My book, Images for Better Singing, was truly a labor of love, inspired by my many students who pleaded with me to write down what I had said in their lessons. Finally, I thought, “Why not?” Little did I know what a labor it would be.
First, I had to find out if any other vocal pedagogues had written a book on the same subject (starting in the 1700’s). Nope, they had not.
Then, I set to work backing up my own claims and experiences by researching biology, neurology, and how the brain works to learn and retain knowledge, especially knowledge of physical movements. All this took over a year. And, then I drew 72 small pen-and-ink drawings to illustrate my ideas. That, with writing the book itself, took two more years.
Finally, I sent the introduction and a few chapters to several academic publishers and they all accepted my book, saying that I was a good writer and that the book would be a contribution to the teaching of vocal music. I was thrilled! But, I wasn’t ready for the bombshell: I was told that it would be at least six years before the book would be on the market. There were a lot of hoops they wanted me to jump through, such as massive peer reviews which, indeed, could take several more years.
At first, I was totally discouraged. Over three years of work and then another six years? So, I dipped into the world of self-publishing, unleashing a barrage of phone calls from companies who, once they knew I was looking for a publisher, called me every few weeks. Most of them wanted thousands of dollars, and some of them even wanted to be paid almost the entire amount up front before a single page was printed. It was a disheartening search.
Then, by sheer dumb luck, I found BookLocker. Not only were they willing to publish an academic book aimed at a very small niche of readers, but they seemed as enthusiastic as I was to publish my book….at a price that I could afford.
The owner, Angela Hoy, was totally friendly and encouraging, even when things went wrong. It turned out that my pen-and-ink drawings weren’t dark enough to print so I had to do them over with a heavier, darker pen.
I’m guessing, on the whole, that my book was not an easy one to print, with its 72 drawings that had to be formatted onto the same page as the text to which it referred. There were also diacritical markings needed, which probably was a real pain. But, we all forged on, with encouragement and enthusiasm from BookLocker and team. If BookLocker made a mistake, they were quick to acknowledge and correct it without charging me. The cover designer, Todd, and I collaborated on a cover that I love.
When finally completed, the book was perfect and professional in every way…truly fit for any music library.
Since then, I’ve received grateful letters from people I’ve never met. For instance, a Juilliard-trained tenor actually thanked me for writing this book and pianists have contacted me who are using my book to help them accompany and coach classical singers. Best of all, I was given a rave review by the powerful National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), which compared reading my book to “attending a master class that challenges singers to approach both technique and artistry in different ways. Voice teachers and their students will appreciate the imaginative, yet practical advice.”
Without BookLocker’s friendly help and skill, I would still be waiting five more years for these responses. I am now working on a collection of poetry, plus I am writing a romance/thriller novel. Guess who’ll be publishing those books?
Marianna Busching is a retired opera singer who performed in such places as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and venues around the world. She was also vocal instructor for 24 years at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University. As a writer, she has been awarded the Guy Owen Award presented by The Southern Poetry Review. She holds a B.A. in piano and voice and an M.M. in Vocal Performance.
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