Publishing Possibilities forum: Total Newbie Here

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ImageKelli
Feb 5, 2013 4:59 PM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
I am in the process of writing a book. Actually, the book is almost completely written, or rather illustrated, since photographs make up the bulk of it. It is a book about identifying wild plants of California when they are not in bloom. All other books focus on the flowers, so to my knowledge, this is a completely new angle. Right now I am working on the proposal and I think I've got that pretty much down pat except the bio. This is what I've come up with. Good? Bad? Ugly? I am completely new to this. The reference book I am using ("The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published") gives examples of people much more experienced than I.

Kelli Kallenborn has been identifying, studying, and learning about the wild plants of California for 25 years. Not only has she learned from well-respected amateurs, she has also been self-taught from books. She first learned to identify wildflowers when they were blooming, but wanted to learn to identify the plants at all seasons so she noted which plants were where and visited them all through the year. She has now learned to identify many wildflowers when they are not blooming. Ms. Kallenborn has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and worked for 17 years in aerospace where she was known for her attention to detail. For several years she was a volunteer at Malibu Creek State Park, leading hikes and staffing the visitor center. Her areas of expertise were plants and geology. Ms. Kallenborn writes articles for the web site Dave’s Garden and Los Angeles nature articles for the web site Examiner. She also maintains a Facebook page on wildflowers of southern California and also ‘tweets’ about what the wildflowers are doing.
ImageSharon
Feb 6, 2013 2:08 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Kelli,

Do you have a specific publishing company in mind and if so, have you corresponded with anyone from the company? Someone who might give you direction?

I ask that because some have guidelines and some don't. It doesn't really matter because we can use a generic form in any case.

I'll wait for your answer before I get into specifics with your paragraph above (which, by the way is a great start).
ImageSharon
Feb 6, 2013 2:26 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Here are a few good examples of writers' bios - they are the short version, but I'm not sure what length you are looking for, most often shorter is better.

STEPHEN KING is the author of more than thirty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon, Bag of Bones, and The Green Mile. On Writing is his first book of nonfiction since Danse Macabre, published in 1981. He served as a judge for Prize Stories: The Best of 1999, The O. Henry Awards. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

LORELEI SHANNON writes and edits dark fantasy and even darker horror. She co-edited the e-anthology Hours of Darkness and her fiction collection, Vermifuge and Other Toxic Cocktails was published in 2001. Her previous career as a game designer produced (among others) A Puzzle of Flesh (a groundbreaking horror game that saw her interviewed by Cosmopolitan Magazine and banned in Sears stores everywhere). She lives in the woods of western Washington with her husband, Daniel Carver, sons Fenris and Orion, and three big hairy dogs.

JAMIE O'NEILL is the author of two previous novels, Disturbance and Kilbrack and Who Is Nancy Valentine? He was brought up and educated in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, then lived in England, and has now returned to Galway, in Western Ireland. For the past ten years O'Neill worked as a night porter in a London psychiatric institution while writing and researching At Swim, Two Boys.
ImageKelli
Feb 6, 2013 10:11 AM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
The publishing company I have in mind is the University of California Press. Their website has guidelines for what they want to see in the proposal.
( http://www.ucpress.edu/resources.php?p=guidelines )
ImageSharon
Feb 6, 2013 11:17 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
I'm familiar with UP of Kentucky and I think the guidelines are the same.

Here's my suggestion for what you've written, based on what I know:

Kelli Kallenborn writes gardening articles for various websites including davesgarden.com and Examiner.com. Her California Wildflower Facebook page and her tweets about wildflowers are followed extensively. She has been studying and identifying wild plants of California for 25 years. Her studies with well respected amateurs and her personal hands on experience with plants have taught her to identify wildflowers through each of their seasons of growth and dormancy.

Ms. Kallenborn has a Bachelors degree in engineering and worked for 17 years in aerospace where she was known for her attention to detail. She spent several years leading hikes as a volunteer at Malibu Creek State Park (add something interesting and related to plants here, but nothing about staffing.)



Kelli, in addition to that, and since this is a book that is primarily photography, you might add a little blurb about your experience with photography, camera, etc; that could be introduced at the end maybe in connection to hikes.

I've found that publishers look for these specific things in a bio:

*Write in third person

*In the opening, state name and give a brief description of work related to writing right up front. Here, too, is the place to include membership in writer's groups or organizations- or photography groups since that's the primary focus of your book

*Keep your first bio limited to around 100 words until the publisher asks for more

*Include only relevant information

*Include links to websites mentioned

*Reveal a glimpse into your personality (you've done this by saying you were a guide and also the aerospace attention to detail)

*Bio should be concise and clear, accurate and factual and as brief as possible.

