Friday, December 12, 2008


I like reading about how other writer's made it, and I'm not alone; in every writing magazine I subscribe to (four, if you must know) there is a section devoted to writers telling about their first sale.

I think that's marvelous. First of all, it keeps alive the idea that it really is possible, and it demonstrates that there is no 'right' way to go about it. Even JA Konrath's story: on the surface it seems to be a standard "write book, send to agent, sign three-book contract" fairytale, but the saga of the nine unpublished novels, and what he learned from the experience that led to his tenth being picked up, serves as an inspiration and a reminder to never give up.

My story is no different, meaning it is different than anyone else's. It didn't follow a traditional route, it is not a path I recommend but, as this is my blog, I'm going to tell you all about it. I'll try to be brief (and after this I promise to stop banging on about it and find something else to write about):

After four years of consistently posting humorous articles on my website, my friends began telling me I ought to write a book. After a while, I believed them.

I gathered together what I considered to be the best of the articles into a manuscript and began sending it to publishers and agents. The response, oddly enough, was positive but the rejections all contained the same theme, which ran along the lines of, "very funny, but who are you and why should anyone buy your book?"

After a while I believed them and self-published the book on Lulu with predictable results. Still, it was a fun and rewarding exercise and provided me with a pile of, what I liked to call, "really expensive business cards."

About a year later, I made the cyber-acquaintance of Toni Hargis.

==== begin shameless plug of new best friend Toni Hargis ====

Toni Hargis, aka Expat Mum and author of "Rules, Britannia," a funny and informative book, and a must read for anyone planning a trip to the UK.

==== end shameless plug of new best friend Toni Hargis ====

I sent Toni a copy of my book and she loved it. She was so effusive with her praise I thought she must have mistaken me for someone who could do something for her, like get her on Oprah or Richard and Judy, or something. But eventually I believed her and re-read the book.

It was (and here comes the part where I twist my arm patting myself on the back) a surprisingly good read. And that inspired me to package it up again and send it back out into the world, with predictable results.

So I set it aside once more.

Then Toni contacted me with this news: a small publisher specializing in expat books was looking to start their 2009 list. They contacted Toni, Toni sent their e-mail to me and encouraged me to send them my manuscript.

And that was that.

So the ingredients that made up this sale include:
- My website and my unwavering devotion to it lo these many years
- My friends, especially Cindy, harping on me to write a book
- Toni getting in touch with me to promo her book, but staying in contact because (I like to believe this, anyway) see sees me as a kindred spirit, or at least a funny guy
- My self-published effort that I could send to Toni
- A growing belief in myself
- A small publisher coming around at just the right time
- Toni being willing to help out a fellow writer

If any of those ingredients were missing, the book would not exist.

I don't know if there is anything to be learned from this, other than the fact that you never know where luck is going to strike, so it's a good idea to be in as many places as possible to increase your chances of getting hit.


  1. Good block although I don't know whether to feel heartened or disheartened. I'm inclined to stay with publishing via my blog for next project.

  2. Blog? block!
    Again too much of a hurry!

  3. all I can say is - well done!! Well done!

  4. Ken and Jo: Thanks!

  5. Wonderful post Mike!
    It's so interesting to hear about writer's success stories!
    For some years I have been interested in getting some of my poetry published, been sending samples to publishing houses, e.t.c.. but as yet only the usual rejection letters. However I think poetry is harder to get published as it's a limited area!
    All the very best and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  6. Thanks Brit, and yes, poetry difficult to place, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.