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Meet Caroline Smith of Tandem Light Press in Lawrenceville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caroline Smith.

Caroline, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My business partner, Pamela Larde, was writing a book and had hired someone to help her edit. I was the senior editor with a publishing and print company in Alpharetta at the time and she was interested in some of our print services. It was our policy to do an editorial sample of any book submitted as a quality control. In her sample, I picked out some inconsistencies and some key areas that didn’t meet what we considered to be industry standards. She then choose us for all of her publishing needs, including editorial, and I helped guide her in the process. Once her book was released, she ended up getting several great reviews and winning awards. Fast forward a few months and I had left that company. Two days after I resigned, I got a phone call, email, LinkedIn message, and Facebook message from her. She was starting a publishing company and wanted me on the team. I immediately said yes; It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

This November, we’re celebrating 5 years in business together, with over 40 titles published or in production. Many of our titles, especially our children’s books, do very well and have won multiple awards and are on several bestseller lists. Our authors end up becoming more like family than clients and were involved in the process sometimes even before writing happens until marketing and post-publication. Because of that and our commitment to quality and industry standards, many of our authors publish with us over and over again, and most of our clients are garnered via word of mouth.

In addition to publishing empowering and inspiring titles in all genres, we have a children’s imprint and a writing academy where we educate aspiring authors on all aspects of writing and publishing. We’ve found that when our author is more informed about the whole process, they’re more open and flexible to the process. Publishing can be an animal all its own and I think they appreciate the guidance we provide throughout their publishing journey, whether they publish with us or someone else. We also have a new radio segment once a month on a local internet station and we’ll be releasing online writing courses and a podcast before the end of the year.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ha! Never. Publishing is a tricky industry. We struggled initially with being too open in the process with our clients. We want to be communicative and transparent but not when it creates anxiety. We learned that it’s similar to giving information to a bride at her wedding if something is going badly: only do it if it’s going to ruin the day, otherwise it’s a need-to-know scenario.

We’ve also experienced some trouble with setting boundaries and being too available. We keep regular business hours, but as entrepreneurs and single moms, we tend to work at all hours (in fact it’s common for both of us to be up at 2 a.m. finalizing a project or brainstorming together). However, we don’t want to set the expectation that we’re available 24/7. I know a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners who struggle with the same thing: how accessible is too accessible?

We’ve had some hard lessons and some failures, but without a doubt, each one has been an opportunity to learn, grow, and give or provide feedback so that we can do it better the next time. And we’ve stopped striving for perfection, because it doesn’t exist, but we always strive for excellence and quality.

Tandem Light Press – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Tandem Light Press is a post-modern, or hybrid, publisher. We specialize in inspiring and empowering stories to be they fiction, children’s, romance, memoir, business, etc. We’re not a traditional publisher or a simply a coach for self-publishers. We allow our authors to maintain their rights to their books, we collaborate with them on the whole process while ensuring industry standards set by “The Chicago Manual of Style,” and we go a step beyond most publishers and provide individual marketing after the book is published.

We are known for our quality and personal touch with our clients. There are a lot of publishing companies, editors, and agents in this industry that operates with little to no integrity and we work very hard to combat that and show people that publishers are trustworthy. We’ve heard more than a few stories of publishers who take the money and never produce a book or they fall off the earth and are never heard from again. Or agents who tell people they “hate” their books. That’s not constructive, it’s just critical. We want to help everyone share their voices and be heard. Some people need a little more help than others, but with objectivity, there’s no room in this industry for “hating” content. We’re also happy to republish books that may not have done well the first time around.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There have been so many. Every time one of our authors wins an award I feel like a proud mama. It’s amazing to see how their stories or works are validated and encouraged. We’ve also had some emotional authors who aren’t sure they want to continue with the process. Most tend to be authors that experienced and may be writing about a personal trauma. Writing and reliving that can be very hard, but they continue on, and we get to watch them blossom after that. It’s very humbling to be a part of.

Pricing:

  • Unillustrated books $5,500
  • Illustrated/Children’s books $6,500
  • Payment plans available

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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