In 2004, I was forced into retirement due to disability. At age 51, I had to step away from a rewarding university career. Being of somewhat sound mind and having the ability to type on a laptop, I decided to start writing again. I had been published in 1986 for a non-fiction book called Job Seeking Skills for Students. And, I have no other talent. My math skills are deplorable and I’m dangerous with tools. Therefore, in my barely-sane mind, this created the possibility of being published again. But, could I be published for fiction, which was my desire?
After three years of prodigious research and effort, I produced an epic work of historical fiction, called Jacob’s Courage: A Holocaust Love Story (2007, Mazo Publishers). During this time, I discovered that almost two entire generations of my maternal extended family had perished in the Holocaust. Of seven siblings, only my grandfather survived. His brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews disappeared under Nazi rule. This intensified my efforts and I decided to produce the book in their memory.
The next stage of my life was devoted to learning everything that I could about publishers, book publishing proposals; locating and contacting publishers and then marketing my book. I also discovered that I required something called an “author platform” and a “video book trailer.” This was news to me and an eye-opening experience. I thought that I could address only a few of the publisher’s submission guidelines and swiftly obtain a contract. I thought that I could throw together a bio and some sections of my book and then publishers would rush to accept it. Boy was I wrong!
What follows is a brief description of the finished product, followed by step-by-step instructions for being published. I follow no publishing guru. I adhere to no system. If I can impress any single feature upon you, it is the need to give the publisher exactly what they demand in a proposal (or give an agent everything that they demand in a query letter) and then to be very patient and committed. I had to contact dozens of publishers in order to generate four solid contract offers. The last offer turned out to be the best one. Had I selected an earlier contract offer, I would have missed out on the best match for my novel.
There are some very good reasons to self-publish, especially for non-fiction. But, if you want a traditional publisher, never accept your first offer; wait for the best offer. And, feel free to negotiate terms of the contract. You have every right to make it meet your needs, as well as the publisher’s needs.
Before we continue, here is some information about my novel:
Jacob’s Courage is a tender coming of age love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria. This historical novel presents scenes and situations of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. It explores the dazzling beauty of passionate love, powerful faith and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. From desperate despair, to unforgettable moments of chaste beauty, Jacob’s Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality.
Video Trailer for Jacob’s Courage: