Get Hooked On Writing!

Issue # 9 Monday, July 6, 1998

This Week's Author: Elaine Murray

Elaine Murray is a former elementary school teacher who retired early to travel and pursue her writing interests.

Unable to find a publisher through convential means, Elaine turned to the option of investing in publishing to see her work in print.

From absent healing, auras, and chakras to white light, yoga and Zoroastrianism, Elaine alphabetized them all and interspersed antecdotes based on her own experiences. To read some excerpts, visit

A Layman's Guide To New Age & Spiritual Terms (ISBN 0-931892-53-8) is published by Blue Dolphin Publishing and can be purchased on-line at Amazon Books.

She has since written a children's book and is again searching for a publisher.


Published At Last

After twenty years of studying parapsycology, I had collected over two hundred terms and no dictionary to seek out the meanings for these words I continually encountered. So, I decided to write a book of my own to help out other travelers who were beginning to walk their own spiritual path.

Writing the book was the easy part. Finding a publisher was the difficult task. Self-publishing was out of the question. A credited publishing house was my desire. In the end, I chose something in between.

Narrowing Down the Choices
The Canadian market was an abysmal disappointment. I studied the Writer's Digest Market and honed in on small publishing companies who might be interested in my new age/spiritual material. Large publishing houses won't read your manuscript unless you have an agent. It is tough to acquire an agent unless you are published, and so begins the vicious circle. I selected five publishers and mailed a query letter to each of them. Sometimes I included samples. Blue Dolphin Publishing, in California particularly attracted my attention, due to my love for dolphins and whales.

It was Blue Dolphin who showed an interest in my manuscript and published my book. However, the company asked me if I would be interested in being an investor because they had no reserve funds at that point in time. I thought about the proposition long and hard before agreeing to the proposal. Consequently, I signed two contracts: one as an investor, and one as an author.

Details, Details
Originally, my book was to be called "A New Age & Spiritual Lexicon" and was advertised as such in their catalogue. I still wonder if the name change in mid-stream affected the sales of my book. In any case, before it went to press, the editor convinced me to change the title. I refused to have the word "dictionary" in the title, so we compromised and A Layman's Guide To New Age & Spiritual Terms was born.

It was fun doing our final editing conference by telephone from California, USA to Ontario, Canada. You always had to keep in mind a three hour time difference. I still remember my editor saying "I think we will use the ampersand in the title." I agreed, but did not have a clue what he was talking about...and I did not want to show my ignorance by asking. Of course I immediately consulted the closest dictionary. Consequently, I often ask students in elementary school workshops to tell me what an ampersand (&) is. Many of my fellow teachers did not know the meaning either.

Hindsight is 20-20
How do I feel five years later? As an author I feel very rewarded and have cashed small royalty cheques. My book has sold over 2000 copies to date. Five thousand were printed. As an investor, I am thousands of dollars in the red. If you cannot afford the losses, never go this route, and seriously think twice before self-publishing.

Final Thoughts
  • I never went on a book tour, and should have. Live and learn.
  • Sales increase whenever I do meditation workshops.
  • Another tid-bit: I will never choose such a long title again.
  • If an American firm publishes my next book, I will insist that both Canadian and American prices appear on the cover. Try explaining to a Canadian buyer that the book will cost him/her $18.95 instead of the $12.95 displayed on the cover.

Metaphysically yours,
Elaine Murray

Editor: Shara Rendell-Smock.
Production: Erin Grainger.
Text © 1998, Elaine Murray.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at

Shara Rendell-Smock, authorContributing Editor Shara Rendell-Smock brings a wealth of writing experience to the Sideroad; She has written more than twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper articles (including a monthly health column for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune) and published two books (see below.) An original member of the Sideroad team, she wrote 27 issues of - "Go to Health! Because Life's Too Short - before taking on the Writing section.

Shara's books can be ordered from her web site at

"Getting Hooked"

"Living With Big Cats"