Today I’m featuring author Will Edwinson’s Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Will…
I’d like to begin by thanking Christi Corbett for giving me this opportunity to do a guest post on her blog concerning my path to publication.
When I was young I aspired to be a writer. But I was just a small town farm boy with small town insecurities. Because I didn’t think I had the intellect to ever be a writer, I figured there was no way I could become a published author. Only big city boys were endowed with such intellect. So I put the writing notion aside to be replaced by things I thought more worthy of my time.
Most of the reading I did during my young adult years was confined to trade journals related to my profession in agriculture. I allowed no time in my schedule for reading novels. Then one day I picked up a novel, I don’t even remember the name of it, and began to read it. I do remember, though, it was one of those page turners that’s hard to put down. It was then that the lights came on. I said to myself, “I can do this.” By that time, I was past fifty. If I was ever going to become a writer, it was time to get started. So that’s what I did.
My first novel was about an errant preacher. It was a good enough storyline, but as all first time authors discover, the first draft was poorly crafted. I ended up moving whole chapters around; but after about five years, and numerous rewrites, I finished it. That was my practice novel. It’s still sitting on the shelf gathering dust. I doubt I’ll ever offer it for publication. In the meantime, I started reading more novels, and started paying attention to the craftsmanship of building a story. I also enrolled in Writer’s Digest short story writing course. But for the most part, I guess you could say I am a self-taught author. I am what I refer to as a “by the seat of your pants author.” I don’t plot my stories via an outline ahead of time, nor do I have any idea what my secondary characters will be like. I get to know them as the story progresses.
My next book, A Halcyon Revolution, I started in 1994. After numerous rewrites it was published in 2001. It was my first published novel. It was a political fantasy about people in the United States who grew tired of their big bloated oppressive government and decided to do something about it. They started an underground (halcyon) revolution that involved an exodus of like-minded people into eighteen Western states. They involve themselves in politics and gain ideological control of the respective legislatures of those states, and on a pre-selected date, secede from the union as a block to form the new Free States of North America. That book is currently out of print, but I’m working on an updated and expanded version that I may offer for publication at a later date.
Because of 911, the year 2001 was probably not the best year to offer a novel with a storyline that features separatism in the United States, but it was already in production when 911 occurred in September of that year. The book went on sale two months later in November. I had my work cut out for me, but with my appearance on several local TV and radio programs, and a host of book signings throughout Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, it did eventually sell enough copies (not enough to make Will Edwinson a household name but enough to recover expenses). But I digress. Back to my path to publication.
As most who are reading this blog know, getting published, whether it be traditional or self-publishing, is a lot of work. I started out trying to find a traditional publisher for Halcyon. I was told by those in the know that I needed an agent. After numerous query letters, and an equal number of rejections, I finally secured an agent. Problem was, three weeks after we signed the contract he suffered a heart attack and died. The young apprentice who took over his agency was unable to secure a publishing contract, so after about a year, we severed our relationship.
Thus starts my search for a new agent. Same story; a myriad more query letters and rejections, but finally another hit, and I was accepted. Between the time that this agent agreed to take me on, and the signing of the actual papers, I learned she had been indicted for fraud. “Enough of this nonsense.” I said to myself. “I’ll self-publish.”
I purchased a copy of How To Publish Your Own Novel, by Connie Shelton, and started my journey down the road to becoming a publishing magnate. I was soon to learn that self-publishing in those days was an arduous task; not for the lazy or faint hearted.
I decided to create my own publishing company, rather than use a Vanity publisher. This necessitated gathering together several thousand dollars for the project; half of which was to cover the cost of the books that would be stored in my garage. Next phase involved creating a name for my company and developing a professional looking imprint logo. After that it was time to look for a good editor (something I neglected to do for that first published book, however). Then there was the task of locating a typesetter and cover designer.
After all these little ducks were in proper alignment, came the time to locate a printer and book manufacturer. I was fortunate enough to find all those services in Salt Lake City just a hundred fifty miles from where I lived, so I was able to deal with them one on one, face to face. Oh…I almost forgot to mention the ISBN number, which at that time were only available in a minimum block of ten (I still have nine of those in some drawer gathering dust and are most likely outdated by now.) Also, there was copyright registration and getting the book listed in the Library of Congress (LCCN number) just to name a couple more of the tasks.
The books were finally off the presses, and I had a pallet or two of books taking up space in my garage. Time, now, to find a wholesale distributor, because most bookstores, even the independents, won’t order books direct from the publisher. I finally secured the Western division of Baker and Taylor to handle the distribution. We’re now ready to start marketing, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story; enough for a complete blog post, except to say, that even traditional publishers, today, expect authors to do their own marketing and promotion.
Would I take that route again? Fortunately, self-publishing has become much easier for authors since the days of my first experience. For my second book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, I used a POD publisher, Wheatmark Publishers, located here in Tucson. This publisher offered the best of two worlds. I got all the benefits of a traditional publisher. They did all the leg work I mentioned above for a whole lot less expense, and I didn’t have a bunch of books sitting in my garage that I had to worry about getting sold. I got to keep all rights to my book; I was allowed input for cover design, layout, and editing. The other nice thing about POD books is that there is no minimum print run requirement. The books are printed as they are ordered. You can order one or a thousand; the price per copy is the same. And last, but not least, is the time frame for getting your book on the market. The POD route can often have a book on the market in as little as 90 days after the contract is negotiated and signed.
I am also using Wheatmark Publishing for my most recent book entitled LouIsa—Iron Dove Of The Frontier, which just came out last month. This new book is a novel loosely based on the life of Louisa Houston-Earp, Sam Houston’s quarter blood Cherokee granddaughter. Rather than take up more of your time at this blog, I’ll direct you to my website at www.willedwinson.com where you can read more about LouIsa, and even read a few excerpts from the novel. Just click on the “Books” page. The book is available for purchase on AMAZON, either as a print version, or an e-book; or you can ask your favorite bookstore to order it for you.
Will Edwinson Bio:
Will Edwinson is an award-winning story teller for his fiction, and an award winning columnist. His second published book, Buddy … His Trials and Treasures, won a first place in state competition, and a second place at national. His nostalgia column that he wrote under another name, won second and first place, awards in two separate competitions from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press Association. Edwinson grew up in rural Southeast Idaho during the 1940s. After college, he made his living on the family farm in Southeast Idaho as a dry land farmer raising barley and wheat.
In his younger years, Edwinson was also a semi-professional singer, performing on stages from Sun Valley, Idaho, to Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He also demonstrates a flair as an inventor. Out of necessity, to teach his two youngest daughters some rudimentary money management skills, he designed and Trademarked a children’s allowance management system, “The Child’s Checkmaster.” which enabled parents and children to keep better track of the children’s allowance draws and which also taught the children some rudimentary money management skills.
Will Edwinson currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.