By Judy Garrison

The self-publishing of books is a major trend these days. No need to spend months and maybe years in a quest for a literary agent and then a commercial publisher. In this new environment, the term “vanity press” has disappeared from the language. Some people write for a small target audience: their own extended family or geographical region, for instance. Others hope for wider readership, but want to get something “out there” right away. Now one can list the newly minted book on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com. or powellsbooks.com, without pre-empting the traditional route. We’ve all heard about the occasional case of a self-published book being “discovered” by a prestigious publisher and given a huge print run and generous budget promotion and distribution. It helps, of course, if the author has a “platform”, for instance in the form of a website with a bio, an illustrated blog, press clips and perhaps a chapter excerpt, from which she can build readership and, if fortunate, entice fans to further spread the word with links and positive posts. At any stage of the process the writer can get started with either a print-on-demand or a small print run format, and with minimal capital investment.

Among the “New Books” at the Andes Public Library are several that are written and self-published by local people you may know. I’ll mention just three of these authors.

Elizabeth Stuart Calvert’s (Andes Gazette’s own Buffy), Quadrille:A Dance in Time (1997) was followed in 2012 by An Affair of the Heart: A Memoir which tells of her life growing up in Corbett and Binghamton, spending vacations in Andes, college in New England and a year abroad in France; and of her life with her beau and then husband George Calvert, as they raise a family while engaging together in ministry and community work in East Harlem and far-flung spots of the world, then settling into small town life in familiar Andes. The richly re-created episodes create a beautifully told narrative that delights and reels in the reader in the way of a first-rate novel. It was followed in 2012 by Wellsprings, an enchanting collection of stories, poems and essays set in both East Harlem and the Catskills, in which, to quote a cover note, “Calvert celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the glory of the natural world.” Her two recent books bear the imprint of Bookstand Publishing, a full-service self-publishing company, using print-on-demand technology that offers a wide array of publishing packages. They are available locally and through the major on-line booksellers. The publisher is at (www.bookstandpublishing.com).

A combined book: Roots in the Valley by Alice H. Jacobson and Just Looking Back  by Robert Jacobson, is a collection of essays, personal accounts, newspaper articles, covering life in

Pepacton and Shavertown. By Andes’ own devoted chroniclers of life in the towns flooded by the Pepacton Reservoir, the book includes many maps, documents, photos and reproductions of paintings in both black and white and full color. The copyright page shows Pepacton Press, the Jacobsons’ personal imprint, as the publisher. The actual printing was done by a concern in the State of Washington that Alice found after extensive research, which can produce copies in small batches on demand. The Jacobsons’ books can be found at The Tremperskill Country Store, and, they expect, this summer at the Parthenia Davis Gift shop at the Hunting Tavern Museum.

Barbara Quintero, a teacher, theater professional, playwright and reviewer, who with her husband, Albert Verdesca, is an occasional participant in the library’s Italian Circle, has a novella on our shelf, titled E., a multi-generational tale published by CreateSpace, a member of the Amazon group of companies(www.createspace.com). These inter-connected stories are told through the prisms of four different generations of women, whose dramatic life experiences span the continuum from degradation to triumph, set against the backdrops of Manhattan, Paris and San Francisco in a time period that spans the years 1901-1964. The author does not look away as she plumbs the emotional depths of these women’s lives, and the interpersonal challenges they face, lacing their stories with rich specific details of their times. Amazon.com offers both a paperback and a Kindle edition, and gives the potential buyer the opportunity to read the book’s first few pages.

If you bump into any of these authors, don’t hesitate to ask them about their experience with self-publishing. There are surely lessons to be learned before taking the plunge.~