Publication – Risking All for a Dream

Karen writing
Karen Writing, photo by Richard Johnson

Yesterday I read the eight-page (plus Exhibits) publishing contract. I believe contracts can be frightening when you read all the fees you must come up with, as well as where all duties lie, and there are a lot of them. All those items you discussed are now on paper in black and white—legal, or about to be.

Many folks who have been party to real estate contracts know what I mean. That feeling you get when you are sitting at the table with your agent and are signing all those documents, one after the other. It is as though you are signing your life away.

I have only one document, yet this effort to publish my novel is a risk, as it is taking a major chunk out of my savings. My only income is a small social security check each month. I had to think hard about these facts when I learned what publication is going to cost. Brooke Warner with She Writes Press mentioned $10,000, which included their fee, editing, processing, printing, shipment, and numerous other fees, not including publicity, which could be $5,000, or more. Yes, any writers out there, take a good, hard look. These costs are standard.

I decided to walk away from the entire experience for a few hours. Watched a Netflix program. Let it all ruminate in the back of my mind.

Later that evening it was as though one of those comic lightbulbs flashed on in my head. Truly.

All my life I have had jobs that I didn’t like, but probably like many of you out there, I did them to make a living. I worked my way through college to get a degree to teach art, but I moved out of state and schools dropped art from the curriculum at the time I graduated, so I couldn’t get a job teaching. 

  • I ended up as a secretary for years, and hated it.
  • Took paralegal classes, but that wasn’t fulfilling either.
  • Worked at an art gallery and designed and facilitated their web site, but that was only fulfilling until it turned into the same process day after day.

This novel, though. Unspoken is my dream. Unspoken is about equality, which has meaning that is worth the risk I am taking to get it published. 

I have felt more alive since I learned I would be published than in the last few years. I have learned more in the last month than I have since college. I am not merely living from day to day. I am on an adventure, an adventure that will last the next couple years and beyond. That adventure is worth $10,000 and more.

Most important. To have something in my life worth living for, something meaningful. I have never had that. My jobs were meaningless, merely survival, a means of putting food on the table, paying for the car, and taking a vacation now and then.

Even if Unspoken fails, it will have been worth the journey and the risk.

Road Less Traveled, Photo from Wana Commons by Rebecca Barray

Any thoughts on your journeys and risks you have taken? Do you have a dream? What would you risk all for?

Author Platform, Unspoken History

White poppy near Washington-on-the-Brazos in East Texas
White poppy growing near Washington-on-the-Brazos in East Texas, photo by Karen Klink

I’m supposed to create an author platform with this blog. I looked up “author platform,” and got this: “everything you’re doing online and offline, to create awareness about who you are and what you do, so you can boost your brand visibility and make it easier and faster for your target audience and even the general public, to discover and connect with your brand and books.” That’s a mouthful. Let’s try words appropriate to what Unspoken is about: history, antebellum, slavery, plantations, abolitionism, bisexuality, women’s rights, secession, Texas. Love, of course, lots, requited and not. I hope y’all get into that. “Y’all” is one of those Texas words—yeah? And East Texas is the background for my story. I make a point of east, because East Texas is more like Louisiana than like Southwest Texas desert or Texas panhandle of Larry McMurtry Texas Ranger fame. I will be blogging of this fascinating historical background research as well as discuss Unspoken’s journey to publication. 

I knew so little about Texas when I started over eight years ago. That long? You betcha. This is historical fiction, after all. I knew my readers would jump on every mistake I made. Plus, I have always loved history and wanted to get it right. I love a story that makes me feel I am present in that place and time. That’s one of the reason I read. When I read, I’m gone. Don’t try to talk to me. Knock me on the head if you want my attention.

Old oak and home near Washington-on-the-Brazos in East Texas. Photo by Karen Klink.

Why Texas?

Let’s back those horses a little. I have been a Civil War buff since Junior High or, Middle School, as some call it. What a mess. Families split, brother against brother. Romantic South versus Industrial North. The slave question and so much more. Ripe for all kinds of drama and character development. So much has been written about the eastern states, much less about the western theater, and practically nothing about Texas’s involvement. Then, researching on the web I discovered the diaries and journals of Terry’s Texas Rangers. After reading those journals, I had my main character and only needed to flesh him out.

