Let’s give Bob Morris a warm welcome to the blog! He’s a fellow Clean Reads author, and has generously agreed to share his Path to Publication story. Without further ado, here’s Bob…
I’ve been writing for small-town newspapers for nearly 24 years, but always had a creative side in me. I guess I didn’t realize it until later in life, though. I had done other creative writing projects but thought of them as hobbies more than anything. After I self-published a non-fiction book about my days of newspaper writing in Raton, N.M., a thought crossed my mind about trying my hand at fiction writing.
Then I watched a TV show called Young Justice and loved its premise, how the characters were developed and how the storyline overall progressed. I read up more about one of the creators, Greg Weisman, and studied how he developed his characters. I had ideas bouncing around in my head about doing my own superhero team-up, but in book form. I jotted down notes but nothing ever came of it. Soon after, though, I lost my job in Raton and my enthusiasm for promoting my non-fiction book – I did find another job soon enough but the idea of fiction writing fell by the wayside.
Then I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and loved it. I read the other books in the series and that’s when I revisited my superhero tale, putting it in a futuristic, dystopian environment and focusing it toward a young adult market. However, things weren’t working out with the new job as I had hoped, so I first focused on finding a new job.
I found that job in Kingman, Kan., in the summer of 2014. After a few months, once I had settled in, I wrote a rough draft of my tale early in 2015 and sent it to a friend of mine for feedback. From there, I read up on the world of publishing, researched agents, joined the Kansas Writers Association, got feedback from other people, advice and tips about fiction writing – all the while, I was rewriting drafts, going through six until I got the book where I wanted it to be. Took me the whole year to get it to the point that I could send it out.
I started sending out queries to agents early in 2016. I sent about 25 inquiries, rewrote my query letter along the way, trying to find the right pitch. Those who did respond to queries said they weren’t interested. I weathered the storm, knowing that rejection comes with the territory. Then I learned about the Twitter pitch party, Pit2Pub, and though that might be worth trying. I even got to practice pitches with the folks with the Kansas Writers Association – of course, these were spoken pitches, rather than written. But it helped me understand how to tweak a pitch, keep it brief and get people wanting to know more.
So I put out several pitches on Pit2Pub in June of 2016 and had five publishers who indicated interest. I sent manuscripts to four of them. After two rejections, that’s when I heard back from Clean Reads on Sept. 20, 2016 – Stephanie Taylor liked my manuscript and offered me a contract.
And so, the publication of Six Pack: Emergence, became reality. It’s the first in a planned trilogy, though I have a spinoff book in mind, too.
It’s been quite a journey – again, I’ve been writing for many years, but when I got into the newspaper world, the thought of publishing a book never crossed my mind, and certainly not in fiction. It took me a while to embrace my inner geek and my creative self, put it to use in something that wasn’t strictly a hobby and see where it all took me.
The book is dedicated to Kurt Campbell, the former president of the Kansas Writers Association, who took a lot of interest in my book and was so helpful in giving me advice and feedback. Sadly, he passed away Sept. 30, 2016, just a couple days after I had signed my contract with Clean Reads. I never did get a chance to tell him the good news and I wish he was here today. The book is dedicated to him. I’m getting a little emotional just writing this now.
The biggest piece of advice I’d give to anybody is to not give up on your writing. The process to getting published takes time. You will be told by somebody “this doesn’t work for me.” You will have somebody point out an issue with your writing. And you will have to deal with rejection – never take it personally, because agents and publishers have so many aspiring writers to consider and can only take so many clients. With persistence, you’ll find the right path to take your creation and get it out to the world.
Back cover: Just weeks before Tyler Ward is to graduate from secondary school, he learns the truth about Novusordo and how a drink controls the population. After sharing this information with his five friends, they visit a professor’s house, take another drink and gain strange powers. It leads to them learning more about how the government controls people and the discovery of a movement against the government. Calling themselves the Six Pack, Tyler and his friends must learn how their powers can change society. But they first must learn to trust this movement… and even each other.
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