Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Is this the year of getting it right?

I have a new poetry book out this weekend. Hooray!

Well, actually, it’s semi-new.

It’s a revised edition of what once was the chapbook Take My Hand. That book was published 19 years ago by a vanity press. (I was just getting started in the world of getting books published and I did not know at the time that publishing with a vanity press was a bad idea.) The book has gone out of print so I decided to give it a new life as a revised and edited new book, Follow That Dream. It was published by the independent publisher Great Minds Think Aloud.

This is not the first time I am “getting things right” with a book.

Some years ago, I tried to self-publish a horror poetry chapbook called Topiary Dreams. That did not go well; I was woefully unprepared for everything involved in self-publishing (including getting an EAN barcode and ISBN for the book). So it was republished as a revised and expanded ebook, Songs of the Dead, published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

My novel, November’s Child, was published by a so-called “publisher” that ended up cheating all of their authors. The book has since been revised and given a new title: Shadow of Samhain, which will be published as a print and ebook by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. And this time, I have found good people for this book! :)

On reflection of these do-overs, I have to keep asking myself if this is the year that I do some backtracking (even though Songs of the Dead came out last year). I know some people may not be so happy that I’m bringing out what could be viewed as “old stuff,” but I hope those people will understand that I just want to get things right this time. I don’t want those books to just fade away in my failed attempts to get them published – and, anyway, it’s not like I have anymore remaindered copies of November’s Child to sell to keep it on the market (they’re all gone). I want these books to be with good, REAL publishers. I want these books to be available both as a print and electronic (with the exception that Songs of the Dead can’t be a print) because this reflects the changing times when it’s a very good idea to have books out as an ebook in addition to print. And I want these books to be AVAILABLE for purchase.

But the big thing is, like I said, I just want to get it right this time. Those previous publication attempts were failures either because of a bad company, poor distribution or a lack of the resources needed. This time, everything is in order and those books are back (or will soon all be back – Shadow of Samhain is not out yet) and they are better than ever.

But, fear not! Next year will bring NEW STUFF out for readers! Brand new stuff! (And, I hope, this year, too – there’s that breast cancer charity ebook and the doughnut book I wrote for kids that just MIGHT come out this year!) I am planning to finish the health book I am working on in the spring – maybe it will be out next year! I am also planning to submit a new poetry book next year (a ginormous volume), and maybe it’ll be out next year. Ditto the haunted cities book and the children’s book on upcycling, which I am hoping will see an April release in time for Earth Day. There is also the first book in the Revise Your Writing series; it might be out this year or definitely the next.

So enjoy the "old stuff" for now, my dear readers. There will definitely be "new stuff" coming out soon. I hope you are happy with both.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

What makes a publisher legit?

Not too long ago, I noticed a comment from someone that just didn’t seem correct. This person was saying that if a publisher was not listed in Writer’s Market, then they are not a legitimate publisher. They are just someone using online technology. To me, this did not seem to be an altogether accurate way to decide if a publishing company is legitimate or not.

In the past, when I was working so hard to get my first book published, I talked with A LOT of editors and publishers at publishing companies. Some of them were not listed in Writer’s Market, and when I asked why, some responses were that the folks working on the book rejected their application or just failed to include them for some reason or another.

At the same time, getting listed in Writer’s Market does not guarantee an author that he or she has found a reputable, legitimate publisher. The very first publisher I had a book published with (Northwest Publishing, Inc.) turned out to be a scammer. And guess where I found them? Writer’s Market!

Still, I was curious about this comment. It just didn’t seem accurate to me. So I emailed Angela Hoy at WritersWeekly (and Booklocker) about this to get her comment. This is what she had to say:

“Getting listed in Writer's Market is voluntary and some publishers choose not to complete their form because they don't want to keep adding to their slush pile (and/or because they only work with high-profile literary agents and they don't want to receive submissions directly from authors). Some publishers are simply too busy to complete the Writer’s Market questionnaire and others may not accept submissions at all, instead choosing to target potential authors directly for specialized titles.

