Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Publishing Secrets with Mystery Author Joseph B. Atkins

Book Title: Casey’s Last Chance
Genre: hardboiled crime/mystery
Find out more on Amazon
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Joe: As stated below, this is not my first book so I’ve been an author for a while. However, I’ve wanted to be a writer since my eighth-grade English class, when my teacher, Bill Watson, a published writer and playwright himself, inspired me with tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, and so on. After school, I’d go home to my room and churn out Poe-like tales of horror, and they were pretty horrible all right, but it was a start!
Is this your first book?
Joe: This is actually my third published book. The first two were non-fiction, however. This is my second novel although the first novel was never published.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Joe: I’ve published with a small, independent publisher that specializes in books with Southern themes like mine. I figured my book was probably too dark to be a candidate for a major publisher, and besides I don’t have an agent. I looked for publishers with interests in books like mine, got a few rejections and a couple close calls along the way before finding my publisher. 
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Joe: I’ve been a journalist for nearly 40 years, publishing in newspapers and magazines since the 1970s, and getting a few short stories and a couple poems into print, too. Like most writers, I’ve also got drawers full of rejections slips! Books came later in life. My two non-fiction books were published with university presses, which in turn put price tags on them that made them hard to sell commercially. I decided I never wanted that to happen again. My first novel, actually a novella, was a finalist in a national fiction contest, and I was sure that was my ticket to publication and fame. After 40 rejections, however, I shelved it and started on my second novel. That’s what many writers have done, including a good friend of mine who’s a New York Times best-selling author. With
some good advice from that writer and others, I was able to make that second novel work and get it published. We all need editors, and good advice is golden, but sometimes, too, you may have to stand up for your work and defend it. The publisher of one of my nonfiction books wanted to delete the book’s postscript, which I felt was crucial. I stood my ground, and the postscript survived, thank goodness!

What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Joe: This may sound like a cliché, but you’ve got to just keep hammering away. If you want to be a writer, then you’ve got to be able to pick yourself up off the floor a thousand times, dust yourself off, and go at it again. If you’ve been serious about your craft, I feel there’s a publisher out there for you. You don’t want to be two ships passing in the night, however. Study the publishers’ interests and rules, and, by all means, make contacts. That’s what gets you off the over-the-transom pile and onto the publisher’s desk!
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Joe: I’ve got writer friends who all somehow found their own way to a publisher. My way was pretty long and tortuous, but that’s not that unusual. For some it’s easier than for others. Living in New York might help, but I don’t. Some good writers fall to the wayside because they’re too stubborn, too fragile, or their egos get in the way. Be open, willing to learn, and on the lookout for opportunities.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

Joe: I just read this from Charles Bukowski: “There is nothing more magic and beautiful than lines forming across paper. … No reward is greater than the doing.” You’ve got to love writing and in your heart know you’ve got no choice but to do it. I wouldn’t trade the joy I’ve felt at my desk on certain early mornings or late nights when some insight came shaping a character or a twist in the plot, and I just knew it was right. In those moments, you say to yourself, “To hell if this ever gets published, that’s just damned good!”

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