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Monday, March 26, 2018

A Publisher’s Diary – Entry 1

I visited Independence, Kansas, this past weekend to talk with Inksmith Writers, a Kansas Authors Club District 3 writers group, about publishing. It was a small group, an informed and interested group, and I had a blast. I talked about the origin of Meadowlark and the state (as I see it) of publishing today. “Full disclosure,” I told them. “I am an optimist. I look at the numbers of books being published each year and the growing variety of ways to get published, and I see opportunity. Perhaps a more realistic person would tell you to find another gig, but if you are like me (you just can’t help yourself) . . . you’re going to find a way to publish that book.”

This was one of my goals for 2018, to get out there and spend a bit more time sharing about the growing collection of Meadowlark Books.

I’ve always had fun talking about books. Turns out, it is even more fun to talk about books I’ve spent so much hands-on time with, editing, formatting, working on cover design. As I pulled out my show and tell on Saturday, someone asked if I had read all of those books! “Many times!” I answered, realizing I know these books almost as well as I know my own work. I read them. The author read them (again & again). I read them again. And most books get another set of eyes (or two, or three) as well.
Are we having fun yet? Yes. I am
definitely having fun.

It’s interesting to look back on my life and to see that, though Meadowlark only started as a publishing entity in 2014, I can come up with many stories that might have pointed to the fact that I might one day become a publisher. When I introduced myself to the Inksmith Writers, I said that I could share the “start” at age seven, standing on the kitchen chair at the table, in order to get enough weight on the big metal stapler to bind my very first book. Or I could talk about the high school yearbook staff, the transition from pasting up pages on blue-grid paper to using the first computers in school (as far as I was aware) that were there for something practical (like publishing a book).

I spent four years in college trying to convince myself to become a doctor, all the while being drawn to sniffing ink and paper in the enormous periodicals collection of KU’s Watson library, falling further in love with words on pages as I loitered in the stacks during summer breaks, reading from the “100 books every student should read before college” list and taking in everything from the stories between the pages to the way those books were bound.

When I got my first “real” job, in a non-profit humanitarian organization, much as I had envisioned, it wasn’t my psychology degree that was put to work, but my background in computer design programs. (Aldus PageMaker, my high school crush.) I spent nearly a year revising aircraft maintenance manuals, a job that might have seemed well beyond my range of interests, except for the fact that I was so entirely thrilled to be involved in the creation of what would turn out to be multiple volumes, thousands-of-pages, of books.

Perhaps becoming a publisher was inevitable, or perhaps it simply looks that way when casting back for the stories that led me here. Anyway, I have plans to share more of them, ongoing stories about what we are learning, the books we are loving, here at Meadowlark.

Tracy Million Simmons
Meadowlark Books

Everyday Magic: Field Notes on the Mundane and the Miraculous (Meadowlark 2017) features the best of Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg's blog of the same title, fields notes on the mundane and miraculous unfolding around us, and how to live with greater verve, meaning and joy. Journey through whimsical, tender, and fierce explorations of travel and homecoming, beloveds and the art of loving, grief and resilience, the arts and politics, spirit and being a body... 

"With an open heart and often with sly humor, Caryn shares stories of bad vacations, burritos, family, faith, navigating a difficult childhood, and the passing of people dear to her. In these graceful essays I marvel, as always, at Caryn’s skill with language. Words are in her care and her command."
~ Cheryl Unruh, author of Flyover People: Life on the Ground in a Rectangular State

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