View Full Version : A gratifying personal accomplishment

12-23-2017, 09:19 AM
For the past four months I have been having treatment for a significant health problem, prostate cancer, which has gone very well. It was caught very early, and we went after it with radiation guns blazing right away. Except for a bit of fatigue and needing to spend a lot of quality time in the bathroom, I feel fine. I finished up with that two weeks ago. But that’s not what I’m posting about, only here for backstory explanation of the important story.

While at the radiology center, I met several other men in the same situation (it’s a very common problem for us folks in our late . . . 30s . . . and I made some new friends. One of them, a guy named Tony, shared a significant experience with me, serving in the military in Vietnam in 1969-1970, overlapping closely the time I served there. We got to sharing stories, and laughing a lot (it was a situation in which the only way you could react a lot of the time was to laugh), and he lent me the set of DVDs of Ken Burns’s Vietnam documentary, which I hadn’t seen. It is fabulous, if you haven’;t watched it.

But, in return, I gave him a privately printed copy of my Vietnam novel, kind of to get slightly even. He read it in a week, and liked it so much he sent it to his brother, who lives in Texas, and also is a Vietnam vet. He told me his brother also really liked it, and sent it on to a friend of his who had been a career Army officer, retired Lieutenant Colonel. All that made me feel pretty good, I have to say.

Then, another non-vet I had got to know at the radiology place, a retired financial exec with a local bank, named Wayne, who had heard the two of us talking about our experiences, also asked to see the thing. So I got him a copy. It arrived via USMail last week, and I made a trip down to the radiology place to give it to him. Today was his final day of radiation treatment, and they hold an informal “graduation ceremony” there and you get to bang a big gong signifying you have finished the treatment. I went down to help him celebrate, and he told me he had read the thing in three days and also really liked it.

So, today, I had a bit of a boost, which leaves me with some decisions to make about the book. I at least have an audience of several, which is an improvement over . . . before. The last time I queried the thing was over two years ago, and I got a request for a partial (after three months), and a polite, rhoroughly professional form reject of that partial (after another three months). Which was so disheartening that I haven’t submitted anything anywhere since.

So . . . do I get back to querying, knowing in my bone marrow that “submit” is a synonym for “invite rejection”? Do I self-pub the thing, just to have a few copies available for interested parties (I’ve long given up the fantasy of ever selling at a commercially-viable level)? Or do I just rathole it?

In any case, while I consider the options, I do feel good about these guys having read it and made a point of saying they liked it. So I’ll take that as an accomplishment.


12-23-2017, 12:29 PM
Bravo! Having supportive readers in your novel's specific peer group is a major achievement, Blacbird. This might be a case of word-of-mouth success, if you *professionally* self publish it...avoid vanity pubs, get decent editing and cover, provide print and ebook, etc.

12-23-2017, 12:56 PM
Congrats! You created a readership pretty much out of the blue there, and this means a lot! I don't have any advice re. publishing, but you seem to have a knack for seizing good opportunities. Keep your eyes open. :)

12-23-2017, 01:28 PM
Congrats, Blacbird! Ditto to what Raindrop says. But in view of your book's good reception, it would be a pity to 'rathole' it. Aren't there publishers in the US that specialise in particular topics, like war?

Ari Meermans
12-23-2017, 02:14 PM
Well done, blacbird! I can't offer suggestions on what you should do wrt publishing—betas, LBL edits, querying again, self-pub—since I don't know what you have done in that regard. But, like the others, I don't think you should "rathole" it, either.

(I'm also very glad to know your treatment went so well.)

12-23-2017, 03:07 PM
Congratulations! A book liked is a book worth read by more people. I would advise you to e-publish it and have a print-on -demand too.

12-23-2017, 06:16 PM
This is seriously validating, that the kinds of readers you hoped to entice have enjoyed the book you gave up on after rejections.

I don't know what your goals are with regard to this book, but I see lots of directions you could go with it.

Print a couple dozen copies at your own expense. Write inside each front cover that these are to be passed on rather than kept, and those who want to own a copy can buy one inexpensively at Lulu or wherever you have it printed. Leave some at the radiology place, maybe a handful at the VA and area senior centers. Let them find their readership.
Do the same thing at a larger level. Regional? State-wide? Your call.
Self-publish, making it available in print and digital forms. At least that way you get some money out of it--if that's your goal.
Revisit it with fresh eyes, since you finished it some time ago. What do you see now that could be improved? There's always something. Fix it, get betas, try with agents and small presses again.

What I'd hate to see is for you to rathole it. Clearly it speaks to a specific segment of the population. Are you able and willing to seek them out wherever their lives have taken them and market to their niche?

Maryn, glad to hear your health is good again, too

12-23-2017, 10:37 PM
That's a really awesome story. I definitely would keep it out there in one way or another so it can be enjoyed by others.

12-23-2017, 10:47 PM
Good news, and good news. Very happy for you.

Military memoirs are on something of a wave right now, I think, and it seems like good military fiction is almost always popular. Maybe the wave has broken, but I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a market, especially with the feedback you're getting.

Marissa D
12-23-2017, 10:53 PM
+1 to everything Maryn said...and +100 to you, blacbird.

Jack McManus
12-23-2017, 11:19 PM
Great news on the health front, bb. I'm also a man in my late . . . 30s and I've been diligent about getting the annual checkups. Thankfully, nothing to report so far. Early detection is the key, no doubt. Again, congratulations on wrestling that beast into submission.

Pretty cool that the ordeal yielded some positive support for your book. I know it's been frustrating to see it rejected, but as others have said, maybe that tide is turning and your book's time has come. I hope you'll consider pushing it out there again. I only caught part of the Ken Burns documentary, but I thought it was pretty good. I lived through that era as a teenager and just missed getting caught up in it -- I turned eighteen a year after the draft lottery system ended. If those of you that served thought it a valid record of history, and if the public in general is receptive, maybe you'll find interest for your take.

12-24-2017, 12:38 AM
How fantastic that people have read and liked your book. I'm with the others, it would be a shame if you didn't do something with it.

Also, congratulations on finishing treatment.

Siri Kirpal
12-25-2017, 07:13 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Wonderful! Both the medical and the literary affirmation.

Agreeing that you shouldn't give it to the rats. Have you looked for small independent publishers of military books? That might be better than agents. And yes, this could be a word of mouth wonder for self-publishing.


Siri Kirpal