When will Celebration House be in a printed version?

Before I signed my contract with Tirgearr Publishing, I asked if my novel, Celebration House, would ever be available in printed form. I did this because of one simple reason: I want my dad to read my book. I know that if it’s not on paper, he probably won’t. Dad mistrusts the internet.

So I queried the publisher, Kemberlee Shortland, and this is what she told me:

“Tirgearr Publishing is firstly a digital book publishing company. At the moment, we’re the only all-digital publisher in Ireland which is getting our company a lot of notoriety here, and in the UK. We’re using that attention to bolster our worldwide operation. However, there is a call for print, albeit very small. So we have a sales incentive. For books that sell 100 books per month consistently over a six month period, we’ll offer those titles in print format. At the moment, the industry is seeing digital sales of nearly 5 to 1 over print. Print is hugely expensive to do so we’re only offering print for those books that meet sales targets. If a book isn’t selling digitally, it won’t sell in print. So, with this in mind, your book will initially be available digitally only. If it meets our sales targets, we’ll put it into print.”

So, there’s the answer: Celebration House must sell 100 copies per month consistently over a six-month period. Hmm…

Yesterday, after reading my blog, my Aunt Mary Rose sent me an email and told me that I should contact my hometown newspaper in Brookfield, Missouri, and ask if they would review my book and write a short article about me. Local girl makes good, that sorta thing.

I like that idea, and it got me to thinking: maybe the newspapers I wrote for in the Midwest would consider reviewing my book and writing a short piece about me? Let’s see. There’s the Pleasant Hill Times, the Sedalia Democrat, the Leavenworth Times and the Townsend newspaper group in North Kansas City. Okay. That’s a good start. I wonder if my mentor and former journalism professor, Les Dunseith, could pull any strings with the daily newspaper he edits for and ask them to review my novel? The Los Angeles Times reviews books, right?  

I better get busy promoting this novel. Or I better get my dad an e-book reader.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: an open letter to Kathryn Stockett

The business of self promotion

Most of my life, I’ve been happy to remain in the shadows, anonymous. As a nurse, I chose to work in nursing specialties where the patients and I interacted only briefly. As a nurse in the recovery room, the patients were just awakening from general anesthesia; they seldom remembered the care I provided to them.

But now, as a writer, one of my jobs is to promote myself. To “create a platform,” whatever the heck that means. I think it means that my job is to sell myself so that I can sell books. Okay. This is uncharted territory for me.

Before my life as a registered nurse, I was a journalist. I worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Missouri and Kansas. That job gave me a little bit of notoriety, but honestly, not much.

Please allow me to share my 15 seconds of fame with you. I was working as the lifestyles editor for The Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia, Missouri. I wrote a weekly column, entitled “Solo,” about my life and the people in it. One day at the library, I was checking out books, and the young woman behind the counter looked up at me, her eyes full of wonder. “You’re Annette Drake,” she gushed. I thought, oh, crap! Do I have too many fines to check out books? She said, “I always read your column. I love your writing.” Wow! I didn’t hear those words often, especially from my editors. I thanked her and left. Funny how I remember that incident more than two decades later.

So now with a book coming out this summer, an e-book, no less, I’ve got to start promoting it. My publisher, Tirgearr, will help, but as a new writer, a lot of it is up to me. So, here are a few of my ideas:

The book takes place in Lexington, Missouri. I’ve drafted a letter to the only bookstore in the town to ask if they will carry my book and perhaps allow me to do a reading when I visit Missouri this summer.

Likewise, I plan to query the newspapers in Lexington and ask if they will review the book. I also hope the daily newspaper here in Spokane will review it.

My publisher sent me a long, long list of blogs that review books. I’m to contact these and inquire if they will review my book. This, I can do.

They’ve also sent me some help: my editor, Maudeen Wachsmith. I’ve never met Maudeen in person, but already, she’s become an authority in my house. When I voice my many, many doubts about this book, my husband says, “I don’t know. We should ask Maudeen.” When I ask him if I should write this scene that’s been playing out in my head or is it too late to contribute more to the manuscript, he says, “I don’t know. We should ask Maudeen.”

