Catalyst Book Press

The places, ideas, and people that change us

What, no names?

Ken Waldman called me a few days ago to say that he had brought up Labor Pains and Birth Stories , the anthology, to a bookstore owner in the Midwest. The bookstore owner was intrigued…but, “Who are the names?” he wanted to know. In other words, who are the famous writers I’m including?

I remember this was one of the problems my agent faced when she was trying to sell it in New York. In exasperation, she finally said to me, “I keep wanting to say that famous writers aren’t the point of this anthology….”

I do understand where the editors and the bookstores are coming from. Famous writerly people are more likely to sell a literary anthology, especially among dozens of other anthologies. But part of the problem is the idea that an anthology like this should be shelved with other anthologies. Doesn’t it seem obvious that it should be shelved in the pregnancy section? And when a pregnant woman comes looking at books, and sees the birth stories anthology, she’s not going to give a flip about whether there are famous writers in it or not. She’s going to care about whether she can read about natural birth, about miscarriages, about long hospital stays, about home births, stillbirths, etc. She’s going to care that there are real people writing these essays, moms and dads, doctors, sisters, friends….The writers I’ve included are good writers. They’ve been published in parenting magazines, literary parenting magazines, newspapers. They’re good parents. They care about their kids, their spouses, their families.  They’re good people. And they’re writing from the heart, about an experience that absolutely changed how they think about themselves, life, the world, God.

About the famous writers, I understand. I do. I really, really do. But I guess I’m feeling a little rebellious about it today…

February 27, 2008 - Posted by | anthologies, birth stories, fertility | , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

    Comment by Chris Moran | February 27, 2008

  2. I know we’ve talked about this before, but if you can get it shelved with the pregnancy books, it will sell! Without the famous writers! I am sure of it! It must be hard to buck the convention on this one, but I think your gut is right. Wasn’t there one famous author and her daugther (last name Greene) that you were trying to get to write, though?

    Anyway, I can’t wait to buy my copy and tell all of my other birth junkie friends!

    Comment by Tabitha | February 28, 2008

  3. Thank you for the note of confidence!

    Comment by catalystbookpress | February 28, 2008

  4. As one of the “no name” writers, I want to extend my gratitude to you for your efforts in helping this book come to life.

    As writers, we all work hard and hope our writing will bring us (and others!) to a better place.

    I’m sure one day you will say, “Yep, I got her first!”

    Comment by Ashini | March 4, 2008

  5. I hope so! I would love to be able to say, “I was her first publisher…!”

    Comment by catalystbookpress | March 4, 2008


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