A funny thing happened at the end of my last tryst with writing immortality, a guy actually offered to publish my book, and on his dime. Yes, for the first time in my less than illustrious writing career, somebody besides me is paying for putting out my work. I was a bit slow to realize this was happening.
During our fourth discussion, as I’m silently adding up the numbers he’s quoting for the publishing process and comparing them to my dwindling bank account, my new publisher friend said, “You do realize that I’m paying for this, don’t you?”
No, I did not.
True, there is no advance or instant wealth from this deal, but even better, he offered the services of an editor to guide me through rewriting the book. Yes, I was wise enough to realize that calling my manuscript a “rough draft” was overly generous, and I welcomed the opportunity to improve it with the aid of intelligent and insightful feedback.
And I wasn’t going to have to pay for this advice.
A brief history is in order. I finished this book in June and immediately went to work doing what I’d done with previous books. I sent dozens of queries to agents and publishers offering my literary jewel to a hopefully eager marketplace. Truthfully, as I’d done this previously, I had no illusions that this effort would be productive, but I felt some sort of beginning writer’s obligation to go through the process so I’d have a common subject to commiserate
with should I chance to come upon another struggling writer.
Imagine my surprise when, nearly as soon as I sent out my many emailed queries, I began to get actual email responses. Yes, these were all rejections but they were signs that someone had actually taken enough interest in my book to write back. Given that the typical form of agent and publisher rejection is no response at all, I was delighted.
How sad is that, a man rejoicing in rejection?
Why the sudden rash of written rejections? This time, I’d added a flashy bit of cover art to my manuscript, having hired an illustrator to crate something that would excite an audience response. This apparently worked, but it seems that after the readers turned to the second page, interest immediately waned.
Who says first impressions aren’t everything?
Somewhat wiser from previous marketing experiences, I’d also sent letters to numerous environmental organizations whose interests paralleled the theme in my book. I was encouraged when several of them offered to promote my book but not until it was published.
Are you familiar with the phrase “Catch 22?”
Yes, I’ve done the self-publishing thing and there is a certain sense of pride seeing my title on Amazon accompanied with a few positive reviews. However that pride dissipates quickly when I remember that my title is one of about two million currently listed on amazon. This realization put me back in the recliner chair reconsidering the meaning of life, and then a slightly more manageable topic, why did I write this book?
I wrote “Perils of Payeto, the Last Vaquita Porpoise,” to provoke a discussion about how Man relates to Nature in today’s world. I wrote it to encourage young people to explore ideas about how they can make their world better. I wrote it to give teachers a tool for studying how increased awareness of the natural world can lead to new ideas and programs to create a sustainable balance between the activities of Man and Nature.
Okay, that’s all noble and good, but what’s the practical reality here? I don’t really care how many copies I sell on Amazon, what I really want to do is get my book into the hands and minds of young people, especially in schools in Baja California.
I do enjoy my day dreams in that easy chair. I was about to dive into the question of how to get my book into those schools when I received an ∑email from a friend, the afore mentioned illustrator who did the dazzling cover. Seems he also worked for a publisher who was interested in the book. This turned out to be the guy who offered to ∑put my book out and pay for the process.
And here I am. The book has been rewritten and is much more solid for the effort. I’m about to get the English copy translated into Spanish, as publishing the book in an English/Spanish bilingual format seems to be a better way to offer it to the school audience I’m seeking in Mexico.
Looking back at the past three months, what did I learn?
Never give up!
Sometimes success is just a step away and it can sneak up from unexpected places.
Wishing you all the best!