Carmen Baca – Guest Post

Thanks to Carmen Baca, for allowing LVLS to share her publishing experience and wisdom. Go to this link to learn more about Carmen’s published books and other writing.

Want to know how the publishing process works?

There are different methods, but this is the short version of my experience to give you an idea.

A novel inspired by a storied religious practice.

I always thought being a writer is a solitary endeavor. I write for 4-5 hours, 4-5 days a week, bringing worlds and characters and their stories to life. If I’m writing a short story, essay, or article, the writing sessions take anywhere from 2 hours to 3-4 days. I edit the piece to the best of my ability and submit to publishers of online literary magazines and anthologies directly. No one else sees my short works before those editors and publishers.

When I write books, it’s a solitary process for the two months it takes to get 68K to 78K words written to my satisfaction. Then comes the editing, going through the manuscript 5 times looking for specific issues, creating the glossary, making sure the bibliography’s accurate. That’s when the solitary situation changes.

Margaret Johnson, Mercedes Romero, and other volunteer beta and proofreaders get the manuscript next; they find the typos and the places I used the wrong words and sometimes the details in the wrong places, my most common errors. While they are doing their thing, I’m creating my cover art and the blurb which goes on the back of the book. At this point, I send the cover art to my cover artist and the blurb to Margaret and my publisher; they always make it better. That’s also when I work on the other pages: the dedication, acknowledgments, author’s note (if needed). Once Margaret, Mercedes, and the proofreaders finish, about a month later, I revise the manuscript with their corrections/recommendations. By that time, the cover is also ready. (Note: many publishers like my 1st one for El Hermano have their own cover artists. The folk artist worked with my input to create that cover.)

The manuscript goes to my publisher then, and he puts it in his queue where it waits in line for him to publish those works ahead of mine. The difference, which arises with a self-published book, is that instead of sending the book to a publisher, I upload the book and the front and back covers into a self-publishing site. I’ve only done that once, and the formatting took me four days. That book has no page numbers since I couldn’t figure out how to add them. Some self-published authors hire formatters to format their books, in addition to hiring their editor and cover artist.

In the meantime, I write up a press release about the book, send it to potential ARC (advance review copy) readers for editorial reviews. Those people agree to read the manuscript. Some of them write endorsements for the book, and all of them write their reviews to post on the day the book releases. The more reviews a book gets on Amazon, the more publicity Amazon gives it.

So, by the time the book reaches readers’ hands, at least ten other people have had their hands in assuring the book is as good as it can be. What begins as a solitary process turns into an assembly line of valuable people who all work toward one goal: publishing a book.

Making a book a success is something readers can help us do: write honest reviews on Amazon as a thank you to the author for those hours of entertainment and ask local bookstores to sell our books.

Carmen Baca, author
http://plu.us/cbacacreation


NEWS NOTES: Guest posts about writing and publishing are welcome. Send your query to lvliterarysalon@gmail.com. Our thanks to Carmen. Her words are motivating and inspiring. We invite writers and readers to engage with Las Vegas Literary Salon by attending our monthly Salons on the 4th Sunday, from 4-5 p.m. Our Sunday, March 28 Visit with author and satirist Jim Terr goes live at 4 p.m.

Las Vegas Literary Salon is seeking submissions for a collection entitled: Tapestry: Tales, Essays, Poetry. The target publication date is early to mid-November 2021. Submission Guidelines can be found by clicking TAPESTRY GUIDELINES in the menu above.

Welcome

Welcome to the newly established Las Vegas (NM) Literary Salon (LVLS).

Not to be confused with any salons in the “other Las Vegas,” the Las Vegas Literary Salon (LVLS) is located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Great Rocky Mountains and is devoted to writers, readers, and thinkers of the Greater Las Vegas area. As part of its mission, LVLS supports the literary arts by presenting events like A Visit with the Author in which area writers are interviewed and read from their works via Zoom; and The Writers’ Roundtable, a Zoom production in which a variety of writers gave readings of their work. In the future, LVLS plans to hold book fairs, establish reading clubs and talk groups, provide workshops on writing, editing, publishing, and self-publishing.    

Edwina Romero, A Founding Member

Born and bred in East Boston, Massachusetts, I have been making stories, reading, or writing for more years than I want to count. Once I learned how to read, in the evenings when the younger ones were asleep, my mother dragged a lamp out through the open kitchen window to our third floor, screened-in back porch where we read and ate Saltine-cracker-and-butter sandwiches in the circle of light. Later, when babysitting my younger sister & brothers, I created stories to entertain them. They always joined in and made them better, as did my daughter many years later. Creating may be a communal activity.   

