Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Plan B From Outer Space

My friend Sgt. Mom, from the Daily Brief has an idea and some chapters of a book she wants to get published. She needs your help. I'll let her explain:

So here's the story, of a blogger (me, of course) who wrote a long multi-part essay a couple of years ago about an incident in history which had always intrigued her, and after posting it, some readers were also intrigued, since they had never heard of it before. And one the readers thought it might make an interesting movie proposal, so I did one, which didn’t go anywhere except to a friend of that reader about a year later. The friend thought it would be better to write a novel, because movies based on published novels were an easier sell. So, when I got let go from a corporate admin job a year ago, I sat down and wrote a ripping good historical read, based on all the stuff I had written before.

I was obsessed by the original story of the 1844 wagon-train party who were the first to take their wagons over the Sierra Nevada ., two years ahead of the Donner Party, yet who did not loose a member of the party, even though they also were caught in the snow. Since they were the first to discover the Truckee Pass over the mountains, they also met an incredible challenge of establishing a new trail. How did they manage to work together? Who were they, and what sort of experience did they bring to this great venture? And what did they experience, this handful of men, women and children, once they stepped off into the trackless wilderness a hundred and sixty years ago,?

I had come to believe that their story was the sort of story that we needed to rediscover. We need to be reassured that our forbearers were brave, competent people, capable of working together, of looking out for each other, of daring the wilderness, or any other challenge with grace and courage. We need to get back to our stories, and I felt very strongly that this is one of them.

So I went gamboling playfully in the literary trenches for much of the last year trying to interest an agent and/or a publisher. I have now gone through all the Book of Agents and the Book of Publishers Who Deign To Consider Un-Agented Submissions (all both of them) and been rejected. Hey, and it isn’t because I suck as a writer, either. Everyone who has read the manuscript over the last year has said "God, what a riveting story... and why have I never heard of these people!?"

The problem seems to be, as I gather from lurking meaningfully in neighborhood of a lot of book and literary-industrial blogs, is there is a hell of a lot of dreck along with the merely OK to Pretty Damned Good Stuff. The traditional publishing world seems to be swamped up to it’s gorgeously nipped and tucked neck, which kind of seriously affects how they can handle the not-inconsiderable quantity of fairly OK to Pretty Damned Good stuff which winds up on the shelves of your local Borders or Barnes & Noble.

And that stuff which makes it past the gatekeepers is still in absolutely unmanageable quantities. All the competent and ethical agents seem to have about all they can do to look at hundreds of similar OK to Pretty Damned Good submissions clamoring for their attention and time and make a snap decision on accepting and managing the tiny percentage of those that will pay off with the least amount of effort on their part.

They kept sending me these letters admitting that they just didn’t feel the passion for my book that they felt was necessary to represent me adequately. No one feels sufficiently passionate about “To Truckee’s Trail” except for me, and those dozen people who have read the entire thing and loved it passionately too. Unfortunately, all those people were just readers and other writers.

And being a military retiree with a mortgage and trying to make it as a freelance writer, I am perennially broke so, here goes Plan B.; a fund drive to do a POD version, to buy advertising, and put review copies where they will do the most good. I’ve set up a Paypal link at The Daily Brief, for anyone who wants a good old-fashioned ripping yard about the Frontier, about the people who built America, or maybe even just have the fun of seeing an unknown writer make an end-run around the literary-industrial complex.

I think I can promise an autographed copy of “To Truckee’s Trail” to anyone who contributes over a certain amount, too.

Hey, it works for Public Radio, doesn’t it?

Sample Chapter

Cross Posted at Classical Values