My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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an only slightly bitter rant about publishers

After the sweltering heat of last week, today there’s sun and a chill breeze. The city is still; I’m hearing birds like never before, exotic new trills, wish I knew what song belongs to which bird. The Gardiner Expressway is closed this weekend for repairs, and Bayview is closed for “Open Streets Toronto,” so I took a long quiet bike ride almost down to the lake, surrounded by bikers, walkers, runners, skateboarders … a vision of what this city could be if they ended their worship of the bloody car. It’s so quiet and the air so sweet, it’s hard to believe this is the heart of a metropolis.

I have started a chronicle I’m calling The Journey to a Book, about my efforts to get this memoir published, to share with students and any CNFC colleagues who might be interested. So I made a list, just of what I remember of my efforts over the last two years to get the book into the world.

Since 2015 I have worked with 5 editors, 4 of whom I paid, including a copy-editor at the end. (Rosemary, dear friend, read and commented for free.) After thousands in expenses and many drafts, in  2018 I started to try to find a publisher.

I contacted 4 agents, 2 of whom are friends, all of whom said no.
Over a year and a half, I sent either a query letter or a full submission, which is a convoluted lengthy process as they all want something different, to 20 publishers, big and small. Sometimes submissions, written specifically for a certain press, are many pages long.
I received a no, eventually, sometimes after months, from 10 of them.
I received a maybe from 2, one finally saying no, the other nothing.
I heard nothing, not even an acknowledgement of receipt of my query or submission, from the 8 others.

Fellow writer Judy urged me to be patient; “This is an important book, surely someone will want it,” she said. @#$# that, I replied, though more politely. Enough. I understand that publishing is in dire straights, especially now after Covid. The one publisher who got back to me promptly to say, “I like your book” and express interest in publishing it, took five days to think about it and finally tell me the pandemic has so crushed his business, he can’t take on any new projects.

So this list is why I’m going with a hybrid publisher who’s a respected editor. I will pay for the process, have artistic control, receive much of the royalties if there are any, and most of all, will hold the book in my hands before I die.

As for much more important matters: the protests continue, as they should, and my family is doing its part.

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4 Responses to “an only slightly bitter rant about publishers”

  1. theresa says:

    So much of this is familiar to me, Beth. The many submissions, the rejections, lack of interest by agents (I think I've tried nearly 30). The hybrid model sounds quite reasonable to me and I look forward to the book!

  2. beth says:

    I look forward to sending it to you one day, Theresa!
    b.

  3. alandmillen says:

    Hi Beth. Just want to say hi from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences through these strange, bewildering times. The past few days have taken us deeper into the heart of darkness, it seems. With my son living in NYC, I am trying my hardest not to become "anxious dad". Hang in there! From your number one fan in Europe. Alan

  4. beth says:

    Alan, glad to know you're well on the other side of the pond. Yes, it's frightening to watch our neighbours tear themselves apart. Let's hope that the healing can start in November. I'm sure your son will be fine. Yesterday I listened to the remastered version of "I'll follow the sun" and marvelled, as I so often do, at the perfect blend of those two voices, the sweet one on top, the darker one that comes in underneath. How lucky we were.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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