author – activist – faculty – mom
This week is part two of last week’s interview with novelist ToniAnn Johnson author of the upcoming book Remedy for a Broken Angel. Here’s the second part:
AD: Can you tell us about the book’s publication journey to print?
TAJ: I was interested in small presses that published literary fiction. While I thought it would be amazing to publish with a big publisher I felt that the small press route was more realistic for a number of reasons. After I got word from Johnny Temple that the book went to committee at Akashic, I felt hopeful that I’d eventually find a home for it if I kept trying.
I subscribed to the Writer’s Market and started querying small presses. Most passed on the query. Nortia Press requested the manuscript. Nortia was only the second press to actually read the book and they asked for the rights to publish it about six weeks after I sent it. I admired their catalog. Their books seemed thought provoking, sophisticated, and tasteful. I’m pleased with where it landed.
Once the owner, Nathan Gonzalez, sent a contract things moved quickly. He’d found an image for the cover within a few weeks. Nathan is a real editor. He asked for substantive changes and he pushed for what he wanted, all the while giving me the freedom to run with a change, or to not accept a note at all. We haven’t agreed on every point, but I’m happy with the questions he asked and gratified by how it’s changed the manuscript. He wanted to examine some of the darker issues in the story; things I’d hinted at, but left unexplored. He sensed there was something deeper and he forced me to excavate those areas. He also insisted that Serena’s accent be more identifiably Bermudian on the page. And he wanted some substantial cuts for pacing.
After the changes were made a type-set digital advance review copy was created, and I was able to see how it would look when published. From there we went over more edits. Then a book version of that was generated which is what we have now. The next step will be the corrected proofs that’ll go out to the public. It goes on sale June 10, 2014.
AD: Anything you would want to tell writers who are still struggling to finish or publish their first book?
TAJ: Get it done, but don’t rush the process. Do multiple drafts. We all want to get our stuff out there as quickly as possible, but sometimes if you rush it, it’s not the best that it can be. Sit with it for a while. If you think it might not be ready, it probably isn’t. The second thing is do some research on publishers and find ones that have published work that’s in some way similar to yours. When you go to work with an agent, it will be helpful to know where your book fits in the marketplace. Third, don’t give up if you get a few rejections. Write a very good query letter (there are examples online) and then submit, submit, submit. If your work gets rejected, that doesn’t mean it isn’t good, it just hasn’t found the right home. Keep submitting. Enter contests. Subscribe to the Writer’s Market and use their search prompts to find the right agent and/or publisher for your work. Fourth, find a buddy or a community of writers who can share information and encourage you. It can be an emotional roller coaster navigating the publishing world. People will coldly reject you, some will get your hopes up, then dash them, and a few will follow through. Having a buddy or a community for support can help get you survive that craziness. Writing is generally solitary, but the effort to publish doesn’t have to be and there’s a lot of value in having even a little support. You were my support, Aya, and I’m SO grateful. Thank you for talking me off the ledge a couple of times!
AD: Where can people get the book and where will you be reading?
TAJ: The book comes out June 10, 2014 and will available via the publisher at http://www.nortiapress.com, through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and in select indie bookstores. In LA it will be available at Eso Won books beginning in June. In New York it will be at La Casa Azul Bookstore in August. In Bermuda it will be at Brown & Company and Bermuda Bookstore in late July/early August while supplies last. Amazon UK will have it as well.
I’ll be signing books at LA Festival of Books on April 12th at 2pm. Nortia Press, Booth #803, Childs Way.
I’ll be reading at Pasadena’s LitFest Pub Crawl May 17th, exact time tbd
I’ll be reading in LA on Sunday, June 8th, 7pm at the awesome reading series: Rhapsodamancy, which takes place at The Good Luck Bar. http://www.rhapsodomancy.org/
On Thursday, June 12th, 7pm at Eso Won Books, I’ll be reading and signing books.
July 26th, 1pm–3pm I’ll be signing books in Hamilton, Bermuda at Brown & Company on Front St. in Hamilton.
On Saturday, August 2nd at 6pm I’ll be reading and signing books at La Casa Azul Bookstore on East 103rd Street in New York City.