17 Comments

If I might, I'll comment on your comments from the perspective of having spent 40 years clacking away on a keyboard and managing to keep both a roof over my head and the utilities turned on by so doing.

During that time, I spent some semi-amusing years writing movies here in Okeefenokee West, but that ended when the smartest guy in the room (the writer, always) was old enough to remind the rest of them of their daddy issues, and he hadn't made them a billion dollars during his time at bat.

During that time, I had maintained my sanity by writing about a topic my mother said I was obviously interested in when my first word (said when a P-38 flew over the park we were in) was"o-pane!" The first thing I wrote in that area that was published was an article about an old airplane, or an article about people who had flown in those old airplanes, I forget which but it was one or the other, and I continued doing so in the "down time" in the moovin' pitcha bid'nezz, to the point I was something of a trout in a minnow pond, reputation-wise.

So when things changed, I was able to up the production (while downsizing the income) of airplane stories. Eventually an editor at a smaller press that lives near you there in Cambridge contacted me and asked if I was interested in writing some of their "small books" on aviation. To which I said yes. And they were popular enough that another editor there asked if I would do one of their "battle" series. Again yes (advice to would-be authors: never say "no" to an offer of money). But this one didn't work because that series is hard to do. So I eventually suggested to the editor that since I had once wanted to write a movie about this battle, and had done a number of interviews 30 years earlier with participants no longer available, could I just write a straight history on the subject? Surprisingly, he said yes, and an advance for "enough" was negotiated, and a year later "The Frozen Chosen" came out. And it sold (it still sells well enough to show up in the Author's royalty Statments nine years on). Did I have any other ideas, I was asked? I did. Those have sold well (enough) too, to where my editor (who moved up to Director of Publication on the strength of being my editor) can pretty much get any idea I propose approved (fortunately, 30 years in the moovin' pitcha bid'nezz' gave me a clue about the meaning of the word "commercial"). And eventually, this past summer, I found an email from my publicist with a photo from her phone attached, of my most recent book in a rack titled "best sellers") and she told me that rack was in the book store of a major airport. Success at last! After only 40 years.

My field, military aviation history, is largely populated by people not in Acadamania, though there are a few. And those of us with degrees in history (like me) are not that common, but we are over-represented in the list of people who the readers seem to think know what we're writing about. Most military history (which is a very popular genre with the general public) is done by we "non-academic professionals." Over there in the UK, you might have heard of James Holland; here, I often get mentioned in the same breath with my friend Barrett Tillman.

My rambling point here is, one doesn't necessarily have to deal with the @#$%%^$#@!!'s one finds at the Big Five in NYC, just as I didn't have to deal with the Major Studios in Hollyweird (so called because it is), though the market in both fields is not large. I count myself lucky, because most of the writers I know my age are no longer writing, while I have at least a ten year backlog of ideas and the good fortune to know I'm descended from long-lived ancestors (so long as they weren't mauled by a bear, like my sixth great grandfather who depareted prematurely).

Every writer's story is different, but the one word I have found in every writer's resume who I know is, "persistence." Or as a screenwriter friend better known than I am once said, "I don't know the secret of success, but I do know that if you consider failure a temporary situation, and outlast it no matter now long it lasts, success can be found on the other side."

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Jan 16Liked by Brian Klaas

Thanks, Brian (or Brain, as Max prefers).

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Jan 17Liked by Brian Klaas

Thanks for sharing your publishing experiences, Brian! The world is indeed dominated by the Big Five, but as someone who works at an independent press, I feel obligated to report that there is a fourth option/growing subset of the trade publishing route—indies! Not all accept unagented submissions, but many do, and as a general rule an independent publisher is more likely to take chances on a debut author or experimental work. And every so often, one of these books hits the big time (see: Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass https://www.startribune.com/how-minnesota-made-braiding-sweetgrass-became-culture-shifting-bestseller-milkweed-editions/600326556/).

Good luck with Fluke! Just preordered my copy.

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pre-ordered and waiting for the kindle to drop. (I can no longer read DTBs. Bad hands and eyes).

Best Wishes,

Not-Max.

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Jan 21Liked by Brian Klaas

Good Luck Brian!

Looking forward to getting to read it.

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Jan 17Liked by Brian Klaas

I will be out of town next week when your book arrives, so will have to be satisfied with Substack and the first chapter until I am back home. Wishing you success, many sales, and a nicer note from Max (dream on...)

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Jan 16Liked by Brian Klaas

I hope FLUKE is a success! And, yes, I've preordered it!

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Thank you Brian! You have an academic brain for sure! I appreciated hearing about the publishing process from start to finish - I am a newish writer who probably will never be published. And really, who cares what Max thinks! I wonder why he has such fear. Oh probably because he lives in the US!

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I got my copy yesterday, pre-ordered from my local indie bookstore. I’m starting it right after I finish Anne Applebaum’s “Twilight of Democracy.” Good luck with sales!

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