It was summer of 2017 and we were in our car on vacation in the Adirondacks. My cell phone rang and my daughter said, “Turn on your radio right now.” It was a program on getting your manuscript published. My wife and I had worked on our manuscript, ALWAYS AN IMMIGRANT, A CULTURAL MEMOIR, for several years and it was basically finished. We needed a publisher.
During the program the guest speaker suggested attending writing conferences, specifically discussing the WriteAngles Conference held annually in South Hadley, Massachusetts. We found the conference online and attended that fall.
The conference was wonderful, including speakers, individual short meetings with agents, and workshops. It was there that we met WriteAngles Journal editor Joan Axelrod-Contrada who has been more than encouraging over the last three years. We attended three conferences and participated in other activities where we read portions of our book to audiences and other writers. We found everyone helpful, friendly, and encouraging.
We were tending toward self-publishing because we did not want to spend five years looking for an agent or a publisher. We had talked to a business outfit which assisted authors in self-publishing their books. What concerned us was the fact that they didn’t even intend to read the book. They would just print it as given. Formatting, copyediting, proofreading, interior design, and cover were our responsibility.
Then at the WriteAngles Conference in 2019, we attended a session called “Paths to Publication” where panelists discussed the pros and cons of big publishers, indie presses, and hybrids. The term hybrid refers to a model in which authors invest in their projects up front — in lieu of receiving an advance, as from a traditional publisher.
In addition, we met with one of the panelists, Mary Bisbee-Beek. We must congratulate WriteAngles Conference for their choice. Mary was extremely forthcoming to our needs and desires. When we mentioned that we did not want to spend a long time searching for a publisher, she suggested White River Press, a collaborative publishing company. (It is seemingly a hybrid but they insist on the description collaborative.)
The advantage of this collaborative press is that they are selective in their choice of books to publish, and they insist that all manuscripts published by them be brought up to industry standards. This includes being copy-edited and professionally proofread as well as using a professional designer for the book cover and arrangement of the text. The cost of this process was charged to us (our upfront investment). Another advantage is that White River Press uses a print-on-demand format. Books are printed as needed and there is no need to decide on a number of books (50, 100, 500) up front.
While we had thought that our manuscript was in excellent condition, we were very impressed with the work that they did and very pleased with the final product.
White River Press gave us a tentative schedule for each step in the process and they kept to that schedule very successfully. The book, ALWAYS AN IMMIGRANT, A CULTURAL MEMOIR, is listed with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, bookshop.org, and wholesalers Ingram Book Company and Baker & Taylor. We have had some good reviews and a podcast interview. At this point, we are hopeful about selling a good number of books.
We once heard of a survey that asked authors why they wrote their books. The most common reply was “Because I had to.” It feels great to be finished! Without the WriteAngles Conference we might still be chasing our dream.