This time last July we were grounded by COVID and I was crossing my fingers and publishing Moon Tide, the first title from Sea Crow Press. Could I pull a book together? Would anyone read it? I was having all the doubts, but I figured it out and suddenly, this month Sea Crow Press is celebrating its first birthday!
The journey from confirmed bookworm and writer to publisher as been pretty amazing. I’ve always loved reading books, but I was surprise at how exciting the process of creating them can be. It’s a tremendous moment when you hold the first proof copy in your hands and really see how all the details come together on paper. It’s an act of creation, and the next step, sharing it, is even more exiting. There is the feeling of having made the world a more beautiful place, and the certainty of having amplified voices which might otherwise have gone unheard.
This is why the small press is a crucial component to the arts and it’s what Sea Crow Press is all about.
A year in the life of a small press
Some scenes from the last year at Sea Crow Press.
Our small press is growing
Over the last 12 months the Sea Crow Press team has grown to include two editors and a cover designer, because attention to detail and great covers are two keys to success as a small press. The other keys are great writers and readers.
This is a great time to send a shout of thanks to all out to all you readers out there! We wouldn’t be here without you!
Wondering how to get published?
If you’re thinking about publishing in any form take a deep breath and do it.
We have published four books to date. Each one is special. We have signed on two new authors with whom we worked closely to make the best book possible and with whom we continue to work closely to make sure the book finds its readers.
So far, summer 2021 is looking good. In the next weeks we’ll be sharing plans for events on the Cape for readers there, and stay tuned for our surprise summer publication as well!
“If in heaven
There is no wit
You’ll know she went
To hell for it.”
Cemeteries have fascinated me ever since the days when I would accompany my mother and aunt to place geraniums on the family graves for Memorial Day. As anyone knows who has taken Bonnie Snow’s cemetery tour, burial grounds give one a sense of connection with our history.
The Orleans Cemetery is the final resting place of Isaac Snow, who was instrumental in naming the town and who was our last surviving Revolutionary War veteran. Also interred here are “Uncle Harvey” Sparrow, who served in the War of 1812, and Webster Rogers, the longest-lived of our Spanish-American war veterans. Webster’s daughter, Emma Augusta Rogers, known as “Emma Gusty”, made her own graduation dress, but her father would not allow her to attend the ceremony. She vowed to be buried in the dress, and she was, over 70 years later!
One of my family graves has a tragic story. My great-aunt Myrtice Chase, wife of my great-uncle Ernie, was a young wife of 23, having her first child. According to family lore, she was given ether, which her lungs could not tolerate; she died and the baby died with her. She was buried with the baby still in utero, and her husband never knew if it would have been a son or a daughter.
On a happier note, the cemetery holds the remains of Dr Claude Heaton, who delivered Margaret Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. Apparently, Mead wanted either a home birth or natural childbirth or both, and Dr Heaton was the only physician who would agree to her wishes. Mother and daughter came through the experience in good health. as she relates in her autobiography.
At the top of the hill is Barna Sprague’s gravestone, with the face of a dog carved into each of the top corners. These canine faces represent her two yellow Labs, Breeze and Daisy; Barna died while trying to rescue Breeze from a fire which destroyed her home. (Daisy escaped.) It was typical of Barna to risk her life for a beloved pet; her heart brimmed with compassion for animals.
But cemeteries can also hold unexpected flashes of humor. Consider the stone of John and Grace Lyons. She was the first to pass, and her epitaph reads, “If in heaven/There is no wit/You’ll know she went/ To hell for it.” After his death much later, his epitaph was inscribed: “Thirty years later/Still loving his Grace,/He hoped to meet her/Either place!”
I encourage everyone to take a walk in a cemetery. There is always much to be learned.
Mary E. McDermott is a 13th-generation Cape Codder living in Orleans. She worked for 17 years in the Orleans Assessor’s Office and 23 years as a commercial insurance broker at Pike Insurance Agency. She has been a justice of the peace to solemnize marriages since 1976 and has previously published two books of poetry, Tapestry and Handle with Care. Her poems have appeared in several publications including the Christian Science Monitor.
Sea Crow Press has two books about Cape Cod.
read more about Old Orleans in Mary E. McDermott’s new book
take some poetry to the beach with Moon Tide by Mary Petiet
“I like the freedom of being able to write the stories that speak to me, and to make all the decisions about how they are presented and promoted.”
This is a guest post from Clarissa Gosling.
Why do I self-publish?
One of the main reasons I decided to self-publish was speed.
I had heard so many stories about great authors who took years to find an agent, and then for that agent to find a publishing deal for them. I had read numerous self-published books and could see that many quality authors were choosing to self-publish rather than wait for a publishing deal.
