick up your book, maybe it’s time to self-publish.

♦ What types of materials are accepted by your company?

Kathy: Christian – Romance, Romantic Suspense, Cozy Mysteries, Suspense, Historical Romance, Historical Romantic Suspense. At this time we are not accepting anymore Fantasy manuscripts, except from our contracted authors. We have three who write Fantasy for us, and we can’t take anymore.

♦ Please let our readers know how to submit a proposal to Mantle Rock.

Kathy: You can submit directly on the website, or you can send it to me kathy@mantlerockpublishingllc.com. Please email your submission. Do not send the whole manuscript but only what we ask for.

♦ Is there anything you would like to add regarding submissions at this point?

Kathy: I would add to put Proposal in your subject line. Make it as perfect as you can. Read it aloud before you send it.

♦ How can writers pray for their publishers/for publishers in general?

Kathy: Pray that they will keep God first in their publishing. Pray that we will be honest in our dealings with our authors. It’s a big world out there, and we want to treat everyone equal.

♦ I love that. What is a good metaphor for the writer/publisher relationship and how can writers strive to make that relationship the best it can be?

Kathy: The one thing our authors say about us is, “we are family.” Most of the authors encourage each other, help in any way they can, and congratulate each when an accomplishment is made. We get to know each other.

CLICK TO TWEET: The one thing our authors say about us is, “we are family.”–Kathy Cretsinger, Mantle Rock Publishing LLC #publishing #writing #CleanReads via @InspiredPrompt

♦ Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions.

Kathy: Thank you for interviewing me. I’ve enjoyed answering the questions, and I pray I have helped some writers in their journey of writing. I love working with authors, and I enjoy what I do. If anyone has any questions about Mantle Rock Publishing, I will be happy to answer them. Thanks again.

Click Photo to visit Mantle Rock Publishing LLC


♦ A special note of thanks to Kristy Horine, for the excellent questions used in this interview.

Six Musts Before You Press Publish

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photo by Pixabay

Everyone knows the gold standard for publishing. You need a great story, good editing, a cover that fits your genre and will capture the reader’s eye, along with a blurb that piques the reader’s curiosity. It is true all these elements do need to be in place before you push publish.

However today, let’s talk about some of the not so glamorous aspects of the writing world that are essential to a smooth publishing experience.

Before you push that big button, there are six tasks that you as the writer need to do. These steps will save you time and keep you on track for your publishing date.

  • Get business cards

This sounds simple enough, but the reasons are tremendous. You will use your business card for everything from networking with other writers, to handing them out at events, to opening a bank account. So, get these first.

  • Set up a bank account

If you are like me, getting paid for your writing is important. A business bank account goes along way in making that a reality. Amazon pays its authors through direct deposit, so if you don’t want to give the massive big guy your personal account information, you will need a business bank account.

  • Set up your author website

Your website acts as your business shingle. It lets others know you are open for business. Even if you haven’t published yet, you can still draw readers to your site by offering excerpts of your work in progress or by posting a weekly blog. Don’t wait until after you’ve published to start. Then you’ll be playing catch-up.

  • Set up your author team

No one creates a book alone. It takes a whole team of people to get the job done well. So, start now brain storming who would be a good fit for your team. You will need:

  • Editor
  • Cover Designer
  • Critique Partner
  • Beta Readers
  • Launch Team

These individuals and teams help you to put out the best book possible. A few you will need to pay, but they are worth every penny. Others will be glad to help for a free copy of the book and a few special gifts just to say thank you. Always remember to show your gratitude for their time and energy.

  • Get an ISBN number

For those who are independently publishing, you will need to get an ISBN number. It allows you to publish your book through several distributors instead of one. Without it, you are limited to the distributor who assigns your book their number.

These numbers can be obtained through R.R. Bowker on line. You will need one for the paperback version and one for the eBook version. You register the book with Bowker’s identifier service, and they keep the records of the numbers for you. I advise you keep your own records as well.

If you are traditionally published, your publisher will supply your ISBN number for you.

  • Set up an account with a mail server

If you’ve been in the writing community for very long, you’ve heard about the allusive email list. The one everybody is talking about, but no one seems to know how to capture.

In order to start feeding your email list, you will need an account with one of the professional mail servers like GoDaddy, Mailchimp, or Mailerlite.

