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Chilidog Press was created in 2003.
The name came from our Labrador named "Chili," not from the Skyline coneys that are the cheesy, meat-like, processed white-bread true flavor of Cincinnati. I had always dreamed of being an author, ever since I fell in love with reading and began writing "books" when I was in fifth grade. That first one was a science fiction story. I was A-plus at fiction, but D-minus in science. Like most first novels, it remains unpublished. You're welcome.
Later, working on a loading dock, I read Hemingway and Steinbeck between trucks and learned that my favorite authors got started in the newspaper business. So I went back to college and followed their XL footprints into journalism. I always "knew" I could write a book -- but I had no idea how to get it published. It sounded as random as playing the lottery: Send in your manuscript and maybe the Publisher's Clearing House will knock on your door with a gigantic check. Maybe.
In 2002, I collected my favorite columns from my work at the Cincinnati Enquirer and began looking for a publisher. The more I learned about the book business, the less I liked it. I found out I needed to find an agent to get in the door with a publisher. And if the publisher decided to select my book, they would have editorial control. At most, I could expect about ten percent of the income from sales. And unless I was a Hollywood celebrity in rehab or a failed politician who just lost a campaign for president, they would do practically nothing to market my book that I could not do myself.
So I chose the "road less traveled" and decided to form my own publishing company.
Since then, the DIY/Home Depot method of desktop publishing has come a long way. I had to learn a lot -- ISBN numbers, printing costs, paper types, trim sizes, formatting files, book design, cover art, etc. When I was done I could write a book about writing a book. But the new publishing model had big advantages: I did not have to give up editorial control of my story (more on that later) and I could keep most of the fruits of my labor.
Chilidog Press LLC was born. And now I can share what I have learned with you. If you have a traditional publishing house interested, or an agent who can pitch your book to one, stop here. I say go for it, and best wishes for great success. But Chilidog Press is not for you.
If you are looking for a small, custom publisher who works with you one-on-one and offers coaching, advice, writing tips, editing, proofreading, book design and a menu of local and national designers and printers to get the best price and quality, Chilidog Press might be your answer.
Back to editorial control: In 2006, I had finished "Behind the Lines," my second book. It was a recklessly contrarian criticism of the politicians and local media (people I worked with) whose politically correct blinders distorted the truth and aggravated the anger, division and violence in Cincinnati. After it was published, I was told many times by the police who worked around the clock during the riots that until my book came out, the truth was not reported and a lot of what was reported was not true. They resented being blamed for riots by the city they saved. They were eager to tell their side -- which did not remotely resemble the official version in the rest of the press.
But their story would not have been told if I had given up editorial control. After reviewing my manuscript, a regional publisher told me I would have to rewrite the book because it was "wrong." Sure, I worked downtown at the Cincinnati Enquirer, interviewed dozens of police, politicians and citizens who were on the front lines of the riots, rode along with cops, covered the chaotic council meetings at City Hall and walked streets that were still radiating anger five years later. But she "knew" by reading the newspaper in her office fifty miles from Cincinnati that the events I described could not be true.
I left and never looked back. I have been publishing my own books and helping other authors publish ever since.
"Chili," our chocolate Lab from Arizona, is long gone, but she lives on at Chilidog Press -- disguised as a cheese coney.