I’m fascinated by how many different paths writers can now use to connect with readers. So I was excited when Rebecca Ross, who had taken both my Non-Fiction Book Proposal class and my Indie Publishing class, decided to work with Turning Stone press, a hybrid publisher affiliated with the Red Wheel/Weiser/Hampton Road/Conari group of publishers who mostly focus on New Age and spiritual titles. It seemed like the perfect fit for her book, Being Home, which is a lovely exploration of some of the less tangible aspects of feeling at home in a space (including in your body).
Tell me the story of the book. Where did the spark come from? When did you realize it was a book?
It really began in childhood with my fascination with stairways. Any stair case, especially if it turned a corner, was irresistible, I had to go up and see what happened next. The book came about as a natural expression of this love of spatial relationships. For a while I tried satisfying this interest by working as an architect but found that wasn’t fulfilling. So I began working with people doing organizing and quickly realized that I could teach people how to create home, once they recognized that they have an intimate relationship with their spaces. It’s not just organizing or having the right closet, it is a dance.
I was telling my friend Russ Taylor about this and he managed to say what others had been saying for some time, but which I was having trouble hearing. He said, “WHEN will you make this into a book?” Not if.
What helped you during the writing process?
My writing process was pretty isolated, and spread out over several years with a few big breaks when other life adventures took precedence. Even so, I reached out to various people and resources and all of them were encouraging, especially you, Waverly! Without the message that, yes, there was something here that deserved being said, I am not sure I would have carried on. As clichéd as this sounds, the further I got into it the more the book felt like I was channeling it from some part of myself with unknown taproots. Learning to trust this was an amazing experience and has made writing in general into an act of joy rather than a task.
Tell me about how you found your publisher.
Being ridiculously organized I set myself goals for sending out my proposal and queries throughout the last 2 years. I sent some queries out when it was about half done, hoping a publisher would offer me an advance and beg me to finish it (Ha!) and then again when it was actually complete. No agent ever contacted me, but I got lots of really encouraging rejections. Several actually complimented me on the quality of my proposal packages and again I thank Waverly for her non-fiction book proposal class—it was crucial!
Eventually one of the rejections came from the conglomerate of Red Wheel/Weiser/Hampton Road/Conari. They suggested that I consider an invitation from their subsidiary Turning Stone, who would be in touch shortly. They were and I then started to lean about what they call collaborative publishing.
In the case of Turning Stones they only work with authors who meet their criteria, so they are selective about their clients. Then you enter into a contract to pay the publisher to produce your book. What really sold me was that I still own the book, and could opt out at any time.
What happened when you started working with your publisher?
I had a single point of contact with my main editor who worked with me all the way to the end. The beauty of the collaborative process for me was that my book was being handled by professionals within the Conari/Weiser/Etc. publishing house. I did not have to find or manage multiple contracts with all the services I knew I would need if I did it on my own.
When the book landed on my editor’s desk it had been substantively edited by at least six people and required very little work at that level. After we agreed on a schedule, off it went for copy and line editing. Over the next 6 months Turning Stone also provided proof reading, interior design, cover design, e-book formatting, placement on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and distribution through Ingram. That last was the big plus.
It’s important to note that at every step of the way I had input and veto power over their suggestions. That made it much easier to take advice! My final cover is an image that I actually found online and bought. It meant a lot to me that they turned it into such a lovely cover.
I also got time with a marketing professional to refine my basic game plan, social media strategies and web site tweaks. I have done most of the actual marketing myself, and I am pretty sure if I’d had to do all the stuff Turning Stone handled I might have been too exhausted to carry on!
What has been the most surprising/exciting/challenging thing about the publishing process?
The most challenging part was keeping my sight on the big picture—the book as a real thing—and not getting lost in all the steps it took to get there. Throughout the process I was excited by the idea that I was creating a real object that expressed something previously so intangible. When I held the finished book in my hands the sensation was one of awe and gratitude for all the support I’ve had.
What comes next once the book is made? What will you be doing to let people know it exists?
I’ve lined up several readings in October and one in November and hope to do more at other bookstores. All this info has to be kept up to date in the usual monthly newsletter and on my web sites and Facebook pages. Luckily I had all these set up months ago, so it’s just an upkeep challenge. I am fortunate in that there is already a certain following for my work, and I just have maintain and share information.
My hope is that Being Home will generate enough interest that I can create some classes or seminars about the process. I’d love to teach the skills in the book to people in real time. So I guess that means I better start writing a curriculum….
About Rebecca Ross:
Fascinated by the built environment, Rebecca grew up wanting to know why some houses felt better than others, and how stairways could pull her up without her feet moving. So naturally, she decided to become an architect. After 20 years in that profession and an exploration of Feng Shui, she founded her company The Composed Domain in 2000. It is a melding of her architecture background, an understanding of spatial energy and the organization of things and information.
Her blend of practical organizing skills, personal warmth and humor supports her clients in creating balanced nurturing environments in which to live and work. As a practitioner of meditation Rebecca is able to balance energy and stillness in body and mind, as well as in her surroundings. She has become “an architect of another kind,” turning her sensitivity to the subtler aspects of how spaces affect people.