Feedback from readers

Thank you for Kristen Radtke’s timely essay “The Loneliness Project: My Journey Through American Loneliness” (July/August 2021). It’s good to know that even though I’m alone here, north of nowhere, I’m not “alone.” We all struggle our way through these days—and nights—lost in a pandemic-induced epidemic. But here on the solo side of a writer’s life, I see my computer not as an adversary, but someone to turn to, communicate with, and watch words appear on his screen, as thoughts flow from my fingers. Refuge is not sought in the evening news, shouting at the world in political turmoil. Another kind of electronic device urges me to come closer, pull up a chair, power up, and make a little magic. Daylight seeps into my room, and another day opens for business. Hours slip by; phone won’t ring, door won’t knock. The carpet moves under my feet, walls close in from the street. But I’m working, and when any creativity is exhausted, I will find solace in a glass of friendly wine, and dream. Keep the faith; it could happen.
John Ledford
Green Valley, Arizona

Nikki Peoples’s self-publishing experience (“The Savvy Self-Publisher,” July/August 2021) offers several noteworthy insights for independent authors. Perhaps most important: The self-publishing route can be personally gratifying, but in financial terms it is often a money-losing venture. As a freelance developmental editor I have found that independent authors commonly spend between $6,000 and $8,000, as Peoples did, on design, editing, and a professional cover—and then sell only a hundred copies of their book. Although there were extenuating circumstances in Peoples’s instance—the havoc wrought by the COVID pandemic, for example—when all is said and done independent authors are likely to be out thousands of dollars. This is why I have come to believe freelancers who work with independent authors have an ethical responsibility to inform their clients that the book publishing business is extremely competitive and that sales or profits cannot be guaranteed. I now follow the example of several of my colleagues by informing clients before they sign a contract that I cannot guarantee their book will ever make a profit. Independent authors should be told that if they are determined to go the self-publishing route, they should consider the funds they are using to be expendable.
William Oppenheimer
Newton, Massachusetts

Emma Fedor’s “Infertile & Querying: Struggling to Conceive While Seeking Representation” (July/August 2021) caught my attention immediately. The essay was a validation of my state of mind with infertility forty-six years ago. We shared similar journeys. I understood her pain and feeling of failure, and I felt the emotions of the author with every sentence. She was able to write my story without having met me. Thank you.
Frances Russo Koltun
Estero, Florida

Thank you for Emma Hine’s delightful piece “Conservation Stories” (July/August 2021), bringing to light the work of Creature Conserve, which facilitates artistic inspiration from science. Dr. Lucy Spelman’s remarkable initiative and dedication to create and grow the organization is helping to bring about a turning point in connecting artists and writers with scientists. From my vantage point as an oceanographer and a creative writer, I see how many scientists are well aware of the connection between science and art; for example, hypothesis as a creative outpouring of observation, or beauty in scientific understanding. But from artists and writers I often hear comments like, “I was never good at science,” “Science is for other people,” and even “That idea in your poem is too sciency. No one will know that.” Separating the disciplines has diminished our society for too long. Creature Conserve is bridging the divide, creating new motivation to tell stories in more holistic ways, and will bring much-needed attention to the natural world.
Ron Leo Vogel
Hyattsville, Maryland