In researching Texas, I discovered Stephen Austin’s Three Hundred, those southern families who, with the permission of Mexico, began settling along the Brazos River in 1822. I now own Austin’s Old Three Hundred, The First Anglo Colony in Texas, as written by their descendants, edited by Wolfram M. Von-Maszewski. I’ll put some of the more fascinating gems from this in my blog as we go along, citing the book, of course, and letting you know where you can purchase it. This is the sort of thing there is no room for in the novel, but can be interesting to other history buffs like me. My two plantation families, one growing cotton, the other tobacco, are members of this group.

Eight years of research, writing, and editing later, I have Unspoken, and a draft of the following novel, Here We Stand. 

Oh. And authors must have a log line.

That is how you tell readers in one sentence what your novel is about. Yeah. A whole novel in one sentence. That takes some doing. So far, I’ve got two loglines: 

  1. Unspoken is a story of the slaves, dark secrets and passions of two of Austin’s Old Three Hundred plantation families in East Texas prior to the Civil War.
  2. With the help of his sister and keen-witted loyalty of a slave, a sensitive boy attempts to gain his father’s respect amid the dark secrets and unruly passions of two Brazos River plantation families in pre-Civil War Texas.

The second one is a little more on point. Anyone have a favorite?

I may put these up again later for voting if I get enough readers. At present I am still learning about blogging and will let you know as I go along, if I learn how to do that voting thing.

This has been the introduction to Unspoken, in case you didn’t notice. There will be more about what it took to research the novel, as well as links to what I have already posted, and photos, lots of photos on Pinterest and here. I know folks like photos. I surely do. I have traveled to Texas and Louisiana where Unspoken takes place—beautiful country. Hope you join me and take a look. Until next time . . .

Being Published for the First Time

My main idea was to blog about this process of being published for the first time, but how do I go about doing that? What do you want to know? What would I want to know? 

Why I went with this “hybrid” independent publisher:

  1. I retain creative control, yet receive She Writes Press’s knowledge of the industry’s standards;
  2. I keep a higher percentage of royalties;
  3. She Writes Press is a community-based group—all authors are supported equally;
  4. The editorial staff is accessible;
  5. They vet their authors with a three track system—I will be on Track 3, which means I will have one of their edit my manuscript;
  6. They have traditional distribution through Ingram Publisher Services of print and ebooks;
  7. Book covers are beautiful and professional, and covers matter a great deal;
  8. She Writes Press has a top notch reputation—they were 2019 Independent Publisher of the Year.

There’s more, but that’s enough this time around. Check out the video if you want to see the rest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb971_X5PAQ&feature=youtu.be 

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

I should add that She Writes Press and any affiliate is in no way paying me for writing this. These are reasons why I chose them to publish my very first novel, and am thrilled that they accepted my manuscript. 

I received an email from Brooke which stated that, because of Covid-19, it may be spring of 2022 before publication could take place. That gives me about two years to get an author platform and everything else in place. Two years of an amazing journey. Will some of you come along with me?

First Step

I was just informed that my manuscript, Unspoken, was accepted by She Writes Press for publication in fall of 2021. That should get me blogging again.

This will be the first of what I hope to be a series about what it’s like to be published for the first time. She Writes Press sent me a 94-page Author Handbook that outlined what I am to expect in the next year, so there is going to be lots to blog about, including: editing, publicity, marketing, social media, branding, etc.

I moved into a new house with my housemates, put together an art studio, painted, started writing again, submitted my manuscript, and what a surprise! In the midst of Covid-19.

I am so fortunate to have so many creative things to do here in my own little abode. And to be living here in Tucson, Arizona.

I spent yesterday making Olson masks (https://www.sewcanshe.com/blog/simple-step-by-step-tutorial-for-the-olson-mask-pattern) for me and my housemates, Mary and Rick.

Plus I need to get caught up on what’s new here at WordPress AND learn about Instagram. Anyone else out there have a difficult time keeping up with this stuff?