The winding road to
publication of Ryder Islington’s debut novel, Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery
In The Beginning:
I want to start by saying, pitches, queries and synopses suck!
I can’t even write short stories, so how can I create an all encompassing
sentence, paragraph or even a page? Okay, now that I have that out of my
Reeling in the big fish:
my latest experience with major publishers
I had this masterpiece, my baby, ready to send into the
world. At the Written In The Stars Conference in Shreveport, LA, a pitch to a
big time editor won me a request for a full manuscript! She raved about the
concept and the characters, so I didn’t blink when she asked for an exclusive.
She kept the script eighteen months before sending a nicely written rejection,
saying the writing was great, but she didn’t think the pace was fast enough nor
was it a thriller, which was what she expected.
I thought she knew it was a mystery, but apparently I wasn’t clear in my
Trying something different:
the small press
I sent out queries to agents and editors and got a few
requests for a synopsis and a few chapters, but no one said yes. So I put the
script under the bed, where it set for several months before I pulled it back
out for more revisions. I started scouting the Internet for other options.
After some research, I chose an e-publisher and sent a
query. The editor contacted me for a full, kept it for three months and then
sent a cryptic message regarding drastic changes in the number of characters
and more showing and less telling. I asked for more specific advice so I could comply,
but never got a response.
Back to the drawing board. Three more queries. Three
responses. One person asked for a full, but didn’t have time to read it until
after the end of the year (I think this was about June or July), one said he
would be glad to publish it, after only reading my query and synopsis. My ego
yelled, “Yes!” but my gut said something wasn’t right. He couldn’t possibly be
a legit publisher interested in putting out good books.
And then there was the third one. I received a professional
style letter requesting a full, and saying she would get back to me within six
weeks. And she did. She explained what needed more work, and what she would
require in terms of changes, and offered a contract if I agreed. She kept her
word and I really liked that she said right up front what she expected and what
I would receive in the way of royalties for my work. So I signed on the dotted
I never got an agent. I don’t need one right now. The people
helpful, knowledgeable, patient, and willing to help make the end product
shine. And so my debut novel, Justice, A
Trey Fontaine Mystery,
was born. I don’t regret my decision to go with a
small press. I have to do a lot of promotion, but the truth is, large
publishers don’t spend dollars on newbies. So even if I had landed one of the
biggies, I’d be in the same boat.
The freedom of working
with the small press publisher
I feel empowered by working closely with the small press
publisher. My book is available as an e-book and print on demand (POD). I like
the greenness of that. And I like that I have no one pressuring me to put out
more books, faster. I work as fast as I can, and I promote as much as I can.
The editor understands that I have limited time, as well as physical limitations, and works with me, even
sending business cards and cover plates for advertising. I think she’s pretty
The cover plates are pictures of the book cover, a bit
larger than a post card, with a blurb, bio, review and a buy link on the back.
I carry both of these items where ever I go and I’m not shy about asking, “Are
you a reader?” The cashier, bank teller (I sold her three copies), physical
therapist, movie ticket taker. Business cards fit nicely with my out-going
mail. So, everyone at the pharmacy, electric company, and satellite provider
gets an opportunity to learn about my book. I also post cover plates and
business card in libraries, on bulletin boards, and I’ve been known to leave them
lying around at the doctor’s office, the hospital, the massage therapist’s waiting
room—no one is safe from my littering.
So what’s next? Well, I’m working on book two of the Trey Fontaine Mysteries, while I work on
the next horror of it all: promotions—Facebook and Twitter and blog tours, oh my!