Today I would like to introduce the staff and creators of Less Than Three Press.
How did Less Than Three come to life?
Megan: Samantha called me one day and said 'we should start our own company'. We had been complaining more and more often about the stories we read and wanted to publish the stories we liked. So we did. Somewhere in that mess, Sasha was crazy enough to volunteer to help us, and we've been a trio ever since.
Sam: Megan and I liked to spend a lot of time chatting about books and publishing (still do, really). What we liked, what was annoying us, what we liked to see more of. Somewhere in the middle of one such conversation, the words "we should just start our own company" were spoken. What probably should have been taken as a flippant comment turned into a year's worth of researching the various aspects of publishing and starting a business.
When it got down to the point when we were done with the researching and actually ready to start setting up shop, Megan emailed me and said she'd been poking around and eventually asked Sasha for help on formatting the site. Honestly, Sasha was probably the best thing to happen to the LT3 idea.
Sasha: Post-college, I was doing a lot of flailing around trying to figure out WTF to do with my life. Writing and reading had been a big part of my life to that point, and I absolutely love and adore working with website formatting/programming (when it cooperates ;3) and when M started talking about starting a company with Sam, I totally threw myself in head first. (No regrets! ;3)
Who are the faces behind LT3? (You don't have to post pictures, just names, titles, and relation to one another would be fine)
Samantha M Derr: Managing Editor, CFO
Megan Derr: CEO, Marketing, author
Sasha L. Miller: Webmaster, Customer Service, author
What has been the hardest part to starting a publishing company?
Megan: The hardest part of starting was just starting—paperwork, setting everything up, learning how to do all the little behind-the-scenes things. For me, the hardest part now is being so up front and out there. I'm an introvert at heart, happiest hiding away writing or reading. Being in the spotlight is hard on a good day, terrifying on a bad one. I still think I have the easy part, though :3
Sam: Definitely in the beginning it was all the paperwork and just trying to get everything off the ground. For me personally, that especially applies to the contracts. Now it's the money management and budgeting and making sure everyone gets paid on time. Well, and still the paper work. All the pertinent paperwork and legal docs inevitably find their way to me for filing and safe-keeping.
Sasha: Making the website robust and easy to use. I'm not a classically trained web programmer; it's something I sort of fell into sideways. I've got bits and pieces of design knowledge, programming knowledge, and usability knowledge, but filling in the gaps and making everything –serials, book markets, paperbacks, everything – has been a continuous learning process.
What has been a highlight for each of you?
Megan: I love working with other authors, be they brand new to the game and eager to learn the ropes, or a veteran author who decides to give a small press a whirl. Otherwise, for all I get overwhelmed, I do enjoy all the people I've met and chat with who I wouldn't know otherwise.
Sam: I'd have to agree with Meg on this one. I still get excited when I check the submissions folder and find a new submission was received sometime during the day/night. It's always awesome and it never gets old.
Sasha: Finding people who love to write and read the same stuff M, Sam, and I love to write and read! It's super awesome to hear from people who love what we publish. <3
Where do you see LT3 in the next 5 years?
Megan: Ideally, thriving. We keep getting bigger and better, so in five years we'll probably have more full time staff and even actual offices, doing more cons on a regular basis, putting out books in multiple languages and even audio books.
Sam: More expanded. I'd like to see LT3 moved to actual office spaces, to be able to hire a full-time staff. To grow our repertoire to the realms of translated and audio editions. I'd really love for LT3 to be able to attend more cons. I like traveling and meeting the authors and readers who make LT3 possible.
Sasha: Kicking ass and taking names. :3 (M and Sam probably have this question covered. ;3)
What are some positive benefits for choosing a smaller publisher?
Megan: It's much more personal. Authors aren't just emailed form after form and put through the cogs of a machine. We have our systems and patterns, but we're small enough that we connect directly with each of our authors, as much or as little as they want. We can spend more time on those who might need extra help, we're more easily able to accommodate special requests and try new things. It's not just numbers to us, we're very much about people—authors, the editors and artists we contract, the customers.
Sam: Again, I'll defer to Meg's answer on this. She says it best.
Sasha: Yep, M's answer covers it.
