Welcome to one of the April 20th stops on the blog tour for Finding George Washington by Bill Zarchy, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for spotlights, reviews, author guest posts/interviews, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
Overcoming Obstacles to Getting Published
In the seven-plus years since my first book came out, it has sold dozens of copies!
I published it myself, getting a referral from a colleague who had recently done the same — editing the final manuscript myself, hiring a designer for the cover and interior, acquiring reviews, entering contests, placing ads, taming social media, blasting emails, etc. In a nutshell — I made many decisions, all by myself, as a complete rookie.
The results were mixed. That first book, called Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil, consists of 18 true stories of my work and travels on six continents, during my decades as a professional cinematographer. Some of the stories had been published before, won travel writing awards, and garnered praise from reviewers, family, and friends. I sold copies to everyone I knew — and I knew a lot of people — but that wasn’t enough to get Showdown noticed, on any scale larger than a thimble.
I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do that again with my second book, Finding George Washington: A Time Travel Tale — my debut novel, a fine sci-fi blend with notes of history, baseball saga, and action thriller. Wouldn’t fiction be easier to market than the memoir of a traveling camera guy?
My dad was the author of over 30 published books on the outdoors, hobbies, and crafts, all published by mainstream imprints back in the day. When my mom heard I was writing a book, she admonished me to get an agent. “Pop just accepted whatever deal the publishers offered him,” she said. “I’m sure he would have done much better if he’d had an agent.”
Her words rang in my ears as I worked on Finding George. When I had a “final” draft (the first of many), I began looking for literary representation, sending query letters and sample pages to two dozen agents I had found in online listings. Only a couple wrote back with polite, standard rejection language (“not quite right for us …”). From the rest — crickets.
I went back to work on another draft and later queried another 20-30 agents. After several years of this, several more final drafts, and lots more crickets, the pandemic hit, and life, including my work on George, seemed to grind to a halt. Months later, while casting about for a creative outlet, I consulted a good friend who works in the publishing business, to find out if anyone was still publishing books. The conversation went something like this:
“I’m fed up with querying agents, who rarely write back and don’t seem at all interested. Would it make sense for me to abandon that approach and, instead, start approaching independent publishing houses directly?”
“Why? How many agents have you written to?”
“Over 100. Actually, over 120.”
“And how many have asked to see the full manuscript?”
“Oh. Well, Bill, there’s a fine line between persistence and delusion.”
“Have you considered self publishing? I know you did it with your first book, but it’s even easier now. Even if you find an agent or a publisher and sign a deal tomorrow, it will be at least a year or two before you’ll actually see the book. If you self-pub, you can have a book in your hand in a month.”
It turned out to be good advice, though it took about two months from that moment for me to hold a proof copy of my novel. One thing I was sure of: I didn’t want to embark on this new journey alone.
The day after learning of the persistence-delusion continuum, I saw a post on social media from a multi-talented friend, an author named Matthew Félix, detailing his work with other writers, helping them get their books published.
I hired him immediately. For a fee based on my page count, he did a careful, nitpicky line edit of my manuscript, checking punctuation, grammar, spelling, usage, understandability, characterization, and plot flow. For a separate flat fee, he designed the cover and interior of the book and handled all the details of getting Finding George finished, published in paperback and e-book versions, and available from Amazon and all independent booksellers. For an hourly rate, he has been advising me on marketing, including setting up and moderating author events on Zoom, advertising, social media, promotions, contests, and email blasts.
It’s been a great ride. My book is selling slowly but steadily, though it’s not (yet) a New York Times bestseller. I shudder to think of all the time I wasted over the past few years in my search for an agent and legitimacy in the world of traditional publishing. I am fortunate to have the resources to be able to do this.
My advice to other authors: think about where you fall on the scale between persistence and delusion. Open your eyes to the possibility of independent (self) publishing. If you can afford to do so, hire someone to help, someone who has been through it numerous times and can give you sage advice, based on real experience. Holding my own book in my hands for the first time was richly rewarding, and getting it out in the world has been a source of great joy for me over the past few months, as we have continued to shelter in place.
One reader on Amazon called Finding George Washington “a great anti-Covid mental vaccine.” Music to my ears!
