I'm more than delighted to welcome Kemberlee Shortland as a guest on my blog. Kemberlee is a committed and well known author of several novels.
However she is also very well known as a publisher, running her publishing company Tirgearr Publishing. Through Tirgearr she has used her knowledge and expertise giving many authors, including myself, the much needed boost and support to get their first foot on the rung of the publishing ladder.
Hi, welcome Kem. Please tell us a little about yourself. You’re obviously a California girl at heart, so how did you come to live in Ireland?
I’m originally from the Central Coast of Northern California, but I’ve been living in Ireland since April 1997. I’d wanted to see Ireland since I was a little girl. I finally decided the time was ‘now’ to make the trip. I had the savings and set out to make an extended visit. Originally, I had planned to stay a year, but I could only get permission for six months. While here, I met a man I’d eventually marry. After a short visit back home to sort out my affairs, I moved back full time. This year, the hubs and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage, and my 21st anniversary of coming to Ireland.
Have you always worked in the publishing business? Why and how did you start Tirgearr Publishing?
Like most writers, I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but I started working when I was 13. One of my first ‘industry’ jobs was working in bookstores when I was in my early 20s. It gave me great insight into the retail side of the industry, from sales and marketing, to ordering, warehousing, and book-picking. I loved it all.
I also worked for one of the first digital publishers, Dreams Unlimited, as a first reader and in editing. As well, I was also a founding member of a wonderful reviewers group called Reviewers’ International Organization/RIO, c 1996-2006. I served two terms as president, worked on the newsletter, helped educate new reviewers, and worked on the acclaimed annual RIO Award of Excellence. And today I continue working with authors who set their books in Ireland, advising on historical accuracy and doing line edits.
Tirgearr was first established in 2000. For the first 15 years after coming to Ireland, I worked as an Irish travel specialist. Tirgearr Publishing was set up as part of my job, which included writing bespoke travel guides for visitors to Ireland, and publishing dozens of travel articles.
Tirgearr Publishing was re-imagined in 2011 when we decided to expand the company into a proper commercial genre fiction house, which opened February 2012.
Tirgearr is obviously an Irish name, does it have an English translation?
Tirgearr is what’s known as ‘maky-uppy Irish.’ It’s not a real Irish word but one made up from two real Irish words: Tir = land, gearr = short. Our name is Shortland and Tirgearr is a made-up Irish word for that. Tir is pronounced as teer and gearr as gar. I always get a laugh when I say it rhymes with ‘beer bar’.
As things become increasingly tough in the publishing world, and some indie publishing houses fall by the wayside, how do you maintain Tirgearr’s success?
First and foremost, we have an amazing team…authors, editors, proofreaders, formatters…even the accountants. This is a team and as such, everything is a team effort.
Also, we’re available. By this I mean, we maintain an open communications policy and operate transparently. We work with our team to learn the ropes of promotion and marketing education, as well as assistance in helping pay for some paid promotion services.
And we stage-publish. We’re a digital-first house, which enables us to offer more contracts to deserving writers. Other formats are then made available to successful books.
Openness, honesty, availability, support…all ideal things to run a positive team. Our team is happy and we all enjoy working with each other and supporting each other. All good things for success.
How can authors help themselves and their publisher in the current climate?
Taking the time to learn the business serves everyone well. It’s not as easy as just writing a book. A lot goes into what comes after, such as promotion and marketing. Also realizing that not only does it take time, but that things are constantly changing. We all must be adaptable. It’s frustrating, but we’re all in it together, so there’s some support from that. Peer support is invaluable.
What is your typical day when at work?
Email. Starts with email and ends with email. In the middle…email. It’s my main source of communication with our team. We’re all over the world so email is the fastest and most affordable form of communication in this information age.
That’s not to say there aren’t a myriad of other tasks. There are: from accounting and royalties, to web design and managing sales, to working with vendors and specialist services to promote our books, and much more.
Typically, Monday I catch up from the weekend…email, check weekend sales figures, adjust pricing from promotions, etc. We publish a new book most Wednesdays, so Tuesday I’ll be prepping and setting up promotions. On Wednesdays, there’s release promotions to add to regular daily tasks. Thursday is probably the most ‘normal’ day of the week. Friday is the weekly wrap-up for the weekend. Occasionally, I’ll work part of Saturday if I’m off during the week for any reason, but I’m pretty good at prioritizing and getting everything done by close of Friday. Of course, I’m always available to our team in the event of an emergency, but like everyone, we all need some down time and the weekend is mine.
|Kemberlee's writing muse|
What would be your advice to a new author looking to be published for the first time?
The first thing would be to understand the business, and that these days, barely 1% of the top 1% will ever make a living off it, especially in small press publishing. Every other author has a ‘day job’ or some form of income that supports their writing time. Or they have someone in the house who works full time to pay the bills. Very few make enough these days to quit that day job and write full time. And it will almost never happen with your first book.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice: develop a following. To do that means learning the ropes of promotion and marketing. It takes time and effort and consistency. And knowing the difference between the two. And sometimes that means spending money.
As well, be friendly with your reviewers. A reviewer who liked your first book should be the first person you contact when book two is ready…either on preorder or newly-published. They’ll say yes faster than a new-to-you reviewer.
Probably most importantly, love what you’re doing. If you don’t love writing, it will show in your work. Publishers will see it, as will readers. Write because you *must* tell your story. Sharing it with others should also bring joy to your life. A financial reward is always nice, but developing a following—readers who love your writing too—should always make your insides feel warm and fuzzy.
You are also an author yourself, with quite a few novels published. When do you find the time to write?
Ha! What time?! I reserve weekends for ‘me time’. I also schedule breaks during the year when I spend larger amounts of time writing. Aside from our winter break (Xmas through New Years), I’ll take a week off in the spring for my birthday, then another week between that and Xmas. I don’t always write, but I always make sure to do as much research as possible. Unless the weather is exceptionally nice for Ireland, then all bets are off!
Do you have a favourite novel that you particularly enjoyed writing?
It’s always the current book on my screen! I always try challenging myself with each new book, and if I succeed, I’m quite happy. My last project was writing a story set in a place I’ve never been—One Night in New Delhi, book 27 in Tirgearr’s City Nights series. I’ve never been to New Delhi, let alone India, so it was a huge challenge. Other challenges include writing style. If I feel good about the results when the story is done, I’ve done my job well. If readers also think I did a good job, I get that warm and fuzzy feeling.
Have you a current WIP? What is the storyline and where is it set?
My current WIP is another challenge. I’ve put aside my romance writing to pursue a thriller series—Jack Slaughter Thrillers—which is set in San Francisco, California. I’m billing the series as Dirty Harry meets the Streets of San Francisco.
Book one is called Slaughtered. Three years ago, decorated homicide detective Jack Slaughter came home to find his young daughter had been murdered and his wife missing. As book one opens, Jack has left the force before he was fired, and he’s now working as a private investigator and takes local cases to help fund his own investigation. Department investigations having gone cold. Jack wants answers, even if he has to find them himself.
As much as he hates cheating spouse cases, Jack agrees to take a case to find a man’s missing wife, but only because her disappearance seems similar to that of his own wife. Jack also has a stalker who sends him texts every three months, like clockwork, telling him where to find his wife. Each time, there’s only a dead body and it’s never his wife. While looking for his client’s wife, Jack discovers an even deeper crime in the city and he wonders if his missing wife is somehow involved.
I’m hoping Slaughtered will be available later this year. Readers can follow my website or the socials to get the heads up about publication and associated events:
Readers may wish to also follow Tirgearr Publishing on the socials. We publish every Wednesday, and we have a monthly newsletter:
Join our newsletter from the homepage on our website, or through our Facebook page.
Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me onto your blog.