Do you all have 'day jobs' as well?
Megan: I do not. I quit my day job February of last year and ever since, LT3 has been my day job.
Sam: For the moment, but I have plans to turn in my notice and quit sometime within the next two months. LT3 has grown a lot in the last four years. The expectations and amount of work required of me to meet them far exceed my ability to hold down two full time jobs. And at this point, I've out-grown the day job. There's not much more I can accomplish there without having to advance, and that's not really something I'm interested in.
Sasha: Like Sam, for the moment, but I've already given my notice and in June will be LT3 only!
What are some of the genres you wish to see more of?
Megan: We wouldn't mind more contemporary, more mystery/thriller stuff. I have a fatal weakness for any and all cop stories, I'd love to have those at LT3. We've always been a home for fantasy, and want to keep that trend, but we're eager and happy to welcome all genres.
Sam: Western (specifically in the vein of Wild West—I'm not really a fan of the rodeo) and Noir.
Sasha: More cop stories! (I'm a whore for TV procedurals, no lie.) More sci-fi would be kick-ass, but I'm pretty much a fan of anything that's done well and is awesome.
Serial Fiction: What is it and how can I sign up?
Megan: Serial fiction is a love or hate kind of thing. Most people, I think, don't want to wait. They want their story all at once and none of this teasing-waiting crap. Others (like myself) don't mind being tortured. If you like being tortured, serials are for you! LT3 uses a format that has always been popular and works well online. Our key difference from most other serials is that the stories are complete before we ever start posting them, so readers are guaranteed the stories will conclude, rather than continue on forever with no idea if they'll ever end.
Sam: I think the concept of running serials also came up during one of Meg and my phone conversations. Serial fiction seems to flip back and forth in terms of popularity. At the time we were discussing it, serial fiction was the red-headed step child. We knew we could do it and do it right and that it was something people would be interested in signing up for.
LT3's model breaks a story down into 10 – 15 page sections or chapters and posts them bi-weekly. At present, we have 5 serials running, though we'll be adding a sixth in April. Serials stories run the gamut from novel-length stories by a single author, to anthologies made up of stories by several different authors. One of our most popular —and permanent— serials is our Fairytales series.
Sasha: Also, you get a copy of the ebook at the end of the serial! So you don't pay for the serial and the ebook (that'd be silly), and if you don't have time (or like me, the attention span ;3) to read six stories at once, you can follow one or two and then read the others when they're done.
If you've an inclination to try it out, you can sign up, right here:
What advice would you give to hopeful authors?
Megan: Don't rush: finish your first draft, let it sit. Polish it up. Send it to someone you trust, get their opinion, polish it some more. Send it to someone else, do it all again. Read submission guidelines carefully and obey them. Put effort into your summary. A lot of good stories get rejected by publishers because authors were impatient and sent in a first draft, ignored half the submission guidelines, and had a sloppy, typo-ridden summary. Be patient and don't rush. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing correctly.
Sam: Always read your contract before signing it and don't hesitate to ask questions about it if you don't understand something in it. It's important to understand what you're signing and what you're signing over.
Remember that editors are not your enemy. Getting back a manuscript covered in deletions/additions and generously peppered with comments from the editor does not mean you're a bad writer or that the story is bad. It just means it needs a good spit-polish and shine. No draft I've ever come across is perfect the first time through. There's always something. The editor is there to find that thing before your manuscript makes its way to the reader. Do not fear the editor—they're your last line of defense.
Sasha: Definitely check the submission guidelines, and read over your email/the form before sending it in. Your submission is your first impression, and you want to look good. ^__^
I wholeheartedly agree with M and Sam's advice – revise, but don't let revisions convince you your story sucks. Remember, too, that communication is your friend! If you're confused about edits or submissions or have a question about anything in the process, don't be afraid to ask questions.
Less Than Three Press is celebrating their 4 year Anniversary!! Be sure to follow your Less Than Three favorite author on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and other social media sites for more info on giveaways and much more!
Thank you so much Megan, Sam, and Sasha for allowing us to get to know you a little more. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication you do for the genre:) We look forward to more amazing reads from Less Than Three!