Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Experience and expertise

One book I recently read was EDITORS ON EDITING, edited by Gerald Gross. Although the only time I am "editor" is when it comes to my E-zine and editing my own work, this book was still very helpful to read. One way it helped was in understanding the way the publishing world works. I know a writer who once told me that one nonfiction book I'm shopping around will have a better chance of getting published if I co-author it with someone who has more prominence in this field. My thinking is that, because the book is just an essay collection and not some self-help book or something meant to offer guidance to readers, it doesn't need to go there. However, there IS one nonfiction book I am doing which COULD definitely use a co-author. Specifically, someone with more expertise on the subject.

I am talking about my book on haunted houses. The same book I have been working on for 4 years!!

In one essay in EDITORS ON EDITING, written by Toni Burbank, I came across this passage: "I'd rather have a book with some tooth-marks on it, some signs of turmoil. ... For me, the best self-help writer is the person who has personally wrestled with and overcome a problem." I really started thinking about that. I also pondered over how the author of a nonfiction book should be someone with professional credentials, someone who is personable and willing to be "on the circuit" with workshops and talk show appearances.

That last part filled me with dread. I have done public readings before. But never have I done a workshop. Never have I been on a talk show. And these days....I don't want to do those things, either. I'd....rather not. Thank you. Seriously, I am a VERY solitary, private person. I MAY be married and have children and enjoy the company of my friends, but I am not a BIG extrovert. I'm not a "people person" and I just....DON'T want to be on TV. LOL Seriously, that is just NOT something I aspire to in life.

But my thinking of getting a co-author for this book isn't so I can shirk the promotional obligations or grab the co-author and say, "Here! Put THIS ONE on your talk show!" (Though that IS an attractive thought. Heh, heh.) It's more to do with the fact of what I am bringing to this book. I am in no way of the same level of expertise or experience as, say, the Warrens, Hans Holzer or John Zaffis. (Although John IS included in my book. I was SO EXCITED to get that interview!!!) So maybe it would be BEST if the book was co-authored by someone who is. The only thing I AM bringing to this book is my experience with a haunted house. I HAVE lived in one. True, I also have contacts with people and "other" experts who have really contributed their time and knowledge to this book (these people have been AWESOME to work with!!!!), and I HAVE written about haunted houses for the Shadowlands, but I'm not really an "authority" on the subject. And I realized that there should be an author involved in this book who is!

Still, I wasn't ready to jump on that idea just yet. There was one other thing I worried about: What if the writer I'm paired up with (via the publisher) is someone more interested in sensationalizing the paranormal instead of giving it the full respect that it deserves? I know there are writers out there AND so-called "paranormal icons" who twist things around for profit and fame. They USE the paranormal field for their own selfish, egotistical and financial gain. The paranormal field IS a popular one these days. I mean, look at the popularity behind shows such as "Medium" and "Ghost Hunters." People eat this stuff up. And there ARE people in this field who will take advantage of that, sensationalize or fabricate stories, just so they can get their name into print or get people to buy their stuff. (This is one unfirtunate side of the paranormal industry. There are just fakes and hoaxers out there.)

I happen to take the paranormal VERY seriously. Sure I am first and foremost a skeptic, but I believe in these kinds of things happening. But if something isn't true, if something has a scientific explanation, then I'm going to proceed with that kind of approach in mind. And I wanted a co-author who would feel the same way. Someone who respects the paranormal, who approaches it realistically and isn't in this for "fame and fortune."

So I emailed another person I knew who feels the same way about it: Martha Jette, a Canadian writer who has spent several years writing about the paranormal and investigating reports. (She also included me in her book GLIMPSES 2: IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Yes, that's my shameless plug. LOL!) She emailed me back saying she'd be delighted to co-author the book with me. I was THRILLED!! I'm so excited that someone who feels the same way about the paranormal is willing to work with me on this book. Someone with more expertise and "stripes." Someone who is also a friend and has assured me she won't "twist" the book around for her own financial gain.

I am very happy about this. In no way do I feel bad that I "have" to have a co-author for one of my books. It doesn't make me feel bad at all. I KNOW I don't have the "expertise" on the subject this book will need. I am doing what is best for the book, what is best for the readers. And I'm just so grateful that, at the very least, the person who will be co-authoring this book is one who is just as honest about it as I am.



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