Working with the Industry: Small Publishers

I met Ellen Fannon at the Blue Lake Christian Writer’s Retreat, a lovely conference directed by my friend, Marilyn Turk. Ellen had published her first book with a small publisher, eLectio Publishing. She graciously agreed to share a little about her experience with publishing ….

First, how did you find your publisher?

Ellen: I found my publisher, eLectio, online. As a new author, I’d sent queries to every Christian publisher (and agent)  I could find, hoping to get someone, anyone to publish my book. As most new authors know, there is a catch-22 when trying to get published. You can’t get published unless you are published. Keep in mind, there are a number of publishers out there who will publish anything for a hefty fee. I unknowingly sent queries to a number of these publishers, who were all too happy to publish my book. They pursued me relentlessly by email, telephone calls, etc., and everything they promised sounded too good to be true. That’s because they don’t tell you up front (or on their websites) that there’s a cost. These companies are called “vanity presses” for those who are new to the industry, as I am. I learned my lesson the hard way.

I was becoming quite discouraged and distrustful. I did not want to have to pay someone to publish my book, nor did I really want to self-publish. However, there are some advantages to self-publishing with programs like Amazon’s Create Space, so I wouldn’t rule that out as an option. Anyway, I was blessed to have an offer from eLectio,  a small, traditional Christian publishing company. About the same time, I found an agent who was willing to work with me. However, he advised me that it is becoming increasingly more difficult for unknown authors to get published, as many of the larger traditional presses are closing due to more online business, so he couldn’t promise me anything. He was wonderfully helpful. I debated about which route to take, however, there was a time limit on eLectio’s offer, so in the end, I decided to go with them. They were very patient, answering all my questions and concerns about the contract. I also had a couple other people in the business look over the contract.

Did someone at the publisher edit your book?

Ellen: No, there was no professional editing done by the publisher. I do know they at least read the book, however, because there were a couple of things they suggested might be construed as offensive, and recommended I make changes. They suggested joining a writer’s group, such as Word Weavers, and have them review and critique my work.

How long did the editing process take?

Ellen: As there was no professional editing process, I mostly self-edited, which didn’t take very long.

Did you give input in the cover design?

Ellen: Yes, I told them what I wanted for the cover design. It wasn’t done exactly as I wanted—the design was abstract, whereas I preferred something crisp, colorful, and clean. They redid it twice, but I didn’t like either of the other designs, so I went with the first design. I was still very satisfied, however, as it is my understanding that sometimes authors have no input whatsoever on the cover.

Overall, was your experience with a small publisher positive? What would you do differently, if anything?

Ellen: Yes, overall, it was very positive. Within six months of signing the contract, my book was released. Holding my book in my hand for the first time was a tremendous thrill. Again, I felt extremely blessed to have been published by a traditional company. They provide good advice on marketing and periodically send updates with helpful advice. I have contacted them several times with other questions since my book was released and they are always quick to respond. I am happy with the choice I made at that time. Now that I am published, I am working in those areas where I am weak—namely platform and marketing. I have started a website and blog (please, please sign up to follow my blog, as authors need numbers)! I am also on Facebook, and I am slowly learning other marketing strategies. I will readily admit, I really dislike the marketing aspect of this business, but it seems the days of the publisher doing the marketing for the author are over. I have two more books completed, but I am going slow on publishing until I get my platform more established. I may still try to sign with an agent, as I think an agent would give me more inside help. Meanwhile, I work with Word Weavers, whose members are a treasure trove of help and information.

As a shameless self-promotion, please consider buying my book, Other People’s Children available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Thanks so much for dropping by, Ellen. 

Click to tweet: As most new authors know, there is a catch-22 when trying to get published. You can’t get published unless you are published. (for many) #publishing #amwriting

Other People’s Children

As a mid-thirties childless woman, Robin has all the answers on proper parenting. It doesn’t take long, however, for Robin to realize that her perfect parenting ideas and reality often collide—the result being an amusing journey of finding out that God, indeed, has a sense of humor. As she deals with the baggage, idiosyncrasies, unique personalities, and special gifts of each child who crosses her path, she finds that there is no “one-size fits all” to parenting.

However, in spite of the challenges she and her husband face, they are determined to become the children’s strongest advocates in a flawed system that often fails the very victims it is designed to protect. The journey is often heartbreaking and frustrating, but these foster parents are firmly resolved that for whatever time they have children in their care, the children will know they are safe, protected, and loved by God … and their foster parents.

Ellen Fannon has always had a keen interest in writing, starting from the time she was three years old when she would draw pictures and tell herself the stories. As a child, she wrote many short stories, including a biography on John Glenn’s first space flight, when she was six years old.

Some of her short stories were published in her high school’s literary magazine, Esprit, which she edited during her junior and senior years. Her writing took a hiatus while she got her undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Cincinnati in 1976, graduating summa cum laude, and later her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from The Ohio State University in 1980.

In 1993, she returned to writing by originating and writing a pet care column for the local newspaper, The Playground Daily News. She wrote the column for six years until she and her husband were commissioned by the International Mission Board for a two-year assignment in Southeast Asia and Oceania. While on the mission field, she often wrote and edited news releases concerning the persecution of Christians. After the 2004 tsunami, she and her husband returned to the mission field for several weeks to work in disaster relief. During that time, she wrote a daily blog on their activities. After returning from the mission field the second time, she and her husband went through the process of becoming certified foster parents, which they did for ten years, having cared for more than forty children and adopting one.

Her first novel, Other People’s Children, a humorous, fictional account based on her and her husband’s experiences as foster parents, was released November 2017 by eLectio, a small, traditional Christian publishing company. Ellen is a practicing veterinarian, former missionary, foster parent, pastor’s wife and church pianist. She lives in Valparaiso, Florida with her husband, son, and assorted pets.

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