Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets of 'Friend of the Devil' Mark Spivak

Mark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books: 
Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friend of the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq.
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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?
Mark Spivak: I’ve been writing since the age of eleven, and knew from the time I was a teenager that this was where I wanted to end up. I carried the idea for Friend of the Devil in my head for many years---several decades, actually. It would be fair to say that I was obsessed with it
Is this your first book?
Mark Spivak: It’s my first published novel. Prior to this, I wrote two non-fiction books published by Lyons Press: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, and Moonshine Nation.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Mark Spivak: I went the traditional route, via a small independent press. I’m not a fan of self-publishing for many reasons.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Mark Spivak: It could fairly be described as agonizing. I had an agent for my two non-fiction books, but she didn’t do fiction. So I sent an early draft of the novel out to 200-250 agents, and they all said no. I put it in a drawer, pulled it out a few years later, rewrote it several times, and sent it to another 200 agents. They all said no again. Finally I started submitting to small presses that would accept unagented manuscripts, and one of them took it.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Mark Spivak: I was very lucky this time around to find Black Opal Books---it’s a kinder and gentler publishing environment. Dealing with a mainstream publisher can be a very unpleasant experience in many ways.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Mark Spivak: It may not be perfect, but it’s the only game in town. Most self-published books don’t receive competent editing, and most don’t sell more than 100 copies. If you’re serious about becoming a writer, this is the only way to do it.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Mark Spivak: Don’t give up.
About the Book:

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, sold his soul to the Devil to achieve culinary greatness. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

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