There is a soft hum throughout the classroom as students whisper to each other about the guest speaker they will have. They have done their research and have their questions prepared, but they don’t know what to expect as they see a small woman enter the room. Her white hair reveals only her experience and the things she has been through.
Lauren Small is the author of several books aimed at the education and entertainment of high school students. She entered the writing world when times were changing and it was very difficult to find a publisher to support her book. Her inspiring story began thirty years ago when a writer would write a letter to several publishing companies and hope that they liked their book. Then the process was long and drawn out with the end result that the author would earn only 15 percent of their sales per book.
The new world of writing turns to electronic media with Amazon becoming a main source of buyers but with authors not earning any money made off their book. Lauren Small was confronted with a difficult choice, how to make a living doing the craft that she loves.
She became a professor at the University of Maryland University College teaching online courses in writing so she would be able to continue writing her books. “I am always a writer first,” said Small. “I leave myself notes when I first wake up, ‘write first.’ So that is the first thing I do.” With her commitment to writing in mind, Small recognized the authors need to find a publishing company that would allow them to have their book published and be the sole benefactor of their sales.
She created Bridle Path Publishing which allows authors to get their book edited and published by people who care. In 2008, Small wrote her book “Choke Creek”, a story about the Vietnam War and also based on the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado. “I find that everyone has a war. My war was Vietnam, I went to school with the boys who were drafted, some were my neighbors and friends. My parents war was World War II, if I were writing “Choke Creek” today I would probably write it about Iraq.”
Small couldn’t get a publisher to back her; but it was an important enough story to Small, so she created Bridle Path Publishing. With a rigorous editing process, her company ensures that the authors get the right kind of attention to their books, and several of the books they published have won awards.
“Choke Creek” did get its day in the spotlight and Small has toured around the country to schools promoting her book and the historical value it contains. Her process was simple, she wanted to promote the best book she could and so she sent her book to teachers she knew to read, and they had their students read the books as well and tell her how she could improve the story line. After several years of fact-checking and interviews, Small felt her book was complete and with the help of her publishing company, she was able to get the book released.
With the electronic age taking the world by storm, book stores are closing their doors and the online world of reading begins. Small is prepared for the future and admits that she accepts it with open arms. “I think you have to be accepting of the new world. It’s like keeping a horse and wanting to ride it to work. Sure you can keep it in your backyard and love it to death, but at some point you have to give it up and keep up with the new world.” After her thirty years as an author, Small continues to impact the writing world by inspiring others and finding ways to make the lives of anyone who loves to write a little easier.