First an introduction-
Callie Metler-Smith is the owner of Clear Fork Media Group in Stamford, Texas. She has owned the Stamford American since 2009 and Clear Fork Publishing since 2014. When not working on her corner of the Stamford Square, she is spending time with her husband, Philip and two sons, Logan and Ben.
And now for Clear Fork's Mission-
The story about how Callie and I met- It was in August of this year after I submitted my hook for Egg. She replied back within hours of my submission and asked for the manuscript. I sent Egg off, ready for more rejection, because let's face it, rejection is what most writers are used to but instead I received an email that started out, "Egg is so much fun!"
The rest is history.L.C.- So Callie, what are three things you are most passionate about? And how do they inform on your life?
C.M.S.- 1. My kids 2. My job 3. My husband
2. I believe firmly that your avocation and vocation should always be the same. I always want to wake up excited to head to work and excited to see my family.
L.C.-The next obvious question is; how did you get into the publishing business? Why?
C.M.S.- I had worked in print for several years and had always wanted a publishing company. There was a woman that lived in the town next to mine that had a company and I happened to meet her. I was always in awe of what she was doing. When she moved her business to Houston a few years after that I felt like it left a hole in the publishing world in my part of Texas. I started slow and published two books and then built from there.
L.C.- Can you tell me what are your favorite Picture Books of all time? Why is each important to you?
C.M.S.- I love The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. It is such a wonderful story that features books and reading in the most loving way. I got the chance to meet William Joyce a few years ago and had him sign a copy for me. It is one of most treasured possessions.
L.C.- As a publisher what is it about a manuscript/hook that causes you to fall in love and want to publish it?
C.M.S.- I love when the idea is unique and well developed. Lots of times I will read through it and set it aside. If I am drawn to go back and look at it some more…then I know it might be a project I want to work with .
L.C.- What was it about Egg that made you say, “This one!”?
C.M.S.- Egg was an instant yes. I read through it and then reread through it later that night. I then read it my 12 year old son and I loved his reaction to it. I knew right away I needed to work on it. The idea of this little dragon on a farm looking for her wow factor was just such a wonderful inspirational story. Even as a 35 year old mom, I found myself identifying with this little dragon. Later that week I got the chance to talk to you on the phone and I knew it was a good fit.
L.C.- To give authors some perspective can you tell me what your day to day workload looks like?
C.M.S.- I have four newspapers, a bookstore, and the publishing company so my days vary a lot. Usually Monday and Fridays are solid publishing company days, with Tuesday-Thursday being on and off throughout the day. I have a policy of returning emails within 24 hours so I spend a lot of time sending emails and interacting with people. Right now, I am spending a lot of time setting up marketing and planning for 2017. It is going to be a really big year for Spork!
L.C.- How many hooks/manuscripts do you read a day?
C.M.S.- It varies, but usually Fridays is my main day to look through submissions. I am receiving between 10-15 a week, I usually close out all submissions within a month from receiving them.
L.C.- Once you have fallen in love with a manuscript and the contract has been signed what is the process like for finding the right artist for the project? Or, at what point does the magic of pairing art with text happen for you? Is it immediate or does it take time?
C.M.S.- Sometimes an art matchup is immediate. I always encourage illustrators to send samples to see if we have any projects that will fit. Lots of times we request submissions and get between 20-30 choices. I then go over them with the author and we extend a contract to whoever we decided on. It can vary on time depending on the project. Like with Egg…we knew who the illustrator would be, but we needed to wait for her to finish one project to commit to Egg.
L.C.- What is the ideal goal for each book? Sales? Awards?
C.M.S.- This depends on the project, but our hope is that all our books will go on to great success. My Big Tree and Theodore Thumbs have done very well. We are submitting Iggy Loo for some awards so we will just have to cross our fingers and see =)
L.C.- Do you help your authors/illustrators set up their marketing? And if so, what does that look like? What kind of materials do you help them prepare?
C.M.S.- I think the book normally dictates the marketing. We always ask for input from the author on their marketing plan and it is a group effort. We help develop the materials as they are needed.
L.C.- The last question- Where will Spork of Clear Fork Publishing go from here? What contributions do you want to add to the world of Children’s literature?
C.M.S.- I hope Spork will continue to grow and flourish. I think we have kept well to our goals. I have locked in my 2017 releases so we are looking on to 2018 now. I hope that we will become known as a publisher that had unique and quality books.
For More Information about Clear Fork Publishing check out the website!
You can Follow Callie on twitter at- https://twitter.com/CallieMetler
Or Clear Fork Publishing on Facebook at- https://www.facebook.com/clearforkpublishing/
And an update, since the interview Spork can announce an award for Maria Ashworth's My Big Treewhich has been nominated for a Cybils award! The winner is announced in January!
Check out Maria's website here- http://www.mariaashworth.com/