On Giants' Shoulders

Friday, May 12, 2006


Last night I went to a presentation at a nearby bookstore. I had been at the bookstore a couple of days before looking for a book of short stories by Flannery O'Connor (which I happily found!). As I entered the bookstore that day I saw a notice on the door about a presentation called Pathways To Publishing. There wasn't any more information, but I figured that I could use an evening out anyway, and might get some helpful information (I have this children's book sitting around waiting for me to do something with it).

Anyway the presentation was interesting, the speaker, Stephen Morris, has lived in my former neck of the woods since shortly after I left there. He worked with Vermont Castings in Randolph (where I used to live) then for Chelsea Green Press in the town where I taught high school English. That was interesting, but what was more interesting was that he now heads up something called The Public Press. They work with authors to get out what they call author's editions of books. They help you get your book through the printing process, manage the process to have the book available to the book trade and displayed on major electronic book selling sites, manage order fulfillment and split the profits with the author fifty/fifty. The author can purchase unlimited numbers of copies from the initial print run for the printer's invoice plus 20%. They will help you negotiate the best possible contract if another publisher becomes interested. They do some marketing, but encourage authors to "shamelessly promote their own work." Bookstores will handle books that this outfit produces, unlike vanity presses. Because they get your title on the big data bases it is available in the same way that any book published by the big houses would be.

They sound like a bunch of distributists to me. They are attempting to help the little guy with a good idea, or a controversial one, or one on a subject of limited interest to get published without selling the farm to do it. They are small friendly. Anyway it was sort of fun to listen to Mr. Morris talk about his vision of a press that would be the print equivalent of public radio.

What was, I suspect, perhaps an even more fruitful part of the evening is that I met another writer. She has only moved to our area recently and used to be in a writer's group in Connecticut. The group she was in included some fairly well known authors and illustrators, so she has some connections to the publishing world that I don't. S She wants to start a writer's group on that model around here. She also used to own a children's bookstore in New Hampshire so she really knows the children's book market. She lives just a few miles away from me, but I never would have known that if I hadn't gone to this presentation. She, and another woman at the presentation asked me what my book was about. They both thought it was a great idea. So just perhaps I've found some new connections.

Hopefully serendipity (better known as providence) is operating here. At the very least I found out where to buy books on sustainable living in Vermont and where to buy renewable energy resources in California, as well as got a free copy of a magazine on "green living." I got all of this for the cost of the gasoline to drive about 14 miles round trip. Besides I got a relaxing evening out and found out that this bookstore does author presentations once a month. I do believe I may have found a place where book lovers hang out. Considering that some people consider my bibliophile tendencies to be more than slightly unbalanced, it will be nice to perhaps find some kindred spirits out there.


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