I was excited to try my hand at it and see what I was able to achieve. Of course, the increased royalty rates that you get as a self-published author just made the deal sweeter. I also knew that even if I signed with a traditional publisher, as a debut author I would still be expected to do the majority of the promotional work for my books myself, so a traditional deal wouldn’t get me out of doing that. And if I was doing all the promotion work then surely I deserved to get the vast share of the royalties in return?
I like the freedom of being able to write the stories that speak to me, and to make all the decisions about how they are presented and promoted.
Self-publishing does bring with it a lot of challenges and the need to be able to switch between the creative and business sides of your endeavours. I choose my cover designer and have the final say in the covers. I choose when the books are published. I choose how they are promoted and when I run any sales or promotions on them. As a self-publisher I can be nimbler to take advantage of changes in the market and turn my business in a new direction. I am not beholden to anyone. If I make bad decisions then I will need to take responsibility for that, but equally I will reap the benefits of success.
I love the fact that I am not tied into anything and I can write and publish at my own speed, without worrying about publisher deadlines or whether the book I am working on would be published or not.
I am building a team of other professionals and fellow authors who support and help me produce my books to a high quality. And I work hard to make sure that each one is better than the one before.
Publishing has a lot of moving parts, so I am not trying to do everything at once, but to build a base from which I can expand in the future. With each book I am reaching further and building more of an audience keen to purchase my future books.
I started with two non-fiction books about the experience of expat life (Moving abroad with children, and Raising bilingual children: when school speaks a different language) with the aim of helping other families in a similar situation. These were well received and I learnt a lot from doing them.
I next published a selection of short stories, which is free across most retailers. And I am currently working on longer form fiction, which I plan to continue to expand over the coming years. My next story will be published in the anthology Realms of Fae and Shadows, which is due to be published in a few weeks.
Self-publishing has given me the opportunity to build my writing skills and author career alongside my growing children. I have the flexibility to work at home round their commitments and to build my skills as I feel they are needed. This is a long-term decision for me, and I can see my career growing before me. I am just at the beginning and I am excited to see where this opportunity takes me.
Clarissa once missed the bus home from school because she was lost in a book. She no longer reads at the bus stop and now writes fiction she hopes is just as immersive. Though, she doesn’t advise missing buses! For more information about Clarissa and to sign up to her newsletter to hear about new releases and promotions visit clarissagosling.com
‘Self-publishing has given me the freedom to write what I want and share it with those who are looking for what I have to offer.’
This is a guest post by Lauri Ann Lumby,OM, OPM, MATS.
My Journey to Self-Publishing
The seeds of my journey to self-publishing came forth out of the fruits of my independent and self-sufficient nature. These seeds were not firmly planted, however, until after I had the experience of royalty-house publishing first.
My first book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy, was published in the traditional way. I wrote a book, completed a manuscript proposal and then sent the proposal out to a hundred publishers. After receiving one hundred rejection letters, I went back to the drawing board. After another round of research and a reworked proposal, I sent out another batch. I received one response from a publisher who acted as if he was doing me a favor publishing my book and then laid out a series of threats. I turned down that offer. Shortly after listening to my gut and saying no to publisher number zero, I received another YES in the mail. This proved to be the right yes for a first-go at being published. My publisher was kind, generous, thoughtful, and gently guided me through the process. He also had some terrific insights on improving my book. I am eternally grateful for this first experience of publishing. And in this I learned a few things:
The value of a good editor (I hired my own)
Cover design matters (I hired my own designer)
By my own efforts, I sold exponentially more books than my publisher.
Then I got to thinking about self-publishing and how that might be a better route for me moving forward. At about the same time, the editor of Writer’s Guide published an article recanting his previous rejection of the self-publishing market. He cited such successful self-published authors as Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler as examples and then admitted, “I take back what I previously said about self-publishing.”
Based on my experience with royalty house publishing, fueled by this encouragement from Writer’s Guide and buoyed by my own independent nature, I attempted my first experiment with self-publishing. I wanted to start small, so I put my Christouch Training into manual form. I had a friend edit it and hired another friend to create the cover design. I researched on-demand publishers and chose CreateSpace for my first go at self-publishing. Then Viola! Christouch – a Christ-Centered Approach to Hands-on-Healing was born.
The rest is history. I have since self-published an additional five books including my first novel, Song of the Beloved – the Gospel According to Mary Magdalene. Self-publishing has given me the freedom to write what I want and share it with those who are looking for what I have to offer. I no longer have to give 90% of the proceeds of book sales to an outside source and with distribution channels like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, my books are available to anyone who has access to the internet. It’s a win-win for myself and for those looking for the unique gifts that only I have to offer.
Lauri Ann Lumby is the published author of seven books. She was raised in Minneapolis, MN and currently lives in Oshkosh, WI. You can learn more about Lauri at www.authenticfreedom.love.
