Article by Susan Monroe:
Danielle Modafferi, CEO of Firefly Hill Press – LLC, a small independent publishing house who strives to find, publish, and market exceptional works of novel-length fiction, specifically in the Young Adult and Romance genres. Danielle will be attending the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ March 23, 2019.
Firefly Hill Press specializes in stories that feature heroines who are not afraid to save themselves – no damsels need apply! Our stories feature love and obstacles that enhance our protagonists’ journeys but in no way defines them. We like to believe that we reclaim the term “happily ever after” and illustrate how it is a unique pursuit and triumph to each character and her goals.
Susan Monroe had the chance to ask Danielle a few questions.
If we were to meet at a conference, without using anything from the bio, what would you tell me about yourself that would be intriguing?
I have a pretty inexhaustible travel bug and have trouble staying in one place for too long! I started Firefly Hill Press as way to build a digital on-the-go company and pair it with my LOVE of books and writing. I have had the privilege of living all over the United States, in Paris, and in London and am always keeping my eyes peeled for my next destination and inspirational publishing location! If anyone has any good suggestions of what should be next on my list, come find me and let me know!
As an agent, you work with writers, hopefully, long-term, but who are strangers to you at first. Do you look at more than the work submitted to determine that relationship?
Absolutely! Since my company is small by design, I only take on authors with whom I hope to build a career and a future. Of course, it has to be an author whose work I believe in and am enthusiastic about, but more than that, I hope to foster a professional and working friendship with my team. Writing is hard and sometimes requires brutal honesty from both parties. I need my authors to know that those critiques come from a place of love and desire to make their work the best that it can be and the only way that happens is if trust is fostered between us. It is a pretty integral part of a successful working relationship, in my opinion.
Writers often say they became writers because they have to write. What drew you to becoming an agent?
Actually, I too started as a writer. I wrote and published a Young Adult Dark Fantasy novel titled The Girl in the Glass Box back in 2016, which is a fairy tale reimagination based on the Grimm’s version of Snow White. I earned my MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2014 and during my time there learned how exciting the publishing side of the industry is. Additionally, I come from a background as an English teacher, so I feel like publishing is an awesome opportunity for me to fuse teaching, coaching, and my love of writing with my interest in the ever-changing landscape of publishing.
When you get a submission, how far into it do you get before you know this one is not for you?
Truthfully, it’s pretty early on – within the first page or so. But out of respect for the writer and the submission, I generally read through most of what is sent to me, even if I know it’s not for us. There are so many things to be told from the first paragraphs: writing style, tone, craft, content themes, and so on. So, I always tell writers that if they are continuously submitting and they are not receiving any promising responses, to consider revising their beginning and perhaps starting the manuscript at a more active point in the story. I see so many manuscripts that just begin in the wrong place. Not to say that the stories are bad or deficient, just that they begin before the “real beginning” of their story should start.
What are your personal peeves when it comes to submissions?
Ooh, when writers clearly have not done their research and are just blanket canvasing their manuscripts to anyone and everyone regardless of genre or submission guidelines. It shows a total disregard for the process and for my time as someone considering this manuscript. For instance, if you are sending me a horror, sci-fi, erotica manuscript, clearly you do not know much about our backlist and what we currently represent. It is just time consuming and a bit inconsiderate.
What trends in the publishing marketplace attract your attention? (Such as, what genres are hot? Where is electronic publishing going?)
Wow – I am LOVE-LOVE-LOVING the resurgence of chick lit and the Rom Com. As a fan of these types of stories myself, I love the hopefulness of these stories and even more so, I am loving the trend that these stories are becoming more female-story-centric. Life is hard and stressful and difficult. Watching the news is NOT FUN (understatement of the year!) and people are becoming bogged down with the heaviness of everyday struggles, which is why light, fun, uplifting literature is really making its way back into the publishing arena.
In terms of what’s coming for e-publishing? Hmm… the hot topic on everyone’s lips for the past few years has been a skyrocketing in popularity in audiobooks. I am really eager to see the technological innovations in this area and am looking forward to more texts becoming more accessible in an audio format. For me personally, audiobooks (and podcasts!) make commuting so much more tolerable. I would love to see maybe even more authors reading their own work? I know it sounds crazy because, of course, the narration needs to be well done, but a big trend in marketing and publishing has been an increased accessibility to authors through social media and live streaming video feeds. No longer are authors these creatures who are holed up in their dark cabins in the woods pumping out pages in their solitude – they are interactive with their communities and readers have become increasingly responsive to it! That aspect of publishing has been really exciting to watch and to be a part of.
Danielle Modafferi earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Since then, she incorporated Firefly Hill Press in 2014 and has been passionate about discovering and sharing incredible fiction through publishing ever since! She is a: Professor of Writing, Practicer of Random Acts of Kindness, Connoisseur of Cheese, Petter of Puppies, Professional Napper, and Lover of all things Harry Potter. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @danimod115
You can also follow Firefly Hill Press on Facebook.