The Business of Books

There are two sides to writing if you are interested in being published. One side is up to you, and that is producing the story, poem, novel, or memoir that represents your best efforts and is rewarded with the great news that you are being published. The other side is cold, hard business - dark and seamy and filled with potholes and disasters - and those are the good things about the business side of being published.

When I was notified that my first novel was going to be published, I was thrilled. I had images of my book in print with my name on it and all kinds of accolades and bestseller status and . . .  so on. Likewise my second novel. Things were rolling and, even though I wasn't getting rich by any stretch of the imagination, I was proud of my work. Novel #3 was finished and sent off and I was told it would be published last November. And then communication came to a dead stop. Emails were unanswered. A Christmas gift was not acknowledged. No communication. This is the evil side of publishing; the business side over which writers have little control. So I made a decision based on the fact that communication had ended. I sent them a registered letter terminating my contracts. 

Now I am on the street again, seeking a publisher or an agent, tin cup in hand and singing "Mr. Bojangles" on street corners. Tough decisions are not always rewarded immediately, you know.

Agent Unawares (For Now)


For all practical purposes, I have finished the "big" novel I've been writing to you all about.  Thirty-eight chapters ast it turns out, thoroughly reviewed, critiqued, and edited by my stellar book concierge, and studied by my writers group, "The Write Minds." I enjoyed writing the book, enjoyed the several revisions, enjoyed the outcome of the story that has redemption in it for a very troubled protagonist. Now the hard part sets in, the "corrosive self doubt" that I wrote about earlier that all writers feel.  It isn't any good.  It might be good but no one will want it.  Is it the best I can do?  Did I waste my time?  What will my 6th grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Clinton, Iowa think of it?

Something even harder begins now, and that - finding an agent.  I published my first two novels, and the third to come, without an agent.  So, why do I need an agent for this book?  Because there is a whole business side of publishing that I know nothing about and that my current publisher does not pursue.  How to push the book.  How to get rave reviews.  How to boost sales.  How to expand author's rights into foreign sales, getting into big bookstores, even movies.  How to, I tremble to mention this, how to make some money at my craft.

I have writer friends who have written wonderful novels and can't get published.  I have writer friends who got published but have made less than $500 in royalties over two or three years.  I have writer friends who despair and give up, but I'm not doing that.  I wrote a good book.  I hope to find an excellent agent who will boost my career.

I will keep you posted, dear readers.

I'm afflicted

One of my goals this Spring Break was to finish the first draft of novel #3 in the Thomas O'Shea series. Just a few chapters, going back a bit and making minor revisions, forging ahead. Well, I did it. I finished the final chapter, Chapter 30. I tried to avoid finishing it, to be honest. I have what the great James Lee Burke calls "corrosive self-doubt," which is an affliction all writers suffer.  I dawdled. I dallied. I thought of other things I could do besides finish that last, short, chapter. I played "monster" with my dog, chasing her around the cottage, a game she loves. I got on Facebook for a while. I read up on the Hawkeyes, the Red Sox, political scandals. I went back to my computer.   I finished, immediately followed by a sense of satisfaction, a sense of imminent doom, a bit of sadness that it was over. But I finished. Next step? Well, I mean to put it away until May, and then I'll go full bore making revisions, some major, most minor. I have to get all the names straight, the timelines accurate, the details nailed down, maybe more research to review, the loose ends tied up. But I love that part of being a writer as well.   Next step after that? Off to my publisher and start to write again.   Being a writer is an affliction, but it is a delightful one, especially when a work is finished. And I did that. Now I can spend my valuable time watching March Madness. Of course, there's some writing I need to do.

The beat goes on.

A most sincere thank you

I just want to take a moment and thank each of you who purchased any version whatsoever of my debut novel, Signs of Struggle. I just received my first-ever royalty check from a publisher and I am humbled and happy. I truly set zero expectations for
sales. Well, y'all left zero sales way back in the dust and I'm very, very pleased. You have no idea how blessed I am to have you as readers.

Next, if you haven't already, would you kindly take a moment and go to Amazon and write a short(or long) review of Signs of Struggle? That is helpful to boost readership. Don't ask me how, but that's what the professionals tell me.

If you liked it, consider recommending it to a friend. Or two. Or three. That helps, too.

Finally, I'm happy to let you know that the sequel, A Far Gone Night, is now into its 11th chapter and I'm beginning to understand how it might turn out. It's the second in what is going to be a series called "Thomas O'Shea Mysteries." So, yes, there'll be more of Thomas, but also Lunatic Mooning, Bunza Steele, and Olivia Olson. I'll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime, thank you. You are the best.

Signs of Struggle Sequel....

Some writer once said that there is real fear when beginning to write something new. There is that blank page, or screen, and nothing to build on. Just the author and the idea and all that can be, or not. I admit, it is a little scary, but I am a writer, and I understand. And I've been pleased to have several people (including my publisher) who read Signs of Struggle tell me that they wanted a sequel; that the characters were fun, and more would be just fine with them. So here I go.

The novel's working title is A Far Gone Night and it will pick up where SOS ended, with Thomas finally able to look forward to the next stage in his life. I'm not for sure what's going to happen, what the big conflicts will be, but that's part of the fun of writing. Interesting things can emerge, and that's a kind of magic. But the magic doesn't occur until the writing begins.

I'll keep you posted, dear readers. Let's see now, how should I begin? Maybe,"'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . " Better not. How 'bout, "In the beginning . . . " Nope. Has a nice ring to it, but it's been done by a better writer than I.

Guess I'll go with: "Covington was the name of the Georgia State Trooper who told me my family was dead." Stay tuned.