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  • Writer's pictureElaine Marie Carnegie

The Interesting Writer's Journey of Carmen Baca

Please help me welcome Carmen Baca to the Writer's Journey Blog this week.

In 1986 my husband broke open the lock on a wooden box—the contents inspired my first book.

The box belonged to my paternal ancestors’ religious brotherhood; and since the majority of the brothers had passed on, the fraternity disbanded. As the youngest Verónica of the women’s auxiliary society, I was assigned the honor of housing the religious artifacts, saints—and the box. Inside, I found the answers to every question I had about the brothers, including their rules dating to 1850.

That’s when I knew the misinformation about them I had read online needed to be rectified; I wanted to be the one who told the truth of these pious men’s practices and religious rituals without divulging what I shouldn’t. I wrote my father’s story during my summer vacation of 1992. When I queried that book in 1993-1994, it was rejected by four publishers, primarily because they feared repercussions from the existing brotherhoods.

I queried small publishers in my region again for the same manuscript in 2016. I never did query agents, thinking none would have a clue about the significance of the subject matter or the fact that no other author had ever written about it in first person before. The four publishers I queried did recognize the merit of that book, and all replied with acceptances within four days. Researching publishers (or agents) who are likely to find value in our works is a crucial first step for any writer. Then, of course, writing a query to attract them follows.

That said, my experience is different than those who write mainstream fiction because in most of my works I use regionalism. I used that to my advantage by building a fan base on my social media platforms fifteen months before that first book published. I also mentioned in my query that I had already begun acquiring readers for that all-important first book. I still promote my books a year before they publish to build anticipation in my readers.

Once that first book saw moderate success and sales, I began publishing short stories and articles in online literary magazines and anthologies. Turned out I couldn’t (can’t) stop writing.

I have 40 publications in 36 different websites and ten anthologies so far. Some of the editors and publishers of those magazines and collections feature my books in issues prior to my publishing them. Several others, fellow published authors, members of the media, book clubs, book store owners, and supporters of the arts also promote my works on their sites. They have become my ARC editorial reviewers and book endorsers, too. So publishing short works turned into a successful marketing strategy which I didn’t anticipate, but which I certainly appreciate.

What I’ve discovered through my publishing journey is what new writers should do for themselves: create reader interest through advance promotion, establish online visibility with SEO, and foster influencer connections.

Bio: Carmen Baca taught high school and college English for thirty-six years before retiring in 2014. Her debut novel El Hermano published in April, 2017 and became a finalist in the NM-AZ book awards program. Since 2017, she has published 3 more books (the 5th publishing this spring) and 40 short works thus far in online literary magazines and anthologies. She and her husband live a quiet life in the country caring for their animals and any stray that happens to come by.

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