Category Archives: Publisher’s Blog

about the publishing business, writing, reading, and books in general.

Muslims in the News

I totally understand about wanting our government to do everything in its power to keep us safe, and people have different ideas about how best to accomplish that.  My biggest concern with the immigration ban, border wall, denial of Syrian refugees, naming of Muslim majority countries (when North Korea, China, Russia are not similarly targeted) is that these actions are not making us safer at all, in fact the opposite. There is no way to make us perfectly safe. I believe the long-standing policies for vetting of immigrants and refugees have been adequate. They are certainly extensive, as you can read more about here. To stop accepting them at all, or make the standards that much more stringent I think would have the opposite of the desired effect. Policy developed out of fear is rarely good policy. Level heads think long-term about the consequences. Terrorism is a choice of last resort — one of people who feel they have no other option to make themselves heard, and who feel they have nothing to lose. For every one person we keep out who might have harmed us, I think we create 10 more who lose all hope for their future, all belief in an America that claims stands for the ideals of human rights and justice for all. To go back on our promises to translators that helped our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, to block the return of legitimate green card holders or intimidate them at the airport , to deny visa holders who have already been vetted — these things cause the world to look at us and judge us harshly, as hypocrites.

And yes, I get all bent out of shape when people denigrate Islam and try to present it as a religion of hate or violence, and probably react reflexively, and with too much emotion. That video you posted claimed it was “direct from a Muslim leader” and told what “THEY” want to do when, in fact, Imam Choudary was sentenced to prison in Britain last fall as a terrorist supporting ISIS. For understanding how a terrorist thinks, it is perhaps instructive. For understanding how “a Muslim leader,” in the generic sense, thinks: not at all. Pretending that extreme terrorists speak for “true” Islam (1.6 billion adherents globally) is no different that pretending the KKK or the Lord’s Resistance Army speak for “true” Christianity. As you are aware, I have studied Islam: read the whole Qur’an, explored the Hadith (the stories about the Prophet and how he lived and governed, with together with the Qur’an forms the basis for the Islam as a religion and way of life); and learned about the religion’s expression since it emerged in the 7th Century. But it’s not just academic for me. My best friends in my college department way back in the 70’s were a Thai Buddhist and an Egyptian Muslim. My PhD advisor was Muslim. I’ve worked with Muslims, Hindus, and Jews all my career—Physics and Engineering are just that way, very multicultural. Today Muslims are my classmates, the people I got out for pizza with after class, the people who let me cry on their shoulders when “real-life” encroaches on classroom. We have prayed together; attended each other’s churches, mosques and synagogues; and discovered genuine understanding and admiration of each other’s traditions. They are my friends and, in some cases, family-of-choice. What hurts or denigrates them hurts me too. I am no less a committed Christian for finding Judaism and Islam to be beautiful traditions filled with grace and wisdom (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Humanism, and other traditions as well). Perhaps we are not all “right.” (Who really knows? The atheists could be.) But, I agree with the Qur’an on this one; God can sort it out on the other side. Instead of fighting each other, we would do better in this life trying to compete in doing good.

Selling Well

My first book was released in early December and is finally starting to sell well.  I’m so excited.  I’m learning a lot about what works in marketing and what doesn’t (Beware the pricey offers for listings in publishing magazines or slots in book fairs–so far Facebook, Good Reads, press releases, and good old “word of mouth” have generated the most sales.)

Now, to light a fire under my two authors who are ALMOST ready to publish!

Why Publish?

“Why write?” is easy. Most writers write because they have to. It is my preferred way to express myself. I’m not a great conversationalist. And, I’m an extreme introvert. More than one person at a time can overwhelm me. It takes too much energy to follow everything going on and I become exhausted. But, when I sit in front of my computer and type, I feel at home. I can go as fast as my reasonably agile fingers can type, or I can sit for 20 minutes until just the right word comes to me. I can revise until I feel that I have said what I wanted to say. And, then I can direct my creation to whomever I wanted the message to go.  Simple.

