Sarah Nagel, an editor for Blue Mountain Arts, is visiting with us today to give us some information about writing greeting cards and books for this company. I'm sure many of you will find this interview interesting; and hopefully, you'll find some writing tips, so you can see your work in print. So, let's go!
WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Sarah. According to your website, Blue Mountain Arts creates cards, books, and gifts. Tell us a little about the products you offer and your company.
Sarah: Susan Polis Schutz and Stephen Schutz founded the company in 1971. Idealistic and very much in love, the couple left the busy East Coast in search of a new life in Colorado. In the basement of their apartment, they silk-screened posters of Susan's poems paired with Stephen's paintings and then traveled the country selling the posters from their pickup-truck camper. Everywhere they went, people were drawn to the candor and emotion of Susan's words and to the beauty of Stephen's illustrations. What began as a way for Susan and Stephen to spend their time together doing something they loved quickly became a publishing phenomenon.
Today Blue Mountain Arts continues to be at the creative forefront of personal expression and is a thriving international publisher. Blue Mountain Arts plays an essential role by helping people to connect with each other and strengthen the bonds of family, friendship, and love. Our products are designed to touch the hearts of those who give and receive them.
WOW: That is an awesome story. I love to hear about people who follow their dreams and find success. So, what kind of submissions are you currently looking for?
Sarah: We are looking for submissions on love, friendship, family, special occasions, and any other topic that one person might want to share with another. Because our cards capture genuine emotions on real-life subjects, we suggest that you have a friend, relative, or someone else in your life in mind as you write.
It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with our products prior to submitting material, but don't study them too hard. We are looking for original work that does not sound like anything we have already published. Keep in mind that we do not accept rhyming poetry, one-liners, or humor.
WOW: Do you prefer authors to query you first or send complete manuscripts? Do you take simultaneous submissions?
Sarah: We can’t make a decision to accept a greeting card for publication based on a query. We prefer to see the entire piece. However, our publication process is a little different when it comes to books. We ask authors to send us a book proposal rather than the completed manuscript. If you’re not sure what a book proposal entails, you can request our guidelines by e-mail (write us at editorial (at) sps.com). The guidelines will provide you with some more specifics.
Simultaneous submissions are fine, but let us know if your submission has been accepted for publication elsewhere, so we can take it out of the running.
WOW: Got it! So greeting card copy needs to be sent in; and book proposals are preferred for book ideas. Can you give our readers some tips on writing for Blue Mountain Arts?
Sarah: Have someone in mind as you write. This is one of the best ways to achieve the personal, one-to one conversational style that works best on our cards. When it comes to writing for our most popular themes — mom, daughter, sister, and love — it’s especially important to find new ways of expressing the kind of feelings and words everyone associates with those subjects. We get a lot of poetry, for instance, about “Daughter, I remember when you were little,” or “Mom, you were always there for me.” If you can find a different way to convey these types of universal feelings, you’ll definitely get our attention.
WOW: Thank you for the specific examples. What is the importance of people writing about their feelings whether or not they publish these pieces?
Sarah: Words have such tremendous power to heal, inspire, and clarify. Writing about your feelings gives you a path to better understanding your emotional state and why you’re feeling that way. And when you share that writing with the people you care about, they come to a better understanding of you, as well. It enhances your relationships.
Most importantly, you don’t have to be the most eloquent writer or the best speller; you just have to share your feelings in whatever words come from your heart. And written words shared in that way — through a handwritten note or a letter — have a permanency about them that really can’t be matched by texts or Tweets. So often, letters from loved ones become keepsakes that are passed down and cherished by future generations. Even if no one else ever sees them but you and your intended recipient, the rewards can be so great.
WOW: So true! Words are powerful. Do you find writers start writing for personal reasons, and these stories and poems often end up being submitted to you?
Sarah: We have so many stories along those lines. We get poems not only from the people who wrote them but from the recipients, as well. A mother will write us and say, “My daughter wrote this for me on my birthday, and I think it’s good enough to be on a card” — and we’ll end up publishing it. So even though they’re from a very personal point of view, they resonate so profoundly with people in similar circumstances.
In some cases, we may have to modify certain references that are too specific—i.e., we’ll remove the name of the street from the line, “Mom, all the kids on Martin St. always wanted to come to our house” — but in general, we do everything we can to retain that very personal and sincere feeling of the original. The author’s unique voice is very important to us.
WOW: Tell us a little about your current poetry contest.
Sarah: We publish some long poems on our cards; but at a certain point, we are limited by the physical size of the card. So we created the Poetry Card Contest on our website, as a forum for publishing some outstanding longer poetry that might not work as well in a greeting card format. It’s an ongoing, biannual contest with deadlines of every June 30th and December 31st with cash prizes for first, second, and third. There is no fee to enter, and you can submit as much material as you like. We also publish the winners on the website.
If you are looking for more ways to connect with us, you can join the Blue Mountain Arts Backyard Facebook Group or follow us on Twitter.
WOW: Thank you, Sarah, for sharing so much about Blue Mountain Arts with our readers today. So, writers, get those pens working or your fingers typing and work on those submissions!
interview conducted by Margo L. Dill; http://www.margodill.com