Thursday, March 8, 2012

Interview with author/publisher Stephen Woodfin

Social media is abuzz with interest on DIY publishing. What's a person at home with a computer, some creativity, and a desire to be read, to do?   We decided to turn to a man who spends a great deal of his time writing, reviewing books and helping authors.

Attorney and author Stephen Woodfin is in charge of the book division of Venture Galleries and Gallivant Press.  He was one of the top five graduates in Kilgore High's class of 1970. He attended Kilgore College (A.A. 1972) and obtained a B.A. in religion from Dallas Baptist College, magna cum laude, in 1974. He continued his education at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1979. While at Southeastern, Woodfin received the Cullen Midler Award in Theology, which is awarded annually to the student who presents the best paper in Systematic Theology.

After working in Dallas for several years, Woodfin moved to Waco, Texas, to attend Baylor Law School. He took his law degree in 1985 and has practiced law continuously for the last 25 years. 

Venture Galleries has been established as a new marketing and publishing house that showcases, promotes, and markets the works of talented Indie authors and artists who are building a niche in the marketplace.
We caught up with this busy man earlier this week for a brief conversation.
FCEtier: As an independent publisher at Gallivant Press how do you see the current world of publishing?
Woodfin: The digital world of independent (indie) publishing represents the biggest change in the publishing industry since the advent of the printing press. Today virtually any author can gain access to the whole world through the Internet. It is the best thing that has ever happened for writers.
FCE: How does that differ from the old model of traditional publishing (TP) which dominated the field for so many years?
Woodfin: The fundamental difference is that authors no longer have gatekeepers. In TP an author would finish a manuscript and submit it to an agent (if he could get one). The agent then would act as the go-between with a publishing house .  So, the agent was one gatekeeper, the publishing house another. Since paper books were so costly to print, distribute and market, the author had no freedom to self-publish his own work. 
With digital publishing the cost of paper is no longer a factor, and gatekeepers have lost their place in the publishing process.
FCE: What do you see as the relationship between print books and eBooks?
Woodfin: Ebooks are here to stay. Each year their sales grow exponentially.  This pattern will continue, fueled by the proliferation of cheap eBook readers and devices like the Kindle Fire, the iPad and the Nook. Paper books will suffer the same fate as vinyl records.  This is an emotional issue for a lot of people who love the experience of reading paper books.  But, it is simply a matter of a new technology, in this case eBooks, becoming the norm.
A related issue is pricing of eBooks versus paper. TP has tended to keep eBook prices high in order to protect paper books that are priced even higher. As eBooks take over the market, publishers will have to respond by adjusting the price of their eBooks.  No one yet knows where this price point will settle.
FCE: What are the greatest challenges for indie authors and publishers?
AWoodfin: What we see right now is a tremendous surge in the number of new eBooks in the market place. So the biggest challenge for an author in this climate is finding a way to stand out from the crowd.
FCE:  If an author can self-publish without any gatekeepers, why would he want to sign on with a publisher like Gallivant Press?
Woodfin: There are a lot of reasons.  Gallivant Press pays royalties and does not charge its authors for its services. On the front end, the author gets the benefit of editing, cover design and book formatting, all of which he would have to pay for out of his pocket if he chose to self-publish. Next he receives an immediate strong presence on the web through our world class website that will host his blog and display his work. Finally, he receives the benefit of Gallivant Press’s marketing efforts on his behalf.  In essence, Gallivant does some of the heavy lifting for him, which gives him more time to focus on his writing. If the author doesn’t make sales, Gallivant doesn’t make money from his work. It’s a great way to establish a partnership with author and publisher.
Woodfin: THE INDIE TRUMPET is a publication of Gallivant Press, the imprint of Venture Galleries.  We have designed it to provide cutting edge information of interest to indie authors and the reading public alike. 
FCE: How does THE TRUMPET monitor all that information and collect it for its readers?
Woodfin: It is a daily newspaper that utilizes to construct and deliver it. 
The process of putting the paper together is a study in the importance of social media in today’s publishing environment. 
The articles that appear each day come from links imbedded in tweets of a select group of Twitter accounts.  Gallivant Press decides which Twitter users are potential sources of articles for THE INDIE TRUMPET, and’s algorithms extract the articles from the links and publish them. This gives us fresh content every day from a large number of hand-picked Twitter users.  When THE INDIE TRUMPET hits the digital newsstand every day, readers around the world see it and spread the word. It is fun for people to see their work featured on the front page, and Gallivant Press enjoys providing this service. 


  1. Really solid interview and information shared, Chip! I am still a bit leery of e-publishing for many reasons, but this publishing house sound legit and fair-minded in its representation of authors. Definitely something I'm going to investigate further.

    - Dawn

    1. Dawn,
      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I've known these guys for years. If they tell you something, you can take it to the bank!

  2. Good interview, Chip. I enjoyed meeting Stephen, and I'm hoping to become even better acquainted.

    Still contemplating where to publish my manuscripts. As of yet, I haven't even finished editing.
    Stephen might just be the man though!

  3. Thanks for the comment and good luck with your manuscript!