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Publisher Nurtures Writing of Mothers

Moms In Print Advises and Consents

By Meghan Collins Sullivan
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, August 29, 2004; Page PW14

Most authors can only imagine receiving an explanation as to why a publishing company rejected a manuscript -- never mind a several-page constructive critique including suggestions for improvement or other possible outlets for their work.

But that's exactly what they get from Round Hill-based Moms In Print.

Moms In Print senior editor Terry Doherty and her laptop. All publication manuscripts are submitted via e-mail. (Photos Katherine Frey -- The Washington Post)

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"You don't just get a rejection letter; you get ideas about where to go," said Robin Seidman, 44, of Atlanta, who submitted a manuscript that was not accepted. "It's nice to get feedback. It was another rejection letter, but it was very helpful."

Moms In Print was launched in January. Although all authors must be moms, the book submissions range from true parenting stories and children's books to novels and suggestions for hosting a cheap party.

The point, said Tara Paterson, the company's founder, is to act as a motivator and enabler for moms.

The company has lofty ambitions -- with one title on the shelves, it plans to publish at least another by the end of the year and a third title next February. At least three of the nine editors read every manuscript and provide feedback in the form of a three- to six-page letter, all within 40 to 60 days. This is no small task for a company that has received more than 70 manuscripts since its inception and twice that number of inquiries.

"We promise everyone who submits that we'll respond with a detailed review," said senior editor Terry Doherty. "Without fail, we find some type of recommendation for the mom."

Doherty said Seidman's manuscript of short stories, "Confessions of a Soccer Mom," was well-written, but just not a "book." She suggested syndicating the stories or selling them individually to magazines and Web sites.

"Their feedback really propelled me to the next step," Seidman said. "Because of their support, I sent one of my stories into a competition and won."

Moms In Print's first book, "Misadventures of Moms and Disasters of Dads," by Kerri Charette, hit the shelves in May.

Charette's compilation of short stories about humorous parenting mishaps, written by contributors from around the world, was rejected by numerous publishers before she came upon Moms In Print.

"I had been put off by so many other publishers and agents -- I wasn't anyone to them," said Charette, 34, a mother of five in Ludyard, Conn. "Moms wasn't looking for authors with a huge platform."

Charette, who taught school for 10 years, built her relationship with Moms In Print over the Internet -- like many other authors working with the company. Her manuscript was accepted and published without a face-to-face meeting with Paterson or Doherty.

"Misadventures of Moms and Disasters of Dads," which includes personal stories involving toilet training, laundry and serving dinner, among other parenting duties, had a first printing of 1,100 copies. About 800 have been sold, at $13.95 a copy.

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