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“Technology has turned publishing on its head”

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An engaging presenter and consultant, Karl Beckstrand has experience in high tech, public policy, marketing, TV, radio, and film. He has lived abroad, been a Spanish/English interpreter, and he enjoys volleyball and kayaking (usually not at the same time). Karl’s activity books, Spanish & bilingual books, ebook mysteries and nonfiction stories feature minority characters and have been lauded by national reviews such as the Horn Book blog review, School Library Journal, Midwest Book Review and ForeWord Reviews (see Premiobooks.com/press). He has had three titles on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Spanish list, two in their top ten for Spanish language children’s and one in their top ten large print children’s titles. She Doesn’t Want the Worms! was named one of the top ten books of 2011 by ForeWord Reviews.

Premio Publishing has been delighting readers since 2004. Their picture books are about fun and learning—at any age. Whimsical stories and vivid illustrations engage and surprise readers. Their activity books (including a cookbook for kids), Spanish & bilingual books (text & pronunciation guide in English, Spanish, or both), and historical non-fiction books hold reader attention (child or adult) and make them repeat readers.

Karl Beckstrand, Premio Publishing & Gozo Books, LLC - Publisher/Author/Speaker

MO: Can you tell our readers how you were suddenly forced to take over the publishing and marketing of your first book rather unexpectedly?

Karl: My first publisher was local–in the Salt Lake area. The day we were to print my first book, he passed away from a sudden illness. I had to learn the ropes of publishing and marketing as a neophyte—then do it all myself. With lessons from the first book, I self-published my second; then another publisher asked to release my third. Self publishing wasn’t easy. I had to cash out my 401k to print books. With new online options (and with the old publishing model being not too friendly to authors) I have published two more books (and have four more are on the way).

MO: Why do you prefer the self-publishing process? Can you outline the pros and cons of self-publishing for our readers?

Karl: Technology has turned publishing on its head. Now, instead of sending a manuscript to a publisher and waiting several months for a response (often a rejection), authors can publish at very little cost and retain control of content and profits. It’s easy to find an affordable Print-on-Demand service online. This way, you can get a good idea of demand before you invest in a large print run (ebook demand is a good indicator too). All of this depends on the quality of your work and on your marketing efforts (which publishers always required of authors anyway). I’m excited about the books we have slated for release this year.

MO: What were the biggest challenges when you started to set up Premio Publishing and how did you overcome them?

Karl: Not having enough titles to get a major distributor to look at our offerings–and financing the printing of new books–was a dilemma. I wrote a lot and found artists that were willing to accept a percentage of profits over an advance and cranked out several books. (Today, with POD this is more affordable.)

MO: How different is your approach or creative process when writing different genres of books? Is there one type that you most enjoy or find easiest?

Karl: I think the easiest writing involves those stories that just come (where the writer feels like a scribe, simply writing what comes to him/her). For non-fiction I have to research and get the facts right, as well as create a good beginning, middle, and end. These books are so rewarding to me, because they preserve true acts of courage and faith for new generations to witness. Then there are rewrites—lots of polishing.

MO: Who were your early writing influences? Who or what has inspired you during your career and ignited your imagination?

Karl: Many people love Shel Silverstein. Some of his contemporaries captured the same whimsical feeling in The Golden Book of Fun and Nonsense by Louis Untermeyer, illustrated by A. and M. Provensen (Western Publishing, now Random House held?). Untermeyer collected some of the silliest verse from brilliant writers of the previous hundred years. He added his own wacky lines and the Provensens crafted images to match all the mirth.

MO: Do you have any advice for our readers who are interested in becoming professional writers and publishing their own work?

Karl: Write from your heart—from what you know first hand. Don’t try to write about something that you think is popular (unless that is what you know). Write every day. Get an editor. You don’t have to have an agent or publisher. Use the latest technology and services to get your books available POD and in ebook form (and also to market them). Have several people critique your work—people who won’t gloss over glitches. These people can help you be your best.

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