Climbing the Learning Curve

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Over the last two or three days I’ve hoisted myself up a steep learning curve, one handhold after the other, and craned my neck to see the widening view. With terrific boosts from Ilan Mochari, fellow Fomite writer and author of Zinsky the Obscure; and from Lynne Griffin, writer and faculty member of Grub Street’s Launch Lab, I’m beginning to get it.

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Galleys labelled for submission.

In this landscape, two worlds intersect: the one of pre-publication reviews and the other of indie presses. Fomite Press has given me the advantages of skillful, personal editing and cooperative decision making, but cannot possibly do the marketing traditionally done by a major publishing house, where submission for pre-publication review happens automatically. In that scenario, the publisher recommends the book in glowing terms, prepares galleys in a set format that includes marketing plans, and commissions an in-house publicist to do the footwork: package the galleys with that enthusiastic letter and a press release and send them out.

The job of the writer with an indie press is to reiterate this process, playing the roles of publisher, publicist and author as well. In other words, write that hyperbolic letter, no matter how much it may make you squirm, put it on the publisher’s letterhead (with their permission of course), send it to the publisher for signature and mail it out with a set of galleys. Most important of all, do this three to four months before the book’s release date. Often galleys will have marketing plans on the back, and some will have additional information on a title page. If yours don’t, you can include this information in your cover letter.

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Back cover with information on marketing campaign.

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This title page is hard to read but includes length, price and appropriate ages.

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Another back cover.

Finally understanding this has persuaded me to defer my publication date so I can meet the four month deadline for Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. It doesn’t guarantee that I will get reviewed, but I’m giving it my best shot. And before these three, I’ll pay for a Kirkus review and hope I get a juicy or at least usable quote to use along with my wonderful blurbs, for which I am extremely grateful.

I am the author of The Crack between the Worlds: a dancer's memoir of loss, faith and family, one of Image Update's Ten Best of 2009. My first novel, A Free, Unsullied Land, was published by Fomite Press. I am a Board member of Links Hall, an incubator and presenter of dance and performance art.

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