Sunday, May 15, 2011


IN THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY in 1819 the American poet Walt Whitman was born. He died in 1892. To me, he’s the iconic self-published poet. In fact, he published more than one edition of his much loved Leaves of Grass. No debate about doing it. No shame. Just tons of confidence in his own work and talent. As we go back and forth debating on self-publishing ... what was once called vanity press ... perhaps in these changing times we should remember Whitman and others of his ilk. I would submit that there’s nothing wrong with having enough confidence in our product that we are willing to birth it into the world on our own.

One woman with a cat, a muse
In fine Whitmanesque publishing tradition
Putting out newfangled electronic edition
A word symphonic record to leave behind
Carefully tweaked, tempered, and timed
Baring witness to love, history, and crime
The poet posts, the friends roast
All good-natured, well-reasoned and rhymed

POET/NOVELIST VICTORIA CERETTO-SLOTTO (liv2writ2day’s Blog: Fiction, Poetry, Spirituality) has completed one novel, which sat in her agent’s office for a year-and-half. She’s in the process of completing a second novel. Here she shares her experiences in publishing, the results of a poll she implemented on her blog, and her evolving strategies for publication given the changes in the industry. 
Jamie, here are my thoughts about my poll on publishing options:

Now that I am no longer represented by an agent, I am considering publishing options for my novels. It’s clear that we are in the midst of a publishing revolution. While the traditional market seems to be difficult to break into, the options available to authors of all genres are multiple.

I receive a number of e-Newsletters for writers and there are a plethora of articles about publishing with opinions all across the board. My poll (so far) came out split evenly among three of the choices, traditional publishing, self-publishing (Print on Demand), and other choices!

Here are my thought about each choice:

Query agents or traditional publishing houses: In my initial contacts with my former agent she told me to expect a wait of 3-6 months for a response from the publishers to which she was submitting. The few that came within this timeframe rejected based on the fact that their lists were full for the year or that the novel didn’t fit their criteria. Almost a year later, she communicated to me that these houses had undergone layoffs like the rest of the business world and that these reduced the number of readers significantly, resulting in a wait-time of at least a year. I waited fifteen months before concluding that it was time to explore other avenues and when I e-mailed her about my need to do this, I learned that she was focusing on the Christian marketplace which is not a fit for my novel. This week I have sent 3 more query letters to agents and plan on adding a few more as well as some small publishing houses.

Self-Publish using Print on Demand (POD): The attraction of this choice is that you can limit inventory because the self-publisher prints as orders are received. This, of course, helps to manage costs. All of the self-publishing options have a presence in on-line distribution markets such as or Barnes and Noble. To me, the downsides of POD is that a certain stigma continues to accompany any of the self-publishing models—the assumption that the author isn’t “good enough” to be picked up in the traditional market. The other factor that is a big one concerns the responsibility for marketing one’s own work. Of course, most of us prefer to spend out time and effort writing. The reality is that, even in traditional publishing, much of the marketing falls to the author. An on-line presence can help to resolve this, opening up many opportunities for selling one’s work.

E-Publishing: There is a huge buzz about e-Books taking over the world of book publishing. In a recent article, I read about a known author who turned down a $500,000 advance from a publisher in order to e-Publish. His rationale was that all the royalties would return to him—or almost all, as the e-Publishers survive by receiving a percentage of book sales. The pricing for e-Books is significantly lower than paperback or hardcover, but the author is not left with unsold inventory and the pricing attracts a greater volume of sales. As a Kindle user, I know that I am more apt to risk purchasing a book that costs less than $10 than one that is pricier. The downside of e-Books, of course, is that electronic readers are not available to everyone and the author doesn’t have the sheer pleasure of holding hard-copy in her hands. Also, oftentimes, the responsibility for editing remains with the author.

I will keep you posted on the progress with my two novels. I will say that the prospect of self-publishing is much less disheartening than just a few years ago and, if e-Books is the wave of the future, it might be fun to catch it.
Thanks, Victoria, and good luck from all of us.
Link HERE to learn about some of Ji’s (as in Jingle!) experiences with publishing. 
TAKING THE LEAP WITH HEATHER GRACE STEWART, Canadian Poet/Writer and Photographer. Interestingly, she has books picked up by publishing houses and she's self-published. Here's my review of Leap, which is self-published.

Photograph with Where the Butterflies Go

With Leap at a reading.
Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular. Aristotle 384 BCE – 322 BCE, Ancient Greek Philospher and Physician
All poems and photographs are: the exclusive copyrighted property of Heather Grace Stewart,reprinted here with permission.

When I think of Canada, the first thing I think of is snow and Mark Vonnegut (The Eden Express, Memoir of Insanity), and voices clear and cool as mountain spring-water, k.d. lang and Anne Murray … and now I think of Heather Grace Stewart, a new-to-me poet, writer/journalist, children’s writer, and photographer.

