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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
♦ 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.
♦ A special note of thanks to Kristy Horine, for the excellent questions used in this interview.