A few people know the story of my debut novel, Fools Errant, first sold to a Canadian publisher that was taken over and dissolved the week my book came out.
Now here’s the story of the second . . .
My work came to the attention of L.R. (Bunny) Wright, one of Canada’s top mystery writers, who introduced me to her editor at Doubleday Canada. She read Downshift, the first in a projected series about a freelance speechwriter on Vancouver Island (which was what I was) who gets involved in situations that require him to solve a mystery or die.
The editor loved the book and wanted to sign me but the marketing department wanted to go more “literary” and not sign another genre author. A five-month argument was finally won by my editor, who put the book into the process and asked me to write a second in the series. Which I started to do.
Then, three months before Downshift came out, my editor departed for another publisher– a nonfiction house, so she couldn’t take me with her. Immediately my print run was cut, my tiny promotional budget went to another book, and the marketing effort, except for library sales, was a few mouse-sized squeaks. Months later, when I asked if there were remaindered copies I could buy, I was told, “Nope, as the returns came in we sent them straight to the pulper.”
A couple of years ago, I gave the rights to Five Rivers Publishing, a Canadian no-advance small press producing ebooks and POD paperbacks, but sales were skimpy. They did want the sequel, though, so I finished Old Growth, the second in the series, that had been sitting about three-quarters done on my hard drive since 1997. It didn’t burn up the track, either.
So I’ve got the rights back and I’m self-publishing Downshift as a $3.99 ebook and a $12.99 POD paperback. It will be on my website bookstore, on Amazon and Kobo, and any downstream booksellers that connect to their distribution channels. Old Growth will follow in a little while.
By sheer coincidence, as I was preparing to put the books out, I was approached by Bob Gonzalez, an excellent voice artist who narrated an audio-book version of Downshift for Five Rivers, though the title was withdrawn when the audio-book producer messed up. So Downshift is now available wherever audio books are sold, and Bob is preparing to record Old Growth. It will follow along at about the same time as I bring out the ebooks and PODs.
Here’s the thing: I think Downshift is a pretty skookum little mystery. It got some good reviews when it came out. Old Growth is even better, because the character has matured between the books, which are set five or six years apart and because I’ve become a more skillful writer over the past twenty years. But, as my Tor editor, the late (and much missed) David G. Hartwell once told me, “Publishing is a hard, hard business.” Some good books don’t get the chance they deserve, just as some baby sea turtles never make it down the sand and into the surf.
The opening of Downshift is on the Excerpts section of my web page with a link to where to buy it. The first chapter of Old Growth is also there, but it only links to the Five Rivers paperback, which was kind of pricey. I hope you’ll give both books an opportunity to catch your interest.