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An Interview with June Cotner
or How to get Published!
Interviewed by Connie Hill

Connie: Tell me about your background, how did you get started as a writer?

June: After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1972 I worked for Sullivan Language School as a school director, then a district manager on the east coast. After having children I did business management and marketing part time for an architectural firm. This allowed me to be with my kids, which I loved. While working for the firm I saw a need for clients to have a book to help them describe what they wanted in their new or remodeled home. I worked on and off with what was originally a pamphlet that grew into a book. I tried to sell it to 30 different publishers, but didn't know I needed to do a book proposal or that I needed an agent. I met my agent--Denise Marcel in 1990 at the Pacific NW Writers Conference. Two years later the Home Design Handbook was published by Henry Holt and it's in it's 10th printing now.

Connie: That is great!

June: I know! Especially when you hear the statistics that most new books only last 6 weeks on bookstore shelves...

Connie: So how did you move to spiritual books?

June: While getting my book published I became friends with my agent and she came for dinner one night and saw a binder called Graces I'd put together for our family. I didn't like a lot of graces that I'd heard or that families would recite by rote. I wanted my children to feel a more inspired spiritual connection. So I started the binder and when my agent saw it she said "This is a book! And I know the perfect publisher!" One book came after another. Harper SF asked if I would be willing to do a similar book to have by your bedside. That book was Bedside Prayers. Then came Bless the Day and Heal Your Soul, Heal the World which is my favorite book, but also my first out of print book. Then Family Celebrations came out in spring '99. It's in its 3rd printing. This year Get Well Wishes came out in July and Animal Blessings in September.

Connie: Are you working on other books?

June: Yes, Mothers and Daughters, coming out next spring from Harmony Books, a division of Random House. Poetry tends not to sell well--this is pure poetry.

Connie: Random House is the largest mainstream publisher in the world, right?

June: Yes, it's significant that they bought it.

Connie: It's interesting to hear how you began on one topic and now you've gone in a whole different direction.

June: I owe it all to my agent for helping me find my passion.

Connie: It's wonderful. I love to hear stories of people being led on their perfect path.

June: It's worked out well. My books have struck a chord with many people. I receive the nicest e-mails and letters from the nicest people.

Connie: How did you begin presenting Writing a Knockout Non-Fiction Book Proposal and How to Get Published?

June: A year ago I was asked to teach a workshop on Writing a Knockout Non-Fiction Book Proposal. I was really surprised to find out how much I loved doing it, so I came up with a 90-minute format that I offered to various bookstores on the topic of how to get published as a general topic. A lot of people have told me that I have just been the boost they really needed to go ahead and start their own project or complete their proposal. So, the feedback has been great.

Connie: Maybe that's your next book?

June: One I've just completed a rough outline for, is called Grassroots Marketing for Writers.

Connie: That sounds great and something that would be really helpful!

June: Publishers do a few things for a short time. It is really up to the author to make sure the book is successful. So I've looked at all the little low cost things we can do from the ground up that can make our book grow.

Connie: Your books are interesting from the standpoint that they are spiritual, but they are also mainstream. And that says something about getting spirituality out into the main culture.

June: And spirituality books have been the fastest growing genre in book publishing over the last 7 years. It's been incredible.

Connie: You've been traveling a lot, has that been to promote your new books?

June: Yes. I was also booked to teach some workshops for the Learning Annex in LA, New York and San Francisco, so I plan my travel around those workshops and then filled in with signings. Both Graces and Bedside Prayers are carried at all of the 100 Restoration Hardware stores around the country. They carry very few books so I feel great about having mine there.

Connie: So what would you like to say before we end?

June: I have never been so passionately involved in anything as in what I'm doing right now and I love to share my tips and ideas with aspiring writers. I love working with people who are almost there and I can tell them how to take it to the next level.

Connie: June, thank you for taking time to talk with me today.

June Cotner, author of 8 books including, Graces and Animal Blessings, will present a Friday night Forum on January 12 and a Saturday workshop on January 13 on How to Get Published and How to Write a Knockout Book Proposal at New Renaissance Bookshop. Call New Renaissance Bookshop, 503-224-4929 for information or to register.

Connie Hill works at New Renaissance Bookshop and is a local astrologer. She can be contacted at 503-291-8229, ext. 2 or gmnite@yahoo.com.

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