Even if your list starts out small, don’t be discouraged. Remember, don’t despise meager beginnings. The first step to growing your email list is having somewhere to put it. The second step is to offer a monthly newsletter or an update on your progress or a blog post, something to engage those who are interested in your writing. They want to hear from you and about your journey as an author. Think of the people on your email list as more members of your author team.

As you can see, there is a lot of behind the scenes, mundane tasks that must happen to make your publication day a success. The good news is that all of these can be done well in advance. By taking these steps, it shows the world that you are serious about your writing career and can’t wait to get started making your dream into a reality.

Click to Tweet: Before you push that big button, there are six tasks that you as the writer need to do. These steps will save you time and keep you on track for your publishing date. #HowTo #AmWriting

Prompt: Susie cringed at the thought of setting up a website. Her teenage son knew more about it then she did and the thought of it made her shoulders tense. But if she wanted to be an author, this was one of the hurtles she’d have to jump.

3 Questions Wednesday with Katie Clark

Katie Clark Author PhotoHappy Wednesday! It’s my pleasure to welcome the author of Whispering Tower, Katie Clark, to the Inspired Prompt. Good morning, Katie.

Now Katie, here’s your first question:

Who is your favorite author? 

Katie:  My favorite author is probably Lisa T. Bergren. I look forward to her books, and I always love them. They’re a great blend of romance, action, and adventure!

These are my favorite type of books to take to the beach with me:) Next question,

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Katie:  I would love to be a travel writer—as in, travel around the world and get paid to write about my journeys. Wouldn’t that be a cool job?!

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Yes it would!!  #dreamjob  and on to question #3…..

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Katie:  Thinking about my new book, Whispering Tower, I wouldn’t mind hanging out with my main characters Skye and Philip—particularly while they’re stuck in the past. Of course, I’d only want to hang out with them there if I had the assurance I’d get to come back to the present!

That does sound like a fun day!   Thank you, Katie, for taking time to answer our three questions.

Click to Tweet: Multi-published author, Katie Clark is our 3 Questions Wednesday guest via @InspiredPrompt.

Katie is graciously offering a giveaway of a PDF of her newest book, Whispering Tower Make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win…


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Whispering Tower

Stuck in London for one of her mom’s work trips, Skye Humphries can’t help holding a grudge when she ends up roped into a summer tour group with Philip-who-crushed-her-heart. But when Skye and Philip find themselves barreling through time after unsuspectingly opening the veil between the past and present, they’re thrust into a world where Skye’s very life is in danger. If she’d known her choices were between summering with Philip or being sacrificed to the god of the skies, Skye might have changed her attitude. Now she must figure out what’s most important to her—getting even for the past or having a future.


 

Katie Clark Author PhotoKATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, a supernatural survival series including Shadowed Eden and Whispering Tower, AVAILABLE NOW, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, as well as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

E-book Publishing: It’s Easier Than You Think.

This time last year, I was sweating and pounding a keyboard to get my manuscript for my American Revolutionary story, “Patriot Hearts” done. I submitted my story to another author who was putting together a collection of stories with a patriotic theme in order to publish it on Amazon. I sent her the first three chapters to see if my story would be a good fit, and the rest is history. Pun intended.

This was my first experience with the e-book world. I wish I could report that the book did well, and I am plagued by requests for more of my storytelling. But that is not the case, I found that while some of my Beta readers claimed they couldn’t put the book down. I had one writer friend tell me that the story is good, but my characters are flat and would benefit from a deeper point of view.

I’m telling you this story about my experience with e-book publishing to say that the journey is worth the risk if you learn something from it. Which I did. Would I do it again? Yes.

Publishing an e-book is now easier than ever. The stigma of self-publishing has diminished too. With major publishing houses limiting their publishing abilities to protect themselves economically, e-book publishing has become a necessity for some authors. Many of these venues will help with step-by-step instructions, marketing, book covers, and promotions.

The most popular venue for publishing an e-book is with KDP, or Kindle Direct Publishing. You can make up to 70 % of royalties from you book. You set the price and can make changes anytime. There is no cost to the author to publish and it takes less than five minutes. Your book is available for sale 24 to 48 hours after you upload in Kindle, worldwide.

