Chingonas, Strong Women, Wisdom, Writing

Five Steps to Finding the Right Publisher

AROHO Foundation

My cell phone screen saver has the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and mesas surrounding Ghost Ranch, just to cheer me up. I still have the AROHO retreat on the mind and the spirit of the women I met in my heart.

These women are “chingonas” “strong women,” in my book. They’re not strong because they were born that way, or Superwomen, but rather they became strong through failure, weakness, trials, and experiences that would defeat many. They learned from these challenges, gathered knowledge along the way, and shared that wisdom with others. That’s what makes them “chingonas.”

What I learned through these women helps me touch my AROHO experience and I hope assists you in some small way.

Each day we chose to attend 15 minute “Mind Stretches.” These were discussions on topics exploring craft, creative process, issues personal to women and publishing. Several of my past posts had to do with the craft of writing, such as Writing on the Edge but today’s post is about publishing.

“You think finding the right partner is a problem? Try finding the right publisher.” Kate Gale

This quote gives you a little insight into the witty personality and honesty of Kate Gale, PhD.  She is Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review , Past President of PEN and President of the American Composers Forum, LA. She serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America. She is author of five books of poetry and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, with composer Don Davis.

Kate Gale-Writer, Poet, Publisher
Kate Gale-Writer, Poet, Publisher

Kate’s bio shows us that the woman knows what she’s talking about when it involves writers, poets, and publishing. Her insights into the world of writers is priceless:

“…the most difficult part in getting one’s work out into the world is that you are a cave dweller if you are a writer. You have to come out of your cave, understand the world of editing, publishing, publicity, social media, and you have to talk to people. And you don’t know how. So you go back into the cave angry. And emerge later. Telling people how you aren’t appreciated. That doesn’t make them love you more. You start to seem misanthropic. Writers can be fun. Funny and fun. There is a lot you can learn from writers. About patience mostly.”

Now go grab a pen and notebook, it’s time for some interactive work to help you find the right publisher.

Answers these five questions:

  1. Who are you? Come on you can list more than three items. What are you passionate about? Keep writing until you get to the heart of you.
  2. What does  your story (novel, memoir, poem) want to say? What is your message? Keep writing until you find some universal themes.
  3. Who are the writers in your tribe (genre of writing)?
  • List 5-10 writers you love to read in your genre of writing (most of them have to had published in the last five years). Let’s say the writers/books you write about and love are in the historical fiction genre. Now:
  • What regional, national associations in this genre do you belong to?
  • Have you attended conferences, workshops, seminars in this genre?
  • Do you attend readings in this genre?

4.  Once you find your tribe (in #3), you need to find out how to open and get inside that door. The people you meet should be part of the tribe.

5.  Form connections with authors, editors, agents, publishers you meet in these settings.

  • Meet them one on one. Step out of your comfort zone.
  • Let them know how much their reading, presentation, or book meant to you.
  • Once inside the door, make yourself useful. Volunteer, hold an office, contribute in some way. Be a literary citizen.

Did you fill up at least one side of your paper? If you did, you’re on your way to finding the right publisher for your work. It’s a difficult road to walk as a writer, but with guidance it may be a whole lot easier. Happy travels and happier writing.