Be Nice to the Old Folks: A Cautionary Tale

Deciding to set off down the path of being a writer is really an act of penance. For what, we’re never actually told, but I’m pretty sure it’s payback for being some form of ne’er-do-well in a former life. For me, I assume I must have pushed over old ladies and ran away with their purses. Or perhaps I just pushed them over for fun–purses be damned.


Think twice before messing with Granny…

Either way, the gods apparently decided that my sentence, my hair-shirt, would be that in my next life I’d be sent in hard-coded with the dream of being a writer.

Okay, so perhaps I’m overstating things a tad. I do have a lot to be thankful for: I have an agent, I have a publisher, and I have (what I think is) a decent book in the market. And I have the support of some really great people who encourage me in my pursuit of being a writer. So I’m really not that jaded. But I do have my guard up.


I thought you’d never ask.

In 2012, my novel THE CLEARING was picked up by UK based publisher Exhibit A Books. (Aha! Some of you recognize that name and already know where this is going, right?) Anyway, I started working with an editor there–just a super guy who absolutely understood where I was trying to take the novel, and who had some terrific input that only made it better. We put a lot into it and then, in the fall of the following year, there it was–on bookshelves in honest-to-goodness book stores. All good, right? That’s what I thought.

I spent the following months doing what I could to support the book. The usual: writing blogs, giving interviews, striking deals with deities and gods of every form. But I felt very much an island. I was pushing ideas hard, trying to get access to that secret marketing machine that we all believe publishers have, but reserve for their A-list elite. Support seemed light for the book. Off-handed. Perhaps even kind of after-thoughty (no, that’s not a real word, but I think you’ll agree it should be). Then, a couple of months later, I got an email from the editor; he was packing up, moving on. Something about timing, new challenges ahead. A vein similar to what you heard back in high school when she told you it was her, not you…

It wasn’t thirty days later that the other boot dropped and everything fell apart–and right in the middle of editing book #2 of the two-book-deal. Exhibit A sent my agent a note telling us that the imprint was closing. Book #2 was dead, as was any publisher support–light as it may have been–for Book #1.

Dang. If only I hadn’t pushed over quite so many of those octogenarians. But it was just so much damn fun (I assume).

At this point the dream is over. All was lost. Woe was me. Queue the overly dramatic music. Cut to shots of deserted border towns and tumbleweed, and the ever present animal carcass being bleached white in the empty, lifeless desert that is my alleged success (am I over-selling this?). Anyway, my agent gets the rights back and immediately sets about shopping them once again. She’s always been a big fan of the book and, apparently, entirely immune to dashed-hopes and beer drenched mumblings of why me?

At some point I dusted myself off (okay, so perhaps my wallowing only lasted a week and there was no actual drinking–just some very common cuss words and the occasional shake of the head), and then I sat back down at the computer and let the illusion of runaway literary success consume me once again.

And that brings us to today. Thanks to my agent’s hard work, the book has since found a new home with the good people at Diversion Books in NYC. THE CLEARING will be re-released in April this year, with a gorgeous redesigned cover and some great new editorial direction.

So who knows? Maybe my Exhibit A experience is just a bit of balance for all those grannies I left lying on their sides, waving their arms and legs around and trying desperately to get back up.

I sure hope so. Because I quite like grannies.

At least this time around.

(Reprint of my guest blog for International Thriller Writers at )


One response to “Be Nice to the Old Folks: A Cautionary Tale

  • jeffo

    Quite often, those old ladies will take of you themselves, with their umbrellas and canes!

    I’m glad to hear that THE CLEARING has found a new home–what a persistent agent you (we) have! And may it lead to good things for book #2 (and 3, and 4, and on and on).

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The Doubting Writer

A blog by Dan Newman


A blog by Dan Newman

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