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    Local Presses - A Good Place to Start

    As a writer, I bet that you glance at the local authors shelf at your neighborhood whether it's a large chain or a small independent shop. I'd bet a week's pay, wait...better make that a month since I write for a living. But, do you look at the publisher of each book? Did you know that small independent publishers like local writers? I'll bet a month's pay on that answer, too.

    Local publishers are usually smaller ones unless you live in New York City. And local publishers just love homegrown authors! Your acceptance chances are a bit higher if you are from the area, and you have an especially good chance if your setting or topic is a local one.

    Mystery author Kathryn R. Wall lives in Hilton Head, South Carolina. She sets her female sleuth in South Carolina Lowcountry settings. So when she decided to publish her first book, In For a Penny, she contacted Coastal Villages Press (CVP) in Beaufort, SC about 35 miles away from home. She released the books at some of the places mentioned in the story, which spurred local sales. CVP promptly published her second novel, which sold well, too. Then St. Martin's Press purchased Perdition House, book number three, and now Ms. Wall's books can be found on bookshelves across the land.

    Who are your local publishers? Start with your town or city. Then venture out to your county, region, then state. And don't forget your university presses. Who are they and what have they published.

    So you open the yellow pages and look under "publisher." I live in Phoenix, AZ and found 52 book publishers, four electronic publishers and a couple dozen others under "periodical" and "directories." All that did was confuse me and make me wary. The 1-800 numbers and "accepting all new authors" made me leery, too.

    If you want credible information, go to credible sources. Consider the following for reliable publishing sources:

    Your local arts commission - They know everyone in town who has anything to do with literary arts. Check your town's website for this listing or contact your Chamber of Commerce or town hall.

    Your state arts commission - They know the powers that be in the publishing world within the state. Go to http://www.nasaa-arts.org and click on Arts Over Americal to find your state arts commission.

    Local writers and authors groups - Many of them are published - some traditionally and others self-published. Go to 2-3 meetings and you'll gain enough information to easily justify the annual dues. Watch your local newspaper for these listings in the neighborhood or community watch section.

    Professional writing groups - National groups have local chapters or at least contracts with local members. Just like fraternal organizations, they network enough as a large group to have a wealth of information for its members. Consider the Romance Writers Association, Mystery Writers Association, and the National Association of Women Writers. You can find some good links to these groups at http://www.writerswrite.com/org.htm and http://www.fundsforwriters.com/links.htm.

    Bookstores - Talk to the people who make the purchases and schedule the book signings. They know the local authors and probably publishers, too. And look on the shelves at the actual published products!

    Librarians - Some of these folks are quite knowledgeable about the literary world, so don't be afraid to ask for someone in the back office and not necessarily the person at the front desk.

    University journalism and literary professors - Many of these are already published and can tell you not only about the university press but also the local presses as well. You'll find some good insider information here.

    Local presses are diamonds in the rough - as are your novels. We aren't talking vanity presses or self-publishing, but traditional publishing, so expect strict editing. Plan to do some heavy marketing since their budgets fall way short of matching a larger press's checkbook. But that's a small price to pay to publish a quality product that you both can boast about. And wouldn't it be nice to be a hometown hero?

    Copyright © 2003 C. Hope Clark

    C. Hope Clark is a freelance writer and founder of FundsforWriters at http://www.fundsforwriters.com where she provides four newsletters to over 7000 around the world on the topic of finding ways to earn a living writing. She recently relocated to Phoenix, AZ from South Carolina as her accent readily reveals to her new friends and neighbors. Reach her at hope@fundsforwriters.com

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