Poetry Prompt: Write, Replace, Repeat

By Grant Clauser

In his Journal of the of Fictive Life (1965), former US Poet Laureate Howard Nemerov writes in one section about the struggle of getting started on a new work, but concludes “What a great weight one adds to the heart by simply writing ‘It was a fine summer morning.’”

While I can’t remember the whole passage (I stumbled upon the above sentence online), it strikes me as good advice to offset what Maxine Kumin calls “the terror of the first line.” I and many other poets have spent innumerable hours staring at an empty page (paper or pixels) waiting for the first words to squirm awkwardly from the ooze. Sometimes that happens. Often it doesn’t, which is why we need to try some other tricks to push through the inertia. I’m thinking of kayaking right now (daydreaming actually). The first dip of the paddle can be the hardest one because you’re not moving. You need to fight the water’s grip on the boat, and physic’s grip on reality, before one motion becomes forward movement. Dip and repeat. Dip and repeat.

So, back to Nemerov’s summer morning. Here’s a first dip that’s worked for me.

Simply write out the simplest, easy, statement you can, much like the above.

It was a fine summer morning.

Then, write it again, replacing one word for another, but to force the mind into movement substitute a verb for a noun, an object for a person, or turn it into a simile… until you feel the boat gliding across the surface. Don’t be afraid to get weird. Only then can you let go, point the bow somewhere and keep paddling.

She was a fine summer morning.

She laughed like a fine summer morning.

She laughed like the summer rain

against the tent, mosquitos bursting

between our bodies while down

in the valley the river rose over

the road making an island of us

Etc. You get the idea. The point being that the mind, the part that takes one experience and transforms it into another, sometimes needs a push, like a friend on the shore giving your kayak a shove before you figure out the stroke that will keep you moving. Dip and repeat. Dip and repeat.

Grant Clauser is the author of five books including Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven (winner of the Codhill Press Poetry Prize), Reckless Constellations, and The Magicians Handbook. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, The Literary Review and others. He works as an editor and teaches at Rosemont College.

Writing Prompt: The Three-Part Poem

In Carolyn Kizer’s introduction to Theodore Roethke’s essay collection, On Poetry and Craft, she notes that Roethke often described his favorite kind of poems as three-act plays.

“You move from one impulse to the next, and then there is a final breath, which is the summation of the action as a whole,” she writes. In a lyric poem of this sort, she says, the action is emotional or mental, rather than physical, but it still follows this dramatic structure.

That reminded me of a poetry exercise I created years ago and have presented to several classes. Sometimes I ask people to write it in class, as fast as they can. Other times it’s a take-home assignment for discussion the next week. Either way, it almost always results in good poems, ones with a structure that just seems to work. Depending on the workshop, I’ve called it different things with slight modification: The Three-Part Nature Poem, The Three-Part Person Poem, The Three-Part Nostalgia Poem. Here’s the place poem version.

Part 1
Select a specific scene or place from your memory where you have a strong emotional attachment (the front porch of your ancestral home, a place you’ve vacationed, the bar where you wasted your 20s, a boat dock you where you broke up with your lover, the paddock you used to raise hoses as a kid, the street in front of your grandfather’s house, the place you used to go when you skipped school…) and write one stanza on that. Try to keep people out of this stanza and make the imagery vivid and a little metaphorical.

Part 2
Write a stanza about your family or someone in your family connected to that place—any subject or situation relating to your family, but it must be in essentially the same style/format as the first stanza. Where there’s an emotional situation, describe the circumstances of the emotions or feelings, rather than the emotion itself (the sound of the fight, but not the fight itself).

Part 3
Write a stanza about yourself that returns to the place and imagery of the first stanza.

Now, refine these three parts to make them form one three-stanza poem. Look for connections within the stanzas. Do images or references create echoes or loops? How can you make the scene metaphoric or reflective for something in the other stanzas?

What would happen if you change the order of the stanzas (you may do that if you think the poem works better that way).

 

Grant Clauser is the author of five books including Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven (winner of the Coghill Press Poetry Prize), Reckless Constellations, and The Magicians Handbook. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Tar River Poetry, The Literary Review and others. He works as an editor and teaches at Rosemont College.

