Paths to Publication Report

Edith here, hoping for a warmer spring than we’ve had so far.

Sisters in Crime New England sponsored an all-day workshop on Saturday about the many paths to publication. Four of the Wickeds were on panels, so we made a pretty good showing. The schedule after meet-and-greet time was as follows:

  • Small Press Authors: Kate George, Marian Lanouette, Kevin Symmons, Ray Daniel, with Arlene Kay moderating. “Small press” meaning independent press that doesn’t charge to publish, does editing, publishes outside the family, and more. (I think that panel had the most fun!)SmallPressPanel
  • Legacy Press Authors: Edith Maxwell, Sheila Connolly, Jessie Crockett, with Julie Hennrikus (far left) moderating. “Legacy” meaning large, NYC, traditional publishing house, which requires an agent to get access.LegacyPressPanel
  • Self-Published Authors: P.M. Steffan, Rosemary Harris, with Sharon Daynard moderating. Authors who either hired someone or did all the work of publishing without the connections of a press.SelfPubPanel
  • Hybrid Authors: Jessie Crockett, Kate George, Edith Maxwell, with Liz LizMugavero moderating. Liz called it the schizophrenic session. “Hybrid” here meaning having your work published by several means: legacy press, small press, self-pubbed.


  • The Author-Editor Connection: Michele Dorsey interviewing Hank Phillippi Ryan and her independent editor, Francesca Coltrera

Lots of information, much networking, and new insights were achieved. The Wickeds (except Sherry, who we missed) are all going to chip in about their impressions.

Jessie: It was delightful after such a long winter to get out and about and to spend time with other writers!  I was so very impressed with the high turnout (around 60) and the animated and enthusiastic interaction of all the attendees. After the introductions it was clear there were many people who never before had attended a Sisters in Crime event. As I looked around the room as the day unfolded no one seemed to be shyly hugging the corners or looking lost and miserable. I think this speaks to the heart of the SinC organization. It is friendly, inclusive and fun. I felt a bright glow of gratitude yesterday for the opportunity to be a part of such a caring and generous group.

Julie: I am the president of Sisters in Crime New England this year, but we started talking about this event over two years ago, when Barb was president. (Or maybe eHankFrancesca_andMicheleven before then?) The idea was that with so many paths to publication, how do you chose? What should you know? And, most importantly, how do you ensure success at every level? I love that the day ended up with Hank Phillippi Ryan and her editor Francesca Coltrera, wonderfully moderated by Michele Dorsey (in this pic, left to right: Francesca, Hank, Michele). No matter what path you are on, your book needs to be really good, otherwise you undermine all of the other work.

And a hat tip to the wonderful Sheila Connolly, who is such a great part of our community. The panel I was moderating had a cancellation, so she jumped in and joined Edith and Jessie to discuss the path to publication with traditional companies. Whew. The three of them made my job easy.

Sisters in Crime, and especially the New England chapter, has made all the difference in my writing life. So glad to see so many friends at the event, and really, really thrilled to see so many new faces. The programming committee (Sharon Daynard, Michele Dorsey, Arlene Kaye and Liz Mugavero) knocked this one out of the park.

 Edith: One lasting point was Hank and her fabulous editor, Francesca. During the interview, Hank said that now, after six books, she writes with Francesca’s voice in her head, incorporating Francesca’s edits over the years into her latest first draft. I find that I, too, now produce new material with edits and critiques I have received over the years guiding my writing. Not that there isn’t always room for improvement: Francesca said she’s now a more severe critic of Hank’s work, but that she also sees it getting better, stronger.

When Liz asked us what we had learned, the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “There is no one right way.” Big publishing houses get your book out there everywhere. Small houses let you get in without an agent. Self-pubbing gives you total control of the process and the profit. Some of us do all three!

Barb: We’re all hybrid authors on this bus! That’s what struck me. It seemed like everyone on all the panels had been published in multiple ways. Even P. M. Steffan, a highly successful self-published author, had received an offer including a mid-five figure advance from a traditional publisher. She turned it down, mainly for economic reasons, but it just proved the rule. Most authors working today will distribute every which way.

Liz: This was such a valuable event on so many levels. For writers just getting started, Edith’s lesson should be their main takeaway – “There is no one right way.” You have to find the path that works for you. And what works today might not be right tomorrow. Be open to change. Be flexible. Don’t hamper your own career by thinking inside the box. We are all schizophrenic! And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

Sherry: I missed this great event but have to add without being a member of Sisters in Crime (both New England and the Chessie Chapters) I wouldn’t have a book contract. I continue to learn from the people in both of these groups and rely on their friendship and support.

Readers: If you were there, what did you think? If you weren’t and have a question, ask away!




8 Thoughts

  1. It was great to see everybody (after being snowed/iced in for so long), and wonderful that so many people turned out. One message that comes through loud and clear: publishing these days is a spectrum, and you have to do some research and find your comfort level for both the tech and writing aspects. And I think everyone agreed that a good editor is essential (or more than one–one for content, one for detail). That’s why the interview with Hank and Francesca was so valuable–you seldom get to see the creative dialogue that takes place between a writer and her editor.

  2. I felt honored to be on two panels with such excellent authors! It was a great day, the information was pertinent and well received and the audience lovely (meaning respectful and responsive). For someone like me who lives in her head ninety-nine percent of the time it is invaluable to get out into the world and talk with other authors.

    I’m so pleased that I was invited and that the weather allowed me to make the drive.

  3. Thanks to everyone who made the day both informative and fun. As two first-time attendees, we enjoyed every minute of it. We appreciate all the hard work of the organizers and presenters, the practical information we received from the panels and the friendliness of everyone we met.

    1. I’m glad you felt welcomed, Nancy and Tom! And I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to chat with you. Hope to see you at the next one, or at Crime Bake.

    1. I wish you could have been there, too, Claire! We’ll have an event of some kind in the fall – don’t think we have a date yet.

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