Here’s more about my new literary godmother: Maudeen owned a bookstore near Tacoma in the early 1990s, then edited a magazine for readers and writers of western fiction. She has also been a contract reviewer for Amazon. She lived on Bainbridge Island from 1995 to 2001, so she’s rubbed elbows with some pretty well-known authors, including Susan Wiggs and Kristin Hannah. Maudeen also owned a book promotion company, “The Book Wizard.” She tells me she will ask Kristin Hannah to review my book and contribute a quote. Yikes! Kristin Hannah is going to read my book? Really?

In her most recent email to me, Maudeen wrote, “So hang on tight. We’re going on a terrific ride. It may be a bit scary and you’ll feel like screaming at the ups and downs, but like the roller coaster, you’ll feel good after it’s all done.”

I guess I better put my hands and arms inside the cart, huh? Next: When will Celebration House be in a printed version?

No more excuses.

On Wednesday, Tirgearr Publishing in Ireland offered me a contract for my first novel, “The Celebration House.”

In the past two days, I’ve thought and thought. I asked fellow unpublished writers for advice. I contacted the leader of my local writing guild, but no response. I queried the local law school, asking if a professor or a law student would review the contract. I was told their services are for senior citizens only.

So I turned to the people I trust most: my husband, my daughter and my mother-in-law. They all diligently read the contract. None of them could find a questionable clause, i.e. author shall sign over first-born child. Real sorry about that, Meg.

I googled the company. Tigreaar has more than 30 e-books available for sale on Amazon. My contact, Kemberlee Shortland, has published numerous romance novels.

Last night, I attended a new writing group. I sat and listened to these other writers for two hours. They shared their words, and they shared their excuses. One young woman said she hadn’t worked on her novel for a year because she was too busy with college. Another writer said she was too busy with her newest grandchild to write. Few of them brought in printed versions of their work, so they read aloud. More excuses: the printer was misbehaving or they didn’t have time before the meeting to print their pages.

And I think of myself. All of my life, I have wanted to be a professional writer. I always talked about this, but I never actually did it. Until “The Celebration House,” I had never finished writing a book. Now I have. My middle-grade novel, “Bone Girl,” is complete and next weekend, when I attend the western Washington children writers’ conference, I’m shopping the manuscript around for an agent or editor who loves it as much as I do.

And so it comes down to me: do I take this leap of faith? Tirgearr Publishing is a small, independent publisher that opened its doors in February, 2012. Nothing haughty or high-brow. No six-figure advance. No office in New York City. Do I leap?

Yes. I do. “The Celebration House” will be published this summer.

Hands and arms inside the cart: Next, the business of self-promotion.


I found this in my email inbox yesterday. I wanted to share it with you:

“Hi Annette.

Thank you again for sharing your work, The Celebration House, with us,
and for your interest in Tirgearr Publishing.

We put the book before our editors and they’ve come back with a very
positive response. You have a clear voice and your writing is engaging and easy to read. The plot is focused and your protagonist remains firm
through the storytelling. There are clear, emotive scenes; you have a
good sense with visualization. There are a few editorial issues here,
but nothing that can’t be worked out during the editing process.

If you are still interested in placing this book with Tirgearr
Publishing, I would be very happy to send you a contract to look over.
Let me know where you stand and we’ll move forward with this book.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Tirgearr Publishing

There’s a lot of ways that my world changes because of this email.

To begin with, there’s the money. I stand to make tens of dollars from this news!

But what I’m most fascinated with is this: people who read my book will be seeing the images and meet the characters that have existed only in my mind. I’m fascinated with this idea.

I know of so many amazing writers who have not had this opportunity. I feel lucky. I feel blessed. Publication offers me a sense of validation, that my writing isn’t just rubbish. It has value, if only 99 cents for an e-book. Sold!