Q&A with founder Trace L Hentz
also known as Trace DeMeyer and Laramie HarlowTell us about Blue Hand Books:
I started Blue Hand Books as a collective of Native American authors in 2011 to help my Narragansett friend John Christian Hopkins. He and I worked together at the Pequot Times in the early 2000s. John had tried publishing himself, and it worked fine but he needed more readers (and book sales). My husband and I were having brunch with John and his wife Sararesa in Connecticut that summer (2011) and out of nowhere—BOOM—I offered to help him publish his book Twilight of the Gods. He electronically sent me his files and somehow I formatted it and we published it! So the collective as a company officially kicked off on 11-11-11 when his book was published. It was more work than I imagined to layout a book but I've improved because of Pressbooks formatting software. As time went on, I needed to learn how to create e-books and tons of other stuff.
How did you come up with that name:
Blue Hand Books was a vision. I'd looked at Mayan prophecy since it was 2011—the end of their calendar was December 21 and found out that the Blue Hand is a Mayan symbol for the time we are now in. In 2019, I reopened as BLUE INDIANS COLLECTIVE and Blue Hand Books.
What is the mission:
Our motto "Where Native Authors Find New Readers" is our mission. "Decolonizing publishing" is our goal.
With the Blue Indians Collective name, we remember Santee poet and activist John Trudell.
How many books have you published as a collective:
Back in 2009, self-publishing was not looked upon as "professional" so I knew John and I needed to have a publishing house and BE the publisher. We're both journalists and former editors. I decided to use Create Space/KDP/Amazon after I did some research. (I have looked into other book publishers/printers as well, like Ingram.)
OH! I want to add that our mutual friend Barb Burke was our go-to-gal for graphic design. She designed the book covers and bookmarks. We could not have done it without her help and generosity. (She is a very talented writer herself! And now a busy mom to Sam.)
Since then, WE (the collective Blue Hand Books) have published my first poetry chapbook SLEEPS WITH KNIVES, an anthology TWO WORLDS: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects (Patricia Busbee and I are co-editors and adoptees), John's first poetry book RHYME OR REASON, Patricia Busbee's hybrid fiction REMEDIES, and John's 2nd edition of CARLOMAGNO: Adventures of the Pirate Prince of the Wampanoags. That's not the exact order of books but close.
Let me define "collective": When we started, John and I helped each other out by co-writing press releases, arranging to do radio/ print interviews/find book reviewers, locate book stores, and advise/help with marketing. Each of our authors is supposed to help out. Not all did.
John's also remastered Twilight of the Gods as the new book LOKI: God of Mischief, with a brand new book cover so that was done and published.
|John re-published his book Carlomango with BHB and we added a subtitle: Adventures of the Pirate Prince of the Wampanoags|
|Dana Lone Hill|
|out of print|
Then I worked with a Wampanoag writer Deborah Spears-Moorehead on her own story and tribal history. Finding Balance was actually our 15th book.
My chapbook BECOMING was our 12th title... I was excited to get my second prose/short story collection out there, using a pen-name. (This book was retired in 2018.)
John's western TWO GUNS is lucky number 13 - WRITER ON THE STORM, John's humor writing, was 14th.
We re-published "Called Home: The RoadMap" in 2016 with a new cover and more content. (Our 16th title)
With second generations of Native people affected by the Adoption Projects, I published a new anthology "Stolen Generations: Survivors of the Indian Adoption Projects and 60s Scoop" in 2016, part of the Lost Children Book Series. (our 15th title)
We published two titles by Barbara Robidoux (see her author page.)
Charles Grolla has published his first book "Ojibwe Mocassin Game" (see his author page at BHB) (This is the 18th title)
Also in 2017, we published Patricia Busbee's poetry anthology "In The Veins." (Book 4 of the Lost Children Book Series) (#19)
In 2017, we republished Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects, Vol. 1 - we have edited it and has a new cover. (#20)
We've published and republished 25 remarkable very very good book titles.
As of 2018, we are not on Facebook. Trace has a new twitter account (@StonePony 33) and closed the BHB twitter account.
Does BLUE HAND BOOKS have a blog or website?
Both. It's www.bluehandbooks.org and we have www.bluehandcollective.com. 2019: blueindiansbooks.com.
We publish posts occasionally since my cancer surgery in May 2018. I'm fine now.
This is a story in itself. I had no idea how to create a website but I tried. First I used Webs to create bluehandbooks.com as a storefront but it was expensive and no sales at all! So back to the drawing board I went and decided to buy the name Blue Hand Books with the .org and use wordpress as our landing page and website.
Like I said, it's all been a learning curve for me to be a book publisher! Domain names, blogs, websites, book trailers, book tours, social media, all of this was new to me in 2009 when my memoir came out. I'd never guessed this was the direction my life would take—but I am sure glad it did!
I switched the website to Blogger in 2016.
In 2017, I decided to take a new direction. Blue Hand Books Collective was a website to find our book titles on Amazon or IndieBound. I retired in 2015 and Steve Dragswolf was manager for one year, but that didn't work out.
By late 2018, I did my first creative non-fiction. This book was created over 5 years! It wasn't my last. Keep reading!
Also in 2019:
Sleeps with Knives (2nd edition) came out. The book cover is simply white feathers....
2020: Becoming Laramie: Then it hit me came out in March, true stories by Trace L Hentz.
[UPDATE::: It's where we print (KDP on amazon.com) but we HOPE and PRAY you will use BOOKSHOP to buy books. Most of our book titles are listed on BOOKSHOP on this website]
2021: OMG! It's A Miracle We've Survived This Far is a book series. I can't stop. WHAT JUST HAPPENED? It's a brand new book.
And Trace is (SLOWLY) updating her memoir One Small Sacrifice (A Grief Memoir) with a chapter on Disappeared Children.
MORE BOOKS ARE COMING!
MORE BOOKS ARE COMING!