But, why would a writer become a publisher? Yes, at first just for myself. I had a book that I thought people needed to have the opportunity to read. Originally, it was supposed to go just to family and friends of the person who asked me to complete his project. But, as I got into the story, I felt that it must be told. This was a story that should not be lost to history. Too important! I had neither the time or inclination to shop the manuscript around to traditional publishers, nor was I being paid to do so. But, I thought that I could get the book into a few more hands, and maybe some libraries, if I self-published. I wanted at least a few copies available for posterity, maybe someone would discover it in the future.  Now, it looks like it will be far more than that. And I am grateful!

So, that explains the self-publishing. But, why form a publishing company and why work with other authors? Well, I think I’m a decent writer, and I write all the time. But, I have no illusions about being a great writer. Sometimes I look at something I wrote a few years ago — long enough to forget that I was the one who wrote it. And, sometimes I think it stands up reasonably well. But, would I buy this person’s next novel? Probably not. I do however, know someone who writes amazingly. Her writing consistently brings me tears, from amazement, or shared feeling, or just the sheer beauty of what she has to say. She is an award winning poet and acclaimed author. But, she has given up sending her manuscripts out to publishers. Too many rejections, too much time spent on things that are not writing. No money for an agent. But, she said; “well, if you could publish my book?” And, boy, do I want to. Just you wait!

I want you to be able to read her marvelous gifts to the world in prose and poetry.

And, by the way, don’t I also know this one person with an absolutely marvelous, illustrated children’s story that only her family have read to date? And, I know an artist whose creations are wining awards while her blog is challenging and bringing out the creativity in her dedicated audience. Maybe they need the encouragement to publish as well…

And, from there, Ann Carlson Publishing was born. I’m learning. There is so much to learn, but I think that I’ve come very far. If I can help just a few really incredible people get books into press that would not get there otherwise, then that will be enough.


Actually writing a book may be “the hard part,” but Book Marketing probably comes in a very close second, in time and money — even creativity — if not in raw talent.

  • First, you have to decide your budget for both time and money. Marketing can very quickly eat up both. Determine a maximum investment and maximum level of effort and stick to it. The little voices of the “one more thing” that you could have done will kill you otherwise.
  • Second, do your research. Who, what, where? What is my book category? What is the audience? Where do they look for information? Do I want to be in libraries, in “bricks and mortar” stores? Online only?
  • Long before you have a finished product, you need to decide if you want to submit it to the powerhouses (Publisher’s Weekly, BookList, Foreword Reviews, etc.). They usually require a 4-5 month lead time for the review before the “on sale” date. They also have very specific requirements: will they accept a self-published book, do they work well with indie publishers, what kind of an audience do they get.  Is the fit right?  They accept only a small fraction of the submissions they get… Is your book good enough to compete?
  • Do you want to purchase reviews?  They can be expensive.  What reviews make sense for your book, your topic, your target audience?  How can you get the most bang for your buck?
  • Do you have people lined up to do reviews for Amazon, B&N, Good Reads?  Make sure you comply with their rules (they want objective reviews, and generally discourage or don’t allow family members, or multiple reviews from the same IP address).
  • Do you want to buy ads?  Again, they can be expensive and will the ad you buy get your book noticed?  Do some research before you buy — look at what is out there, how much notice are you buying? Who will see it?
  • Do you want to direct market to bookstores, newspapers, radio stations, TV stations? Can you write a good press release, tip sheet, marketing package? How likely is your topic to be of interest in the locales you are targeting? How much time are you willing to spend making appointments, phone calls, doing signings? How much is too much to accommodate considering your other time commitments?
  • Do you want to enter book competitions? How many? Which ones? Again, these can be great marketing tools, but they can be pricey.  What makes sense for your title?

Keep good track of all your activities, time and costs. Make careful note of deadlines, lead times, requirements. It’s better to do a few things well than target a bunch of options with an inferior product.