Publishing a Novel: The Brothers Path

Publishing The Brothers Path is one of the biggest things that has happened to me in my life — maybe the biggest. In many ways, I’ve worked toward this since I was a kid.
Lots of people said it would never happen and told me there was no point writing anything. But, even at the time, I thought they were talking about themselves, not me. I always felt that someday a story would arrive and in the meantime I should write and write and write so I’d be ready. That’s what I did.
On the gift tag to the last present my dad ever gave me for Christmas, the last Christmas before he died in 1972, he scrawled with his spastic MS hand-writing “Keep writing, MAK.” Above the table in the room where I sometimes work, there’s a letter from a former lover, an important lover, maybe THE important lover, now dead. The letter says, “Keep writing. Love, Peter.”
The key is just that; to keep doing it.
I wrote my disappointments into my novels. For example, there’s a section in Martin of Gfenn when Martin is discouraged, heart-broken, that because of his leprosy he could not marry a girl he’d found and loved. At the same time, he is having a hard time believing in his abilities, and he fears the leprosy will take over before he has a chance to paint anything. (“When I have fears…”) He sobs himself to sleep surrounded by his sketches and awakens the next day with the ability to see what he HAD done and knowing what he WILL do. He is a stronger man and artist after that; he knows who he is.
That was from my life. I’d gone out with some women from work (this was back in 1979 or so) who all had boyfriends. We went to a very nice bar, and the boyfriends came to hang out. We had a good time, though, of course, one of the women asked why I wasn’t dating anyone. One of the couples drove me home. I walked into my apartment in Capital Hill in Denver all alone on a Friday night, opened my mailbox and there were three manila envelopes containing rejected stories and a rejection note. I glumly (and slightly drunk) took them into my apartment where all my paintings were, too. I cried and felt sorry for myself, giving up “luv” in order to write and paint. I went to sleep in the midst of my paintings and the manila envelopes, and when I woke up the next morning, I didn’t think it was such a bad bargain.
Over the years, I also learned the difference between deciding to DO something and BEING something. I didn’t understand that back when all the naysayers were saying “nay.” If you ARE something you’ll BE that even when things aren’t going your way like you’re dyslexic or you work full time or no one believes in you. If you ARE something you learn to ask for help when you need it, and you don’t even have to make the thing you’re doing — writing in my case — a priority. It is what you are. There’s no “making time” for it or “developing a writing habit.” I think we’re all like this, but for most people it isn’t writing. It’s their family, church, animals — whatever drives their joy.
Because regardless of the outcome of my numerous submissions and rejections (almost 1 to 1), I love to write. I enjoy it. The cost — hours and hours of solitude — is not too high for me. I learned that you just can’t write a good story surrounded by a bunch of your friends.
Still, getting someone to publish your book is a crap shoot. It helps to write a good query letter and have a very well edited manuscript, but those are not guarantees. It depends on the market and the person in his/her room alone writing a novel might not be anywhere NEAR the market and, for that matter, though people can make good guesses, the market of the future is unknown to everyone.
Bygone Era Books, who is publishing The Brothers Path, is a very small independent publisher, but I like the fact that they are in Denver. That’s the city where I began this journey in a navy blue VW Bug just like this, in fact, in this photo which is Denver in 1979, the intersection of Colfax and Havana, the driver might be me. There were not that many navy blue 1970 VW Bugs with white upholstery or drivers so short they had to sit that close to the steering wheel.
The book being published, of course, doesn’t mean anyone will buy it, but wouldn’t it be great if they did?

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