Friday, April 29, 2005

What does a publisher do for an author? Part II

I missed posting yesterday. I hosted a big poetry program at Barnes and Noble, with guest poet Janet Carr Hull coming from South Carolina (see April 26 for full details). We had many poets and guests come out, and it was absolutely exhilarating.

I can’t talk about publishing without talking about validation. One of the greatest things Ocean Publishing has done for me is to validate my work by association with a quality press. Now you can possibly do this for yourself if you publish your own book. The best means of validation is having your work published in respected journals, magazines, and newspapers. By “respected,” I don’t necessarily imply “nationally distributed.” There are lit journals that are tiny, but a clip from some of these can be a plum for the academically-bent. By acknowledging publications in your book for anything you’re reprinting, you get to ride the coattails of quality.

Jeff Bahr, a talented poet, has done the lit world a big favor by creating pages devoted to print journals. He ranks them. Visit Jeff’s site: Jeff is an accomplished poet and he is also very cute. Read some of his poetry. For info on journals, click on “Submission Resources.”

If you’re into mainstream writing, go for popular magazines like Reader’s Digest, Family Circle, and the essay page in Woman’s Day. Or opt for smaller, regional magazines. The tradebook I use for this purpose is The Writer’s Handbook published by Kalambach, publisher of the nation’s oldest trade for writers, The Writer. I've written for both those publications, but I used them long before I was published there.

My main quibble with many of the writers I meet when I speak at conferences involves credentials. I cannot see how a person can tackle self-publishing a book if he or she has never been published anywhere. I'm not saying it's impossible to succeed without establishing your credentials. I am saying it's unlikely.

Okay, keeping it short. Bottom line on Part II: an author needs validation.

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