Oct 12 2009
Orson Welles once said, "Better late than early." I wonder if that’s true with a writer. I sold my first novel when I was only 26, a wunderkind. I’d written a few books before, getting nowhere. Then I lucked out, landed an agent who sold Take Me Out to the Ballgame, a novel about baseball fan violence, to St. Martin’s Press. (A novel which I have recently completely re-written, modernized to reflect America circa 2009, and republished at Amazon.com)
But I had no idea what publishing meant. I didn’t understand marketing or promotion. I didn’t understand the publishing business. Or any business really – at the time I worked as a writer for professional wrestling magazines. The corporate world was a mystery to me. I sure didn’t understand writing and how I ended up writing a published novel.
Yet that first moment I received a copy of the finished novel was magic. A real book, hardcover and everything. With some guy’s name on the front and side. I remembered looking at the name and thinking, hey, that is me. I wrote this bloody thing. These are my words. That is my picture on the inside jacket cover. Very surreal.
I think the person most excited was my late father. I gave him that first copy, which he carried around to all his jobs; he was a paperhanger. Buckets, ladder, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame, showing off his son the writer (I think it took the sting out of my dropping out of law school a little). Remember the cab driver father in the original movieFame? That was my Dad.
Then came the official pub date in April 1980. I sat by the phone, waiting for the call from "The Tonight Show." Steve Spielberg. Nothing.
Like most authors, I received little PR support from the publisher, which I complained about with the hubris you would expect of a young writer. I insulted the sales people when I called outraged that my novel wasn’t in my local bookstore. I alienated my editor with endless calls. Reviews were tepid and sales even more so. Disillusioning, dispiriting, at times depressing.
But I remember the look on my father’s face when he would tell me about a customer’s reaction to my novel. That made my first sale pretty darn successful.
Dear Author was not provided a copy of the book nor has any relationship with author.