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A Literary Love Affair

 

 

The 15 Books of Dorothy Jane Mills

After 35 years, some are still on sale under the name Dorothy Z. Seymour on Amazon.com, but she doesn't get a penny more than the measly $100 each she was paid to write them in the first place.


Children's books: My first books were children's books: a dozen stories published by Pitman Publishing Company in 1965 to accompany a new reading program I was using in my own classroom, a program that I decided lacked good teaching material, so I wrote it myself--a set of a dozen original stories that used the words being taught in the program. To accompany them, I wrote a teacher's guide. Pitman paid me only a flat fee per book, a measly hundred dollars each.

After the books proved successful, Pitman sold Golden Books the rights to a mass-market edition of the series, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies, the editor told me--I used to see them in department stores and in book catalogs. From that edition I received zero royalties. After thirty-five years, some of those books are still in print and being sold on Amazon.com. They're listed under my former name, Dorothy Z. Seymour. 

Supplementary reader: While I was still employed by Ginn and Company, the Boston Publisher, in the 1970s, Ginn published my children's book, The Pine Park Team, and sold it as a supplementary reader in the publisher's new reading series. With a big company like Ginn behind the book, it did satisfactorily. 

Textbook: In 1987 I co-authored a book for teachers called Word Recognition: The Why and the How, with Dr. Patrick Groff, a Professor of Education at San Diego State University. Pat and I had similar ideas about the importance of teaching phonics to children learning to read. Charles C. Thomas, a small publisher of instructional material in Springfield, Illinois, published this book, from which we earned very little. 

Essays: In 1988 I suggested to Paul Keene, the well-known organic farmer (sometimes called the first American organic farmer), that the charming and informative essays he was writing for his periodic catalogs should be published. For thirty years I'd been ordering organic flour and other good foods from Paul's company, Walnut Acres in Penns Creek, Pennsylvania, and enjoying his excellent essays about country living and farming organically. 

I convinced Paul to collaborate with me on a book and to send me a stack of his back issues of catalogs, from which I selected the best essays, editing them and organizing them. I wrote continuity between the sections, wrote a foreword, found a publisher, negotiated a contract, and handled proofs. The Globe Pequot Press of Chester, Connecticut, published Fear Not to Sow Because of the Birds: Understanding the Country Living and Natural Farming from WalnutAcres. With Paul's agreement, I listed myself on the title page as editor, and we split the income. We made little money from this delightful little book, and Paul ended up buying most of the copies to sell through his catalog. 

Textbook: That same year I published an education textbook with Scott, Foresman Company in Chicago. I had for years been an education editor, mostly for the well-known education publisher, Ginn and Company, in Boston, and I had taught young children for seventeen years. When I got the idea for a teacher text on visual comprehension for young children, I sent it to a former Ginn colleague who was editing The Good Year Books for Scott, Foresman. He liked it and, with little editing, published it in 1988 as Toad Charts, Paper Faces, and Other Ideas for Visual Comprehension. It did fairly well. 

Uncredited Writing: During my entire adult life I worked with Dr. Harold Seymour, my late husband, on his multi-volume history of baseball for Oxford University Press, published over the period 1960-1990. Although my name fails to appear on the title page of these books, it should have been there. In fact, I wrote about a third of Volume Three myself, since Dr. Seymour's health declined dramatically while the book was in preparation, and I took over all aspects of the work, including the writing. For more information on my work with Dr. Seymour, see www.BlueEar.com.
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The Painful Pleasures of Self-Publication

By DOROTHY  JANE MILLS
READ

For 15 books, she did as told. Some of them are still making money -- but not for her. Book #16 is her own business.

Her 15 Books
Tips for Self-Publishers
Self-Published Hits