by Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam BarryApril 2009
Counting the days
The Author Enablers are here to answer your questions about writing and publishing. Together, Kathi and Sam have more than 25 years of experience in book publishing. Kathi is an author, radio producer and former publicist; Sam is a marketing manager at a major publishing company and a freelance editor. They are also proud members of the Rock Bottom Remainders, the all-author rock band founded by Kathi in 1992. Email your questions (along with your name and hometown), or visit their blog.
Dear Author Enablers,
I have put together a children's calendar and don't know how to find a publisher for it. This is made even more difficult because it is a Christian calendar. Each day of the year has a highlighted Scripture and a related Scripture narrative. I include every book of the Bible with major characters and events, in chronological order. I've contacted Inspirio (the gift group of Zondervan Publishers) who told me that they've phased out that type of calendar, and Garborg's, with no response. Should I get an agent?
Dear Author Enablers,
Over many years of travel, I have drawn more than 120 pen and ink sketches of buildings and scenes from all over the globe. I think some of them could be made into an attractive calendar. It might appeal to other travelers or those who wish they could travel. I have enough drawings to make several calendars. How can I find publishers who might be interested in doing this?
Because we don't know what day of the week it is when it comes to calendar publishing, we turned to an expert: Mikyla Bruder, publishing director at Chronicle Books. Here's what Mikyla has to say:
"Calendars have a short selling season and they need to be redone every year, so we look for calendar ideas that are clearly commercial and have the potential to be perennial. We rarely publish just a calendar, and many of our calendars are ancillary to best-selling books, like Worst-Case Scenario or What's Your Poo Telling You. Other great calendars have big brands or much beloved characters behind them, like the Anne Taintor calendars. Don't have a brand or a bestseller? Consider building yourself a super-popular website. Calendars with viral marketing potential are attractive, too."
That's how it works, according to one of the pros. In Frank's case, you might want to hook up with someone who writes or publishes travel guides, to see if there's a need for your illustrations that goes beyond "just" calendars. Pamela, we think you should continue trying to sell the calendar yourself (with Mikyla's advice in mind) before going the agent route. Also, there's the question of which translation of the Bible you are using. The copyrights for some translations are still current, and you need permission to use these and must acknowledge them. Other translations are public domain. Or you can translate and rewrite your own version. And if you do wind up working with an agent, don't forget to include her birthday among the holidays.
Dear Author Enablers,
I am outlining a novel and deliberating about the viewpoint of the narrator. There are scenes the narrator would have no knowledge of. For example, the narrator knows what is happening in the White House because he is part of the action, but he would not know what is taking place in Iraq because he is not there. I have a protagonist whose personality would enhance the story if he could tell the parts he knows. My question is: Is it kosher to use a narrator for parts of a novel and third person for those sections of which the narrator would have no knowledge?
It's absolutely kosher to have a narrator with a limited point-of-view—at least as kosher as making a calendar out of Bible verses! First of all, this is art and there really are no rules, or none that haven't been broken by some great master. But your question is a good one—readers appreciate consistency, clarity and credible storytelling (the famous Author Enablers' "Three C's," which we made up just for you, Teddy).
For realism, it is important to have this kind of narrator only know what he or she can know in the fictional world you've created. You can solve your problem by alternating the limited perspective of the narrator in the story with an omniscient third-person narrator to fill in the gaps for the reader; or you can create tension by staying with the limited voice and bring the reader along with you as discoveries are made, a method used in many detective novels.
[Editor's Note: Correspondent Teddy Bart apparently came up with a workable solution of his own to the narrator dilemma, since his new novel, A Particle of God (ISBN 9781846941726), has just been published by O Books. A popular radio and television host in Nashville, Bart describes his book as a metaphysical look at one man's search for fame and fortune.]