I have just read a piece on the rights and wrongs of vanity publications,
(vanity is the correct word), let us not dress it up. If you have to get
published that way, you can probably afford it and it is good for your ego.
What is that deafening scream I can hear, that would be unpublished
wannabe writers screaming at the top of their lungs, it's okay for you; you’ve
probably been published. And you would be right, but let’s not bask in the
glory of my publication for too long, I wrote the majority of my book
twenty-five years ago. I have now for the past two and a half years
seriously been trying to get published and when I did, that was just the
beginning of round two. There is a very strong urge to get your work
published and out there, but I am sorry your vanity is just a useful tool
for publishers to beat you with. During those two and a half years, which I
call my blue period, on account of the language publisher’s used just to say
no thank you. They talk down their nose at you; tell you your life’s work is rubbish and then they want you to
thank them for their expert opinion. Over the two and a half years I have
had many jumped up little nerds tell me my book was rubbish, pointless,
very poorly written and one said “you have to be famous to write an
autobiography”. If he’d only read it he would have known it wasn’t an
autobiography, but then I am sure we all have opinions on publishers, (I
wonder what publishers think about themselves)?
Round two is that decision you have to make whether to cut your losses and
go with an e-book, or hold out for the paper or possible hardback book
version. I don’t suggest you listen to me or do as I have done, but I was given
that very decision. Just like buses there was nothing for ages and then four at
I had a choice of three e-books or the one paperback with an American
publisher. After asking around I still hadn’t found out anything about my
American publisher, but the clincher came when I spoke to the publisher from one
of the e-books. He described
what a brilliant feeling it was, many years ago when he was a struggling writer,
to receive his first two free author copies of the book that he had written. He told me they didn’t have computers or
e-books in his day; and he assured me which he would choose, between both
reading a story off a computer screen or holding a real book in his hand,
that he had written. I am now having problems promoting my published book
because of it being produced in America. Mind you it was a truly magnificent feeling, holding a real
book in my hand that I wrote and is now out there for others to read.
I think everybody should just keep on going, until someone decides to
publish you. Most of us know whether or not the book which we are trying to
publish, is worth it. Although I am positive I would have carried on, even
if I had thought my own book was rubbish. Although I never once considered
paying someone to publish my book, if they didn’t like it
enough to have it published for commercial gain. During my blue period yet another publisher
that I will remain thankful to said my book could use a good rewrite, and if
I was serious about getting it published I should get an agent. He also gave
me a challenge and told me to write a short story, with the name of a famous
person in the title. He told me he was going on holiday and would read the
story on his return. Eventually I had an e-mail from him telling
me it wasn’t that bad and he had entered my story into a competition. I then went
through my book with a fine-tooth-comb and did rewrite parts of it; some
months later I was told I had came tenth runner-up in the competition he had entered me in.
It was then that my four buses turned up and after making my own decision,
aided by my other friendly publisher, I plumped for the Americans. I never
did get myself an agent, but then it is down to us who we listen to and how
we use that information.
You can always find good and bad in all walks of life and it is up to you to
decide who to listen to and who to ignore. On my own personal journey to
being published, I have come across two English publishers who have been
very useful and one American who did actually publish me. So if you are
struggling and the insults have started to get you down:
remember there is that possibility of only maybe the three good publishers, but rather than
paying for your vanity, there could be a couple of buses along any minute
I wrote High spirits:
I wrote this book
not only as a reminder and record of the key changes that took
place in my young life, after joining Her Majesty’s Royal Air
Force, but also as a light hearted pick-me-up and possible
training guide, for any young twenty-year-old down on their
luck, or having a few problems as a result of their living
environment. It can and does get better, but please bear in
mind, around eighty per cent of this book is what not to do.
There are too
many of the younger generation, that believe the older
generation, never did anything wrong their whole lives. That is
an impossible burden for the younger generation to have to live
up to and without a doubt, the older generation would love to
reflect on some of the less intelligent pranks they pulled,
before grey hair set in. This book will serve both purposes very
I often read the
odd chapter of my own book, whenever I am slightly under par;
this never fails to bring a smile back to my face. By having my
book published, this would allow everybody else the same
opportunities as I look forward to on a regular basis.
fw:Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Kent. What is your book called, and what is it about?
KR:The Second Season follows the story of Sonny
"Clubber" Wilson, a young man from troubled home in Maysville, Kentucky, his emergence as a
1960s Major League Baseball All-Star, to homeless man lacking any previous memories.
The Second Season is told through the eyes of Sonny's best friend, Russell Henning. Henning shares the life and times of a young man from a severely dysfunctional Maysville, Kentucky home. A mixture of actual people and historic venues, coupled with literary suspense, spins
The Second Season into an irresistible, intense drama of a man against himself as Sonny tries to find his place in life.
fw:Did the idea come to you all at once, or was it something you
developed over a longer period?
KR:The Second Season didn’t just happen, but I’ve always said that either you grab a story and go with it, or it grabs you.
TSS carried both of those elements. I had a good idea how the story would go from beginning to end, but as always, the
"inner guts" of the book really tried my patience.
fw:How long did it take to get it into a state you were
KR:The Second Season was a long time in coming. The initial writing took approximately
seven months, but at the time I was laid off, so I was able to write every day.
