Story by Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo Bernie LaFramboise
Much like any other starving artist, the career of a writer is associated with struggle and the luck of catching a big break. While there is no denying that becoming an established author takes hard work and commitment, Metro Detroit writers now have a little more than just luck on their side with Mad Hatter Publishing Inc. (MHPI).
“Our plan is to be a prominent boutique publisher catering mainly to women writers of genre fiction as well as non-fiction work,” Publisher Gia Cilento says. “We plan to grow our authors and projects over the next several years, creating a healthy portfolio of work.”
Started by Cilento in 2015, MHPI is Ferndale’s very own book and website publishing house. They will release their first works in 2017 and one of the authors you can expect to see is A.M. Paoletti. An Army veteran and the first LGBT author published by Mad Hatter will release her thriller Dark of Night in July of next year.
Cilento has worked in publishing for nearly 30 years and has a strong understanding of the struggles that come with the industry. In fact, her own writing led to the inspiration for the name Mad Hatter.
“In 2010, I was working on another online enterprise (Get Out And Live) and started a writing group based at Affirmations.” she says. “As a group we came up with the name – Mad Hatter Writing Group – established a Facebook group and met twice a month to discuss our writing endeavors, challenges, struggles, dreams, and other silliness that struck our fancy. The name felt like a natural when I decided it was time to pull the trigger on creating a publishing company.”
On top of MHPI, Cilento has been a life coach for 12 years, runs the website Greenify Nation, aimed at offering tips for living a environmentally-conscious life in memory of her stepfather and Minerva Press — a company guiding women interested in self-publishing.
“Minerva Press is the home for our publishing services for self-publishing Women Who Write. We provide coaching, editorial, creative and marketing services for those who wish to publish their work independent of a formal Author-Publisher relationship.” Cilento says.
For those looking for the help of a publisher, Mad Hatter is accepting new submissions but Cilento says preparation is key. This includes building an online presence and fan base, finding an agent and, most importantly, proving they are committed to the long process ahead.
“If a writer wants to have a career and be picked up by a publisher, the publisher will be looking for longevity,” she says. “In other words, we want to know that the author is committed to being around for a series of books and that their work is solid and deep enough to gather an audience.”
And for aspiring writers, she offers five pieces of advice:
First, Bravo! It’s not easy to pour yourself out onto a blank page.
Next, make sure your writing and story are done well. It’s okay for your first draft to be rough but be sure to polish it up before you present it professionally.
Network – online with other writers, writing groups, in-person if possible.
Research – find out which publishers and/or agents specialize in your particular type of writing, what’s working in the realm of author marketing, what kind
of cover would look best for your genre/type of book.
Market – everywhere you go, everyone you meet, there is a potential reader. Let them know what you do and what you’re working on in a personable,
And, most importantly, once you get started just keep going. “Keep going even when you feel like giving up,” Cilento says. “Keep going even if it feels like you’re slodging through knee-deep mud.”