Friday, January 1, 2016

Be Careful What You Wish For

by Eric

Poisoned Pen Press published our first mystery novel, One for Sorrow, in December 1999. When The Guardian Stones appears in January, a few months after our eleventh Byzantine mystery, Murder in Megara, the press will have released twelve of our books in a little more than fifteen years. We've been fortunate that a respected indie publisher has stuck with us for so long.

When Mary and I were sending our fifty page sample around, back in the days when publishers would consider unagented books, an editor at a big New York publisher evinced keen interest. Unfortunately we had made the rookie mistake of submitting a partial before we completed the book. A few months later, when we sent the entire MS, we were surprised and disappointed to receive a curt rejection.

Oddly, the pages the editor enthused over were by far the weakest part of the book. Eventually we rewrote the initial chapter about five times to make it acceptable and years later, when we refreshed the novel for the e-edition we trashed the original beginning entirely. Why had the editor's mind changed? The short, dismissive rejection gave no clue so we'll never know.

So what if our work had been published initially by one of the the big publishers?

It might seem obvious that it would have boosted our writing career immensely, but in hindsight I doubt it would have been a good thing. Probably we would have had two or three Byzantine mysteries published before getting the boot for failure to hit the bestseller lists immediately. That is the fate of most first time, unknown authors. We heard personally from one author whose "three book deal" was cancelled before the second book hit the shelves. Big publishers have no patience. Being part of corporate conglomerates they are about the bottom line rather than books.

Poisoned Pen Press, on the other hand, has given us the chance to continue writing novels and see them published..

Not to say I still don't wish we could, even just for a single book, make "The Show" as baseball players call the major leagues. But sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for.

One for Sorrow (Revised edition)


  1. WEll, I'm glad Poisoned Pen Press has kept up with you. I was really bummed when I'd read through number six or seven and didn't find more out there. (I'm currently reading number nine)

  2. Thanks for the kind words. It's great to know someone's enjoying our books. You might want to take your time with nine through eleven. We have an idea for twelve but haven't started writing yet!