Writing on Wednesday: Professional Kindness

image-cedc980d61e20a9a08f0c8d37265f4ce-february-17-random-acts-of-kindness-daySometimes in the often perplexing publishing world you run into some extremely nice people. Like the director of an academic press I queried recently for Tangles and Plaques, my book about long-distance caregiving for my mother, who has Alzheimer’s.  Here’s part of her reply to me:

Dear Susan,

I’ve now had time to look through the materials you sent and to discuss them with my editorial colleagues. First, I want to thank you for sharing your proposal with me. My grandmother died after living with Alzheimer’s for 12 years after the diagnosis. Caregiving takes an incredible amount of patience and fortitude, especially when done from afar, and I think you’ve done a wise thing in channeling your experience into narrative form.

For a number of years, our press had a list in consumer health, and we published a series of books on living with/caring for individuals with certain diseases. We discontinued this list, however, about 10 years ago, as online resources became more common and eroded the bookstore market for our titles. Since this is the case, I’m afraid we here just wouldn’t have the marketing focus to publish and promote your book as successfully as we would both like.

I do have some suggestions, though, if you’d like to see this work in print. You’ve done some good research in putting together your proposal, and your list of comparable titles is smart. Those publishers might be a very good fit for what you have. Also, self-publishing today is very different from the self-publishing of ten or even five years ago. There are a number of good options out there for authors with a targeted market and the interest in doing work to reach that market. From your CV, you appear to have a healthy network of contacts already building, both from your other writing activities and through followers of your blog. If the self-publishing route appeals to you, you already have in place some excellent channels for reaching those who would be interested in your book.

Another thought: there are likely many memoirs of Alzheimer’s and of those who care for aging parents with this disease out there. But you also speak of an interesting angle: the fact that you manage caregiving long distance. Just from a quick search of Amazon, there don’t appear to be many titles at all with that particular focus. But I suspect there are a LOT of children who are engaged with the challenge of caring for family members in a long distance way. This very well may be what sets your work apart, and gives you an even more targeted audience that connects directly to your experiences.

I hope these thoughts are of use to you as you think about your next steps for the project.

I was amazed by her professional kindness in taking so much time not only to evaluate my proposal but also to offer suggestions for other publishing options, since her press isn’t able to accept the book. These kinds of replies aren’t really “rejections,” but more like having a partner in the publishing world offering help.

Wow. Just wow.

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