Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Get My Publisher to Speak: Stephanie Taylor of Astraea Press

If you have been following this blog, you know that I am proud to be part of two nurturing and wonderful publishing families.  Astraea Press is the home for my award-winning book Spellbound, as well as Ghostly and Everspell.  The owner, Stephanie Taylor, was the first person to accept my manuscript and the first person to tell me I could write, at a time when not much else was going well in my life.  I am indebted to her in more ways than she can ever know. 

I am honored to be in her stable of authors, talented, kind and warm, all of them.  Her support for projects I have that don't fit the Astraea Press vision never wavers, even if she isn't publishing them.  She is just as big a cheerleader for my horror and edgier works as she is for those that her house welcomes.  I am thrilled she answered my inquiry about blogging for me.  I think Astraea Press is an amazing place to be, run by an amazing woman and I am excited to introduce you to her.  So, friends, readers, aspiring writers, authors, and followers, please meet my publisher and my friend, Stephanie Taylor.

A Dare
by Stephanie Taylor                                            

Astraea began after I edited for five epublishing houses and became good friends with several of the owners from those houses.  And I won’t lie.  Astraea germinated because my husband and I weren’t as financially secure as we wanted to be.  I didn’t know what to do, but writing had always been my passion.  Thanks to some wonderful people who offered to help me get started in epublishing, Astraea was officially born in December of 2010.

In a word, I was SICK of editing erotica. I was sick of having to edit this stuff and pretend I was okay with it.  That it was considered literature. I know that might ruffle some feathers but I’m just being honest.  Erotica isn’t for me and I don’t feel like it’s something I could have laying around in the house and let my children see.  As I researched, I realized there was a need for “sweet” publishers without the pink parts or the cursing.  I wanted to be the Disney of ebooks.  Still enjoy the adult relationships, but enjoy them without lying next to them in bed as they get naked.  Have covers that you don’t care for your kids to see lying around.  Or even have them READ.

There was two other companies that published strictly sweets, Desert Breeze Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.  I had the privilege to meet the owner of Desert Breeze RT this year and she’s one amazing gal. The Vinspire owner has become a close friend of mine, too.  In the coming years, I want us to ALL succeed.  There’s room for all of us in the industry.  I don’t want to be one of those owners who thinks my company is the only company doing anything right, or the only one putting out good books.  In fact, since opening AP, I’ve discovered a HUGE amount of people who feel the same way I do and there’s a massive market for the types of books we produce.  And readers are voracious.  They want a good book, not a certain publisher.  Check out the other two companies as well!

AP launched our first titles on February 1, 2011.  We contracted our first book in 2010 as well, and I’ll forever remember thinking, “I’m going to do this.  I’m really going to do this.” And you know what?  We did. Not me.  WE.

As the months passed by, AP was noticed.  And we grew.  By the end of 2011, we were a profitable company, owing no one and our editing staff grew, and we had our first USA Today bestselling author, Rachel Van Dyken.  I was also fortunate enough to have a few editors work for free in the beginning and a cover artist who worked like dog and allowed me to pay her as I could.  As a result, I put very little capital into my company, which helped the financial side of things tremendously when we were profitable.

On February of 2012, we celebrated our one-year anniversary. I had tons of people along the way tell me I was making a mistake.  Ereading was a fad.  Running a business was hard work and I couldn’t pay attention to my family or homeschool the way I planned to. I even lost a few friendships that were dear to me.  But still, I was determined to at least try.  Shamefully, I had tried to go to realtor school and flunked out, so I decided that wasn’t really my cup of tea.  And if I failed at epublishing, then I would have my answer on that, too.  ;o)

2012 was a HUGE year for Astraea.  We acquired an agent, Louise Fury with L. Perkins Agency in New York and made a foreign rights deal and we also brought much of our backlist into audio.  Several titles are under consideration at a huge movie production company and Astraea named our first NY Times author, Rachel Van Dyken, and another USA Today bestseller, Leah Sanders.  Both are extremely talented authors and worked so hard for the title they now have. I can’t even begin to count all the #1 bestsellers we have now, either!

AP also attended its first conferences in 2012.  We went to the RT convention, RomCon, and a Michigan conference.  The coming year has even more in store and we look forward to meeting more authors who want to write sweet books and publish sweet romance without sacrificing sensuality or personal morals.  It CAN be done and anyone who tells me it can’t hasn’t tried hard enough.

So I challenge all of you, whether you're a reader or a writer, take a chance on sweet books.  TRY a sweet author or try your hand at writing one.  The characters can still kiss, they can still feel things, but we keep the actual deeds to the imagination.  We also don’t allow anything in our books that we wouldn’t want our children to do or say.
Do we want characters to have premarital sex and make it look so wonderful that it might possibly encourage an impressionable teenager or even an adult to do it, too?  Nope.

Do we want to show that drinking can take away the stress of a bad day?  Nope.

Do we want to show that cursing is a good way to get a point across and insult others?  Uh, no.

However, do we want to show how wonderful a relationship can be with the right person?  Absolutely.

Do we want to prove to readers that sensuality doesn’t always come in an erotic book?  Sure.

Do we want to appeal to every audience out there?  Uh, YES.

So as I always say, go ahead.  Read or write a book for Astraea Press.

I dare you.


  1. Very well said, Steph. Personally, I'm VERY glad you stuck to your guns and made AP a wonderful company to write for :)

  2. Stephanie built it and we all came along for the ride. And it's been a terrific ride so far! Looking forward for even more good times along the way in 2013! I challenge y'all to write a book for us, too!

    1. Great article Stephanie (and good work Samantha at getting her to guest post!)

  3. As a proud AP author I can't wait to see what happens in 2013. I know it will be awesome

  4. I love Astraea Press. Thank you Stephanie for your vision and hard work. So excited to see what the new year will bring. Great article!

  5. I believe my book, Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights was the second one you published, Steph. Right after Kay's book. You've come a long way since then. Congratulations on your success and on forging a new path.

  6. Great post Stephanie! As an Astraea Press author I'm excited for 2013! The best is yet to come! :)

  7. Samantha, so glad you coaxed Stephanie out of her CEO / Mom / Wife / Author / Cheerleader cave to write this column.
    I feel extremely blessed to have encountered Stephanie and Astraea. It happens that this connection occurred after months of very specific prayer. I won't go into that here because it sometimes puts a heavy burden on someone to be informed that they became part of an answer to prayer ... so let me leave it at that, for now.
    What I will say is that I had 7 completed novel ms. and had already grown weary of the contest circuit and the search for an agent.
    I will always be grateful to Stephanie and A.P. for giving me this opportunity.
    AND ... drum roll ... I ACCEPT her "dare". In addition to the two novels AP has already published, I'm working frantically on another of those original 7 stories and hope to have it submitted within a few days.
    It's a story that must be told and, as a tribute to the Greatest Generation, every day counts.

  8. Awesome post, Stephanie. And I am taking that dare! Spellbound will live....the third and final installment in the series WILL come in 2013. Consider that a threat :-)