I’ve read books on subway trains, in waiting rooms and cafes, in bed, in cars, buses, and airplanes. I’ve read aloud to my daughter, my classes, friends, fellow writers, siblings, my cat, a few audiences, and to nobody at all. I’ve written letters, emails, a Ph. D. dissertation on writing, poems, academic papers, non-fiction, and fiction. With everything I wrote and everything I read, I learned something about reading and writing, myself, human beings and other animals, and the universe in which we all live.

I hope that sharing my experiences with others will help encourage more and more reading, writing, and pondering.    

Writings
Footlights in the Foothills, Amateur Theatre of Las Vegas and Fort Union, New Mexico, 1871-1899;
Cowboy Reunions of Las Vegas, New Mexico;
Prairie Madness, Conspiracy at Fort Union;
Las Vegas, New Mexico, 1835-1935.

Favorite Books
Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor
A Gentleman of Moscow by Amor Towles
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Book of Speculation Erika Swyler

Where Do Books Come From?

I read before I started school.

No one set out consciously to teach me, nor did I entertain a plan to learn. Among my earliest memories,  (at about three years old) is that every night, my mother would gather me up, damp and sleepy from my bath, cozy in flannel footie pajamas, and wrap me in a blanket. We would settle in the worn wooden rocker next to the black franklin stove (which sometimes overheated and the lid would pop up with a loud bang. I kept a wary eye on that stove.) And then she would say the magic words, “Let’s read a story,” and she would open the cover of a Little Golden Book, and begin. I remember The Little Engine That CouldThe Three Naughty KittensPeter Cottontail, and so many more filled with brightly colored pictures and big printed words. 

Sometimes my father read to me from the Bible, and I loved the rhythm of the words, the thunder of the Biblical names, and the image of the animals going to the ark, two by two.

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have my own library card. My best friend and I would roller skate to the library and pick out books, then return to the shelter of her front porch to spend the day reading. But no one ever thought to tell me where books come from, as they taught me so many other things. I knew the Bible said God made the world, so it was a natural progression for me that God made books. I didn’t even think about it.

The Christmas I turned seven a neighbor gave me a copy of Black Beauty. I read it straight through and then read it again. Then I ran to find my mother, to tell her about this wonderful horse, to urge her to read the story for herself. To beg for a horse of my own.

Her primary interest being to distract me from the notion of horse ownership, my mother quickly suggested that I go to the library, and see if the author had written any other books. An author? A suspicion grew. A light dawned.

Perhaps books were not organic things like peaches on a tree, or little miracles shelved by angels while the librarian slept. 

“Where do the books at the library come from?” I asked.

“People write them,” came the answer.

People write them. What an amazing idea. A storybook held so much magic for me, transporting me away in time and space that my mother had a hard time calling me out of the book to eat dinner.

“Of course, people write books. Who did you think wrote them?”

God, of course.

From that simple revelation came an omnivorous appetite for the written word. If people wrote books, I could learn to write them, too. At some point thereafter I fell prey to ambition: I wanted to read every book ever written. By the time I was nine, the librarian told my mother I had read all of the books in the children’s section of the library, and she allowed me to check out some of the adult books. 

Between the ages of ten and eighteen, I read Alexander Dumas, Mark Twain, most of Dickens, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Austen, popular novels, political novels, all the plays by George Bernard Shaw, Bradbury, Asimov, Kafka, Dos Passos, Woolfe, the Brontes, and more, including a translation of the logs of the voyages of Christopher Columbus – over 2000 pages of exposition and annotations.

From the age of eight onward, I also wrote, so that when I finished reading everything ever written, I would be ready to add my stories to the list. I wrote poetry, plays, letters, columns, news stories, essays, and novels.

In my early twenties, I nearly despaired when I realized books were being published constantly, and I could not possibly read everything published in a single year, let alone everything ever written. 

I was the opposite of Alexander the Great, who wept because there were no more worlds to conquer. I could see nothing but new worlds, without any end. And I wanted to add to this river, this torrent, this avalanche of print? Yes. I wanted to add my own new worlds, even if no one ever read them.

And so I write.

Mary Rose Hennsler