One week of The Great Novel Contest submission period down, three more to go! As the submissions keep rolling in, we’re thinking ahead to the prizes and awards. The winner goes home with $1,000 cash, the runner-up gets $500, and both receive public recognition for their accomplishment. The best part, however, is that both authors get priority consideration from four publishers.
One of these publishers is PageSpring Publishing, an independent press from Columbus which specializes in “high-quality novels for adults and young readers.” For a behind-the-scenes look at this publisher, we sat down with one of their authors. Suzanne Goldsmith, author of the novel Washashore, gave us the low-down on what it’s like to be a PageSpring author.
“It was an extremely good experience,” Goldsmith said. “The main thing that I really loved about working with PageSpring was working with my editor, Kathy Matthews, who gave incredibly detailed, close attention to my work.” She contrasted this experience with her experience publishing with a traditional press. “I remember the editorial process was basically my editor sending back my manuscript saying ‘cut it by 30% and you need to change it to the present tense.’ With PageSpring it was really different. Now, they didn’t make any of the changes for me. I had to do all that work myself. But I had long conversations with my editor about what’s working and what’s not.”
Goldsmith said these strong relationships were the most rewarding part of the process. “My editor had really good judgment and she had very close textual attention to the manuscript,” Goldsmith said. “I really enjoyed the relationship we had going back and forth.” She attributed this to the nature of small presses. “The upside of working with a small press is that personal attention and that great relationship with someone who loves your book and wants to help you make it the best that it can possibly be.”
Goldsmith’s novel tells the story of a 14-year-old named Clementine, who spends the winter on the small island of Martha’s Vineyard. As an outsider, what locals call a “washashore,” Clem struggles to find her place — until she discovers a fallen bird and young boy named Daniel. Because of her novel’s focus on the conservation of the Vineyard’s osprey, the raptor that nearly went endangered in the 70s, Goldsmith won the Green Earth Book Award. She explained how this recognition affected her writing career. “Receiving the Green Earth Book Award was enormously encouraging to me as a writer, but it also means a lot for my book going forward. With many thousands of books published each year, readers have a lot of options. The award makes Washashore stand out and gives them a reason to choose it over other books that they might be considering. That little gold sticker is hard to argue with!”
But this award didn’t come waltzing through the door. Goldsmith searched for all the possible awards that she thought she had a shot at, gave the list to her publisher, and told them to submit her novel. Her advice to writers seeking recognition? Make your book known. She suggests putting your work out to the public and becoming active in your local writers’ scene. The more connections you make, the more likely you are to find people who share similar interests, who can provide the right venue for your work. As Goldsmith says, “I think the best advice I can give for writers, and what’s been most helpful to me, is to develop a writing community. To get involved in a critique group or to get alpha readers. To somehow find your peeps.” She meets with a writers’ group every week to receive feedback from people “who actually know what we’re going through.”
Amazingly, Goldsmith’s writers’ group led to the publication of her novel through PageSpring. One of the editors contacted her. “She knew the manuscript because she had been part of my writing network. She had looked at an earlier version and loved it.” Her writing community not only provided encouragement and inspiration, but gave her a lead into publishing her novel.
After about a year of editing, Washashore became a reality. “They came to press pretty quickly once it was all finished,” she explained, “That is another benefit of a small press. The editing process isn’t going to be any faster, but they can sometimes bring your book to market a lot more quickly.”
PageSpring proposed the idea of a teacher guide to foster discussion about environmental stewardship and character development. They put together a beautiful guide, which connects young readers to the important messages in her novel. “Their teacher guide was a benefit,” said Goldsmith. “I haven’t seen a lot of publishers put in this kind of care and attention.”
Who will PageSpring publish next? Submit to The Great Novel Contest 2015 and you have a chance at working with this independent press.
Find out more about Suzanne Goldsmith and Washashore here.