Writing for Social Justice: The Devil in Society

My Auntie Lilith is a storyteller adorned with all the histrionics a 5-foot Trinidadian woman can muster. As a child, visiting her home meant witnessing random flares of dramatic scares where, without warning, she’d turn out all of the lights, lock all of the doors, and provoke spirits as my sister, cousin, and me ran alongside her fighting evil in complete dread.

That eight-year-old me hid under her table in a puddle of my pee while my thirteen-year-old sister with tears on her cheeks locked herself in the closet and my cousins yelled in terror as my auntie’s unbridled jumbies and soucouyant and dwens chased us down the stairs and into varying corners of the house.

After a full night of panic, Auntie Lilith gathered us all at her feet for story time. Heaving breathlessly in the darkness of the house, she said, when she was my age, she fought off a mischievous haint that embodied a little boy named Seth. In her classroom, he’d walk past her desk and pull at her ponytails and call her a pickaninny, daily and without fail. Aunt Lilith knew that Seth was filled with an evil that only she could fend off. The notes she wrote to her teacher warning that a wicked energy dwelled in the classroom were unheeded and even mocked.

One day, as the wild and unchecked power hypnotized Seth, lil’ Aunt Lilith sharpened her pencil, fully intending to use it to pen yet another poetic prose of precaution. However, when Seth pulled his hand from her hair, placed it on her desk, and then bent down to whisper pickaninny inches from her lips, she knew it was her duty to exorcise the demon that ran rampant in Seth’s body. She stabbed her pencil straight through his skin, his nerves, his blood—scaring the hell out of him quite literally.

The metonymic adage, the pen is mightier than the sword, assuages the egos of writers who use our words to pen poetic prose of precaution about impending doom or a euphoric past. But, perhaps the pen is only mightier than the sword because it has the dual ability to both communicate brilliant essays and defend brilliant lives.

Today marks 147 days since Breonna Taylor was brutally murdered by her city (officers and officials), her state (her governor and her attorney general), and her country (her president and his administration). We, as taxpayers, play a part in her murder because we continue to pay the salaries of the people who murdered her. We also pay the salaries of the people who conspire to cover it up.

A good many of us have written think pieces and social media posts demanding justice, but, like my Aunt Lilith’s, our warnings are unheeded and even mocked. There is a wild and unchecked power that is running loose in our society. It continues, like Seth, to victimize and brutalize young, Black girls because it is drunk with power.

So continue writing your think pieces, telling your stories, and saying her name. But today, right now, sharpen your pencils and prepare to act boldly because this is an evil that we must fend off.

*The Writing for Social Justice column will appear quarterly in Philadelphia Stories. 


For the last 10 years, Jeannine Cook has worked as a trusted writer for several startups, corporations, non-profits, and influencers. In addition to a holding a master’s degree from The University of the Arts, Jeannine is a Leeway Art & Transformation Grantee and a winner of the South Philly Review Difference Maker Award. Jeannine’s work has been recognized by several news outlets including Vogue Magazine, INC, MSNBC, The Strategist, and the Washington Post. She recently returned from Nairobi, Kenya facilitating social justice creative writing with youth from 15 countries around the world. She writes about the complex intersections of motherhood, activism, and community. Her pieces are featured in several publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Root Quarterly, Printworks, and midnight & indigo. She is the proud new owner of Harriett’s Bookshop in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia.

Letter From the Editor

For the past 11 years it has been the honor of Philadelphia Stories to host the fiction prize named for our friend and supporter, Marguerite McGlinn. I first got to know Marguerite in a local writer’s group – the same place I met Christine Weiser, and so many other incredible Philadelphia writers. Like Christine, Marguerite was more than just a writing acquaintance. She was a friend and confidant, someone who supported me, and my work, unconditionally, but also told me the truth. She and her husband Tom lived, quite literally, down the road from Rosemont College, where I eventually enrolled to earn my MFA and where I am now the MFA program director. Even after she got sick, she would invite me over for dinner before class and we would talk about writing, about her family, about our dreams of becoming novelists. It was at these dinners that I got to know her husband Tom and learned more about her family – now the generous supporters of this prize. Marguerite was a champion of the underdog. I’d like to think that supporting short story writers, like we’re able to do, and to do it in her honor, would make her very happy.

