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Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I quit querying and proceeded to publish, Part 2

I never once broke into the cool clique as a kid, but I was never a loner, either. Except on the many first few days at a new school I endured, I always had at least one friend, even if it was a geek, misfit, or reject like me. So I couldn’t interest anyone in New York in my little “aviation love story.” Fine. I still loved and believed in my book, and I was almost sure my true peers—irony addicts and/or aviation nuts who feel no need for time-traveling or benevolent undead characters for a story to be romantic—would love it too. Why not just accept my fate as one of the publishing world’s Goonies, self-publish, and take it straight to them?

When I finished my first draft back in 2006 or so, I briefly looked into self-, or as I now know it, vanity publishing. Fortunately, I saw right away that the deck would be stacked against me, though I didn’t fully understand some of the reasons why. I did some research and soul-searching and quickly realized that just seeing my work take the form of a book wasn’t my goal. Neither was getting any certain amount of money or fame. Entertaining the people who’d enjoy my story as much as I did was the goal, and I thought the credibility that comes with contracting with a big New York house would be the surest route to that goal. Self-publishing seemed the writer’s analog to opening a little specialty restaurant of my own versus trying to sell my recipes to a huge, established chain whose numbers bore out a dire need of fresh ideas. Even if my food was fantastic, how would I ever get any customers?

But as the queries went out and the years rolled by, the form rejects and just a single partial request came in, and I was compelled to take another long, hard look at self-publishing. Perhaps the chain restaurants had no interest in putting my stuff on their menu because nothing like it had ever been tried. Perhaps it was, but had been badly executed. Whenever I cooked for friends or family, people sure seemed genuinely impressed, and yes, I know it’s cliché, but people who know me consider me to have an emotional bloodlust. I despise minced words and small talk, insist on blunt honesty, and usually give and get it in spades. So was I really the world’s reigning chef specializing in Curry Ken-L-Ration with a too-strong-for-my-own-good support structure, or was I just having foreseeable difficulty getting my little brand of nihilist southern redneck cuisine placed?

I inquired about getting a booth at a few of the larger airshows. Kristin Schaick of the Experimental Aircraft Association, arguably the most passionate group of wingnuts (intermittently) on Earth, said for their annual fly-in convention in Oshkosh, WI each year, they select a few dozen writers for a program called Authors’ Corner, where authors talk about their books and people can interact with them and purchase signed copies. When she said I was welcome to submit A Silver Ring for consideration, I confessed I didn’t actually have any physical books to send in. She asked me to send her a .pdf to read and said if I were selected, I would have to have a small number printed. A couple of weeks later, she emailed to say she adored the book, and a few weeks after that notified me I was officially on the program. I’d need to send at least fifty copies to participate, but the more successful authors often sell many more. There’s no fee or other cost—just a consignment commission that benefits the EAA—a true win/win if I ever saw one. It looked as if this aviation goonie had found his little hole in the wall—smack in the middle of the annual Aviation Goonie-Pride Parade route.

The grass outside my window was still its winter shade of yuck. I had plenty of time to get cooking.


  1. Wow! That is great! I will be working my company's booth at OSH this year and may have to sneak out to the Author's Corner and buy your book! :) Congrats!

  2. Please do! Thanks for reading and your interest!


An aviation love story...

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