Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Friday, October 29, 2010

If at first you don't succeed....

Some years back, I had an idea for as poetry book: A dark and horror poetry collection. When it comes to poetry books, I prefer to do "theme books." My first one was autobiographical. So next I wanted to do something dark and spooky. I eventually learned about a publishing entity called Evil-Book.com. That is where my poetry book, Topiary Dreams, was first published. Unfortunately, that company folded and my book was in limbo. I moved on to other things, but at the same time, I hoped to bring my poetry book back to life.

Then I eventually decided to try publishing the book myself. I created Greenwolf Press for just such an occasion, but because finances were so tight, I could not get everything in order for this self-publishing venture. I did find a good deal to print the books, but I didn't have enough money for a bar code or ISBN. Worse, the font I ended up using was terrible on paper. It worked on screen, but not on paper. It made the book hard to read. I did, however, continue to make this book available for sale, but I didn't go nuts in promoting it. I just didn't have much confidence it would do well.

After some time passed, I got the idea to try to self-publish the book again. I spent a lot of time exploring this option, researching self-publishing, asking questions, talking to people, etc. Eventually, I decided to go with CreateSpace. But first I had to get the book ready. In order to make it stand out as "new" and not just the same old stuff. I revised and added to the poems. I also had the manuscript professionally edited by someone who worked as a horror editor, and got a couple of blurbs. Then I set to work getting it set up on CreateSpace. The only problem is, I had trouble getting the cover right, according to their specifications. Sigh!

Then an idea struck. Why not give this manuscript one last fighting chance? I scoured the Internet hoping to find someone who would publish it, but no luck. I did consider approaching Gypsy Shadow Publishing (my publisher for Love is Like a Rainbow and the forthcoming children's book The Yellow Rose), but I wasn't sure if it was "right" for them. I didn't have a handle, exactly, on what kind of books they want to publish. And I also felt maybe this kind of writing was too dark for them. Still, I decided, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So I gave a shot and asked if they might be interested in looking at the manuscript. They were, and after I submitted it, it was accepted. Hooray!

And, as if adding new poems wasn't enough to resurrect Topiary Dreams, it was also given a new title: Songs of the Dead.

Because the poems in this book are dark and spooky, they had the idea to get the Ebook version released in time for Halloween. And that's exactly what has happened.

Songs of the Dead is NOW available for purchase as an E-book at this link.

For now, it will stay an E-book, but the print version will be available in the near future. I will wait and see how the E-version will do, and time the print release for something else I have planned for one of the poems in this book.

Happy Halloween!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cover confusion

"Never judge a book by its cover." So goes a popular saying. But when it comes to a book -- specifically, YOUR book -- the cover is everything.

I recently had the chance to get a sneak peek at the cover for one of the books I have coming out this month. Because there's more than one book pending publication, I've had the chance to view quite a few book covers, and, in one case, quite a few variations of one particular book cover. (Don't get me started on how much work and strained patience there was for two certain people who worked so hard to get this particular cover satisfactory. They both deserve a good pat on the back for working so hard on it for so long!)

With one cover, however, it just didn't seem like the right one to use. I didn't think it did justice to what exactly the book was about. On a general level, I just didn't like the background, but on the specific level, I didn't think it adequately showed what the book is about. I even asked my daughter what she thought a book with that cover would be about and she said "haunted houses." There IS a haunted house in this book, and there ARE ghosts -- both of which are on the cover. But the book is not about haunted houses per se. And that's the thing that bothered me about it.

A book cover is not supposed to be about the author or what the author likes. It's supposed to be about the book; what it covers, a vague idea of what it's about, an image that captures the genre. You see a cover with two lovers passionately kissing and you know it's romance. You see a cover with a UFO on it, you know it's science fiction or about UFOs. You see a cover with a father holding his child, you know it's either a parenting book or a book about/for fathers.

Despite these opinions about book covers, I still felt bad rejecting this particular book cover. I tried to be subtle. I tried to be polite. I pointed out what I liked (the ghost) and what I didn't like (the background). I know people work really hard to create just the right kind of book cover, but an author should not have to feel guilty about saying the cover just isn't "right" for the book. After all, there are important factors to consider when it comes to a book cover, and the cover is THE first impression your book can have on a potential reader/buyer. An author should be happy with the cover that is plastered on something they worked so long and hard to perfect for publication. An author should feel proud of their book's cover. And if they're not -- if they're not happy with it, excited about it or ready to show that cover off to the world -- then the author should be given that chance to say something about it. Even reject the cover altogether.

