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The Invisible Truth: A Humbling Experience

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Friday, April 13, 2007

A Humbling Experience

I submitted a partial manuscript to the legendary Coach House Press yesterday. It is a confusing place. I've passed it a few times, and I seemed to remember there being a door that opened onto bp nichol lane. Well, was I ever wrong. I walked around to the back, and at first found nothing but a tree and a door that didn't look much like a front door to a press. I returned to bp nichol lane, and saw someone working the presses through the window. I motioned to him, and he opened what was kind of like a door, but not really. I asked him about who made the decisions about which manuscripts get published. He didn't know, and he told me to go up front to find out.

No one was in "the front." There was a typeset office, and a crowded little compartment housing books and a computer that could have been an office had anyone occupied it. There was a narrow stairway leading upstairs, but I wasn't sure whether there was anything up there besides a bathroom. I looked around a bit, picked up a business card, and frantically tried to remember what the building looked like from the outside. Was there an extensive second floor? Finally I bit the bullet and ascended the stairs. I was stopped near the top by a fresh, earnest-faced woman named Alannah. I asked her about the protocols for submitting manuscripts, and suddenly I felt like a teenager again, approaching someone I'm crushing on. It wasn't her so much as Coach House Press itself. Their legacy is a little intimidating, I have to admit. I mean, bp nichol, Christian Bok, Darren Werschler-Henry, and Steve McCaffrey. Yikes!

Thankfully, Allanah cut to the chase and asked for the manuscript. I felt a little sheepish because I had only put my snail mail address on my cover letter, and they prefer to reply via email. But that's one of the advantages of going in person: you can compensate for such deficiencies by simply writing your email address on the cover letter.

When I think about it, I have manuscripts more appropriate for CHP than the one I handed over, but it's the project that has the most momentum for me right now. Yes, it's the collaboration with terminus' own Cecile Carriere.

You should check out Coach House's Websites, because they publish great books.

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