At the end of August, I finished the assembly of my chapbook. I thought, as I always think with these things, that is was crap, so I sent it off to be read by my few trusted readers and the reviews came back raving. So, the bravery that lives deep inside me came out to play, and it sent my little book off to a few prospective publishers.
In my search, I came across one company that I particularly liked. They’re local, which delights me, and have published a couple books by a poet I like. I did a little research on them and found that they were accredited though the Better Business Bureau, and a member of the Association of American Publishers. The reviews I found were all 5 stars. The interviews I read with the editor were good. The articles I found about upcoming releases were great. So, in October, I sent an inquiry to them as to whether or not they published chapbooks.
In January, I received a response, telling me that my book sounded interesting and to forward my manuscript for review. The review process, they said, would take about three weeks.
A little over a week ago I decided to write an inquiry letter, which was stressful as I have never done such a thing. Usually I log my submissions and let them sit there until I hear back, but I was on pins and needles over this particular publishing company. I figured out how to sound polite and professional and sent a little note asking if they received my book and were still reviewing it, and wishing them all good health.
On April 20th, I received a reply: “It would be my pleasure to help you publish your poetry.”
After more research and discussion, it came to my attention that this was a hybrid press. Meaning, it’s sort of a cross between traditional publishing and self-publishing. I do have to pay certain fees, which bummed me out at first. But then I made a pros and cons list. Yes, it would cost a little money, but it’s a good way to get your first book out there, and establish your portfolio. Plus, I have complete control over the design and layout. And on top of that, I look at it as a learning experience-I’d pay for school, wouldn’t I? And in the end, I will have my book, and be able to sell it, and make that money back. I went to Mark with my concerns, afraid to ask him to finance me when we have so many other things that need our financial attention. His reply? “I’d pay anything to hold your book in my hands.”
So, here is my official announcement that I am in the process of publishing my chapbook with the press I wanted most. I am already working on it and learning about the development. I am excited.
I asked my goddaughter if I could use a photo she took for the cover, and she obliged. When the publisher sent me the mock-up of the cover and interior document, that was probably the moment that the shock finally wore off.
See, I didn’t really believe it for a bit. I didn’t believe that someone wanted to publish my stuff. I was trying to talk myself out of it (“well, it’s a hybrid press so do they really like it, or do they just want my money?”) while Mark was trying to talk me into it (“people do not publish books they cannot sell and make money off-they think it’s good enough to sell.”) Sahar helped, too, pointing out that I was getting more for my money, given the services offered and the effort and cost of self-publishing. And it should be noted that submission periods for chapbooks are few and far between, so theoretically I could be querying this for years. No. That’s too much. And yet, even after the decision was made, I didn’t believe it.
I didn’t believe it until I saw the cover. Until I saw the page layout. Then it became real.
Still, there exists that unbelieving part of me that just knows something will go wrong. The money will fall though. The finished product won’t be what I see in my head. No one will buy it.
I talk myself into these worst-case scenarios, and I know it’s because of my anxiety. I know it’s false, because mental illness is a liar, and everything will get worked out in the end. So, despite my fears I will make this happen, and actualize one of my dreams. The whole book is about fighting depression and anxiety-maybe I should take a note from my own page, and fight against all these voices in my head that tell me it isn’t good enough. There is another voice, quiet yet persistent, that insists I am doing the right thing. She is joyous and excited, and I hardly ever let her out to see the sun, but I hear her nonetheless. It’s that voice I have to listen to, not those loud and demanding ones that say I’ll never do anything I set out to accomplish. Those voices are wrong. It is the small voice, always pushing me, always celebrating my accomplishments, that I need to pass the microphone to.
Anyway, in closing, I’m publishing my first book. I’m scared, I’m excited…I’m hoping you buy it.