I hope this helps; if you would like to use email, we can do that. Just Cmail me and I'll give you my address. I also have access to other writers and editors if you have more questions or if you need other opinions, but email would be best for them as well.
ImageKelli
Feb 6, 2013 6:55 PM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
Thank you for the advice and info and your time. I will probably work some more on this on Friday.
ImageSharon
Feb 6, 2013 7:51 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
Anytime, Kelli.
I can call in others that I know whenever you are ready. It would be better to get other opinions, even if they say the same thing.

I just don't have anyone else in this cubit right now, or I would have already asked.
ImageKelli
Feb 12, 2013 3:54 PM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
O.K. I am pretty happy with the bio now.

Kelli Kallenborn writes plant-related articles for the web site Dave’s Garden (www.davesgarden.com) and Los Angeles nature articles for the web site Examiner (www.examiner.com). Her photographs on her Facebook page of wildflowers of southern California (www.facebook.com/WildflowersSoCal) and on her Twitter account (@Bloomingnow) have a loyal following. She has been studying and learning about the wild plants of California for 25 years. Not only has she learned from well-respected amateurs, she has also been self-taught through hands-on experience, where she has learned to identify plants from seedling to dormancy.
Ms. Kallenborn has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and worked for 17 years in aerospace where she was known for her attention to detail. For several years she was a volunteer at Malibu Creek State Park, leading plant and geology hikes.


Now on to the cover letter, which is still weak.
ImageSharon
Feb 12, 2013 4:18 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
This sentence: Her photographs on her Facebook page of wildflowers of southern California (www.facebook.com/WildflowersSoCal) and on her Twitter account (@Bloomingnow) have a loyal following

Change to: Her photographs of wildflowers of southern California, which appear on her Facebook page (link) and on her Twitter account (link), have a loyal following.

Reason being: a descriptive prepositional phrase ( wildflowers of southern California ) needs to be as close to the word it describes as possible, and that word is 'photographs'.

Otherwise, totally excellent!
ImageKelli
Feb 12, 2013 4:25 PM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
O.K. Thanks. I thought the original sentence sounded a bit awkward.
ImageKelli
Feb 25, 2013 3:26 PM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
Got my first rejection letter today. It's a small bummer, really. At least they returned the picture so I don't have to print them out again and at least they didn't leave me hanging for months.
ImageSharon
Feb 25, 2013 4:00 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
I could literally line a wall with rejection letters.
Don't be discouraged; did they critique your work at all?

Also, take a look at other publishers, particularly those who publish books on wildflowers or any flowers for that matter.

UPress seems to be discouraging new authors, so that's another thing to think about. The reason being the economy, I've read, so they are only investing in those authors they've published before who've had some level of success. The other reason being ebooks.

But don't give up, just look at other publishing companies.

That was fast, usually it takes about 2 or 3 months or longer.
Just don't give up!

I'm still playing cat and mouse with my collection of Aunt Bett stories and at the moment I don't have a publisher either. I had one, but they suggested that I rid the book of all the cultural references which would leave it with only the history of medicinal plants. So I'm looking at publishers who specialize in history and culture of the Appalachians now.

Sometimes I think it's totally futile, but I still keep looking.

Dave said I should publish it as an ebook also because ebooks have a broader reach. I don't know how that would apply to yours though because yours will contain so much photography. Speaking of, have you looked at publishers who specialize in photography books?

ImageKelli
Feb 25, 2013 4:16 PM CST
Name: Kelli
California, USDA 10, Sunset 19
Where summer is winter
They didn't critigue my work, just said that the rejection was no reflection on the quality of the work and that they have very few openings right now. (The University of California as a whole is in pretty dire straights. Heck, the whole state is in dire straights.) Next I will try the California Native Plant Society (a private, not state organization). They publish books even more specialized than mine, like dune wildflowers of San Luis Obispo County, for example. I have some of their books and they don't shy away from photos.

I think mine would be very awkward as an ebook. It's the kind of book where you need to be able to page back and forth through it, look at two or more pages at once, and such. If you've used a field guide to birds or flowers or anything, you know what I mean.

I am surprised that you haven't found a publisher for the Aunt Bett stories. It seems like that is the kind of info that is rapidly being lost and needs to be preserved. I'd think there would be a good bit of interest in that.
ImageSharon
Feb 25, 2013 5:16 PM CST
Name: Sharon
Kentucky
I went to the UPress of KY first with it, about 2 years ago. They wanted to crank it down so that it became more of a text book, and emphasize the medicinal aspect.

So I've polished it up again and added the more recent articles and am getting it ready for a company in Tennessee, and possibly one in NC, so we'll see. I'm just not willing to lose the culture within it.

I agree, yours would not work as an ebook. It will be a great resource book for botanists as well as for the wildflower enthusiast.

Let's keep in touch about all of it!

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