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.
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
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.
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.
The Painful Pleasures of Self-Publication
By DOROTHY JANE
For 15 books, she did as told.
Some of them are still making money -- but not for her. Book #16 is her own
Her 15 Books
Tips for Self-Publishers