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Dream your book

Young press maps new territory

A traditional map is a one-dimensional piece of paper depicting a three-dimensional world. But a cosmographia (from the Latin cosmography, the science of describing the features of the entire universe) is all-encompassing and reaches far beyond the earthly realm and the “here there be dragons” edges of a flat map. 

Many philosophers, including Ptolemy, Munster, and Silvestris, produced works titled Cosmographia. Today’s scholars may not be producing cumbersome tomes describing the whole of the universe, but many, like Rochester’s Nina Alvarez, bring this same global and multidisciplinary sensibility to publishing.

Alvarez started her publishing house, Cosmographia, in 2015, but her journey started fifteen years ago when she began her career as an English teacher. From there she went on to publish, design, and market books as well as develop a successful author services company, Dream Your Book. She is also a published writer and an award-winning playwright.

The Cosmographia website describes their form of “hybrid” publishing as going “beyond the limits of genre: from literary fiction with a metaphysical bent, to spiritual development, to genre fiction that elevates women, to transcendent poetry and hybrid collections, and anything in between.”

Authors who work with publishers like Cosmographia incur an upfront cost to help offset printing and production expenses but also go through the rigors of a traditional manuscript review. Alvarez notes, “You absolutely cannot buy your way into being published by us. We make our choices based on manuscript quality and if we think it’s the right fit for our publishing mission.”

Cosmographia clients keep a much higher percentage of the royalties from their book sales than they would if working with a traditional publisher. They are also deeply involved with all creative aspects of their book release, including design and cover art.

Alvarez doesn’t just approach the hybrid publishing process as an innovative business strategy. For her, publishing is an intimate form of co-creation that takes into account the spiritual and even the divine. 

“I’m sold on the value of how a book, a message, a big intention can be guided by an editor who is both practically knowledgeable and spiritually insightful. I partner with authors through the traditional channels of book creation and also through visioning, journaling, prayer, intuition, discussions, ritual, and spiritual self-assessment.”

This model has allowed her and her staff to create a heart-centered business with a focus on a creative process that she refers to as “soulful.”

Elizabeth Osta just released her book, Saving Faith: A Memoir of Courage, Conviction, and a Calling, through Cosmographia and is grateful for the personal and loving attention she received. “Nina’s full of passion, and it fires off as she gets engaged with ideas and ideals.”

Steven Huff, whose book of stories, Blissful and Other Stories, comes out in the fall feels the Cosmographia spirit, too, and says that “there is always a lot of energy and inspiration in a young literary press. They’re always wondering what is possible, what good things are down the path.” 

Cosmographia published its first book, Dimitri House by Fran Morse, in 2015. Forthcoming later this summer is Island Chains by Patti Lavell. Dharma Rain by Jackie Siwicki is scheduled for a spring 2018 release. 

So far all of Cosmographia’s authors are Rochester based, but of course Alvarez is reaching beyond those map edges to uncharted realms. Intuition and knowledge guide her compass and as all good explorers know, “There are no rules. No rules, just soul.” 


Christine Green is a freelance writer who lives on the Erie Canal in Brockport with her family.

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