Tracy moved a lot when she was young, but she grew up mostly in Witchita, Kansas, before heading for Austin, Texas, where she was awarded a Ph.D in British Lit. She taught at Yale for five years before moving west for San Francisco. Since 1993 she has been teaching literature and creative nonfiction at the University of San Francisco. Click here to read Tracy's bio on her website.
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Facebook at My Ruby Slippers: the Road Back to Kansas
One lucky visitor who posts a comment or a question for Tracy will win a copy of her memoir, My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas.
In her post today
Your Book is Done! Not Yet.
After years of staying glued to your desk chair, shaping sentences, crafting chapters, reorganizing, revising, editing and polishing, you finally have a tidy stack of 300 freshly-printed pages on your desk. Congratulations! Your book is done.
Wrong. Because it’s not a book yet. It lacks a great cover with your name on the front, blurbs and an ISBN on the back. It might be wonderful, a real page-turner. But until you have a publisher (or publish it yourself), it’s a caterpillar, not a butterfly.
When I finished the manuscript for My Ruby Slippers, I knew what I had to do to turn it into a butterfly. I’d read everything I could about how to find an agent and dreamed of signing a contract with a major publisher. I thought, “New York, here I come.”But I couldn’t get an agent. I quickly learned that a literary memoir by a debut writer would have a hard time. Especially since my book-to-be didn’t tell a story that involved a controversial, sensational, or Oprah-worthy topic.
Without an agent, my New York dreams keeled over in a coma. Now what?Landing at a University Press
Once I set my mind to something, I’m pretty relentless. So instead of shopping for an agent, I went shopping for a press. One that not only would accept unsolicited manuscripts, but would be a good fit for My Ruby Slippers.
This meant entering the world of small and university presses. It’s a world I highly recommend. There, writers often find a better home for the book they’ve written than they could ever find at a big house. Small and university presses work on tight budgets, but because they have smaller lists than the big guys do, they can give all of their writers more attention. And they’re committed to publishing high quality work.
Happily, I landed at the University of Nebraska Press. A University Press may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to shopping for a press. But in addition to scholarly works, many university presses publish fiction and literary nonfiction, including memoir.By doing my homework, I knew Nebraska would be a good home for My Ruby Slippers. They publish literary nonfiction, including the series “American Lives,” edited by the great memoirist Tobias Wolff. And they publish a lot of books with connections to the Plains and Midwest. Because Kansas sits at the heart of my book (and of me), it seemed a perfect fit.
After My Ruby Slippers went through a series of reviews by outside readers and revisions by me, Nebraska said “yes.”Since then, the press has been nothing but a pleasure to work with. My editor worked closely with me during the review and revision process, the copy editor was meticulous and respectful of my intentions, the cover designer was brilliant (I love my cover), and given its limited resources, the marketing department has done a great job promoting the book.
Getting published is a great dream. But getting published by the right press for your book is even better. My Ruby Slippers emerged from its chrysalis four months ago, and it’s been a thrill watching it take wing.
Note to Visitors: Feel free to leave a comment or question.As part of the WOW! Author's Book Tour, one lucky person who posts a question or a comment will win a copy of Tracy's thoughtful memoir, My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas published by the University of Nebraska Press as part of the American Lives Series, edited by Tobias Wolff.
Winner's name will be announced on Friday, July 15.