Picture of Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook

Re-Published by Musa: Dancing Backward in Paradise

I self published, not the first novel I ever wrote but the novel I felt was the best novel I’d written thus far. The book wound up winning awards and became very highly recommended, picked up by a few book clubs and came up pretty high on Amazon’s Southern fiction search. Unfortunately, I published the book with iuniverse which is almost as bad as giving a book to Publish America. The paperback edition was close to $20. They do a nice little analysis of your work and if they think it’s good enough it goes into some sort of prime author’s whatever and the book gets a sticker, or something like that. I didn’t think much of their analysis of my book and apparently they didn’t think much of my novel because I was never asked into the elite, was never given a special little sticker either. My book did very well without them but to tell you the truth, I don’t think a self publishing company should judge the work of its authors, they should just shut up and let the books speak for themselves.

Their analysis of my novel was pretty lame but I did find some good feedback from it, and I used that in the opening of my book, for better or worse. They said I needed more dialogue in the beginning of the novel and I added more dialogue sooner. To tell you the truth, I’ve since learned that no writer needs to really do this. Writing is telling a story, it’s description and creating images and characters. When dialogue is needed to move the action forward or to create insight into characters, by all means, use it. But by no means write a play when it is a novel you’re intending.

The best thing I can say about iuniverse is that they gave me a good cover. I take that back, they gave me a pretty cover. It came with a lot of esoteric explanations that sounded good at the time, but in no way was the reader going to know what the hell was intended by the cover designer, not even after finishing the book. A field of wildflowers and a blue sky, with a box around the title, which supposedly signifies the clarity the character comes to. In the re-issue of my book the cover shows a trailer park with a view of New York City in the background. Hey, that’s the story. I think, and I could be wrong, but I think a reader would be more interested in the trailer park scene than the field of wildflowers, which really has nothing to do with the story. My book is not about going to heaven. It is about a journey. I find that the best covers tell me something about the psychology of the story or the character, or what is ultimately found or realized. Well, so be it, at least I had some insight into the subtext of my cover and could convey that, if asked, which I’ve never been.

There I was with a book that’s too expensive, so I jump at the chance to publish it on Kindle for $2.99. Let me tell you that I have never been so furious. There was absolutely no formatting and the book looked like total s—t. I was embarrassed to have anyone read it on Kindle and much to my dismay, it was selling like hotcakes.

Between you and I, I don’t care about hotcakes. I do care how my book looks. I think I wrote a good novel and I want that good novel to reflect how I feel about it. Well, since the initial publication of Dancing Backward in Paradise I happened to be picked up by a small press ebook publisher, Musa Publishing. Musa happens to do exquisite books, both inside and out. After publishing my other novels, Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, The Story of Sassy Sweetwater and Lies a River Deep, I decided to submit Dancing Backward in Paradise to Musa because I couldn’t stand the idea of my novel being read like it was slapped together by a two year old.

I am very happy with the outcome and I can be proud of the book my readers will purchase. I did have one minor problem, Amazon was not removing my $2.99 kindle edition from its website. Asking them to do this is like asking God to stop all of the discord in the Middle East. As far as I know, King Amazon has stopped selling my Kindle books at $2.99, after months of pleading. God is another story.