Writing Books/Publication

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Question
I have been writing for several years and have a large amount of excellent poetry...
I write often and have even started developing stories/novels...
I have over 1,800 poems ready for print and distribution.
I see the publication as only a personal goal, but beleive i can actually make money with my work.
My question is, what can i do to be sure that the publisher is giving me a fair deal, and if there is anything else that you can possibly help me with as well that would be great...
Is it luck that gets your foot in the door, or can posessing talent actually help in this business?
I appreciate your attention and hope you can help me...
thank you much,
Peace and Love...
Matt

Answer
Hi Matt---

I'll start my answer by clarifying that I am not an expert in Poetry, however, I think I can give you some useful information to get you started.

First of all, congratulations on all of the work you've done. You are obviously passionate about your writing and for many writers, ironically as it may sound, this is a learned skill. They have the ideas, just not the drive to actually write. So...good for you!

You don't mention anything about how you've already shared your poems with others/the public, or your background in publishing...so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that your poems are "excellent" and "ready for print and distribution".

Before getting into the print/publish/distribute process, I recommend that you review your poems and group them into volumes. How you do this is up to you... topical? Audience? Chronological? etc. It will be helpful for you to be articulate about your body of work in terms of how it breaks down.

Once you've done that, I think you should explore self-publishing as well as traditional publishing. The majority of authors just entering the market don't realize they have options. The publishing industry has undergone massive changes in recent years and they are not the only game in town any more. Many, many, many quality, high profile books are self-published initially. Don't let the term fool you...self-published doesn't mean wire bound copies from Kinkos! The end product looks just like a "regular" book, the difference is that you drive the process versus a corporation. Check out the services at: www.lightningsource.com  

As far as a fair deal, look around on authorsguild.org. Lots and lots of info and resources on the legality and structure of contracts.

Ah, the infamous luck vs talent question! The answer is it takes both and it's unpredictable. That helped a lot, eh? If you look into self-publishing and decide to go traditional, for your work, you might want to consider approaching university presses, or smaller independent presses. These often look at poetry. Also, reading Writers Digest and The Writer magazines might give you other ideas based on the experience of authors featured in their poetry segments.

Lastly, and I tell this to everyone... spend some time really thinking about your publishing goals. Fame and fortune? Extra income? Satisfaction? Accomplishment? Getting back at the 4th grade teacher who said you couldn't write your way out of a paper bag? Your answers will be what drive your choices as you move toward publication. That I promise you!

--Gail Richards  

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Gail Richards

Expertise

I can help you use your intellectual capital---you know---that NON-FICTION "book you've been meaning to write" out of your head and out into the world by answering questions about the publishing process and what your options are.

Experience

I work with numerous authors as well as other book professionals in this arena. In addition, I create tools for authors to use as they work through the process. Detailed information is available on my website, http://www.authorsmart.com

Organizations
eWomenPublishingNetwork - member and service provider eWomenNetwork, Colorado Springs - leadership team National Association of Women Writers - member Colorado Springs Customer Service Association

Education/Credentials
BA Dartmouth College, 1984

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