Publishing for Alaskan Dummies: A Guest Post by Don Rearden

While cleaning out the back bedroom last spring in preparation for the hoard of visitors we would be hosting, I came across a book I must have purchased when I was feeling like a complete dummy or idiot. The title included one of the latter, followed by the words “Guide to Getting Published. “ There I was, just half a year from the release date of my first novel and I hadn’t even cracked the spine of this obviously important book. What an idiot! If there was any hope for my writing career, I needed to get reading immediately!

So I sat right down (a couple months later, after the summer guests departed, of course) and flipped through the book with amusement. To be honest the thing lacked a coherent plot and real characters, but it did have neat little illustrations, so I kept reading.

The first half was all about crafting a “hot book idea.” I know what you’re thinking — I admit, I was excited too — but there wasn’t even the slightest suggestion of sex. So I leafed my way through the text, looking for things that I should have known, or things that might have gotten me published in the US, since my novel will only be available in Canada. (I know what you’re thinking. I sound like that kid in junior high who claimed he really did have a girlfriend, only she lived in Canada. Well, this girlfriend is real, and I just happen to love her, so lay off.)

Midway through the book I hit upon the stuff that mattered, such as “Proper Care and Feeding of Your Editor.” I read this title and my heart stopped with the suddenness of a clichéd knife hitting the bottom of a butter plate. My editor lives in Toronto. I’d only exchanged emails! I’d never met her, let alone fed her! I needed a common sense Alaskan solution and quick! The answer was obvious. Send salmon. Then I looked into how much it cost to actually send salmon to Canada. (An equation more complicated than the numbers and percentages in my publishing contract.) But don’t worry — I came up with a suitable salmon substitute. To be honest though, I haven’t heard if she appreciated the emailed photo of the fish.


Sadly, the book lacked as much of a climax as it did a plot. So much for hot book ideas. By the end I mostly learned about all the ways I’d goofed up the whole publishing process. I was Monday night quarterbacking, old school Alaskan style, complete with the delay, where the Monday night game is over in the real world, and back here in Alaska people are still cheering and betting. Had I read the book in time there might have been hope. I could have followed the “quick and easy guidance,” could have used the “expert advice,” and I might have even landed a US publisher by “creating sensational ideas.”

I closed the book and felt like a complete idiot and/or dummy.

BIO: Don Rearden doesn’t really have a girlfriend in Canada.

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