Each year I have two jobs related to the contest. I choose the judge and I choose the finalists. My criteria for choosing a judge is simple. I invite authors whose work I admire and who I’d really like to meet. Most of the time I get lucky and they say yes. This year’s judge, Karen Dionne, was just such an author. When it comes to choosing the finalists, things are not as simple. Our fiction editor, Trish Rodriguez and a host of other screeners, read all the submissions. This year there were over 270. They did a great job of narrowing down the group to 39. From those I’m supposed to pick no more than 10. With Trish’s help, this year we chose seven. The stories ranged from satire to psychological thriller to traditional literary fiction.

Winners

with comments from judge Karen Dionne, author of The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister

 

First Place “Young Americans” by A.C. Koch from Denver, CO

This short story ticked all the boxes for me. A nuanced, pitch-perfect father-daughter road trip told with an economy of language and an easy rhythm and flow that sucked me right in. Clearly plotted, well-drawn characters, along with just the right mix of atmosphere and insight make this story a winner!

 

Second Place “The Dead Women” by Allie Mariano from Little Rock, AR

A character at a crossroads is always intriguing; how did they come to this place and what will they do going forward? I love stories that focus on undoing the consequences of bad choices. That this story is also beautifully written is a bonus.

 

Third Place “Feral Wives” by David L. Updike, Philadelphia, PA

This short story begins with an irresistible premise: women all over the country are leaving their families to live in groups in the forest, constantly on the move, building temporary shelters while they hunt and fish and forage. An engaging and thoughtful commentary on what it means to shed the labels of “wife” and “mother.”

 

Finalists

“Almost Happy” by Charlie Watts from Freedom, NH

“Almost There” by Holly Pekowsky from New York, NY

“The Women in the Club” by P. Jo Anne Burgh from Glastonbury, CT

“Magic Hair” by Shanteé Felix from Baltimore, MD

 

Push to Publish 2020 Interview: Alison Lewis

Alison Lewis

This year’s virtual Push to Publish Conference will include all of the great tips, trends, and connections that writers have gotten from this popular, in-person event—but now from the comfort of your home. Below, we talk with Alison Lewis, the editor-in-chief and publisher of Frayed Edge Press. Alison will be participating in Push to Publish as a speed date editor.

PS: Tell us a bit about your background and what you’re doing now.

AL: I’ve always been a voracious reader and have multiple English degrees. I’ve worked professionally as a librarian and a college professor, but I’m happy to be doing all publishing-related things now. At Parlew Associates, I help provide editorial and pre-press services for authors and publishers. I find it gratifying to fill in gaps for small presses that need extra help, and to aid authors in improving and professionalizing their work. As publisher and editor for literature at Frayed Edge Press, I’m excited to work directly with authors whose work we believe in, and to see their manuscripts grow into fully-formed books that they can be proud of.

PS: How did you get into publishing?

AL: I started out in publishing by helping out a friend who founded a small academic press. My background in English and attention to detail proved to be useful and I started getting paid for my work. In 2015, I co-founded a company to expand upon what I was already doing, and to provide services to other publishers and directly to authors. Three years later, we started Frayed Edge Press in order to publish the kinds of work we were most interested in.

PS: What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?

AL: The dual trend of consolidation and expansion: fewer “big” publishers consolidated at the top, and more small presses, “indie” publishers, and self-publishing authors expanding at the bottom. The continued dominance of Amazon as a gatekeeper for publishing, while at the same time there is an increasing number of interesting alternatives to Amazon springing up. The saturation of the market and the ubiquity of electronic tools and the internet making pirating rampant both impact the ability of publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work.

PS: How do you think the publishing industry has changed since the pandemic?

AL: We’re scrambling to find new ways of promoting books as in-person readings and author events are largely impossible right now. There has also been a negative impact in terms of bookstores and distributors losing business, or going out of business entirely. Many publishers have cut back on the number of titles published and/or slowed down their production schedules. On the more positive side, there’s still a healthy interest in reading and I’ve personally felt more of a need for reading as a means of “escape” these days. A lot of people stuck at home are in need of a good book!

PS: What do you think writers should avoid when approaching editors or agents?

AL: Avoid sending proposals for works that fall outside of our submission guidelines. When you send something that is in a genre we don’t publish, or that doesn’t meet the criteria for a particular series, you are wasting your time and ours. Avoid sending writing samples that haven’t been at least minimally proofread. No one expects a manuscript to be “perfect,” but multiple glaring errors show a lack of care and are a red flag for most editors and publishers.