I don't regret saying anything if a cover is not "right" but there is a twinge of guilt because when I say something, it can easily be seen as me putting down all the hard work that went into creating that cover. But it's not. I DO appreciate all that hard work. I will always be grateful for all of that hard work that goes into creating a cover for a book, even if I ask for a change or two.

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Saturday, October 09, 2010


"It's October. Have you accomplished your goals for the year yet?"

This was a question posed in the recent issue of a newsletter I am subscribed to. As I reflected on the goals I have accomplished so far this year, I was taken aback just thinking about the unexpected accomplishments I have made this year. I have returned to writing for SIGNews -- and that has been going very well. I have published a new poetry book -- with another on the way this month. In fact, there are still two other books scheduled for publication this month. Maybe even three, if the illustrations for that one get done and go through the layouts, etc.

But, still. Four books this year, for sure.

I have finally sold an article to WritersWeekly, a market I wanted to break into for years. In fact, I sold two.

I sold an article to a magazine for writers -- yet another long-term goal finally accomplished.

I sold an article to both FundsForWriters and WritingKid, both published by C. Hope Clark.

I sold an article to The Dabbling Mum, yet another long-hoped-for sale.

I once again became a book reviewer for a reputable site. Alas, they are nonpaying, but their book reviews hold a lot of importance among many in the writing community, so that still makes it worthwhile. Plus, there are free books and E-books to be had from it.

And I have had short stories published in more than one anthology, too. And I got an agent.

All of this has happened in less than one year. All of it, during THIS VERY YEAR!

I am overwhelmed. When I thought on that, and added it all up, I was just so shocked and amazed.

I couldn't believe it.


But it was not just shock I felt when realizing everything I have accomplished this year. It was also gratitude. An enormous and overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I don't know who to thank for all my luck this year. I thank God, I thank Jesus, I thank the Blessed Virgin, I thank the angels, Fate, the Universe. I thank all the editors who said "yes" to me and took a chance with me. Instead of saying "no."

I have never had a year such as this, in all of my writing career. I have never, ever, ever accomplished so much during the course of one year. It is just so mind-blowing. And such a wonderful feeling, too. WOW!

Even as I celebrate such an amazing year, knowing full well it is not over yet, I also take a few moments and express my deepest gratitude for all the wonderful things that have happened this year. So far.

Thank you. To whomever I must say thanks to. From the bottom of my heart and deep within my soul, thank you.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Changes with the Revisions book series

Change is in the wind -- again.

As it was, I thought I needed to have all three of the Revisions books done this year. Turns out that I don't. It's a relief knowing that I don't, because my publisher wanted me to add another part to the book about agents. I had some trouble trying to get exactly what she wanted to see here, but as I worked on the books, I kept in mind how agent input would play into what the other parts of the books discussed. Finally, I had a better idea of how agent input could be helpful. Still, I went over this with my publisher and we went back and forth over it until we had a better grasp on what exactly will go into that part. I started to visualize the chapters and get ideas for chapter titles -- which was a good sign.

Another thing I needed extra time for was figuring out how I'm going to contact the agents for this book. I know some agents, but we need more than just a few. Again I discussed this with my publisher. Both of us know literary agents are insanely busy people, so I couldn't figure out a way to get their quotes for the book without interrupting their time. The discussion helped clear that up, and now the extra time I have to work on this will allow me the opportunity to conveniently work around an agent's busy schedule so they can still contribute advice for this book.

So, as I mentioned, all three books DO NOT need to be done this year. I was planning to have the second book done on September 30th, but I still needed material and I just couldn't make that self-imposed deadline. I was also planning to get the third book done by the end of the year, but that, too, has been changed.

According to these changes, I won't need to have the second book complete until some time next year. Ditto the third.

To say the least, this is a huge weight off of my shoulders. I can actually breathe easier now. I was under a lot of stress, scrambling to get the second book done, sweating over chapters of the book that still needed interviews and end-of-the-chapter features. It was really starting to get to me. But now I can breathe easier knowing it DOES NOT need to be done right now. I have some time, and I hope to use that time to get the remaining items needed.

This also changes when the books will be published. I was told the second book probably would not be out next year. Actually, more like 2012. I can only hope the third one will follow that year, but we'll see. Up until now, I thought all three books would be published every few months or so next year. I thought all three would come out in one year, but, nope. That's not happening. It kinda bugs me that one book in the series comes out once a year, but I guess that's the only way my publisher can do it. That's one of the downsides in book publishing: Some books can take a looooong time to get into print.

But I'm willing to wait. The wait will be worth it -- and so will having the extra time to make the other two books the most helpful and inspiring resources they can be.

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