There are also numerous smaller trade publishers that Writer’s Market may not know about, or that they may not have email info for. Just because a publisher is small, or is in a highly specialized niche, or simply chooses not to be listed does not mean they're not a ‘real’ publisher.

She is absolutely incorrect in her assumption.”

That makes sense. Thank you, Angela, for your feedback on my question.

Bottom line: Don’t use a book such as Writer’s Market to judge whether a publishing company is legit or not. Remember, Writer's Market is a listing of book publishers; it should never act as a guide on what publishers are legit or not. There are other factors to look for to tell if a publisher is legit, such as what their contract looks like, what their other authors are saying about them, if there are reports or warnings about them online and if their books are available in stores.

If you want to read some good pointers on how to tell if a publisher is legit, go to these sites:

Legit publishers for new authors

Finding Legitimate Publishers

Sussing Out Legitimate Publishers

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

There is book work, and then there is "book work"

Even though I have several book projects going on at the moment, four of those books are my top priority. They are a priority because I have set deadlines for them and I hope to meet those deadlines.

Even so, a new book project may spring up here or there. For example, I wrote the first draft of a new children’s book last weekend. This one will become my weekend project because I am planning to submit it in December. Of course, I’ll probably finish revising the text long before December, but I want to give the illustrator plenty of time to create the illustrations.

During the week, however, I work on my “top four” books. And lately, I have averaged working on two a day. I rotate between them, working on them when there is actually work. (Three of them are nonfiction.) This works well for me because I stay busy even when I have to wait on something for another book (as so often happens when writing nonfiction). There is always something to stay busy with.

So, yes, I have worked on two a day so far. For today, however, my “book work” was a little bit different.

I did work on one book, the health book, today during the time I had available to work on it. And, later, I sat down at the desk ready to work on the haunted cities book. (I can’t believe I am almost done with it! Very exciting!!) However, when I logged in at my writing email account, there was a different kind of book work waiting for me. Namely, going over the proof of my forthcoming poetry book, Follow That Dream, as well as formatting the manuscript.

That kind of “book work” pops up from time to time. I’ll need to go over proofs or format manuscripts. Sometimes I’ll need to do research or fact checking. Or I may do something related to book promotion, as Jennifer and I did yesterday for our poetry book Dogs Forever. Sometimes, the book work I do won’t involve writing a book, but getting it ready for submission or publication.

And as for today, I got that other kind of “book work” done but didn’t have time to work on the haunted cities manuscript. Still, it’s all good. I hope I’ll have more work waiting for me for the haunted cities book tomorrow – say, getting back an interview I did with a paranormal investigator or hearing from another investigator that the story I put together based on an interview checks out okay. (Once everything is approved, I’ll add that chapter to the final manuscript.) The important thing is I got some kind of book work done for the second time today, even if it was not the regular kind of book work I have been doing.

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Friday, August 03, 2012

Cover reveal for Follow That Dream

My new poetry chapbook, Follow That Dream, will be published on August 24 by Great Minds Think Aloud Publishing, an independent press. This book was originally published nearly 20 years ago under the title Take My Hand. At that time, I signed with a vanity press to publish this chapbook. It has since gone out of print. I have edited and revised the poems in the original book for this new edition. Also, while I originally dedicated Take My Hand to my grandmother, in addition to two other people, that has changed this time around. I will be dedicating my next poetry book to the memory of both of my grandmothers. I just wanted both of my grandmothers to be honored with one poetry book. This one honors two friends I knew at a hospital I stayed at in New York.

Here is the cover for Follow That Dream. Many thanks to Kitty Bullard for her amazing work in creating this beautiful cover! Some of the poems in this book are fantasy and there's also one of a unicorn, so I felt that should be reflected in the cover image, instead of the poems of being a burn survivor going through several reconstruction surgeries at different hospitals. LOL

Blurb: “Follow that dream.” Take a few moments to read poems meant to seek refuge from the harsh realities of life, from pain, confusion and loneliness. Allow these poems to take you on a journey of wherever your imagination may lead you. The poems in this book share coming-of-age struggles and the fantasies created in order to offer a temporary escape from the real world.

Watch for the release of Follow That Dream on August 24th!

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