PS: What other advice do you have for writers looking to get published?

AL: Be patient. Try to find the publisher that’s the right “fit” with your work. Know that rejection of your work is a necessary part of the business and often is reflective of factors other than its intrinsic merit. Keep writing, seek out helpful feedback, and continue to grow and improve as a writer.

 

Push to Publish 2020 Interview: Jackie Karneth

Jackie Karneth

This year’s virtual Push to Publish Conference will include all of the great tips, trends, and connections that writers have gotten from this popular, in-person event—but now from the comfort of your home. Below, we talk with Jackie Karneth, a literary publicist at Books Forward. Jackie will be speaking at the panel Marketing & Promotion for Authors.

PS: Tell us a bit about your background and what you’re doing now.

JK: I began working as a publicity assistant at JKS Communications, which has since rebranded as Books Forward to better reflect our company’s mission of elevating voices from a diverse community of authors. Now I’m working as a publicist, partnering directly with publishers and authors to promote books of all genres, including short stories and poetry.

PS: How did you get into publishing?

JK: I started my publishing journey early on, while in college. Originally, I’m from New Hampshire, and I always imagined going to a university in the Northeast before I discovered a unique publishing program for undergraduates being offered in Nashville. I joined the program and had the valuable opportunity to learn from industry professionals about every step in the publishing process, from writing a book to promoting it.

PS: What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?

JK: Certain genres will of course have their moment in the spotlight with libraries and readers each year, with some genres peaking in popularity at unlikely times. Library Journal recently reported how, interestingly, horror and dark fiction is in very high demand at the moment. Some Barnes & Noble stores that had ditched their “Horror” sections reported that they plan on bringing them back, and new genre-specific imprints are being created to fill the demand. And as someone who just finished reading Carmen Maria Machado’s horror-memoir mashup “In the Dream House,” I definitely agree that the genre seems oddly appropriate for the time, as we’re all coping with, and learning from, our sense of fear.

PS: How do you think the publishing industry has changed since the pandemic?

JK: Some challenges lie in the fact that this fall will be a fully-booked publishing season, and large, traditional media outlets won’t be able to cover more books in light of the exceptional number of releases. While the competition is strong in that regard, there are also a lot of opportunities unique to this moment that are exciting and worth pursuing! Now is a good time to promote ebooks and audiobooks especially. Working on your social media presence, and focusing on interaction is also key. Launch celebrations are taking place virtually, of course, and virtual events with two authors in conversation are quite popular. Libraries have also been making the shift to virtual, and many now offer readers’ advisory programs, book clubs, and special events with authors through Facebook Live and other platforms.

PS: What other advice do you have for writers looking to get published?

JK: My advice would be to begin thinking about publicity early on in your publishing process. Every book is unique, and I believe that every book requires a unique publicity plan. In order to determine which approach will work best for you, take the time to weigh out your options and goals – both short term for this release and long term for your author brand. You should aim to set yourself up with a strong foundation to grow your brand and readership not only for your book’s release, but also for the months (and years!) to come.

 

Push to Publish 2020 Interview: Kelly Andrews

Kelly Andrews

This year’s virtual Push to Publish Conference will include all of the great tips, trends, and connections that writers have gotten from this popular, in-person event—but now from the comfort of your home. Below, we talk with Kelly Andrews, the editor-in-chief of Pretty Owl Poetry. Kelly will be participating in Push to Publish as a speed date editor.

PS: Tell us a bit about your background and what you’re doing now.

KA: I’ve worked in academic publishing for the last 10 years in various roles, including as an Assistant Managing Editor, a freelance copy editor, and a writing coach. I founded Pretty Owl Poetry in 2013 with two other editors who have since left the journal, and in the years since then we’ve grown to a staff of 8. My role for Pretty Owl is that of Editor in Chief and I oversee all aspects of the journal production and staff. In 2016, I received my MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. I currently work as a consulting editor for a nonpartisan public policy research firm.

PS: How did you get into publishing?

