Friday, July 4, 2014

Book Publishing Secrets with Sharon van Ivan, Author of 'Juggle and Hide'

Sharon van Ivan lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her two cats, The Duke and Earl.  She was born in Brooklyn New York and couldn’t wait to move back to New York when she grew up.  Her parents divorced when she was a baby and she lived with her mother in Akron, Ohio, until she returned to New York in her early 20s.  There she studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was a working actress for many years.  But she was always writing.  Her debut as a playwright was when she was 10 years old and living in Sacramento, California.  She wrote about the hardships of a young girl in Mexico.  The play was so good, it was presented to the whole school.  Sharon was mortified and did not write again until high school.  Then when she had a writing assignment, she would dream about it the night before, and write it just before class.  She was an A student in English.  Not the most popular person in school, however.

Growing up with an alcoholic and, therefore, mentally ill mother and a mostly-absent father (plus a slew of stepfathers) was a challenge that Sharon met head-on – as she had no choice. Later in life when she did have a choice, the patterns had already been set and she followed a similarly disastrous road until she found show business, a great psychiatrist and the love of her life, the renowned realist painter, Charles Pfahl.
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 Juggle and Hide?
Sharon: I had to get rid of the childhood demons that had been plaguing me most of my adult life.  I wanted to share my struggle with others who might have gone through some of the same horrors I experienced.
Is this your first book?
Sharon: Yes, it is.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Sharon: I went with a small independent publishing company: Cygnet Press.  Timothy B. Anderson, the publisher, was terrific.  Aside from being very knowledgeable, he agreed to use my late husband’s painting – also entitled Juggle and Hide – as the cover.  (My husband was Charles Pfahl, a well-respected realist artist.) Other publishers would not give me that kind of consideration. They wanted final approval on the cover, and I couldn’t deal with that.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Sharon: When I first finished the memoir, my friend, Joan Schweighardt – a very good writer who had also had her own publishing company for many years – sent my book around to a few people she knew.  Although I got good responses, no one asked to publish
it.  They thought it was too intense, relentless.  They couldn’t grasp the dark humor in it. So I put the book away for a few years.  Now here we are.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Sharon: Oh, it’s changed so much over the past few years.  It’s changing right this minute. I think independent publishing, self-publishing or going with large publishers are all fine ways to go.  It just depends on where your book lands first. And I prefer the personal contact and attention of working with an independent publisher, someone I can actually meet with in person and discuss problems that come up during the publishing process.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Sharon: I think it depends on the author. If s/he were willing to give up all control and depend on someone else entirely, I’d say go with a big company.  Otherwise, publish independently or with a small press.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Sharon: Write.  Don’t worry about the rest.

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