Newsletter posting 2: Getting a publisher

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} p.MsoListParagraph, li.MsoListParagraph, div.MsoListParagraph {mso-style-priority:34; mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.5in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-add-space:auto; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} p.MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst, li.MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst, div.MsoListParagraphCxSpFirst {mso-style-priority:34; mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-type:export-only; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.5in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-add-space:auto; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} p.MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle, li.MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle, div.MsoListParagraphCxSpMiddle {mso-style-priority:34; mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-type:export-only; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.5in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-add-space:auto; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} p.MsoListParagraphCxSpLast, li.MsoListParagraphCxSpLast, div.MsoListParagraphCxSpLast {mso-style-priority:34; mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-type:export-only; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:0in; margin-left:.5in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-add-space:auto; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;} /* List Definitions */ @list l0 {mso-list-id:1832715463; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-38892812 67698703 67698713 67698715 67698703 67698713 67698715 67698703 67698713 67698715;} @list l0:level1 {mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:38.25pt; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l0:level2 {mso-level-number-format:alpha-lower; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:74.25pt; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l0:level3 {mso-level-number-format:roman-lower; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:right; margin-left:110.25pt; text-indent:-9.0pt;} @list l0:level4 {mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:146.25pt; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l0:level5 {mso-level-number-format:alpha-lower; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:182.25pt; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l0:level6 {mso-level-number-format:roman-lower; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:right; margin-left:218.25pt; text-indent:-9.0pt;} @list l0:level7 {mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:254.25pt; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l0:level8 {mso-level-number-format:alpha-lower; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:290.25pt; text-indent:-.25in;} @list l0:level9 {mso-level-number-format:roman-lower; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:right; margin-left:326.25pt; text-indent:-9.0pt;} ol {margin-bottom:0in;} ul {margin-bottom:0in;} –>

            Everyone knows someone with a publication story.   Some sent their work on to a mentor who passed it on to a press with an opening and the rest is history.  Some sent the book to contests for years and found a publisher through an editor for one of those contests.  Some find themselves sending to one contest, one time, and that’s the golden ticket.  I went a different way. 
            In the case of Canticle of Idols, I saw on the Cave Canem listserv that WordTech Communications had an open call for submissions a few years back.  The press required the submission of a manuscript AND a business plan.  It was clear that WordTech understood that books that are the most successful are those that have a team working for it, and a leader on that team NEEDS to be the writer.  The reality is that for poets most book sales happen at readings or as a result of readings.  We have to be writers and business people.  Sometimes fiction writers work with publishers that have a marketing team.  They might even get an advance to finish the novel or sell the rights.  That happens very rarely with poets, and even other writers are now being brought into the marketing and selling process.  It’s a changing world in publishing. 
            With Canticle, I submitted a business plan that outlined my busy conference schedule, my ongoing readings, my desire to set up a book tour, my plan to work through my various networks.  The book was picked up, and I did all that I had planned, and I learned a few lessons along the way. 
            With Boogeyman Dawn, I did more research into the presses that I loved, those that had published books by poets I admire.  As with Canticle, I went the contest route first.  Who doesn’t like the idea of a large prize and the publicity that comes with winning?  Boogeyman Dawn was a finalist for one prize and received a personal letter from an editor inviting me to submit for publication outside of the contest. 
            I had just received the decision on Boogeyman Dawnwhen I went for a writing residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.  I was there for two weeks at one of the most productive residencies that I have done.  While there, I crafted a third manuscript that I am currently sending out.  I’ll write a later newsletter about my revision and editing process.       
            At the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, I met artists, poets, writers, musicians.  Of the poets, many of them had been published by Salmon Poetry, a press that I knew in passing as I was living overseas at the time.  The Centre had an impressive poetry library, stocked with, it seemed to me, everything that Salmon Poetry has ever published.  I read and read.  After getting the contact information for Salmon Poetry online, I sent a query letter and selection of ten poems from the manuscript to Jessie Lendennie, mentioning that I had met the brilliant poet, Mary Dorcey, one of Salmon Poetry’s authors, at the Centre.  Mary had spoken so highly of her publisher, I had to take a shot.  Within the time that I was there, Jessie requested the entire manuscript.  Within three months, I had a contract.
1.     There are so many avenues to finding a publisher.  First, find out where the poets or writers you admire are published.  Look for overlaps.  If several are published by the same press, start there with a query and a short work sample.  Only send the whole manuscript if the press requests it. 
2.     Do your research.  Go on to the publisher site and see if there is an open call for submissions.  Some presses run contests AND have a month designated for open submissions.  If you missed either time, write it down and keep it in mind.  Put it on your calendar, and if you haven’t found a publisher by then, you will know where to send your manuscript. 
3.     Reach out to your connections.  If you have friends who have been published, ask them about the process.  Ask them to keep you updated on the review process.  Ask them to review your manuscript, and give you feedback.  Return the favor with food and the beverage of the person’s choice.  I know I mentioned it in my last post about no writer going hungry.  Sometimes we have to feed one another on words and food.  Writing is not a solitary endeavor.  It’s communal. 
4.     Keep working on the manuscript.  You think it’s done, but the reality is that it’s not done until it’s published and even then you will want to make changes. 
5.     Do readings!  This is part of how you work on your manuscript.  You will catch so many errors just by reading it aloud to others.  It does not matter the genre.  Do readings. 
6.     If you think about it, put out an email list at your readings.  Build an audience.  When you query publishers, you want to be able to say what networks you belong to and the size of audience that you have.  You have an email list of 1000 people, 2000 friends on Facebook, 500 Twitter Followers, and 1000 Instagram followers, and folks might pay attention.    
7.     Networks and audience size only works if the work is good.  Keep revising.  I know I said that already, but it’s really important. 
8.     Carry your manuscript around.  I know a poet who carried his wrapped in a rubber band.  He was ready at all times to get feedback on his work.  Be all about your hustle. 
9.     Believe in the work, because if you don’t, no one will.  Part of believing in it is knowing how to describe it.  Write a short paragraph on the book.  You will use that for press kits, pitches/queries, publicity, proposals for readings, and just about anything having to do with your book.  Lock it down with the most meaningful and compact words possible. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.