Sub-titled: I could write a very long piece on this subject but will try to be brief.
When I decided to write a book, the brilliant Margaret Foster told me, take brilliant Laura Oliver’s class at St. John’s College. I took the class and worked on my story with Ms. Oliver for three inspiring years. She was and remains my mentor, cheerleader, psychologist, teacher, editor, fashion icon and friend. When it came time to put The near Transformation of Claire out there, Laura recommended that I submit the manuscript to small, and a few not-so-small, presses before committing to self-publishing. She always believed there was an audience for my story and felt strongly that I should test the waters—let the market tell you what it wants, she said. I agreed with her then and do now–it was quite the learning curve–which only helped to build my craft.
I searched hundreds of small presses and spent a couple of months submitting to twenty-four—I was green, green, green. I sent several amateurish letters and bad attempts at book proposals, but I wound up with 2 acceptances, which I still find amazing considering the competition and my flawed, freshman piece. It turned out that the first acceptance was for only an except from my story, however, to be published in an anthology with bragging rights only, no pay—which was fine—it was exposure, validation, and publisher Norman Conquest, New Urge Editions, has all my thanks and respect. New Urge has since published a short story of mine, In Flight, in their second anthology, The New Urge Reader 2.
My second acceptance was from Editorial Trance, a very small (maybe 2 person), Latin based publisher with several books under their belt. I had no problem with a Latin press, in fact, my publisher was from Puerto Rico, which absolutely had to be a positive sign considering I love and want to live in Puerto Rico. They wanted to publish Claire as an e reader, and again, validation—what a kick-ass shot to the ego, I got a contract. I signed with Editorial Trace, their monetary split was good, but my publisher struggled with formatting the e reader—many of my corrections to her proofs went untouched, with me eventually formatting sections as they were intended so she could cut and paste them into the e reader. There are misspellings, dropped sentences, and many inconsistencies in formatting still, all of which I was told could not be fixed. Well, they can be fixed, it just takes too much time. When Claire went up on Editorial Trance’s website, my name was misspelled. When Claire went live on Amazon, the write-up on the page was taken from my original submission letter to Editorial Trance and not written for Amazon book buyers. The books that were Amazon’s suggested reads along with mine were offensive and nothing like my story. I was plenty angry and my publisher knew it, but again, it could not be fixed but yes it could be. I was told she would put up reviews, send press releases, contact bloggers but never did, and I was told that the book would be put on other platforms (nook, ibook) after 6 months with Amazon only and that never happened. And then my publisher fell off the radar. And a couple of weeks ago, she contacted me and told me the business has been sold and all rights will be returned back to me, contract done. Really…it’s a good thing.
I was rather pissy and very emotional about the launch, but I have only one regret—that I didn’t pursue writing as a career 30 years ago. Laura Oliver’s advice was sound, correct, the experience was valuable. Claire will remain on Amazon with Editorial Trance until April, and then I’ll put it back on Amazon (with corrections) and on other platforms on my own. I know my writing is getting better, I’ve got good short stories in the works, I’m waiting to hear on one submission and will send more manuscripts once I hear. I still don’t have a final count on the number of e books sold (maybe 20 some) and I have not yet figured out what it cost to put this book together—costs were primarily paid mentoring and art, maybe $3,000+. There is supposedly a check coming to me from Amazon, but I suspect it will be under $100. I seriously never thought I would make any money with this book. I wrote this story because I had do, my brain would have exploded if I had not. Maybe some day I’ll have a hard cover book to sell. Have a story? Put it to paper. The journey is absolutely amazing.
artwork: Harriet Yake – thank you, Harriet