Meet Jason Smith of Faerie Treehouse Creative and Press
Faerie Treehouse Creative and Press (faerietreehouse.com) is a boutique freelance writing, editing, and publishing business. I started Faerie Treehouse Creative and Press in 2017 as a way to fit all the different things I do under one umbrella idea and brand.
After 17 years in New York City as a Professor of English for the City University of New York–LaGuardia Community College, I returned home to Texas to be with my family in Richardson.
However, and this explains the name “Faerie Treehouse”, we have this cute Alpine cabin on family land in Southwest Arkansas, near Hope, and we head up there with the kids and the dogs to run around in the woods and be creative. The cabin is really in the woods at the end of a winding dirt road. The light that filters through the trees at dawn and dusk is magical, but a tad spooky at times, so “faerie light” spelled the old-fashioned way. That is where the name came from: a house in the trees with a forest full of faeries. I am pretty sure we have a few of the nastier sort like boggarts and trolls lurking about.
Our home is in Richardson and we do the majority of our work here in Canyon Creek. I am a writer, editor and independent publisher, and my wife, Meredith Piper Embry (meredithembryphotography.com), is a professional portrait photographer. We all, Meredith and our girls (Piper 16 and Annie 11) do arts and crafts, paint, and build strange sculptures in the woods. The name seemed to fit the place and what we like to do, so the name for the cabin stuck for the business. The cabin is full of faerie tale books of all kinds, so it totally works.
At the moment, I am supporting the press with my freelance writing–and freelancing is often very unpredictable. I have been a freelancer my entire life in addition to my teaching career, but with no formal business training getting started was a bit of a “tough row to hoe”, as my great-grandfather used to say, but the business is growing.
Shifting gears dramatically, often on the same day, is a learned skill. As an independent publisher, self-publisher, and freelancer, I have to wear a lot of hats and I switch from my cap to cowboy to a fedora, sometimes all in one day. Being a new step-father to a teenager and a tween has definitely helped me learn to adapt quickly.
People never seem to think about the physical side of being a writer–I literally change clothes several times throughout the day. I am not going to a construction site in a suit to get a story on surveying. That is not my style. I like to get hands-on and dirty when it fits the story. But that means another shower and a change of clothes to interview a corporate executive over lunch.
As a freelance writer, I work on all kinds of projects from newspaper features to magazine articles to advertising and even editing emails, websites, blog posts, love letters, and poetry. I enjoy the work because of the challenges. Something new is happening every day and I have to research and learn about new subjects. Some, like heavy construction using GPS technology, are a complete mystery to me until I dive in. I am very adept at immersing myself into a subject and asking questions from a layman’s point of view. That was part of my training as a teacher of writing and literature and a researcher, so the work suits me.
The press side of Faerie Treehouse is just getting off the ground. We have three authors, not including myself, and they are very diverse. Samantha Holoway writes a romantic fantasy fiction series titled Married to the Wind. Michael Neal Morris is a poet and flash fiction writer with a strong Southern Gothic streak, and his book with us Based on Imaginary Events, is deeply troubling, but fun and most definitely for adults. G. Sydney Smith writes historical fiction and children’s books. We recently published his Long Road Home about family and the Civil War. They are a fun group! I have my own YA fantasy series Body Magick (bodymagick.com) and I am proud of it. I am two books in, The Hand and Black Archer, and working on the third and fourth.
We are currently trying to get a full-time agency or traditional publisher to take on one or more projects so we can expand with what we do, which is finding more local authors and getting their publications in front of the public. It is very exciting work. The author’s response when they see their cover and can share their book with family, friends, and fans is a real joy. A lot of work goes into it, but that is good work.
As a boutique press, we can only handle a few book authors at a time, so we have to be selective. The concept of the press was not to charge authors up-front like a lot of “vanity presses” do. We often take commission out of sales only if we think the book will sell well. We mitigate our costs somewhat by starting with the ebook and ensure it has a noticeable cover with good artwork and design, then get it into all the online sellers (including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo) so we can get reviews. Only then do we work on the print copies, because they take a lot of design and layout time. We also offer straight editorial and design services for any writing if the author wants to publish elsewhere.
A majority of the work is editorial and critique. We predominantly work with local readers as our front-line editors and reviewers. We of course have friends all over the world, but we like to keep our business local as much as possible. This includes Piper and her friends for the YA fiction.
Our artists have been amazing. One, Amy Stivers, is a Fort Worth Native that I went to school with in Commerce, Texas when it was still East Texas State University; and yet another, Jaromír Hřivnáč (jaromirhrivnac.cz), whom we have never actually met in person as he lives in the Czech Republic. We found him online. We look for the best artists for each cover, but want to work with more local artists. I would very much like to work with a local artist on a children’s book.
Getting quality work out into the public eye is my goal, whether it be an article in a magazine, newspaper, on the web, or in print. Get it right. Get it out. Then get into a conversation with the public. Writing at its best is a conversation with the readership.
Personally, I like learning new things. My future plans include learning book binding so that we can make some really special limited editions or even one-of-a-kind books: vellum pages, etched wood covers, that kind of thing. It is exciting!