The Road to Published

Yep, it’s true: I sold a book!

Well, more specifically, my fantastic agents over at JABberwocky, Joshua Bilmes and Sam Morgan, sold my first novel to Talos Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. That book, which is now titled The Caledonian Gambit, began life several years ago (the earliest chapter in my Scrivener file dates from March 7, 2009) and was originally titled Resurrection Men.1 The characters and plot date back even further, to an idea I started cooking up during my senior year of college, but it took me a while to actually turn it into a whole book.

Clearly it was a long road to get to this point, but as I was reminded recently while doing some cleaning in my office, that journey goes back even further. While flipping through a folder of old letters, I stumbled across this:

Book rejection

Yep, that’s a form rejection from my now agent Joshua, dated October 2005, ten years prior to JABberwocky signing me as a client. The submitted novel was the first one I’d finished, a post-apocalyptic fantasy called The High Road.2 It wasn’t the only rejection for that book, so I figured maybe it was time to set that aside and work on something totally new.

It took me a few years after that to get started on the next project; I wrote a few aborted NaNoWriMo novels during that time, but I was mainly busy starting a new career as a professional tech journalist. I couldn’t stay away from fiction forever, though, so I started in on the then-titled Resurrection Men in 2009, and wrapped up my first draft sometime around July 2010. Thus began the even longer, even more arduous process of trying to turn that manuscript into something resembling a publishable novel.

I first met Joshua at Boskone in February 2012, thanks to an introduction from another of his clients, unstoppable author machine Myke Cole. I spent the next three-and-a-half years going back and forth on various drafts with Joshua and Sam until we got to the point where they felt the book was ready for them to sell.3

Which was a nice milestone, but hardly the end of the process. From there it was another several months before we got an offer from the folks at Talos/Skyhorse, and it will be a while yet before the book actually makes it onto shelves, and into your hands.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if I’ve learned anything from this whole experience, it’s that persistence is the better part of success. It’s easy to get disheartened in this business, but what they say is true: Finish what you start. Be willing to keep going back to the drawing board, no matter how much it hurts. None of that’s a guarantee of success, but the one thing that is 100-percent certain is if you don’t finish that book, if you don’t set aside the rejections and keep sending it out, and if you don’t work on making it the best damn book it can be, then that road to getting published is just a dead end.

  1. A few folks read it under this title, but spoiler: that term no longer exists in the book.

  2. It should probably never see the light of day, though I do have a soft spot for it. And its sequel, *The Road West*. And the half-finished conclusion to that trilogy, *The End of the Road*. See? You write a lot of crap on the way to a salable book.

  3. During which I, among other life changes, got laid off from my tech journalism job and started the very scary reality of working as a freelancer.

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