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First you look for a publisher. Then you become a publisher.

The path to self-publishing is paved with good intentions.

  1. We intend to write our Great <insert your country here> Novel.
  2. We intend to find an agent.
  3. We intend to find a publisher.

But if these three goals do not perfectly align, we may end up publishing our books ourselves.

I was fortunate to achieve two out of three goals.

I finished the book. I got an agent — and one of the best agents in the business. And she went all out with my book. She sent the manuscript to 30 publishers.

She gave it her best shot and when we reached the end of the road she apologized for the state of publishing. She loved the book. Many editors also loved the book. But few publishers were willing to take a chance. Especially in this economic climate.

After a few rejections, it’s natural for an author to begin rethinking things. Like the time I suggested to my agent that, due to the runaway success of Water for Elephants, we pitch my book as “Water for Penguins.”

In the end, publishers chose not to take a chance on The Tourist Trail.

But I’m more than happy to take the chance that they wouldn’t take.

It’s because I love this book. I feel it’s an important book, especially in an age in which the oceans and its residents are in peril. I believe there is an audience out there that feels the same way. I just have to find it.

Fortunately, I have a range of skills and software to make self-publishing a self-fulfilling process. I’m also fortunate enough to be married to a writer who also happens to be an amazing editor.

When I graduated from college back in, well, a long time ago, another recession was in full effect and jobs were hard to come by. I had a journalism degree, which was worth then about what it’s worth today. My dad told me, “First you look for the perfect job. Then you look for any job.”

I ended up waiting tables.

Today, I’m in the same humbling place in my writing life.

First I looked for the perfect publisher. Then I became the perfect publisher.

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