KA: For my undergrad, I studied Journalism, and I was very interested in working for the media as a reporter or editor. I thought this was the most practical way I could use my writing and editing skills. Before college, though, I had been studying poetry with Susanna Fry, a writer who was based in Philly for many years. With her encouragement, I took creative writing classes and really started to identify as a poet. After college, I took the first publishing job I was offered as an editorial assistant for a nonprofit and continued pursuing poetry in my spare time. This led to me pursuing an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and starting Pretty Owl Poetry. I love the publishing industry and hope to continue working in it for as long as possible.

PS: What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?

KA: There seems to be more acknowledgment of the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the publishing industry and a lot of journals and presses are taking the right steps to make this happen. We’re constantly evaluating our practices and thinking about the need for change within our own publication and hope this trend continues in others.

PS: How do you think the publishing industry has changed since the pandemic?

KA: The obvious change is the move to online platforms for things like poetry readings and workshops that would traditionally take place in person. I welcome this change as it’s allowed us to have more opportunities to feature writers all over the U.S. in online readings and I’ve had the personal opportunity to take classes with writers who I wouldn’t otherwise.

PS: What do you think writers should avoid when approaching editors or agents?

KA: The quality and fit of a person’s work will be the most important factor when an editor decides to accept or reject your submission. I would avoid trying to sell yourself when approaching an editor. Focus on the quality of the work you’re creating and this will be what leads you to successful publication.

PS: What other advice do you have for writers looking to get published?

KA: Read past issues of a journal before submitting your work. So many journals vary in style in what they accept. You want to make sure your work would fit in with that style before taking the time to prepare and send your submission.

 

Push to Publish 2020 Interview: K.L. Walther

K.L. Walther

This year’s virtual Push to Publish Conference will include all of the great tips, trends, and connections that writers have gotten from this popular, in-person event—but now from the comfort of your home. Below, we talk with K.L. Walther, the author of If We Were Us. Walther will be speaking at the panel The Publishing Journey of a Debut Author.

PS: Tell us a bit about your background and what you’re doing now.

KLW: I grew up in an old (but not haunted) farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and am the oldest of three children. I played ice hockey from elementary school through college, and graduated from the University of Virginia. Right now, I am revising my second young adult novel and drafting my third!

PS: How did you get into publishing?

KLW: I have always loved to read, and took a creative writing class in college on a whim and discovered I had a passion for creating characters and telling their stories.

PS: What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?

KLW: In the young adult genre, there is a true call for diverse characters and stories, and that makes it exciting for both writers and readers! Romantic comedies are also on the rise, since everyone loves a hopeful and feel- good story.

PS: How do you think the publishing industry has changed since the pandemic?

KLW: I know most editors are currently working remotely, along with book conferences and events being moved to virtual formats, so reaching readers has changed. Social media is now more important than ever. My own publisher does a wonderful job hosting Instagram takeovers and book clubs to spotlight our work.

PS: What do you think writers should avoid when approaching editors or agents?

KLW: Don’t immediately pitch your book when approaching an agent or editor in person at a conference. Play it cool. If you follow them on social media, or if you read an article about them, or read a book by one of their clients, those are great icebreakers. Pitch them your book when you are scheduled to pitch! If you weren’t able to get a slot, you can always query them later and then use your conversation as a way to personalize your letter. If you do have a pitch appointment, be prepared to talk about your book, and if you need a script, that’s okay! Agents and editors understand it can be nerve wracking. They will ask questions, but you can also use the opportunity to ask them your burning publishing questions too. They love talking about books and the industry, so take advantage of the face time.

PS: What other advice do you have for writers looking to get published?

KLW: You need discipline, tenacity, and a thick skin, since chances are, you will receive more rejections than requests. Be open to other viewpoints, directions, and perspectives. Don’t lose sight or be deterred from your goal! I know that sounds cliché, but if you really love your writing and believe in it, the hard work is worth it.

 

Push to Publish 2020 Interview: Gabriel Cleveland

Gabriel Cleveland

This year’s virtual Push to Publish Conference will include all of the great tips, trends, and connections that writers have gotten from this popular, in-person event—but now from the comfort of your home. Below, we talk with Gabriel Cleveland, the managing editor of CavanKerry Press. Gabriel will be speaking at the panel Publishing Opportunities for Poets.

PS: Tell us a bit about your background and what you’re doing now.

GC: I am a poet with an MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College with years of service in the field of caregiving for people with increased physical and/or psychological needs and the current Managing Editor of CavanKerry Press.

PS: How did you get into publishing?

