Despite Adversity, There’s Always a Way to Publish
by Nina Romano
When I was writing poetry, I would send out poems to many different venues: literary magazines, journals in print and online magazines. I kept circulating and sending out several poems a week, usually 12 to 20 and usually on a Friday, until I found myself with a good number of accepted publications.
Next, I added new poems to these already published ones to complete a theme and then turned the themed poems into a small chapbook of 24-40 pages or a complete collection of 60-80 or more pages. I would then include what I called “the book’s beginning pages.” That is to say the title page, contents page, acknowledgments page, dedication page and an “About the Author” page to finish the book. I love dedicating books! Then, I’d send out to poetry contests and/or small, independent publishers.
I didn’t win any contests for my poetry, but I did win Graduate Poetry one year at FIU while on the road to completing my MFA in Creative Writing, and it was for one of my best poems: “The Crucifixion of Garlic, ” which is in my first poetry collection, Cooking Lessons, and still available on Amazon!
I was fortunate to finish five complete collections and two poetry chapbooks and have all of them published with small, independent publishers. When I knew the collection was going to be published, I’d begin asking poets and writers for blurbs. Networking at Writing Conferences and in Workshops, always pays off. Talk to other authors. Marketing these published collections was a completely different matter, and subject for another blog altogether.
However, poetry is not fiction. I tried for years to get an agent for my first and second novels. I had an agent but without success of placing the first novel with a publisher. I decided to take back the novel and write another one—the prequel. After receiving dozens of rejection letters telling me what a great query letter I’d written, I realized I was batting my head against a stone wall trying to “hook” an agent, so I decided a different tack.
I had my collection of short stories, always difficult to place, accepted by Kitsune Books, but sadly the wonderful owner/editor Anne Petty passed away, so I published The Other Side of the Gates with Bridle Path Press, a cooperative kind of publication, since then we’ve parted ways and I own the rights to my collection. But when it came to my novels, I wanted to go the traditional route and not self-publish. So I skipped the agonizing and grueling querying to agents and started submitting to small, independent publishers.
I looked up three in the category of where I best thought my novels would find a good fit—historical romance—and selected three publishers in a list of one hundred of the best ones for novels, and sent to them. I hit, luckily with the first one I’d sent to, Turner Publishing, but if I hadn’t it was my intention to query every single solitary one that I had marked off on that list. Determination and persistence is the name of the game. I published the Wayfarer Trilogy with them, three novels: The Secret Language of Women, Lemon Blossoms, and In America. All of the novels finished as Finalists in various Book Contests, and the first one won an Independent Publishers IPPY gold medal. But that didn’t give me a free pass to have all my novels published with them—so you keep submitting and if they don’t take it, you try someplace else.
Or you decide to self-publish like these famous authors did: E.L James, Beatrix Potter, E.E.Commings, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Virginia Wolf, Rudyard Kipling, Gertrude Stein, Anais Nin, Stephen crane, Walt Whitman, Alexander Dumas, George Bernard Shaw, Upton Sinclair, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Henry David Thoreau, to name but a few.
You can publish on blogs—yours and other people’s as a guest blogger. There’s a blog on your author page of Goodreads, and there’s an “About the Author” page on Amazon, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find many other places to market yourself and your titles, or at least write about yourself and what you love doing: writing. The point is that if you want to see your words in print remember: “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and just keep seeking.
In the words of the James W. Hall, “Master of Suspense” and the Thorn mystery series, said the last day of an undergraduate writing workshop at FIU, “There are dozens of better writers than me, I just stuck with it.” Thanks, Jim, your words have served me well! So here it is short and bittersweet: perseverance and tenacity are key and almost as important as the writing itself.
Nina Romano earned a BS from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a BA and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She’s a world traveler and lover of history. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.
Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.
More about the author at: www.ninaromano.com