A graduate of the University of Southern California (U.S.C.), Margery Walshaw received dual Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Social Sciences and Communications. She has worked as a writer/editor and producer serving the industries of journalism, public relations and screenwriting for over 20 years. Her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Marie Claire and countless others.
Margery's publicity knowledge and writing services have been called upon by a wide variety of nationally and internationally recognized companies as well as celebrities Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Rosanna Arquette and others. She has also taught public relations at Pepperdine University and provided countless professionals with private instruction on public speaking techniques.
Margery returned to U.S.C. for graduate school to study under many successful writers including Gay Talese, Betty Friedan, T.C. Boyle, John Retchy and Noel Riley Fitch. She subsequently received a Master of Arts Degree in Professional Writing.
Margery lives in California with her husband, Simon, their two sons and daughter. The family also spends part of the year in England.
Loren Kleinman (LK): When did you decide to become a literary manager? Tell us about your journey.
Margery Walshaw (MW): Evatopia launched in 2009. I was working as a corporate writer and entertainment publicist. When I married, my husband was in the field of international television distribution so it seemed like a natural progression to take my skill set and apply it to other writers by editing their work and then promoting them to the contacts that I had established through his work.
Initially, I wanted to help first time screenwriters get a foothold in Hollywood. I came to also represent novelists as many of my screenwriting clients dabbled in both genres. My earliest success stories came with setting up the film and television adaptation rights of my clients' novels.
LK: "Evatopia Media specializes in entertainment marketing by working within the constantly changing online and digital landscape to effectively position our clients' campaigns to consumers." Can you talk about how you came up with the idea for this company and how you've maintained your commitment to authors?
MW: Evatopia's focus has always been to support writers' endeavors, but in serving that audience, we expanded into another -- specifically, consumers. We reached out to our consumer audience, invited them to get more involved in the types of projects they want to see coming out of Evatopia and even recruit them to help us market on a grass-roots level.
While our early days in business were spent marketing our clients' work to producers, we are now equally focused on marketing to consumers. We've even created our own social media mailing list of "Evatopia Bloggers," who help us spread the word about our clients' books. By growing our clients' visibility, their books become more appealing to new audiences.
LK: What publishing services do you offer authors? How do you work with authors to shape up their manuscripts for publication or later production rights?
MW: Some authors want to handle every aspect of the novel -- from conception of an idea to marketing and distribution. Others want to only focus on their writing. Evatopia Media is there to help with as little or as much as an author chooses.
From an editorial standpoint, we will consult with writers on whether an idea is "marketable and original." From there, we provide editing services that can be as in-depth as providing re-writing and ghost-writing or as hands-off as proofreading only for grammatical errors.
We also have a team of cover artists that we can match with an author depending upon the genre and tone of their book. From there we can facilitate the formatting of a book to ensure that it uploads correctly and aesthetically to online book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
And then there is the marketing aspect of a book. We can facilitate blog tours for book launches, social media set-up across multiple online platforms, development of author logos and other visual material and create social media calendars to help authors carve out their communication goals and ensure that they always have something to talk about.
LK: You've published authors like Lizzy Ford, Mia Fox, Cindy Mezni, Melissa Pearl and even an anthology with Belinda Boring and Cambria Hebert, among others. What is it like working with these authors? How have they progressed while working with you?
MW: Indie authors are the hardest working people I know. What I love most about the community of indie authors that I'm part of is how they have jumped on board with my collaborative approach to marketing. One can't always blow your own horn, but by sharing someone else's news, you also build an audience for yourself. I feel that my input, support and belief that by pursuing your dreams and never giving up has been an inspiration to many writers and I'm proud to deliver that message.
LK: How can you tell if a manuscript has potential? Is this clearly subjective, or are there elements that make a successful manuscript? Have you decided to work with an author to develop their manuscript if you see the seed for potential?
MW: I often will take on a book project that requires editing if I see that it is an intriguing story with a unique way of telling it. Sometimes there are aspects that need to be beefed up and others that should be edited down. Some characters might need more developing. I'm happy and excited to get involved with a book that has potential. One thing that it needs to draw me in is a page-turning plot, either in terms of the drama or the character development.
The story has to have wide appeal. It's too competitive of a marketplace, overrun with too many books, to try and market a book that is "literary" but has no real commercial appeal. To me, that doesn't mean that I have to jump on a bandwagon and get involved in another rehashing of the most recent popular hit. I feel for a book to have potential, it has to have a story that grabs you from the beginning and is uniquely told.
I never shy away from emerging writers, but I'm not looking for someone who is not willing to take into consideration what makes a writer successful -- specifically, knowing your audience and what they want as well as the realization that today, it takes more than just writing a book to find that audience.
LK: Do you consider your company indie? Why or why not? Explain.
MW: By definition, I'm not sure a company can be indie, but I love the mentality behind indie writers and am proud to work primarily with them. That can-do attitude and unwillingness to accept barriers to entry is what attracts me to indie writers and makes me feel a kinship toward them.
We're also launching a program to bring attention to indie musicians and artisans -- indie female entrepreneurs who create products appealing to women. Consumers will have the opportunity to get free and discounted ebooks, music and more from the indie creatives who work with Evatopia.
My motto for Evatopia is to "find your happy." That applies to the creatives behind books, music and artisan products, along with the women who seek out those products. I'm building an audience of women who write books, make music or produce products (ie: soaps, perfumes, bath products, candies and chocolates) and those who appreciate their endeavors. I'd say that's pretty indie.
LK: You also represent utopYA, "a convention for women writers of contemporary and supernatural YA and NA fiction and their fans." Can you tell us how you collaborated with this conference? What are the benefits for those attending? Both readers and writers?
MW: Last year, Evatopia sponsored utopYA, a convention for women writers and their fans, because their message and audience was similar to ours and it was a natural collaboration. This year, we were privileged to help them get the word out about their event through media relations. It's an amazing event for both readers and writers. It gives readers (the fans) opportunities to not only hear many successful writers discuss their craft, but also presents many chances for them to interact with the writers they so admire. It's a very hands-on conference, bringing writers and readers together. For instance, this year they are even going for a Guiness Book of World Records attempt by organizing the largest ensemble of the "Cup" song (made popular by the movie "Pitch Perfect").
LK: If there was one thing you could change about the current literary landscape, what would it be and why?
MW: It's what I'd change about business in general...I'd like to see more businesses willing to take chances. It would be nice to see publishers and other businesses putting in the effort to bring attention to a product or person because they have something of value to share, rather than only investing in something that is already tried and tested.