Service Interview with Debra Hartmann

Today we're doing a different type of interview, and it should be enlightening to both writers and readers following the blog. 
My guest today is Debra Hartmann.  Hello!  Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

It’s a pleasure to be here today, thank you for having me.
Can you tell us a little bit about your venture and how Writing in the Modern Age readers can benefit from it?


I’ve been editing for 20 years now so I actually watched eBook and self-publishing trends develop and grow, and far too many authors publishing unpolished manuscripts. Technology had opened the door, nothing else had changed, and authors denied traditional publishing contracts were just trying to realize their dream, but without the budget or connections a traditional publisher has. Either without professional packaging or with cheap packaging…the end result is the same—bad reviews and no sales. 

Most writers today are working full time and writing part time—that is the reality—you have to support yourself and your family first, dreams second. Add on that getting a traditional contract is next to impossible. It can all feel like an impossible situation. There needed to be something added to match what technology had provided. 

So, I assembled a team of about two dozen freelance service providers covering everything from editing to publishing who feel the same way I do about these things and launched The Pro Book Editor and Indie Author Publishing Services. All team members are also published authors, so they understand both sides of the working relationship, no one has less than 10 years of experience in their field, and they each came highly recommended by previous clients.

There are a lot of self-published services out there.  How does yours differ?

Self-publishing services profit by selling package deals to authors and getting the work done as cheaply as possible. A big portion of what the author’s pay for actually goes back into advertising to keep their sales sites in the top 10 on Google and other search engines. They also take royalties and rights from the author—requiring every update or change to go through them as the publisher. We don’t. Our business structure is simply a group of freelancers that has no corporate headquarters, no VP collecting a huge salary, no money is spent on advertising that authors pay for, and our next job depends on testimonials from previous clients. Even as the owner, my pay comes only from actual work that I do as part of the same team of professionals. We all depend on testimonials to build our resumes and allow us to continue to work.

So, unlike self-pub houses, we only care about quality and on time delivery…no one is being rushed to finish a job and get to the next one, or being paid an hourly wage and unhappy in their jobs. We are all members of an elite group of professionals that also dreamed, then succeeded in becoming published authors. We all genuinely can and want to make a difference in our writing peer group. 

Wow, that sounds great! So, I'll ask the next question I'm sure readers are dying to know...

Debra, are you an editor? If so, do you also write?  If not, have you ever entertained the idea of writing your own books?

I am an editor, all levels including proofreading. I’m also certified in adult education, as a Microsoft Office trainer, and experienced in all areas of publishing having worked with so many talented professionals over the last 20 years. Being the managing editor for the team and providing training and consultation services around editing and proofing for my personal clients is the perfect balance for me to work with purpose and really enjoy most every work day. 

I do also write—remember every team member is a published author. I have to, like many authors, or the voices won’t shut up. 

I prefer to keep my writing and my work separate, though, so I use a pen name. I think everyone can relate to the fact that writing and work are two very different sides of you as a person. It’s obvious for someone who writes books and works as a nurse…no one is judging your nursing ability by your fiction book they found on Amazon. It’s not as simple when your job is editing fiction, and I did originally publish under my own name and quickly realized that authors were deciding about working with me based on my writing or the genre or other off the wall reasons related to my book, not my resume. I have three books out there and two more coming over the next year…then, who knows…I doubt the voices will go away, satisfied with only five books.

Oh, yes, I know all about the voices.  LOL.

Do you have plans for expansion with IAPS?  Or is that a secret?

So, I left working as a sub-contractor to be on my own specifically so I could work freely towards a purpose that is so important to me. Making a difference in our industry—professional and quality packaging needs to be affordable and accessible, the reputation of indie books needs to improve, and authors that are willing to work for their dream should be able to realize their dream, not have to give up. Now, I’m opening a new publishing house that is going to be monumentally different…traditional publishing with an indie twist. 

Welcome Home Press is for the author that has tried to get a traditional contract and gotten rejected, has a manuscript that is well written, a professional attitude, and the desire and willingness to push up their shirt sleeves and work side by side with us. By leveraging crowd funding, we can publish authors without upfront, out of pocket expenses, not take rights away from them, and offer amazing royalty splits. That’s all I can tell you right now, but there will be news on the IAPS site very soon.

That's great, Debra!  How inspiring!

Now for some general questions.  Do you have any favorite authors?

Stephen King, John Irving, Regina Puckett, MC Muhlenkamp, Martha Bourke, Austin Dragon, and Jeffrey Poston. 

When reading, do you prefer traditional printed books or ebooks?  And why?

I definitely love my printed hardback books—one wall in my office and in my living room are each filled floor to ceiling with them. However, I cannot deny, though I only have it because my son gave it to me for Mother’s Day, I do love my tablet. End of the day, relaxing in bed until I fall asleep is my favorite time to read and that tablet is light weight and has its own reading light. It’s very convenient and I’m reading more now because I have it. If I travel and take a book, it’s always the paper version. The feel and smell of a book cannot be replaced with technology and that sound tablets make is kind of creepy. Though my husband appreciates me not fussing around with hardback books and an annoying reading light in bed anymore!

So, can you tell us what you are reading for fun now? 

Right now, I’m catching up on the last few Stephen King novels that came out…I was too busy to read them as they published, like I normally would. I also have a signed copy of Corvus Rising by Mary C. Simmons at the ready for my next read. She’s trying to start a new genre called Ecofantasy and the book is an elaborate, nature/ecology based fantasy tale that has me most intrigued. It has a map in it…that often does it for me, too, the extra effort to show the reader around in their fantasy world…love it! 

Are there any words you'd like to impart to writers?  Any advice such as an error that comes up often that we could work on?

The biggest mistake is to not treat your manuscript like a product. It’s your baby while you write—it should be—but when you’re done putting your imagination to pen, it’s a product. You have to separate yourself in this way or you can’t possibly be objective. Also, you can’t clearly make business decisions about the people you allow to work with you on polishing and packaging that product if you aren’t looking at it as a business product. In terms of common errors in the writing, every author has their own unique set of quirks and they always will. Be open minded about learning how to improve your craft and make sure you are working with an editor that respects your voice, but also inspires and teaches you to be a better writer.

Great advice! 

Debra’s Bio 
I live in beautiful Asheville, NC after living away from home for most of my career. My son is a soldier in the Army and I couldn’t be prouder! I love to read and write, but I’m also an outdoor person, enjoying fishing and camping when work allows.

My career has included working as a freelance sub-contractor for traditional publishing companies on fiction novels, working with corporate documents and manuals, and as an independent freelancer to both traditional and self-publishing authors. These days, I specialize in fiction manuscripts, short stories, and story collections across most genres for editing to published, indie style. I am excited about our indie author revolution and being a part of that movement.

About Indie Author Publishing Services (IAPS)

Publish on Your Terms! Instead of signing over your publishing rights and the lion’s share of royalties to a self-publishing house, work directly with freelance editors, designers, and formatters. 

Freelancers are service and quality oriented and our success depends on your satisfaction. 

Our team is comprised of only experienced professionals who are also self-published authors so we can truly appreciate our client’s needs. The combination of our experiences allows us to offer training and consultation services also, to help authors be as independent as they want to be.

Service Links



Thank you so much for visiting us today, Debra, and telling us all about these awesome services you offer!


  1. Thank you, Debra. I love your style of editing. You are a true professional in every sense of the word.

    Regina Puckett

  2. Fabulous interview, Deb! You are so amazing at what you do!!


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