Courting Coteau

More than once in the past few weeks I’ve started drafting a post to discuss the publishing climate.

Over the past three years as I’ve toiled to write my book I’ve kept my finger on the pulse of the changes occurring at lightening speed in the publishing world. I’ve read about mainstream publishers, independent (indie) publishers, print-on-demand (POD) publishers, vanity publishers, and every flavor in between. I’ve read information from people who say you absolutely must have an agent and others who say it’s not necessary unless you have your sights set on New York. I’ve studied the “rules” for querying publishers and agents, learned the “correct” format of a query letter and a book proposal. I’ve prepared a few different versions of my query letter and written my book proposal and, as I posted here a few days ago, I posted my profile on Publishers Marketplace and joined QueryTracker.

This week as I stood on the precipice of jumping onto the querying treadmill I had an epiphany. I realized I didn’t want to step on.

I’m not interested in becoming one of the many who submit query letter after query letter to agent after agent, tweaking a word here and a word there, hoping for a response of some kind–anything–even just a word of encouragement along with a rejection.

I’m tired of the big fish who make the rules the rest of us little fish are expected to follow; I’m tired of their rules and lack of consideration for those who are just trying to live their lives the best they can. (If it sounds like there’s more behind this than publishers and literary agents–well, I’m not at liberty to discuss that just yet.) The point is that I’ve had enough.

Here’s where I found myself. There were two publishers I was most interested in querying and I was waffling back and forth about whether or not I needed to find an agent first. Self-publishing was becoming more and more attractive to me because it meant I could call the shots, it would be more work, but I would be in the driver’s seat.

This weekend I made a decision for Two Hearts: An Adoption Memoir.

Let me introduce you to Canadian publisher, Coteau Books. They’re not just Canadian, they’re Saskatchewanian. My people!

Some of the things on the The Who We Are section of their website that caught my attention many months ago was that their mandate is “to publish and present to the world market Canadian literary writing, with an emphasis on Saskatchewan and prairie writers” that they work to “expand the promotion and distribution of Canadian books” and that they are a “registered non-profit production cooperative”.

Coteau Books evaluates all submissions they receive. All submissions. That’s refreshing compared to what I’ve been reading about some literary agents and publishers who sometimes don’t even have the courtesy to respond to an author query. I don’t know if they will be interested in my book, I hope so, but at least I know they will consider it. And they will take more than the average 15 seconds that your typical agent/publisher puts into scanning a query letter.

Here are a couple of other interesting pieces of trivia about Coteau books:

  • Coteau Books was started in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
  • Coteau Books is now located in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Kinda seems like we were meant to be together, doesn’t it?!

My complete manuscript, query letter, and author one sheet, are heading to Canada tomorrow. As of now, I am officially courting Coteau. I hope you’ll stay with me for the journey.

By the way, last year I had an opportunity to read one of the books published by Coteau Books. Prairie Feast: A Writer’s Journey Home for Dinner by Amy Jo Ehman is the story of the author’s experience over the course of a year in which she resolved to eat only locally grown food. The book is filled with beautiful photos and delicious-sounding recipes that made me long to be back in my prairie home. Check it out!


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Dear Linda, thank you for your honesty in this posting and for detailing all you’ve done in your quest to have your work published. I have tried the agent route–to no avail. Now I’m considering an e-book. I’m having trouble understanding the directions for how to do it, but I’m hoping a more technologically advanced friend will help me.

    Please do keep all of us apprised of what happens with you and Coteau Books. Their location and their publishing venture truly does seem serendipitous for you. karma.


  2. Good for you, Linda. I’ve decided on the self-publishing route myself, and it’s been empowering. I hope your memoir finds the perfect home.

    Bag Lady in Waiting

  3. Yay, Linda,
    I am praying for your road to publication to be straight with clear signs. I’m excited about your decision.

  4. Linda, I’ll go with you on this journey. Good for you! Blessings***

  5. Woohoo! Take hold of those reins!

  6. Dear Linda,
    I am entralled by this post;by your clarity, your sense of purpose, your vision. It is such a complex, intimidating environment right now and you are showing how to bravely navigate it and find a way that works. Yes, it does sound like you belong together.I am excited to accompany you on your journey and learn from you how it can be done. Wishing you the best and looking forward to your updates. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Linda,

    This is wonderful! I’m sending my very best wishes and hopes that this relationship comes to pass. They will be lucky to have you and your book! I’m looking forward to hearing the good news soon! Just think, soon all your hard work will bear fruit!

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