About the Book
Finding George Washington
A Time Travel Tale
by Bill Zarchy
Published 19 November 2020
Genre: Historical-Time Travel-Baseball Thriller
Page Count: 284
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
On a freezing night in 1778, General George Washington vanishes. Walking away from the Valley Forge encampment, he takes a fall and is knocked unconscious, only to reappear at a dog park on San Francisco Bay—in the summer of 2014.
Washington befriends two Berkeley twenty-somethings who help him cope with the astonishing—and often comical—surprises of the twenty-first century.
Washington’s absence from Valley Forge, however, is not without serious consequences. As the world rapidly devolves around them—and their beloved Giants fight to salvage a disappointing season—George, Tim, and Matt are catapulted on a race across America to find a way to get George back to 1778.
Equal parts time travel tale, thriller, and baseball saga, Finding George Washington is a gripping, humorous, and entertaining look at what happens when past and present collide in the 9th inning, with the bases loaded and no one warming up in the bullpen.
Currently on sale in eBook format (all retailers) for $0.99 USD!
I had once kissed my old girlfriend Marnie on the Kiss Cam, a few months after we started dating, when things were still going well between us. I didn’t miss her, exactly. She had treated me badly. But the memory brought on pangs of loneliness. The camera focused on a young couple in the stands, who watched as their image came up on screen, then dove into a passionate smooch.
The crowd cheered. Though he still wasn’t sure what was happening, George was shocked by these indecorous public displays of affection. The camera cut to an older couple, who responded with a much more dignified buss. Light booing and laughter from the masses.
Sinatra continued to croon to “Strangers in the Night.” George was mortified.
“Timothy, this song and these people seem to be celebrating romantic liaisons of the most crude and casual type. How offensive!”
The screen cut to a pimply young guy, who practically leaped onto his cute girlfriend, attacking with a scary abundance of tongue.
“Ewww,” a girl behind us called out. Our whole section laughed.
The image on screen switched to George, with Rachel beside him. In that strong left profile shot, with his pale skin, high forehead, prominent apple cheeks, graying russet hair tied in back, and aquiline nose, he looked just like the guy on the quarter dollar.
The camera seemed to stay on them forever. Finally, with a good-natured grin, Rachel gave him a prim peck on the lips, then lingered an extra second or two. The fans screamed their appreciation.
I was speechless, overcome with dread, though not sure why. How had this happened? We had brought the Father of Our Country out in public to a baseball game in San Francisco.
And his iconic face was up on a giant screen, being kissed by a woman not his wife, as Sinatra sang about getting lucky.
I shared the moment with 40,000 of my closest friends at the ballpark. I hoped all their intentions were friendly.
About the Author
Bill Zarchy filmed projects on six continents during his 40 years as a cinematographer, captured in his first book, Showdown at Shinagawa: Tales of Filming from Bombay to Brazil. Now he writes novels, takes photos, and talks of many things.
Bill’s career includes filming three former presidents for the Emmy-winning West Wing Documentary Special, the Grammy-winning Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, feature films Conceiving Ada and Read You Like A Book, PBS science series Closer to Truth, musical performances as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Weird Al Yankovic, and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and countless high-end projects for technology and medical companies.
His tales from the road, personal essays, and technical articles have appeared in Travelers’ Tales and Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers, and American Cinematographer, Emmy, and other trade magazines.
Bill has a BA in Government from Dartmouth and an MA in Film from Stanford. He taught Advanced Cinematography at San Francisco State for twelve years. He is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and a graduate of the EPIC Storytelling Program at Stagebridge in Oakland. This is his first novel.
Bill Zarchy will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
|April 12||Rogue’s Angels|
|April 12||Sybrina’s Book Blog|
|April 13||Becoming Extraordinary|
|April 14||Kit ‘N Kabookle|
|April 15||Aubrey Wynne: Timeless Love|
|April 16||All the Ups and Downs|
|April 19||Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks, and Characters|
|April 19||Long and Short Reviews|
|April 20||The Avid Reader|
|April 20||Westveil Publishing|
|April 21||Fabulous and Brunette|
|April 22||Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews|
|April 23||Hope. Dreams. Life… Love|
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