Faye Rapoport DesPres is the author of the new memoir-in-essays, Message from a Blue Jay. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. Her essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews have appeared in Ascent, International Gymnast Magazine, Platte Valley Review, Superstition Review, In the Arts, Fourth Genre, The Whistling Fire, the Writer’s Chronicle, and other journals and magazines. Faye was born in New York City and has lived in England, Israel, and Colorado. She currently lives in the Boston area with her husband, Jean-Paul Des Pres, and their cats. www.fayerapoportdespres.com
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Faye: I have been a writer all my life – first as an amateur poet, then as a journalist and business/non-profit writer, and finally as a creative nonfiction writer. Writing a book has been my life-long goal.
Is this your first book?
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Faye: I was offered several options, but I published Message From a Blue Jay with the small, independent press that was the most passionate about my project and promised the most support in every aspect of the publication process, including marketing.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Faye: Like most writers, the journey toward publication was not easy for me. After earning my MFA degree, I started submitting individual personal essays to literary journals. That process involved the usual rejections much more than the less usual acceptances. When the acceptances did start happening, I began to work toward combining the essays into a book-length manuscript. An agent sent the manuscript to a variety of presses of all sizes, and got some interest, including two acceptances. In the end, however, I chose a
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Faye: Persistence, believing in yourself, and not taking rejection personally are all part of the process. I went in knowing that I had to expect a significant amount of rejection. Essay collections are difficult to publish because they don’t tend to be huge sellers, and when you’re a new writer without a “name” with a manuscript of personal essays, you’re facing an uphill battle. Some publishers liked the work but felt they wouldn’t have the market for it. I learned that it’s a tough industry, but if you are committed to making the work the best it can be, accepting suggestions for revisions (such as re-organizing and editing the essays into a book that can be read as more of a narrative, even if it’s an unusual kind of narrative), and submitting until you find just the right publisher, it can be very rewarding.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Faye: I followed pretty much the usual method of publishing, so yes, I’d recommend it. Of course there are other options, and every writer has to find his or her own way.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Faye: Don’t let your ego get in the way of improving your work. Listen to early readers, accept suggestions, consider options, and be open to revision. These things don’t have to mean giving up on your own artistic vision. Certainly fight for the things you really believe in and want to keep, but be open to the experience of hearing other opinions and perhaps getting better. Then, be persistent and just keep trying.