The movie Sideways has been airing a lot lately on cable TV and I find myself caught up in it each time. I do enjoy wine, but it is more the storyline that Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, is waiting to hear back from his literary agent about his novel being considered by Conundrum Publishers (Great name, by the way.) that pulls me in. Well, when Miles cannot take the wait any longer and calls his agent to see if there has been any word, she tells him that the publisher has passed, even though they liked it. The problem was that they didn't know how to market it. Her conversation with Miles was spot on. The thing is, when I first saw this movie in the theater, I found it both validating but discouraging. It seems there were many writers like me struggling to get that book deal and, for me, it started to look as though it was never going to happen.I was still enjoying my work scheduling events for Borders Books when one day I was contacted by Susan, the president of iUniverse, who was reaching out to me on behalf of one of their authors, hoping to get her into a couple of our stores for signings. I admit that I was a bit dismissive since I considered iUniverse a vanity press and told Susan that we didn't book their authors since the books weren't returnable. Well, she immediately corrected me and told me that they had a program where the books were, indeed, returnable. I then asked who the author was. Her response: "Amy Fisher." And, not only that, but Amy was scheduled to be on Oprah. I knew this could not be turned down and booked Amy at one of our Long Island locations. The event was a success, but more importantly, I got to know Susan quite well and when she heard my story about the two literary agents I had for Without Grace, she asked me to send her the manuscript. She then sent it to one of her editors and they both loved it and she wanted to publish it for me. She must have heard the hesitation in my voice and knew it was because I didn't think too highly of their approach to publishing, even though I was impressed with what they did for Amy. She then said, I don't want you paying us a dime. I want you to see what we can do. Well, since I figured Without Grace wouldn't have a chance otherwise, I took her up on her offer. Several months later, my book was published; I couldn't have been more pleased. I hosted a book launch in the library at the landmark building of The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen in Manhattan, and did events in several Borders stores. What was frustrating, though, was that no magazine or newspaper would review the novel because it wasn't traditionally published. However, there was one respected Website that reviewed only print-on-demand books and I knew that on October 3rd, 2005 the review for Without Grace was going to be posted. That morning, I opened it with trepidation and began reading it aloud to my daughter. She could tell that I was starting to cry and ran to me, but not because it was a bad review. Rather, the review began this way:
"I have to admit, not many novels bring to mind TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD--not so much because people rarely tell good stories about rural America, as much as it is such a rarity to be blown away by the writing of said country life."
I will always remember that day, not only because of that validating review, but that was the very same day that my job, along with several of my peers, was eliminated at Borders Books. At first I was thunderstruck, but then decided to take advantage of the time to promote my novel--not to mention start my own publishing consulting business. I was invited by a book group in Savannah, Georgia to participate in the discussion of my book and decided, thanks to my new-found freedom, I had the time to travel, so I went. Their newspaper did an article on me and my book. I went upstate New York where the novel takes place and was interviewed by Gordie Little for a local channel while the Press Republican did a generous article on me, which helped bring out a nice crowd to the event I did at the Borders store there. I was living the dream, but once things calmed down for Without Grace, I was busy building my new career. I was also working on a third novel. Meanwhile, Of Little Faith still remained dormant. I was almost ready to forget about it ever seeing the light of day.
To be continued....