Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Back then


It was announced that Amazon.com has acquired Avalon books. While this move by Amazon proves that the digital publishing revolution is gaining strength, it hits me personally for two reasons. One, I think it will give new respect to indie writers who are publishing through Amazon, and two, I almost had a publishing deal with Avalon many years back. Well, kinda. It was for my novel, FROSTPROOF and it was a very exciting time. The internet had just begun to develop into the huge creature it has become, cell phones were still too expensive for most people to own, and the ereader hadn’t even been invented yet. Those days I used to hand address and sign each individual query letter. There were no mass emails. When a publisher or agent was interested in a book they would call you personally, at home, to speak with the author about the book. Back then, research required a trip to the library and most people still used typewriters. I remember the day I got that phone call from Avalon. I was out in my garden picking tomatoes when I heard the phone ring. Rather than run in and answer it, I let the answering machine (remember those) pick it up. Well, when I finally played the message of (I can’t even remember his name) at Avalon Publishing is very interested in reading the full manuscript of FROSTPROOF, I nearly exploded. Right then, I printed out a copy, replayed the message to get the address correct, and zipped off to the post office in my 1998 Nissan Sentra. Every day I checked the mailbox for a reply and would literally jump out of my skin when the telephone rang. Finally, it came. My self-addressed-stamped-envelope. I read the first paragraph about how much ( Mr. ?) enjoyed the book and how talented he thought I was. My hands started to shake. Then I read the next paragraph about how with a few changes and a bit of editing I’d have a real winner. I nearly screeched with joy. Then I read the third paragraph and my whole world collapsed. Although he loved the book he didn’t think he could champion it through all the hurdles it takes to publish a bestseller. I was crushed but elated at the same time. His reply held hope that someday my books would find readers and an audience. In that rejection there was encouragement and enthusiasm for my work. I never forgot that moment.