The downside to publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing is the Select option. If you choose to use this option, you cannot distribute your work to other venues. They will have exclusive rights to your work as far as sales and distribution.

Smashwords is another publishing option. It has the convenience of Amazon, but the difference is your book will be distributed by Smashwords to many venues. Some of these are well known, like Nook for Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Kobo and Overdrive.

You can also publish with KDP and Smashwords for more exposure, just don’t opt for the Kindle Unlimited plan if you also want to publish on Smashwords.  You can promote your book with free marketing tools, such as; a coupon generator, special pricing deals, and giveaways to use in conjunction with your website for promotions. Smashwords will also generate sales by having special promotions where they will pick a genre, like “romance” and everything in that genre is a percentage off in order to help drive those sales.

A new buzzword in book sales is Audio books. When I think of this publishing option my mind conjures up images of people who love stories, but don’t necessarily have time to read a book in print. Audio books are perfect for those folks on the go. I can see the endless possibilities of learning non-fiction information with this concept.

I have researched Audio books, and it’s not very easy to do this yourself. There are options available, but from what I have read the quality of doing this yourself is just not right yet. Of course they said this about publishing e-books years ago. So, technology will catch up. But in the meantime, if this is an option you would like to try, professional equipment is best.

Writing prompt: Your new neighbor has moved in and you have not met. You decide to bake your blue ribbon coffee cake as a “Welcome Wagon” gift. After ringing the door bell, the door opens to your old high school flame who dumped you for the Prom Queen.

Click to Tweet: Publishing an e-book is now easier than ever. #IndiePublish #amwriting

Solitary Man by Eric Landfried

ERIC LANDFRIEDGood morning! It is my pleasure to welcome author Eric Landfried to the Inspired Prompt.

Hi, Eric So glad you could join us. First question:

Tell us a little about yourself?

Eric:  I was born in Charleston, WV where I spent the first 23 years of my life. My parents split when I was just a baby, but I have younger siblings (3 sisters and a brother) from blended family situations. I don’t pay attention to adjectives like “step” or “half” when it comes to my siblings. They’re my siblings, and I love them.

Thanks to visiting my dad on the weekends, I was in church every Sunday and grew up learning the Bible. I also started going to a Christian school in the fourth grade. But while I professed Christ at 9 years old, I pulled away from my faith in my teens and early twenties and made a few bad decisions. Once I hit what I considered bottom, my best buddy Chris invited me to come live with him in New Hampshire and get back on my feet. It ended up being a great decision as God used the experience to draw me back to him and I rediscovered the faith I’d discarded. I’d been writing all along, and now my faith influenced the things that came out in my work.

New Hampshire has certainly had its ups and downs for me, but the one constant has been God, and He has been absolutely faithful through it all. I’m thankful for a God I can completely surrender to, and I’m thankful for the gracious blessings He grants me in this life. He just keeps giving, though I never could deserve it, and I’m now a published author.

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What do you love most about the writing process?

Eric:  I think the moment when I type the last word of the first draft is my favorite. I call my first drafts “brain vomit” because it’s basically getting the story out of my head and onto the page where I can sort through the mess and see what works and what doesn’t. After that is when I really do my best writing. But that emotional high in between the end of the first draft and the beginning of editing is easily my favorite moment as a writer. It also gets the nagging idea I turned into a story out of my head (only to be replaced by another nagging idea, of course).

 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Eric:  I wrote a novel, a thriller about a private investigator, when I was 16 years old. It’s absolute garbage, so I’ll never publish it. I might consider revisiting the idea once I’m done with all the other ideas in front of me, though that will probably be a while.

I started working on Solitary Man’s sequel before it was released, because I figured there would be some readers wanting to know what happens next. Sure enough, every positive review ends with “can’t wait for the sequel!” I’m currently about 30,000 words into it, so I figure I’m about a third of the way through. Of course that’s my “brain vomit” first draft, so there’s still all the editing to do once it’s done. I guess God is using me to teach everyone patience. ☺

