July 5, 2012

Press ‘I’ for Independent: Ann Littlewood’s Made It Moment

Filed under: Declaration of Independents,Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:21 am


You can publish independently as an author–we’ll be hearing from some who do later during this celebration. And you can pursue an offer from a major publishing house, e.g. one of the Big 6. Or, there’s a third path, and today’s Moment-er represents the best of it.

I’m talking about independent presses, a publishing avenue that encompasses a wide range of options in of itself. There are tiny, new upstart presses, at risk of disappearing, but also offering the latest innovation in this  daily-changing industry. And there are long-established independents, such as Algonquin, with a barrier to entry as difficult to penetrate as that of any major house.

Ann Littlewood’s press represents the best in mystery publishing. I’ve read Poisoned Pen releases for years, as well as posts extolling the genius of editor Barbara Peters. Please read on for Ann Littlewood’s bird’s (or camel’s) eye view about one slice of her publishing path.

Ann Littlewood

I’m on my third zoo mystery (Endangered, just out from Poisoned Pen Press), and I’m still waiting for the best-seller lists and fat royalty checks. But I’ve had more than my share of made-it moments. Here’s a few of the high points and the attendant emotion.

  • Awe when I saw my first mystery, Night Kill, in hardcover. It looked good, it felt good, it smelled good. It looks even better on the L shelf in the mystery section at Powell’s Books, our huge Portland bookstore. The second in the series, Did Not Survive, looks just as fine next to it.
  • Gratitude every time I receive a fan letter or someone tells me how much they enjoy my books. Do you readers realize how much this means to an author? Heaps!
  • Astonishment when I stepped out of a little plane onto a dirt airstrip in Kenya. Me, in Africa. In Kenya. Grant’s zebras and impalas trotting away in the distance. I would never have made it to Kenya if I hadn’t published zoo mysteries. Because of them, my husband and I were invited to join a zoo keeper tour of a rhino sanctuary last March. How cool is that? Totally, that’s how cool. We saw black rhino, elephant, bustards, hyena… the list goes on.
  • Surprise when a woman at an event in the tiny library in the tiny town of Ruch, Oregon, quoted—from memory—one of my sentences that she particularly liked. How to charm an author…!
  • Delight every time I research the next book. People are so open and helpful when you ask them about the work they do, whether it’s law enforcement, bail bonding, macaw rescue, or turtle conservation. I tell them I’m writing a book and want to get that part right, to be true to their work. They help me beyond all expectation.

Publishing the third mystery, Endangered, feels like a miracle all by itself. Those made-it moments keep coming, thank goodness!

Ann Littlewood worked as a zoo keeper at the Oregon Zoo for twelve years. She has been scratched, bitten, pecked, stepped on, and taloned. See her website for proof and for pretty pictures of animals. Go to her blog for her Deep Thoughts about Life and more pictures. Ann spends many hours at Finley Memorial Zoo, engrossed in exciting adventures with any animal she wants while channeling Iris Oakley, her mystery-solving protagonist.


  1. Thanks for introducing me to Ann Littlewood’s zoo mysteries.
    I know that feeling, Ann. When I first stepped on the tarmac at the Nairobi airport, I felt like I’d finally come home even though that was my first time in Africa. Your books sound wonderful!

    Comment by Kathleen Kaska — July 5, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  2. Thanks for sharing Ann! I have your book on my tbr list. It sounds great. I am not an author but I can only imagine how great it feels to be recognized and to see your books in print. I know I am always excited to see a new book by an author I love or meet a new author. Again thanks for sharing and thanks Jenny for sharing also.

    Comment by Kellie — July 5, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  3. Kathleen, I hope your trip was wonderful, everything you wanted and more.
    Kellie, Jenny is the best! Let me know what you think of Endangered. My email address is on my website (cleverly concealed from autobots.)

    Comment by Ann Littlewood — July 5, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  4. Hi Ann. You really nailed all the joys of being a published author. I was asked to perform in a dance showcase because of the topic of my latest mystery, but I would have gladly traded my pink fringe for your African vacation.

    From another one of your fans – keep those great books coming!

    Comment by Cindy Sample — July 5, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

  5. Jenny, I thought I’d add that my press, Poisoned Pen, is a powerhouse in the mystery field. It’s a specialty press, but not a small one. Lots of titles each year, lots of fine authors. For more info, look here:

    Comment by Ann Littlewood — July 6, 2012 @ 12:01 am

  6. Oh yes, definitely a powerhouse–the second biggest mystery house after St. Martins. The independent press path is a funny one. At one end it’s almost as quirky and individualized as self-publishing–in fact there are so-called presses popping up now that really represent one person deciding to publish his own work and perhaps that of a few others. On the other end are presses like Poisoned Pen and Algonquin and Akashic, as hard to access as any Random House or Simon & Schuster, yet offering somewhat different experiences. And then there are presses in between, Entangled, Bell Bridge, Oak Tree, Echelon, and scores of others, all worth checking out and figuring which might be the best suited to your work.

    Interesting publishing times, for sure.

    Ann, thank you again for being my guest and I hope new readers have found your zoo-dunnits!

    Comment by jenny — July 6, 2012 @ 8:53 am

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