The daunting task of getting published has just turned a page with a publishing workshop put on by two Rossland authors.
Neighbours Darcee O’Hearn and Yolanda Ridge are delving into their experiences last year – O’Hearn will touch on the benefits of taking the self-publishing route with her first book “Leonard the Larch” in her “Legends of the Forest” series while Ridge delves into the process of getting “Trouble in the Trees” recognized by Orca Book Publishers.
“I’ve learned to not take anything personally in the book business because as you can see as we sit in the bookstore, we are flooded with books,” said O’Hearn. “There’s thousands and thousands of people that want to publish their books and that’s why you have to sell yourself and you have to make people think, ‘I need this book.’”
The $25 workshop held Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at Rouge Framing in the former Bank of Montreal building on Rossland’s Washington Street will explore topics to help writers take the publishing leap, including market research, crafting query letters, making the pitch, working with editors, developing a thick skin and dealing with rejection.
“Originally when I started getting rejection letters from standard publishing it was devastating for me and it kind of hit my self-esteem pretty hard and even the reviews I was getting were hard to take,” said O’Hearn.
But she didn’t let that break her dream of developing educational fun reads. After selling already 800 copies of her first book, O’Hearn is now pleased to announce the second in her series – “Cedric the Cedar” – is set to hit the bookshelf this fall.
The picture book follows the story of a Western Red Cedar (Cedric), who’s a fire control officer set out to save the forest but also highlights the value of natural forest fires.
“We really need forest fires – it’s a way of ridding disease and it’s actually a natural occurrence that we shouldn’t always put out,” said O’Hearn, who has a degree in forestry.
Beyond having the freedom of tweaking her work through self-publishing, O’Hearn found that her story hit a target audience that didn’t necessarily fit into what other publishers were seeking.
The $5,000 spent on the first 1,000 books printed has already been covered by the sales she’s made – taking home about half the retail price per book.
Ridge has learned that though she didn’t have to take the lead on marketing and had more time to continue writing the sequel – “Road Block” (released this spring) – profit does not come trickling in as quickly.
Ridge couldn’t say how many books she’s sold, yet, without receipt of a royalty statement from her publisher at this time, but notes that she takes home less than a dollar of every book sold.
Her books geared toward young readers follows Bree, an outspoken 12-year-old girl who has turned into quite the activist – fighting a bylaw against tree climbing in her Vancouver townhouse complex in “Trouble in the Trees” and next raising her concerns when a developer wants to put a road through her grandmother’s farm land in “Road Block.”
“Bree fights the battles that I wish I always could fight but now I’m fighting them on paper, instead,” said Ridge. “I think it’s an age where you really start pushing the limits and not just blindly following rules but questioning them.”
The woman with a masters degree in scientific counselling spent much time writing research papers before turning to her passion for fiction when she left work to raise her two young children.
O’Hearn knows all too well what it’s like to balance such a project all while raising children.
“Give it 15-20 minutes a day and you’d be surprised how much you can get done,” she said. “Whenever you feel compelled to write, keep your file open and that’s how I survived doing this with three kids, working and doing all the volunteering that I do.”
The workshop will include treats and refreshments, not to mention a copy of each of the writers’ first books.
To sign up for the workshop, visit www.legendsoftheforest.ca and find the link to pay online.