Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Into Print Quickly

When I began looking for a publisher for my creative nonfiction book, FLY WITH THE MOURNING DOVE, the most important need for me was a quick publication. My protagonist in the book is my mother's cousin, who, at the age of six, traveled to a homestead on the remote high desert of New Mexico with her family. She celebrated her 92nd birthday around the time I finished the book. I wanted more than anything for her to see it in print.

I considered Publish America after several acquaintances and people on list serves gave information about the publisher. Yes, Publish America has a bad rep, but the more I checked the more I realized that most of the chatter about that company was nothing more than rumor not backed up by facts. They had been named in a class action suit, but so had corporations like Microsoft and Alltel, so I figured they'd be more careful after that kind of bad publicity.

A friend had two books with them, and her husband is a lawyer, so, hey, if she could recommend them I'd give it a try.

I sent a query and three chapters online; two days later they asked for the entire book, again online. A week after they received it, they offered a contract, directing me to a sample on their site. I suggested a cover and when I received a sample it was exactly what I requested. Five months after submitting the query I had my book in my hands. Royalties are 8% on all sales. Most paperback publishers don't offer 8% until a book has high sales, like 200,000 copies or more.

There are drawbacks, most of them because of the chatter about their bad rep. I tried to run down some of the rumors, one of which was that some really good writers got together and wrote a bad book and Publish America bought it. My question was: Name the writers. I can't imagine good writers wasting their time writing a bad book. I did not get a reply to my question. By the way, I do know someone whose book was turned down by this publisher.

Now, so far I've found the biggest problem I'm having is the no-return policy and the low discount offered by Ingram to bookstores. Ingram informed me that is because Publish America give them such a low discount. Otherwise, I'm satisfied. My almost 93 year old relative is ecstatic because she can hold her book in her hands.

I probably could have sold the book in a year or two or three, but would she have been here to see it? And as for editors and agents not considering writers published if they're published with Publish America, I'm not worried about that. I already have plenty of publishing credits.

Velda Brotherton is a native of Arkansas and has been writing for 20 years. Her first articles appeared in local newspapers, then she became features editor for a weekly paper near her hometown. Her first nonfiction book was published in April of 1994 and her first novel was published in October of that same year. She has a total of six novels and four nonfiction books published, and she is a member of Women Writing the West, Ozark Writers League, Missouri Writers Guild and Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop. Brotherton is currently at work on her third women’s fiction novel.

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