"One of Writer's Digest Magazine's Top 101 Websites"
INSIDE THE BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING
AUTHOR / PUBLISHER MARGARET CAMPILONGA
Interview by Coni Nadeau
Margaret Campilonga, owner of Chicken Soup Press, is a children's book author, poet and teacher. She is now retired from teaching and loves the fact that she can "just write." The name Chicken Soup Press came from a workshop she attended. One of the points made was if you have a chicken soup friend, you have a friend for life, someone who loves you no matter what stupid things you may say or do. Margaret had a dear friend Janet, who died from lung cancer. They used to toast to chicken soup whenever they ate out. When Margaret formed her publishing company, Chicken Soup Press was the only name for it!
CN: Margaret, thank you for taking the time for this interview. What made you decide to start your own publishing company? Has it been a difficult journey?
MC: I'd always had great faith in my writing. With the super large publishing companies "gobbling" up the smaller presses, I decided to form Chicken Soup Press in 1995. It was a tremendous decision and we gave it a lot of thought and research. Small presses have come into their own over the last 8-10 years, many with great success. We incorporated and published our first children's book, The Yellow Lion. Since then, we've gone on to publish 9 titles.
CN: What books do you offer currently? Please tell us about them. Do you have any favorites?
MC: I favor children's picture books and historical fiction. The Lyon Saga series
about the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, North Carolina, is truly my favorite.
The colonists arrived in 1587, 33 years before the Pilgrims and 20 years before
first winter in the
finally returned after 3 years, he found no trace of the colony. They had vanished
completely, leaving only an enigmatic "CRO" carved onto a tree trunk. He
thought they had sailed south to
CN: Is writing something you have always enjoyed? Is that why you became an English teacher and then a publisher?
MC: I've been writing as long as I can remember, poetry, stories, etc. When I was 13 I wrote a full-length novel about a horse. I love to read and probably that's why I did become an English teacher.
CN: You write poetry and children's books. Do you have a preference?
MC: I write poetry whenever the mood strikes me. I have two published collections of poetry, and wrote a sonnet commemorating September 11, 2001. However, I'm also drawn to historical fiction.
CN: Right now you publish children's books, and poetry. Do you have an interest in writing or publishing other genres?
MC: We have also published two Jane Austen sequels to Pride & Prejudice. One is called Letters from Pemberley: The First Year, by Jane Dawkins, and the other is Roses & Thorns: A Poetic Pride and Prejudice, by Selene Goodman. Letters is by far our best seller. We are awaiting a third printing of it.
CN: The business side of running your own publishing company is very different from the creative side of writing. Do you enjoy doing both, or do you find the business side difficult?
MC: The business side is difficult and very technical. One has to learn about copyrights, ISBN and Library of Congress numbers, review copies and where to send them, etc. My husband handles the bookkeeping and shipping end of it. I much prefer the creative part.
CN: Do you have any advice for someone interested in starting their own publishing company?
MC: Do a great deal of research on publishing, small presses and get your hands on as many books and articles as you can about the subject. You also need to be well financed as it is an extremely expensive venture. The cost of printing a four-color hard cover children's book is usually around $16,000 and up. Maybe even more.
CN: What inspires your poetry and books?
MC: My poetry is inspired by events of deep meaning to me, ie: the dying and death of a dear friend led me to write I Am The Flute: A Poetic Gift of Love. My sea poetry, Inland Wind, was inspired by a visit to the seaside which brought back memories of my childhood by the sea. My books are both whimsical, John's Colorful World, and history-driven, The Lyon Saga series.
CN: What postive influences did you have as you pursued a writing/publishing career? Did any special person encourage you when the going got tough?
MC: My parents were both great readers and I got my love of books from them. They always encouraged my writing as a child and teenager. My husband has always been very supportive and has been the backbone for me when the going was tough.
CN: As a publisher, what do you look for in a manuscript? Do you have any advice for a novice writer?
MC: Right now, we are not looking for outside manuscripts because of financing. The economy is very bad now for small presses to produce books. However, I always look for good writing in any manuscript I read. By that I mean that I'm turned off by a writer who doesn't know his language and have a good command of it. Poor spelling and punctuation don't thrill me at all. I look for a good clean plot line and knowledge of the subject.
CN: What are your future goals for Chicken Soup Press, Inc.?
MC: We have completed the last book in the Lyon Saga series of five. I have several young-adult manuscripts to publish, plus another volume of poetry. I'd like to be able to take on some more outside writers, but not at the present time.
CN: What are your personal goals for the future?
MC: To continue Chicken Soup Press and my writing, if at all possible. Our newest novel is now published, JOACHIM'S MAGIC. You can read all about it
CN: Thank you Margaret for a much appreciated interview!
Visit Chicken Soup Press at: http://www.chickensouppres.net/