|Dog tags by Lesley Blake|
4. Search For A Publisher
My first query was sent to a large publishing house interested in war memoirs. My query was rejected. I sent a second query letter with three requested chapters and book outline to a regional press. I approached Gray & Company, Publishers,because they had published a book similar in format to what I envisioned for Love You More Than You Know. After two weeks, I received a call from the publisher. (I was shaking when I found out who it was on the phone.) He was interested, but wanted more stories than I currently had.
The initial collection included only a dozen stories. I needed to reach more contributors. I had tried word of mouth, personal contacts, referrals, speaking engagements, and articles in the local community newspaper.
Looking for a larger network, I turned to Regina Brett, a columnist at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, to put out a call for submissions. She graciously featured the vision for our anthology in her column and on her radio show on WCPN FM, our local NPR affiliate. The response was overwhelming. Military moms from Ohio stepped forward and their writing would become the mouthpiece for the world community.
After I arrived home from downtown Cleveland from the radio show, my inbox was filled with inquiries about submissions for the anthology. To organize the flood of e-mails, I painstakingly added names to my computer address book. I placed each story into its own electronic folder and included pictures, and author biographies. The stage was set. I invited contributors to join a blog for encouragement and tips as the writing began. Within a few months of selecting, editing,(I cried through editing 70,000 words), and compiling a manuscript, there were more stories to send to the publisher.
6. Secure Release Forms
Release forms are legally required from authors, and photographers, for text and photos used in the anthology. Deployed soldiers also needed to grant us permission to use their letters, e-mails, and pictures included in their mother’s stories. Each family was sent release forms with a self-addressed stamped envelope to be returned to me. Depending on the situation, international phone calls, e-mails, and even PDF files containing signed release forms helped complete the process. All the release forms were sent to the publisher by registered mail.
The Power of Anthology
When the book was published (on May 1, 2009, my birthday) and we gathered for our book launch, contributors hugged their copies close and some shed tears. Although the mothers in the anthology did not receive monetary compensation, they wanted to be part of this powerful chorus of voices. They wanted to be heard “loud and clear.” One mother confided that to this day, she carries her story in her purse everywhere she goes so that it is always with her. Another mom told how she cried the whole time she was writing, but felt like she was starting to heal. These 45 powerful tales of love, faith, and courage, remind our readers that our children stand in front of our flag, risking their lives so that we can live ours.