A few years back, my boss at Canisius High School approached me and asked me to take on writing a sesquicentennial history of the institution. It was a project way over my head, but they thought I was the right guy to do it and I figured it would be an interesting challenge. Historical research isn't really my thing, and it was a rigorous undertaking. I had to learn a lot. The product, Blue Doors, is something I'm proud of.
Anyway, just before taking that on, I had wrapped up my second novel, Wilderness Therapy, and began querying agents. After self-publishing Boarding Pass and Ten Stories, I told myself I was going to make every effort to secure an agent and enter the marketplace as a represented author. I invested plenty of time and treasure into refining the manuscript with the help of a top-tier editorial firm. I knew getting an agent is hard, and I had no illusions that I would. But I told myself I'd give it several years of trying.
I have. But after no fewer than 117 specifically tailored queries to both agents and small press publishers over four years, I've decided it's time to bring the story into the world through my independent publishing imprint, One Lane Bridge. One might think the process has been disheartening; in reality, it's actually been quite reaffirming. Here's why. My full manuscript was requested by fourteen (12%) of the 117 agents and/or publishers I queried. And the response every time was along these lines: "This is a compelling story, and beautifully written, and it should be published. We just don't think it's what the market is looking for right now."
One of the people who told me she loved it was an author you would know who started her own literary agency. I'm not sharing her name because I don't think it's my place to do so, as our correspondence was not intended to constitute an endorsement. But the fact that she told me she was moved to tears by it is enough for me to have confidence in my work. This is a woman whose books have sold well into the seven figures.
Truth is, I've gotten past the desire to earn a lot of money from my books. If there's one thing I've learned from the publishing world, it's that (like in most other media industries), the Pareto Principle is alive and well, and to an extreme: Only a tiny percentage of books really make much money. I guess at this stage of my career, I can count myself blessed to be in a position to enjoy the freedom of not caring how many books I sell. I'm proud of the story, I've enjoyed creating the art, and I want to share it. There's liberation in knowing that I can do that without the industry's nonsense in the background.
So, anyway, all that said, I'm running with the ball. I'm working with my brother David, an Academy-Award-Nominated digital artist, on the cover (he's done my other three books, too). The manuscript is in top condition, having been through the wringer with a rock star of an editor with real industry chops. I'm excited to maintain full control of the process and the product. I'll have a cover reveal in the coming months. Pre-orders will be available soon, and I'll launch the thing in early-to-mid 2020.
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You can read the Kirkus Review here.