I also have a couple of mostly completed screenplays, but since Solitary Man is what helped me finally get my foot in the door, I’m focused on writing books right now, rather than movies. I’m sure I’ll try to do something with them in the future.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Eric:  “Get off your butt and write!” Procrastination has always been an issue for me, and it’s why I’m published now at the age of 44 rather than twenty years earlier. I suppose that in my mid-life crisis, instead of buying a Porsche, I published a book. Regardless, I’m just happy to be here, and happy to have written something that so many people are enjoying. But it does pain me a little bit that if I hadn’t been a lazy jerk earlier on, I could have had this experience a lot sooner.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Eric:  As I mentioned above, procrastination is a writer’s worst enemy. It’s a career killer. If you aspire to be published, push yourself and be disciplined. I get up early every  morning to give myself 90 minutes of uninterrupted writing time because it’s the only time of day I can get that (I still have a day job, a family, and a very busy church life). Setting word count goals isn’t a bad idea, but I’m cautious of that as it can also backfire and discourage you when you don’t hit the goal. Always remember, just a little progress is still progress, and that’s a good thing.

I’d also recommend a thick skin and an attitude of perseverance. Solitary Man was rejected around 20 times by various agents and publishers before Ambassador International finally offered me a contract. It would have been easy to give up and assume I was just a talentless hack, and there were moments when I was tempted to do just that. I’m certainly glad I pushed through those thoughts and finally achieved a lifelong dream.

What does literary success look like to you?

Eric:  While being on the New York Times bestseller list would be a great achievement, I’m a realist, so to me, success means being able to quit my day job (as a traveling technician for an arcade company) and write full time. Making a living doing this thing I love to do? Well, I would absolutely love that, and I hope and pray for that moment. I guess I should also pray for patience as I wait and see if God makes that a possibility.

Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

Eric:  I already mentioned the sequel to Solitary Man I’m working on, and I’ll add that this is probably going to be the most ambitious project I’ve ever done. I’m doing lots of research, looking at satellite photos of real places and checking maps as I plot out Doyle’s continuing journey. I have a feeling it’s going to be pretty epic.

I’m also talking with my best friend Chris about collaborating on a picture book with me writing and him illustrating. He’s a tremendously talented and creative artist (check out his work on Instagram and we’ve been good friends for nearly 30 years, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what we come up with.

Thanks so much for joining us!

Click to tweet: Eric Landfried talks about the writing journey and his newly released book, Solitary Man #amreading


ERIC LANDFRIED

Eric Landfried

I was thirteen years old when I realized I was a writer. Once I had this realization, I grabbed a spiral notebook and began filling it with all the stories bumping around in my head. I was young and inexperienced, and therefore terrible, but the ideas kept coming and I kept improving as a writer. As a shy and withdrawn kid living in West Virginia, writing became the best outlet to express myself, and I exploited it as much as I could.

As an adult, I wrote less frequently, usually due to my procrastinating nature, but the ideas never went away. Many of them are still with me, waiting for me to introduce them to the world. And now, someone has looked at my writing and deemed it worthy of investing time, money and effort in order to share it with the masses.

I now live in New Hampshire with my wife Kristen and my son Nathan. I’m excited to begin a new chapter in my life that involves doing something I’ve always loved. There’s never been a moment that I felt like I wasn’t a writer, but the journey of a writer is often discouraging more than it is encouraging. This means I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with you. Thank you for your interest and support.

Website

Amazon


Solitary Man

Solitary Man hi-res

Ten years after a brutal war, cannibals and humans fight over the pieces of a hardscrabble existence. Former Navy SEAL Doyle has been prowling the broken remnants of a devastated America for years. Alone in an armored bus loaded with weapons and supplies, he’s grateful for his solitude. Being alone makes it easier to survive, as others can become liabilities. But when a vicious cannibal attack leaves Doyle in need of fuel and repairs, he has no choice but to venture into the nearest settlement.

Jonathan has been pastoring a small church in that same settlement, and when he meets Doyle, he sees an opportunity to expand his ministry. Cannibals have kept everyone from traveling, but Doyle’s armored transport brings hope to Jonathan and his church. The two men strike a mutually beneficial bargain, but neither of them realizes this journey will change them both in ways they could never have imagined as Doyle’s unbelief collides with Jonathan’s faith.

As they look to establish churches in other settlements, they battle cannibals, militant atheists, and a mysterious super soldier with dark secrets. Solitary Man is a gritty, action-packed post-apocalyptic story with a solid, Biblical worldview.