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Guest Post: Why Self-Publishing Works for Me by Catherine Gentile

There are so many great books to read that bring history to life, and Catherine Gentile’s Sunday’s Orphan is another to add to your lists.

Book Synopsis:

In Catherine Gentile’s powerful and beautifully written novel, SUNDAY’S ORPHAN, twenty-year-old Promise Mears Crawford struggles to manage the fifty-acre farm she recently inherited from her guardian and uncle, Taylor Crawford.

It’s 1930’s Jim Crow Georgia, and Taylor’s utopian vision, of the races living and working side by side, is being tested upon his death, most recently with the arrival of Daffron Mears, who believes he has a claim to the land. How can Promise preserve what Uncle Taylor had once held together by sheer will and the force of his personality?

Promise just met Daffron, but he is, by all accounts, simmering with anger, frightening, even evil. It’s rumored he has orchestrated lynchings. Promise knows that if she can’t offer Daffron a temporary job, if he sees black people working alongside her and no place for himself, he will take revenge. At greatest risk are Mother, the black midwife to the entire town, who lives on the farm with her grown son, Fletch, the farm’s foreman. To protect those she loves, Promise hires Daffron on for one week.

But over the next few days, the farm and even the town begin to unravel, as do secrets that have held together for decades. In this gripping, unforgettable tale, Promise fights to save her land, to save the people she loves as family, and to protect Uncle Taylor’s vision of unity and equality. In doing so, she fulfills the very hope of her name.

What people are saying:

Sunday’s Orphan is just plain excellent.  Through its acuity of expression,  emotional and psychological insights, and the unfolding of characters, it allows us to enter an historical period–the Jim Crow South–that  is critical to understanding racism today.

–Jeremiah Conway, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy Department, University of Southern Maine, author of The Alchemy of Teaching; The Transformation of Lives

“The book lays bare the cruelty and hypocrisy of Jim Crow throughout the novel, and its greatest strength is in how it sets up mysteries and gut-punch reveals. Readers will sometimes need a moment to catch their breath, even as they keep turning pages.”

—Kirkus Reviews

Welcome today’s guest, Catherine Gentile.

There have been times in my life when the sun, moon, and stars have lined up to address my needs; the burgeoning of alternative publishing options over the past two decades has been just such a time. These options have been my writing life savers. It wasn’t until I hit the tender age of 50 over twenty years ago, that I was able to give my full attention to my writing.

Since then, I’ve become acutely aware of time’s fleeting nature. Making the most of my writing time concerns me, in a good way. With this millennium comes choices, and fortunately, at this junction in the world of publishing, self-publishing is a viable option.

Prior to writing full time, my professional life graced me with opportunities to master a host of administrative skills, which transferred readily to the world of organization and management of the writing life. Accustomed to multi-tasking, I find the autonomous world of self-publishing with its various demands, stimulating, exciting, challenging, and yes, sometimes exhausting.

Bottom line, I thrive on reaching beyond functioning as a ‘resource’ capable of producing the prerequisite word count, to donning a fashionable yet practical ‘creative director’ cap for my projects.

This feeds the joy I experience when I interact with the team I’ve assembled to help propel my writing projects forward. The opportunity to interview and select the members of this all- important group drew me to explore self-publishing. Early on, I’d slogged through the two to three year lag from manuscript review, revision, to publishing contract, if one is lucky. Folded into a complex equation of unappealing royalty rates, book marketing that fell completely to the author, and the expectation that I would turn the rights to my intellectual property, i.e., my manuscript, over to the publishing agency, the imbalance of these inequities weighed heavily on me. There had to be another way.

Venturing outside time-honored publication protocols has proven to be exhilarating.

Once I was firmly ensconced in a writing group whose skills I could rely on, I contracted with impartial editors, identified my modus operandi as print-on-demand technology, and interviewed talented individuals in the realms of publicity, marketing, and direct sales. For sure, there were the inevitable bumps and bruises common to the duly uninformed, but over time my skin grew a tad less penetrable, my discerning abilities more focused, and most importantly, the sum total of my experiences taught me to trust myself, my inner creative process, my push toward producing the best writing product possible.

A major motivator in embracing alternative publishing is the ability to retain the rights to my work. All of it. I own the files of my finished, printable manuscript along with the cover art. It’s mine. I have not signed over the rights to a company that most likely will, should my work not meet their bottom line expectations, dump me and keep my work. And, as a side benefit, with the availability of print on demand technology for the files I own, my basement is free of boxes of books, awaiting the next book fair sales event.

Should a traditional publishing offer come my way, would I consider it? Flexibility is part of self-publishing, so sure, if the contractual offer looked as if it would provide the book in question a reasonable boost. Before I would sign a contract, I would ask loads of questions based on lessons learned, compliments of my self-publishing experiences.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

Photo Credit: Lesley McVane

About the Author:

CATHERINE GENTILE’S fiction received the Dana Award for Short Fiction. Her debut novel, The Quiet Roar of a Hummingbird, was a Finalist in the Eric Hoffer Novel Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing. Small Lies, a collection of short stories, was released in October 2020. Her nonfiction covers a variety of topics and has appeared in Writers’ Market, North Dakota Quarterly, Down East, and Maine Magazine. She currently edits and publishes a monthly ezine entitled Together With Alzheimer’s, which has subscribers throughout the United States. A native of Hartford, Connecticut, Catherine lives with her husband and muse on a small island off the coast of Maine. Her latest novel, Sunday’s Orphan, is scheduled for release in September 2021. Learn more at www.catherinegentile.com.

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