Jeff Vande Zande has had success with small press publishing, an experience which has helped him positively adjust his expectations about success. Jeff discusses that along with his thoughts on book signings and reaching your target audience.
1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.
It’s a novel about poetry, Theodore Roethke, fathers and sons, and coming of age in America as an artist. It’s the story of a young man who comes back to his hometown after an absence, only to find that he hasn’t grown up as much as he thinks. Denver Hoptner graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in writing poetry. He returns to his boyhood home in working-class Saginaw, Michigan, and discovers just how little the world of work cares about his degree. He struggles, too, to come to terms with his widower father. After he hears that there’s been a fire in the attic of poet Theodore Roethke’s boyhood home, Denver commits himself to saving the historical residence, even when no one else seems to care. It’s in action that he finds his true poetic self.
2. Why did you become an indie writer?
I didn’t really have luck with agents. I received a few letters that said something along the lines of “Beautiful writing, but not sure how to market this.” In my experiences with smaller presses, I just found that the editors were more interested in the “beautiful” part and didn’t worry so much about the marketing part. My experiences with small presses have been positive, if not overwhelmingly lucrative.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
I suppose getting published from a small press is “traditional” publishing, just on a reduced scale. So, yes, all of my books are traditionally published, but all from small presses.