CityLit Project

Join Us as We Begin Our Fall Season of Virtual Events

CityLit Studio V Workshop with Ruffin and Hemans - Oct.18th

National Endowments for the Arts
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Baltimore Promotion and The Arts
BCF Baltimore
University of Baltimore
Art Works - National Endowment for the Arts
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NOTE TO CITYLIT'S FRIENDS: We are no longer able to take on new consulting clients at this time.  We hope the following information still provides some guidance and things to think about in your writing and publishing lives. -- CityLit Project

From the moment writers type “The End,” they enter uncharted waters.  Lost at sea, and eager to get published, many fall prey to unscrupulous pirates in the guise of legitimate agents or publishers.

So my first piece of advice comes free: never pay an agent or a publisher a fee to read your work.  They will cash the check, toss your manuscript on the stack, and send you a form letter three months later.

Writers spend ten weeks, ten months, ten years creating their literary art, only to jump into the publishing pool often without the first idea of how the business functions.  It really isn’t any fault of their own; after all, who do they initially have to talk to about it?  But it is hard work and, through the author agreement, a writer conveys a bushel of rights to a publisher.  That’s why it is called the book business.  It is a business with an ever-changing landscape, thanks to market conditions in flush times and recession periods alike.  It’s often an idiosyncratic, small-margin endeavor, fueled more by passion than paydays.

Here’s the port in the storm: getting published can be a very rewarding experience; if done correctly, it is almost always emotionally rewarding and on occasion financially rewarding.  Either way, writers need to understanding that “The End” is only the beginning, and having a positive experience requires setting realistic expectations.

That’s where I might be able to help.

Over seventeen years, I have held various positions at different types of publishers, gaining first-hand experience, discovering what works and what doesn’t, learning that what works one day may not work the next, hitting homers and striking out (oops, mixing metaphors).  The tide (okay, back to the archetypical sea metaphor) has washed me ashore at Johns Hopkins University Press, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Woodholme House Publishers (a sister company to a once-great bookstore), and, appropriately enough, Tidewater Publishers.  I have served as an editor, marketer, production manager, and secretary (sort of like a galley slave, save the whip-lashings).  I’ve been yelled at by Tom Clancy and made Matt Lauer cry.  I’ve published the commemorative picture book of Pope John Paul II’s 1995 visit to Baltimore, and a homage to the old Rouse & Company radio show upon its tenth anniversary.  I’ve helped tells the stories of a Holocaust survivor who ran from Nazis for seven years and a Black poet who grew up during the Depression on Maryland’s segregated Eastern Shore.

From plays to poetry, from Vichy France to the Pocomoke River, every writer created a manuscript that shared a common characteristic: good stories, well told.

In 2004, I founded CityLit Project and transitioned from a publisher of books to a promoter of literary art.  Now, skills I developed and expertise I possess fold neatly into the work of the nonprofit.   Part of nurturing the culture of literature means helping writers become better literary artists and wiser published professionals.

At what stage do you find yourself? 
  • Project analysis
  • Editorial review
  • Design concepts
  • Printing (offset, digital, POD)
  • Building your platform
  • Marketing and publicity (including web site creation and Web 2.0 strategies)
  • Media relations
  • Researching agents, publishers, or other service providers.
  • Even how to read well for an audience
We can help.

Few people in this region, except authors gob-smacked upon receiving their first royalty check and bookstore owners unsurprised by the monthly ledger report, know the tough realities of this business’s economics as well as we do.  We know what you are up against financially today.  We will tell you what you can expect to spend in the future.  Therefore, our consulting fees are fair and modest.

Modest fees, sure that’s great, but more importantly these fees go right back into CityLit Project that helps make our other work possible.  This other work may just well come around and be additional help to you.  So, don’t just consider this service as an investment toward nurturing the culture of literature, but an investment in yourself and your career.

Together, we can set out on publishing’s choppy waters and discover the smoothest, best route to reach your destination.

E-mail Gregg

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