GC: After 5 post-grad years of trying and toiling in unrelated and aforementioned fields, I joined CavanKerry during a period of transition with a referral from the head of my MFA alma mater, working as an assistant to the other staff, especially Publisher Joan Cusack Handler. It has long been my pursuit to apply my studies practically, and I adopted the role with a fervency that allowed me to quickly take on more responsibilities, and… here we are!

PS: What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?

GC: I don’t have a thorough answer for this. We are a tiny, independent, nonprofit press, so our scope is limited, but within our own organization, we have consistently pushed for community involvement and equity among readers, writers, and industry as a whole. With a mission of publishing work that is accessible and understandable to all adult readers, as well as a requirement that our authors give back to their community with multiple free outreach programs a year, we have been setting the bar higher and hoping to establish that trend in the wider publishing world.

PS: How do you think the publishing industry has changed since the pandemic?

GC: During the pandemic, obviously a lot has transitioned to digital and, where possible, publishers are pushing more virtual editions of their books, but it seems that physical books haven’t received the death knell that some expected. Rather, the pandemic has highlighted the resilience and innovation of the industry as a whole to serve their clientele with the emergence of new online retail outlets and more remote events.

PS: What do you think writers should avoid when approaching editors or agents?

GC: I can’t really speak to the agent side of things, but when approaching editors, I think writers should pay close attention to meeting the needs of the editor/publisher they are seeking to work with, while retaining their own voice. The English language is nothing if not full of cracks and made of rubber, and there’s a lot that can be accomplished within a publisher’s constraints to craft a work that presents the individual’s world in a genuine, tangible way. When working with an editor on a project that’s slated for publication, especially if that editor is established with the publisher who will be releasing the work, the writer should keep an open mind when receiving feedback. A good editor will sharpen the blade rather than seeking to replace it, and while the process can be a challenge, having the patience to consider the guidance of an editor as valid and possible for improving the work as a whole can really draw more poignancy out of a manuscript while remaining true to its initial intent.

PS: What other advice do you have for writers looking to get published?

GC: It’s trite, but read from a variety of presses to learn their aesthetics, as there’s no hard and fast rule for what the publishing world as a whole is looking for. That said, contrast in your manuscript is important. Sparks of light, hope, or humanity can make a bleak collection of work more palatable, while also making the depths of that collection that much more impactful. Likewise, a narrative devoid of struggle, pain, or obstacles will at the very least come off as unrealistic and at worst be seen as nothing more than fluff.

 

Push to Publish 2020 Interview: Lawrence Knorr

Lawrence Knorr

This year’s virtual Push to Publish Conference will include all of the great tips, trends, and connections that writers have gotten from this popular, in-person event—but now from the comfort of your home. Below, we talk with Lawrence Knorr, the founder and CEO of Sunbury Press. Lawrence will be participating in Push to Publish as a speed date editor and speaking at the panel Querying Your Book Without an Agent.

PS: Tell us a bit about your background and what you’re doing now.

LK: I am the founder and CEO of Sunbury Press, Inc. We have been in business for 16 years and have over 400 authors and 800 titles under managements. We publish in a variety of categories under 10 different imprints, producing paperback, hardcover, electronic, and audio books. Our books are sold worldwide.

PS: How did you get into publishing?

LK: I wanted to publish a family history and didn’t want to pay someone else to do it. I learned a lot of lessons along the way including that I loved publishing books.

PS: What trends are you seeing in the publishing industry?

LK: Audio is on the rise. Amazon is dominating more than ever.

PS: How do you think the publishing industry has changed since the pandemic?

LK: Independent bookstores are really struggling under COVID. EBooks have made a rebound, but Amazon is getting more of than revenue.

PS: What do you think writers should avoid when approaching editors or agents?

LK: Avoid being shy—get right to the point—have your elevator speech ready to go. Avoid presses or agents who do not represent your category. Avoid being disappointed when being rejected. Keep plugging away!

PS: What other advice do you have for writers looking to get published?

LK: Publishers have to perceive the book will sell well enough to cover costs and make a profit—though they sometimes invest in emerging authors whose second or third books might be the moneymakers. Authors remain at a disadvantage because of the sheer number of authors they are competing against. Try to limit that field by knowing how you fit in—find a way to stand out and be unique—or be like someone who sells really well.