Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guest Blogger Ruth Hartman on Publisher Pipers' Ash, A Good Place to Start

(Cover image of "My Life in Mental Chains" courtesy of Ruth Hartman)

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: Rain and snow mix today, high 51 degrees (go figure).
As a proud partner in the WOW! Author's Blog Tour, I pleased today to welcome Ruth Hartman as guest blogger on Donna's Book Pub. Ruth is the author of "My Life in Mental Chains," which chronicles her struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Today Ruth shares with us her experiences with her publisher, Pipers' Ash Publishing, of England.


Pipers’ Ash - A Good Place to Start

by Ruth Hartman

My first experience with a book publisher turned out to be a positive one. But it took a side trip before my book was accepted. I sent my original query to Pipers' Ash Limited in July 2008. It was for a fictional children’s story about a girl with OCD. They declined, saying issues such as OCD, adoption, abuse, etc. were better served by their “True Life Series.” I initially took this as a straight “no” to my query. I marked it off as a rejection and began to search for other publishers.

But then I came across the Pipers’ Ash guidelines. As I read them, thinking I’d file them away probably never to be seen again, I came across the line: “Serious issues such as mental illness, adoption, abuse, etc are better served by our ‘True Life Series.’”

So basically, that was their standard response for subjects such as this. Why hadn’t I latched onto that before? Why couldn’t I re-query for their “True Life Series”? So I did.

What followed was a whirlwind submission process of synopsis (I’d never written one), first chapters (I wasn’t sure how many to send) and complete manuscript. Since the subject matter (me) did not need to be researched, I wrote it fairly quickly. The manuscript was accepted and the book was published in November 2008.

I know this sounds incredibly fast, but keep in mind that Pipers’ Ash is a very small, non-profit publisher out of England. They only work with a few authors at a time, so you get a lot of individualized attention. My experience with them has been very positive. I never felt pressured or pushed in any way. And for a first-time author, I was treated with the utmost respect and patience.

The easiest way to get a foot in the door with them would definitely be their “True Life Series.” They cover a broad range of topics, from illnesses and abuse, to disabilities and varied life experiences. But they also publish children’s stories, books about sports, local histories, poetry and science fiction, to name a few.

The initial contact to them was through a 25-word query. Very short, I know, but it challenges you to get your point across while keeping it brief. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done!

But then the hard part began. Not only had I not written that long of a story before (mine turned out to be 25,000 words), I had to go back and remember my painful past, and all that I’d endured with my severe OCD. At first, it bothered me that other people would know some intimate details of my life. But positive comments I’ve received made my doubts disappear.

If you’re in the market for writing a shorter book (they call them chapbooks), and you value individualized attention, then I would heartily recommend Pipers’ Ash. Their website is: A 25-word query can be e-mailed to:

Thanks, Ruth, for your helpful and insightful information about your publisher. If you have any questions or comments for Ruth, please feel free to post them here and Ruth will answer.

To learn more about Ruth, here's a link to her web site: and an easy way to order her book "My Life in Mental Chains": (scroll down to the third book).


  1. Hi Ruth,
    Thanks for the helpful information about Pipers' Ash and your experiences with them. The concept of writing a 25-word query is fascinating. I think it would be a challenging and worthwhile exercise for any writer to try.

  2. Thanks, Donna.

    It was very interesting. You really have to get down to the "bare bones" of your story idea!


  3. Hi Ruth!

    I've gained so much insight into OCD by following your blog tour! And now, insight into the chapbook process, too. So, my question is this: What's next for Ruth Hartman? Are you working on another book?

  4. Hi Cathy,

    I tried to leave a comment earlier, but I think I forgot to press send :) Anyway, thanks for your comment. My next book is "Flossopy of Grace" about a hygienist who falls in love with her patient. I'm waiting to see if the publisher I sent it to is interested.



  5. Hi Ruth,
    Thanks so much for sharing this story with us. It is a lesson to all writers that we should definitely follow up on ANY correspondence from an editor that is positive!


  6. Hi Margo,

    You're right! I'm so glad I decided to take that next step!


  7. Donna,

    Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today! I appreciate it!


  8. Hi Ruth,
    It was my pleasure. Thank you for sharing your time with us.


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