Monday, February 28, 2022

From Resolving Childhood Conflict to Peace

My parents made many smart decisions about how their kids should behave. They were the opposite of mellow in many respects, but they approached parenting calmly. They were also older when they had their first kid (29 and 36, which was almost elderly in 1951). That maturity may have been their guide.

Their egos weren't involved in parenting or our behavior, they just figured out the best way to do things. They may not have always agreed, but they didn't argue about it in front of us.

Their best decision? If we squabbled, my mom would say, "Oh, brothers and sisters don't fight." Then she'd point us to a way to resolve what we were arguing about. 

A child psychologist might say she reduced our ability to resolve conflict, but that would be incorrect. We all talk first, no matter the life situation. And we five are close friends.

Since I can't clone my parents' philosophy (or insert it in the parents of political leaders) I've done what I always do when I have a problem. I look to books.

Here are some articles or books about helping children resolve conflict and, more broadly, talking about what peace looks like.

Say What's Wrong and Make it Right    Amazon    Barnes and Noble

Please feel free to put other examples in the Comments section. 

Peace be with you.

                                                               *                 *                 *

To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter

Friday, February 25, 2022

What Does a Publisher Do With and For You?

If your knowledge of the publishing process comes from television shows or reading about book publicity tours, you know something about how publishers work with authors who sell a lot of books. Not everyone gets those services, though publishers always want an author to succeed.

What are some things a new author can expect? Publisher's wear a lot of hats. I divide them into acquisition, production, and marketing.


  • Read a draft your agent submits.
  • Let the agent know they are interested.
  • Present the contract for your agent and you to review.
  • Negotiate to get to a contract that the author and publisher agree on in terms of – royalties, submission deadlines, author input to final product and cover, publisher contribution to marketing, number of (free) copies to the author, foreign rights negotiation, and more.
  • Let the literary world know you are under contract and when your book will appear.


If you think your work is done when a publisher accepts your book, think again. Among the things to expect are requests for:

  • Revision, usually with detailed information on what the publisher believes will improve quality and marketability.
  • Information needed to fact-check your book. Or, the publisher could ask you to submit this material. (More for nonfiction)
  • Contact information if others need to sign a release saying it is okay to quote them or refer to them in any way.
  • Consultation on cover design.
  • Review of galleys – edited copy the publisher has prepared.

Publishers spend a lot of money to get your book to readers, and they want it to be perfect. It may seem that some requests detailed, even picky, but authors need to remember that they are one of many.


A contract specifies what the publisher will do to promote a book.
Ultimately, authors do much promotion. A publisher will do more when the book is released, and an author wants readers to be continually aware of their books.

Try to get the publisher to agree to at least do the following:

  • Send press releases to trade publications or local media, with follow-up calls from the publisher’s representative.
  • Give you well designed bookmarks and/or other marketing tools, preferably well before a book is out.
  • Provide you with author’s copies that you can use for marketing. Ask for fifty and be prepared to receive fewer.
  • Send copies to book review publications or websites, including review writers in local media.
  • Maintain an active social media campaign through at least Twitter, Instagram, BookTok,and Facebook posts.
  • Create a short video and load it to You Tube.
  • Talk to you a few times a year about how well the book is selling and if there is more promotion they want you to do. 

Your role in marketing is key. Suggest local media to notify, visit local bookstores, and encourage local libraries to purchase your books. If you stress your willingness to work hard to keep the book in front of potential readers, it could help you secure a publisher.


Don’t be a pain in the tailbone to work with. You want to be firm when needed, but mostly you want to be a joy to work with. Whiners don’t get a second contract.

It may sound corny, but the fictional author Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Landsbury) in Murder She Wrote, is a good example of a no-nonsense author who is pleasantly businesslike. 

For every author selected there are thousands who would love to work with a publisher – whether one of the big five, a university press, or a niche publisher. If you are a royal pain but your book sells well, you may get a second contract. You’ll also get a reputation for being difficult. 

                                                                *                 *                 *

To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter

Monday, February 14, 2022

Varied Types of Publishers

When an author says "my publisher" it's a great feeling. If you're considering whether to seek a publisher or self-publish, it helps to understand the different types of publishers and how the process works. For any method or firm, ask other authors to share their experiences or at least get information through a Google search.

I recommend Writer’s Market, an annual publication. It has good overview articles and describes many publishers. If you aren’t sure about spending money on the book, examine a copy in your library. 

Major (Trade) Publishing Houses. Termed the “Big Five,” all are in New York. The are:

  • Penguin/Random House
  • Hachette Book Group
  • Harper Collins
  • Simon and Schuster
  • Macmillan

They have absorbed many smaller publishers, so some of their imprints will sound familiar. For example, St. Martin’s is part of Macmillan and Little Brown is within Hachette.

Small Presses, which often cater to literary fiction or specific genres. Jane Friedman's blog has a good article about them.

University Presses, which publish more nonfiction than fiction, and generally the latter only if it has some ties to their school or region.

Textbook Publishers. Their contacts and contracts with school systems make them important to deal with if you want to publish a text.

Independent or “Really Small” Presses. Some are newer and use print-on-demand technology. Others have been around for years, but publish only a few titles per year.

Hybrid Publishing Firms. These help an author with some of the steps, for a fee. They may sell authors’ books on their website and place them on other retail sites, but authors usually do most marketing. If you don't intend to publish a lot of books or really don't want to tackle self-publishing, these could be an option. 

Vanity Presses. They are essentially printers who, for what I consider a large fee, print books and mail copies to the client. The author promotes and distributes the books. Avoid them. (Some now call themselves hybrid publishers, so you need to watch for this.)

The major publishers give an author the visibility most dream of and can get books in any bookstore. Don’t give up if your agent can’t get you a Big Five contract. Some of the best authors will not make it to these ranks, but their books are well read.

And there's the important word -- agent. All of the major publishing houses require them. Essentially, an agent separates the wheat from the chaff for them. At the Writer's Market site there is also a book on literary agents, and Poets and Writers has a good list. Agents have to be picky. They don't represent all kinds of books, and they only get paid if they sell your work.

I sound like a broken record sometimes, but you only get one chance to make a first impression. Whether you're submitting to an agent or publisher, make sure you have a polished product. Equally important, follow their guidelines.

The next article on publishing will focus on issues to consider as you consider a publisher.

                                                             *                 *                 *

To learn more about Elaine, go to or sign up for her newsletter