The idea of becoming an independently published author was something that developed over time. I had just completed A Life Suspended, a project which was emotionally charged, and it left me feeling vulnerable and exhausted. The book, and stepping into the writing world, had presented an opportunity for me to shift my perspective. As part of this process, I was working on my inner independence, peeling away social and familiar conditioning to get to the heart of who I was and who I wanted to be. How did I want to live and experience the next part of my life? Meditation, women’s circles and therapy helped me explore and listen. I rekindled my relationship with nature and began to create a spiritual practice that spoke to me. I slowly let go of the opinions of others and allowed myself to fall into the ebb and flow of life. I continued to write and shape my craft. I felt touched by inspiration and was often brought to tears when I witnessed the innate beauty in ordinary things. I began to experience life as multi-faceted, and faith in myself, divinity, and grace was born anew.
The inner work made the outer work possible. My independence, confidence and resilience were cultivated through acts of self-love and forgiveness. These steps brought a profound awareness. A friend of mine described me as being “sovereign.” Being a lover of words, “sovereign” played around in my head for a while. I even wrote a poem about it and read it at an open mic reading. That experience, too, allowed me to extend myself in ways I hadn’t before. It was symbolic, writing a piece about independence and standing up and reading it in front of strangers. I stood in my vulnerability, sharing my words and speaking a newly discovered truth.
The word sovereign, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary states: one that exercises supreme authority within a limited sphere; having generative curative powers. I have also read other definitions as being self-governing.
I knew there were times in my life when I lost my voice and didn’t speak up. When I didn’t feel worthy and was stuck in a cycle of seeing my world through the eyes of scarcity. As I shed outdated beliefs and fall deeper into the process of becoming, I began to see what had always been true…sovereignty was my soul’s signature. I consciously shifted my perspective. I saw things in a different light. I wasn’t a “damsel in distress” waiting to be saved. Instead, I was the girl on the horse, sword in hand riding into battle. I was rewriting the stories I had been told as a child of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and countless others.
In the beginning stages of publication, I chose the traditional route of querying literary agents in hopes of getting representation to take A Life Suspended to the big publishing houses. I educated myself about the field and crafted letters to agents in the concrete jungles of New York City, Los Angeles and Boston. Between the lull of responses, I wrote on my blog and kept learning. After reluctantly attending a talk on self-publication, I knew it was the right path for me. It made perfect sense that I would become self-governing and continue to “generate my curative powers.” I realized I was repeating an old pattern. The energy of querying and waiting was, for me, the same as hoping to be chosen at the junior high school dance. Having some else hold my hand, think I’m pretty and make me believe I was good enough.
I’m not saying this is true for everyone’s experience with traditional publication—but for me, in that particular point in my inner and outer evolution, it was. It was time for me to take the reins and bring my memoir into being. I carried and birthed four babies for god’s sake! I could do this.
In choosing to be the publisher and executor of my project, I had the privilege and the responsibility to assemble a team of professionals to assist me. Birthing the book was not a solo journey, although there are some writers who do the work themselves, I wanted to work collaboratively with others. When it came time to choose an imprint name, I knew just the one. Sovereign Queen Press. Truth be told, I originally wanted Sovereign Press, but it was already taken. But queen feels fitting as I have been reclaiming my power not only as a human, but as a woman. And I believe, embodiment of the queen energy isn’t something that’s given. It is proclaimed by continuous acts of showing up, taking risks and loving oneself. It is unity and taking pleasure in cultivating relationships with self and others. It is listening to and trusting the inner wisdom which speaks softly. It’s holding vulnerability and power with both hands.
Claiming my worth wasn’t about ego. It was reclaiming what I had lost or given away. We’ve all had experiences where we lost ourselves. Where we made ourselves small. When we are impacted by trauma or the harshness life can deal. My blog is dedicated to these stories, how we collectively rise and see ourselves as we really are, not what we have always thought or have been told.
As you can see, Sovereign Queen is not only a name, but it is symbolic. These days my professional and personal life have merged. The journey toward publication has been about self-discovery and the obstacles presented have provided me with opportunities for growth. My hope is for you to see yourself as we connect through these essays. My wish is that we too rise and reign—we root down into our sovereignty and continue to evolve into our best selves. May we all see our worthiness and claim the soft, beautiful power within us.
Nicole’s new book, A Life Suspended, has just been listed as an Amazon Hot Release!
Nicole Hendrick Donovan is a former Montessori educator who worked with a variety of students with various needs. During her teaching career, she created a Montessori preschool classroom which integrated neurotypical and non-neurotypical learners. After her experience with her son, she became an ABA therapist and worked closely with children diagnosed with autism and their families. In 2017, Nicole, shifted her energy and focused on her writing career. Nicole lives on Cape Cod with her husband Mike, four sons and an assortment of rescued cats and dogs. Both Nicole and Mike have continued to work with Jack’s team in supporting his development in all areas. Nicole is a public speaker and facilitator whose passion is to bring awareness and self-healing through personal storytelling. For information about upcoming events or to read from her blog catalog, visit www.nhdwrites.com.