Heather is a poet of everyday things. She sees and shares the silliness, humor, charm, sham and mystery in the mundane. She writes about “somewhere between orange juice and coffee,” emails, Facebook, laundry on the line, and Lessons from a Child:
Pretend you’re a Superhero …
Frank and funny, she reveals the simple – often irritating – dailiness of marriage:
I’ve been meaning to tell you.
There was this guy, Mike -
I think that was his name
on TV today.
Mike can kick himself in the head
over and over and over
twenty-five times in one minute.
It gave me this idea.
A time saving technique.
When we’re fighting about
nothing and everything all at once;
When you’ve just said it’s only PMS,
and I’m glaring at you with that
“You’re so not getting laid tonight!” look
When you’re throwing your
hands up in the air, yelling,
“What do you want from me?”
Give Mike a call.
Learn how to do that.
Honey-Do List in Leap
Perhaps best of all, Heather writes of motherhood:
An afternoon chasing our marmalade cat
around the six-foot cosmos:
I’m on a jungle safari;
you’re my guide.
A hot day spent splashing
around in a croc-faced
kiddie-pool; we’re
exploring the Nile.
A spider slowly crawls
across its fresh spun web;
we’re secret agents
cracking a case.
My passport gathers dust.
I travel nowhere;
we’ve been everywhere.
Passport from Leap
Leap, Heather’s second collection of poetry and one of her five published books, came out last year. With grace and conviction, she addresses the homely, the conventional, the universal experiences of life, the highs and lows: learning she cannot have another child, the heart-felt pain of war, poverty, and hunger; the joy of being a girl; natures comforts; and, the never-ending battle of the sexes -
Eve, my sister,
we all know how
you tempted him.
But how did you tolerate him
so long, with only apples?
In this one collection, Leap, Heather deftly combines lightness and depth. It’s an honest, unpretentious look at life with all its risks and joys. We recommend that you take the Leap. The book is oversized with a paperback cover and illustrated with Heather’s photographs of family – especially her young daughter – and nature scenes. It can be purchased HERE for $9.99 with half the proceeds going to UNICEF’s Gift of Education project.
A lovely lilt of language slides between the horrendous and hilarious in these poems.-Penn Kemp, author of 25 collections, celebrated foremother of Canadian sound poetry.
You can visit Heather Grace Stewart online at:
Exposure Worthy, an interview
For the Kids, a children’s poetry place

May 21-22, 2011 in Santa Cruz, California, U.S.A.
According to the hosts of this program, "in order for your book stand out from the hundreds of thousands published each year, you need to understand the publishing industry and you need to make connections with the people who can help you launch, promote and market your book. Here's who you'll get to meet: 

Janet Goldstein, New York publishing strategist & editor for Ellen Bass and Laura Davis's book The Courage to Heal, which sold over a million copies and was translated into twelve languages. (a note from Ellen: Janet Goldstein is a brilliant editor whose skills, knowledge, and connections are invaluable)

Keynote speaker Daphne Rose Kingma, best-selling author of the award-winning book, The Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart

Alos, Andrea Alban, author of books for parents, children and young adults; Nathan Bransford, leading publishing industry blogger, former literary agent, and author; Karen Leland, marketing and publicity expert, journalist, bestselling author of Time Management in an InstantBarbara Moulton, literary agent and former HarperOne editor, Andy Ross, literary agent and former owner of the legendary Cody's Books in Berkeley; David Carr, freelance editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach.

Whether you are a first-time fiction or nonfiction writer, an accomplished author, an expert in your niche with a book or blog idea--or a business or nonprofit leader who wants to make an impact with your ideas--this hands-on event will give you a "from the trenches" perspective of the publishing world--and the best strategies for you to crack the code and get your work out to the people you want to reach."
Details HERE
THE BOOK DESIGNER.COM by Joel Freidlander is a site that provides information to those writer who are considering the self-publishing option. It covers everything from planning and typography to eBooks and print choices and more. 

IBPA, THE INDEPENDENT BOOK PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION is the largest not-for-profit trade association representing independent book publishers, which means YOU if your are self-publishing. If you live in the States, you may find a chapter near you. It’s a great network for information exchange, training, and networking. 


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Linda Bob Grifins Korbetis Hall said...

what an informative post.

insightful, reflective, thanks for the time, Jamie.

Victoria said...

Jamie, you amaze me. Your prolific writing and support to all of us who follow these blogs is outstanding. And thanks for covering my publishing quandry. Any insight other readers of this blog might have is so welcome. Heather is one of my favorites and so happy for her success--well-deserved.

Unknown said...

Jamie never disappoints.

keep rocking.

Unknown said...

I love Victoria's insights into the publishing options. It's a changing world and confusing for many authors.

Heather said...

Excellent post Jamie - you never cease to amaze me and I'm flattered you'd think to feature my work. Victoria, you've done something I've been trying to find the time to do, post about the publishing world today. Thanks so much for such an informative article. We certainly need to stay informed about the options as authors, but I'd say peer support like this is one of the key factors in being a successful publisher!