A Big Book Deal
New publishing company takes aim at local authors
By Jake ClappPosted Jun 13, 2012
Writing a book is already a daunting task in itself. But, once the book is finished and the acknowledgements written, a second wave of stress sets in: getting the work published.
April Sheris knows first hand the difficulties new writers face when trying to publish their work. But, instead of just simply giving her fellow authors tips or tricks to the industry, Dukes decided to forgo the mess and become a publisher herself.
To give local authors a helping hand, Sheris created Upland Avenue Productions in January as a simple, inexpensive and comprehensive way Baton Rouge writers can get their works into the hands of readers.
“When you’ve gone through the publishing side of it, that’s when you realize there are a lot of people like you, who want to be published, but they don’t know how to get started,” Sheris said. “[Upland Avenue] is a response to people asking me how to be published.”
The roots for Upland Ave. – named so for the Baton Rouge street Sheris grew up on – stretch back to 2007 when Sheris tried to help a friend, Baton Rouge resident Sharon Diamond Ryan, publish her work.
“It is an extremely tough industry to break into, especially if you go through one of the larger publishers,” Sheris said. “Small presses, like ourselves, are able to guide new authors through the process.”
Sheris said larger publishers, faced with making profits, many times won’t take a chance on smaller authors. And, once an author makes a deal with the larger company the process can be frustrating and frightening as they edit the work.
Upland Ave. offers three publishing packages ranging from $59 - $99. For the high-end Ultimate Publishing Package, the company provides the author with a full color book cover, ISBN number, editing and formatting, a digital copy of the work, and submissions to Books in Print and other distribution retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
So far, Upland Ave. has five authors signed to book deals, ranging from poetry and short stories to self-help.
Because of the company’s small size, Upland Ave. can’t help market the book, but will do everything up to that point, Sheris said.
Ryan is now one of the authors committed to Upland Ave. and credits Sheris with helping her publish her first book, 31 Days in October.
“For me at that point, I had never done anything like that,” Ryan said. “I was discovering marketing and distribution. It was a difficult experience but a great learning process.”
There is a group of talented authors in Baton Rouge and Ryan said is happy to see the company grow and help the arts in the area.
Beyond publishing, Sheris intends for Upland Ave. to be involved in community affairs, particularly in battling illiteracy. Sheris said she wants to raise awareness in Baton Rouge through workshops, community-author interaction and software programs to help people with phonics.
Sheris, who has a background in IT and worked at Baton Rouge Community College, said she would often see college-aged kids entering the school with poor reading skills and struggle throughout their college careers.
“We want people to be aware of the resources available to them and encourage people to try to use them,” Sheris said. “It’s a struggle, but we want people to know that it’s OK and there are those here to help.”
Upland Ave. presents “IN”dustry Mixers once a month at the Tallulah Bar/Restaurant. Their mixers place you in front of other industry insiders, media, publicists, agents, and fellow peers for two solid hours of networking each month.