Why Local Author Lynn Crawford Switched from a NYC Publisher to One in Corktown

Author Lynn Crawford with her book (Photo by Matthew Piper)

Publishers of novels are plentiful, but not in Detroit. 

Author Lynn Crawford, a native of Ann Arbor and Flint who lived in New York before returning to Michigan in 1992, knows that well. She published five fiction books with New York publishing houses before running into problems with the sixth. So she wanted to turn to Detroit, but there was a hurdle. 

"There really aren’t a lot of publishers in Detroit who publish fiction," says the 57-year-old author, who lives in Birmingham and is a founding board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD).  "I don't know any who publish novels." 

Crawford turned to DittoDitto Books, a small publishing house and bookshop in Corktown that had never published a novel before. That changed. Recently, the four-year-old company published Crawford's 139-page novel in soft cover.

Crawford hopes her novel helps create more opportunities for fiction writers in Detroit to publish here, rather than go east to the obvious place. "Detroit has a strong presence for artists to exhibit their works," she says. "What I hope happens is there becomes an equally strong presence for writers to publish in Detroit." 

"It's more fun to work with the community you're in," she adds.  

Too Many Typos

Her decision to switch started earlier this year when she set out to publish her latest work, "Shankus & Kitto, A Saga," a story about two families that intertwine in unexpected ways. There's a lot about food, fashion, love, loss, humor. 

In the past, with her other books, she got galley proofs from her publishers before the final version went to print.  She expected the same with her New York publisher, Black Square Editions, which had published two of her previous books.

The local author's sixth novel is about two families that intertwine unexpectedly.

But this time, she says the publisher neglected to provide galley proofs. The result was not good. Typos riddled the final print.

She tried to work with the the publisher, but was told she'd have to pay for a republished edition. "They thought it was fine the way it was," she said. "But several people I respect, who read it were appalled. I followed their advice." 

"I started to think, if I have to come up with the funding, why not try to make it work in Detroit,' she said. "I knew talented people."

So she turned to Maia Asshaq, a woman who worked at MOCAD and whom she calls her "little sister." Asshaq had started a publishing house, DittoDitto, and so together they raised money to publish the book.  Crawford also used former MOCAD worker Andrea Farhart, a graphic designer, who Asshaq had recommended.

Now, Crawford plans to print three more books as part of an ongoing series about the two families.

Crawford has a distinct style, concise and clear, with short sentences and a crisp cadence.

"Shankus & Kitto: A Saga" is described on the back of the book by author Andrei Codrescu as a story "filled with adults who hold together the world with the huge effort of holding themselves (barely) together...Crawford writes her speckled urban New World with the fancy of a poet and recreates its dreamy detail with the cruelty of an artist."

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