Meet Red Empress

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Where is the heart of publishing? Let's say it all together: New York City. Of course there are other pockets: London, San Francisco, Boston as well as university spread through out the U.S. And now there's China. Yes, when I heard about the new publisher Red Empress, a full service publishing company looking for submissions from women and people of color located in China,  I thought, "Well, surely that's for books directed at a Chinese audience, written in Chinese or by Chinese authors." Wrong, wrong and wrong! I sent a few questions to Amanda Roberts, the founder of Red Empress, so we could all learn about this new publisher to add to our TBQ (to be queried) list.

WOW: What is the biggest difference between a POD, a traditional publisher and Red Empress? 

AMANDA: POD publishing at first seemed like a godsend for authors. No longer did you have to print and store hundreds of books and then try to sell them. You could sell one book and then have it printed and sent directly to the buyer. But this is actually the least efficient way to sell books.

Our model tries to combine the best of both traditional printing and POD selling. Authors do have to invest in a small print run of books, but we have very competitive rates (usually less than $2 per book for novels). We also then store and ship the books ourselves. So the author just markets her book, but when a book sells, we ship it for her. No more boxes of books overtaking your living room and trunk. Our shipping is subsidized by the Chinese government, so we can ship to most places for less cost than other people.

WOW: When you say that Red Empress is located in China what exactly does this mean? Do the owners live in China, is the publishing plant in China? 

AMANDA: Our partners and employees are actually located all over the world. Thanks to the Internet, we can always be connected. But many of us are located in China. We have a very diverse team, expats from all over the world and Chinese locals, who all work together to make Red Empress a success.

WOW:  Did your own experiences encourage you to start Red Empress? 

Amanda Roberts
AMANDA: Yes, I'm the main founder and editor and have been an author and editor for several years. I self-published and then was traditionally published, but was unhappy with the experience of traditional publishing. Also, since I am located in China, I started looking at ways to take advantage of my location, such as the low printing prices and low shipping costs. I also contacted people locally and around the world who were passionate about my project and had the skills the company needed (like an art director and a marketing director) to help bring the project to life.

WOW: Why did they choose to focus on female authors?

AMANDA: Because we are all women. And we want to give women a voice and a platform. Red Empress is run only by women. We have a few men who are translators, but even when we were looking for translators and other people to help with the company only on a freelance basis, we specifically sought out women to be part of the company.

WOW: How is author compensation determined?

AMANDA: The authors are paid royalties, but not advances. [Red Empress charges a flat commission fee of 99 cents per book sold, plus shipping costs. The rest of the revenue goes to the author.]

WOW: How can Red Empress offer so many extras for free that authors normally have to pay for such as blog tours and audiobook creation?

AMANDA: Part of that is our location; part of that is simply investment. We believe in our authors and what we do, and we put our money where our mouth is. As I mentioned, I was unhappy with my traditional publishing experience. My biggest issue was a lack of marketing by the publisher. If I was going to do all the marketing myself, why let someone else take 60-80% of sales? Right now, everyone (even the art director and marketing director) are working on royalties. So the more we sell, the more we all earn. Of course eventually we would like to pay a salary, but for now, everyone agreed this was the best way to get us off the ground. Also, as I said, the location matters. Our overhead is much lower than for other companies. Also our location puts us in contact with amazing professionals from all walks of life. Our editors, our translators, our art director, our marketing director, even our voice actor, they all met in Shenzhen. It's an amazing place to be for startups.

WOW: In the next year how many books to you hope to publish?

AMANDA: We have modest goals. We would like to start with publishing one original book a month. [The Vampire's Daughter by Leigh Anderson was released on May 17 with two more books coming soon] However we also have a translation division, not only for the books we originally publish but also for books we didn't publish. We are hoping to publish a couple dozen books in Chinese, Spanish, French, and German in the next year as well. We will have our first translated titles available in July.

WOW: So, if you have a completed fiction manuscript consider Red Empress ( They are accepting all genres but especially romance, mystery, fantasy and historical fiction. Also, short story collections, anthologies and previously published works available for reprint. New authors are welcome! 

Jodi M. Webb is writer living in Pennsylvania who also is a WOW blog tour manager. You can find her at Building Bookshelves.


Angela Mackintosh said...

Thanks for the interview, ladies! Amanda, I love your mission. I've worked a lot with China in terms of manufacturing. It's smart to take advantage of the resources in your area, and your publishing company sounds like it's really there for the authors. I'm impressed by your book distribution program. Your royalties and other perks like audiobook creation and marketing sound great, too. I wish you the best of luck!

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