When I began writing TSS, I originally planned to make St. Louis the hometown of Sonny Wilson. St. Louis, Missouri, is known as a great all-American town steeped in baseball tradition. I planned to travel to the town on the mighty Mississippi to get a feel for the city,
neighbourhoods, and people. However, many times the best laid plans often go by the wayside as problems crop up. Just as I got ready to take pen in hand, I was laid off from a long-time position with my company. Money and resources were scarce, so I decided to stick closer to home. Living in Ohio, I searched the area map and located the town of Maysville, Kentucky and knew immediately that's where Clubber Wilson was going to grow up, and then later flee.
It turned out that the town of Maysville was much better suited for what I was trying to present with the book. I made several trips to that fine city stationed along the Ohio River, met some of the townsfolk, and took in the
neighbourhood where I planned to establish the Wilson’s residence. Sonny would be a small town boy from a troubled, semi-rural family who desperately wanted to escape the domestic conflict and seek his fortune in the big city. He was like many of the young people of that post WWII and Korean War era in that he believed that the world was expanding at a record pace and the grass had to be greener elsewhere.
I finished the manuscript in mid 2001 and submitted the pages to an editor. He thought the script flowed quite nicely…until the final twenty or so pages. Then it really dragged. He was right, but I had no remedy for the problem. I set
TSS aside for a bit while readying another manuscript, Reflections
of Pearl Harbor, for publication. A couple of years later, I finally came up with a suitable ending, and I once again submitted the manuscript for editing.
fw:Did you find any success with your other manuscript?
of Pearl Harborwas published by Praeger in 2005. I also
have another fiction that’s in the printing process titled Journey Across
fw:How important do you think that previous publishing credit
was when you were trying to place The Second Season?
KR: In my case it was very important. With my first book, it was difficult to get anyone to look at the script because I was considered
has since received some fine reviews. With TSS, I think being a sports writer/photographer with a small newspaper helped my cause quite a bit. Non-fiction publishers like history professors who write history books, and sports publishers like sports writers who write of sports. They think that it helps an author’s credibility to have some inside knowledge of one’s subject matter. They’re usually right, but I hope they give the work a chance to stand on its own.
fw:So did your approach to trying to get published differ
between the books?
I utilised agents (and
Reflectionsand Journey, but they proved to be quite inefficient. It seemed to me that if you didn’t have a potential 10,000 seller, you were shuffled to the bottom of the pile. I read up on what it takes to market your own manuscript, then set out to do just that. What did I have to lose? I began submitting query letters to prospective publishers around the country, and that process went on for the better part of a year. Finally, I stumbled upon
and found a publisher named
Publishing. They read my synopsis and thought the book would be a good fit for their fledgling Vanilla Heart imprint. They requested the entire manuscript, and within several weeks informed me that they wanted to offer me a contract. They liked the manuscript, and it didn’t hurt that I already had a photograph that was perfect for the cover.
fw:Had you tried any other methods of finding a publisher before
you joined firstwriter.com?
I tried the ads in the back of writing magazines as well as the internet (late 1990s and very early 2000s) with poor results.
fw:So what made firstwriter.com more effective than
searching the rest of the internet?
It helped me that firstwriter.com included the publisher’s website to make sure they were still looking for that genre. Many publishers switch in main stream and you’ll never know unless you look. It also helped that you could be specific in what you were looking for in a publisher (fiction, non,
US, foreign, etc.).
fw:What approach did you take to contacting publishers?
Through our local writing group, The Hamilton Writer’s Guild, I was able to perfect my query letter. Many of those I sent out as hard copy, but through
firstwriter.com, I was able to cut and paste many of those out via the net.
fw:How many publishers did you approach before you were
How many? I’m embarrassed to say, but let’s just say, too many to count. Probably every eligible publisher in the
US is familiar with my name. Too bad they missed out on a great book!
TSS took about six months while Journey took several years.
Reflectionstook a couple of years as well.
fw:Were the rejections always courteous and polite?
Some were polite saying that I had a good piece of work there, but it wasn’t currently their genre, but some were a bit rude. The worst was a publisher that stuck a frowny face sticker on my original query and said, “No
thanks”. The worst for a writer are those publishers who say, “If you don’t hear from us, consider yourself
fw:And why do you think you and your publisher are a good match?
I think we’re a good match because I’m still a fledgling author, and Vanilla Heart is/was willing to work with me and wanted to hear my input. They used my ideas, so it wasn’t just lip service, as they say. VH likes me because I’m willing to do book signings and have other ideas to market the book.
fw: Do you have any tips or advice for other writers trying to get published
or find an agent?
KR: Agents? Never pay them a penny. They work strictly on commission. If you’re footing the bill, what incentive is there for them to work harder to get your book into print? Also, check them out on
which includes independent reports from up to three separate
sources, including Predators and Editors. I saw the two I used on there with
unfavourable ratings. Surprise.
fw:And what have you got lined up next?
KR: I plan to do several more signings when the weather warms, seeing how
TSS uses baseball as a backdrop, it seems appropriate. I’m writing another book now, and I have the first three chapters complete as well as the last two. Yes, the
"guts" thing still has me dragging.
fw:Thank you for your
time, Kent, and best of luck with all your writing endeavours!
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