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Ask Daphne! How to catch-up

You may recall, I hope, how I blogged the other day about keeping my inbox neat by shuffling certain messages off to other folders, where they pop up as unread but with less anxiety than unread emails in my inbox. Questions to Ask Daphne are among those treated in this manner, but given the wave of recent emails I’ve had about my Twitter account, I’m finding it more difficult to get to your important questions. So, for the rest of the week, it’s all Ask Daphne, all the time! And as always, if you have a pressing question about the publishing business or anything remotely literary, send me an email. Now, on to the advice!
M.R. writes

My late father published a menswear book in 1982 through a college publishing house, Orion Press. The book was not a large printing, but did sell out. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the press is defunct. My father was a college professor of Theatre. He compiled this book of photographs of American men’s clothing over the course of 18 years. He envisioned it as an historical resource for costumers like himself. He was surprised and pleased when genealogical groups also embraced it as a means of dating family photographs.
The original was produced in paperback and is approximately 8.5″ x 11″. The book itself consists of photographs from 1860 through 1982. These are grouped, not by decade, but according to technological advances and political shifts in society which led to changes in fashion.
I would like to publish a second edition, but I have no idea how to proceed. Any advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated.

M.R., it sounds like you’re looking for a indie press, possibly something like, where you can pay to have the book printed yourself. (If not, and you’re looking for an agent to help you find a traditional publishing house to reprint the book, the method is the same as for any book you’d query.) The difficult part, I imagine, would be reproducing the layout unless you have the digital files of the book — something that I doubt a small press circa 1982 would have provided to the author, and something that, given the press’ defunct nature, would be difficult to obtain.
You may also want to confirm that the rights to the book have reverted back to the author — in this case, to you via your father. Can you check his files for a copy of the original contract with the original publisher? There should be an out-of-print clause, or a termination date, beyond which the rights would have reverted. You may also find more information about self-publishing on sites like Publetariat. Do my readers have any other suggestions?
When you just can’t stop at one question…

Just a quick one! Bridget asks:

I was on your website and I had some trouble figuring out who to address a query letter to. My novel is an adult romance/fantasy with compelling characters and a twist of dark fantasy (vampires & a brand new body of the undead). Is there anyone within your agency that would review a novel such as the one listed above? If so, please feel free to email me back with the agents name. Your time is much appreciated!

All queries should be addressed to Kate Schafer Testerman, and sent to Daphne Unfeasible can so rarely take time from her shoe-shopping schedule to read your queries that it’s best to go right to the head of the company. (Also — keep it under your hats, but she’s imaginary!)
Finally, at least for today, Blaine writes:

I have several ideas for books from my childhood growing up on our farm, to my military experiences and toady’s current events. I heard you were very open and could point someone in the right direction. I thank you for your time and have a good day.

Glad to hear I give off that impression, but here’s the cold hard truth. You have an idea for a book? So what. So do a million other people. Millions, probably. An idea is nothing until you sit down and start writing. And then — finish writing. And then find a group of fellow writers to share your words with, be open to criticism, and make revisions. And then you can start thinking about contacting literary agents.
An idea is a lovely thing to have, don’t get me wrong. But until you can put something behind it, you’re not a writer. You’re just another person with a story inside them. It’s the getting it out that makes you a writer.
And after THAT — well, there’s loads more to do before you can consider yourself an author. So just take one step at a time, ok? Good luck!

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