The Story of e
4 years ago I wrote a novel called Paper Trail – a speedy little potboiler about a man who has it all, sends an ill-advised email that goes viral, and it nearly costs him everything: his job, his family, his life.
I sent Paper Trail out cold. In the space of seven days, it garnered me a hot agent and a deal offer from a major publishing house. The letter from the editor said, “We want to do this as a hardcover.” We, in writer-world, call that a very good week.
As I waited for all the players to generate the happy paperwork, I was called to serve on jury duty in downtown Brooklyn. For five straight days, I was sequestered and forced to keep my cell phone powered off for 8 hours at a time. At the end of the week, we awarded a man who got hit by a bus $450,000.
Right after the judge thanked us for our service, I popped on my cell phone to check messages. This is what I found. “It breaks my heart to tell you, but we are not going to be able to make an offer on Paper Trail.” No explanation followed. Fifteen rejection letters later, Paper Trail was over. That is the day my e-Book career began.
There was a step or two in-between. You see, I LOVE writing. I just can't help myself. Meanwhile, my chef-y friend John had just signed on to open a hot little bistro in the Village called The Waverly Inn with Graydon Carter, and all of New York was buzzing. So I called John and said let’s write a book. Sure, he said. Three espressos at St. Ambroeus will do that to you. We hammered out a quick proposal. A week later we landed an agent, who sold the book in a day for what amounted to about a half-year's year’s salary for each of us. By the time we finished The Hunger, I think we each earned about 12-cents an hour. But I had an inkling that The Hunger was going to be hot, and I was hardly done with my aspirations as a novelist. Hence: Food for Marriage was born. But the coming-out party was not quite so fast in coming.
A few weeks after The Hunger was released to great fanfare, my agent put out a tasty little number I’d written called The Dinner Party. Having had my heart stomped out like a brushfire once already, I was apprehensive. Okay, that’s not true. I was scared shitless. But Victoria knew I had a winner and she held my hand and we were off – again! A dozen glowing rejection letters later, I was back to square one.
Any doubts I had about self-publishing were quashed. I tamped down my terror of technology. I ignored the fact that I was all thumbs when it came to software. And I decided to publish this book.
In the end, I could not have done it without all the amazing people credited at the end of Food for Marriage. I had incredible artistic and technological help. But mostly, I had 100% confidence in the material from the best readers and hand-holders in the world.
What is the end of The Story of e? I am hopeful that Food for Marriage will put a smile on a few faces. I’ve learned how to operate the moving parts of publishing a novel and I am already preparing my next e-Book. But make no mistake: I love “books” – the paper kind – and while I believe in choice, I hope that Food for Marriage will lead to that elusive goal that so many writers crave and slave for -- to see their work in print. No one writes to get rich, and I am not holding my breath. But as the father of young children and an ardent lover of the printed page, I hope this story is just the beginning: one small step for one hungry writer, in the shared effort of all of us, to keep books alive, bookstores in business, and everyone availed of the opportunity to savor a dog-eared copy of a book they cannot put down.