The Second Time Around
In the same way that engaged couples love to tell people about how they met, authors love to tell people how their books found a publisher. In both cases, it seems predestined, even magical, that the two should have ever come together. If the bride had not lost a filling while eating a stale caramel bought half-price after Valentines Day, and had not gone to an emergency dentist, she would never have met her intended in the waiting room, who was there for a cracked tooth from falling off the curb in front of Petco, where he was buying kibble for his boxer, her favorite dog! It was meant to be, because what are the chances?
So it was with my first novel, Addled, a story of Canada Geese, animal rights, and a golf club. If I had not been in a writing group in Cambridge, where we hired writer Marcie Hershman to help guide us, who happened to be on a committee for the PEN New England Discovery Award in Fiction, I would never have been picked, and would not have met my agent at the awards night, and Addled would never have found its way to Little, Brown, who published it. Fate.
But as is so often case with relationships, I found myself single once again. Little, Brown passed on my second offering, a collection of short stories, which are notoriously difficult to sell. Still, I had another novel in me, and I wrote it. Finding a publisher for Float, which swirls around plastics in the ocean, seemed as predestined as before. My agent loved the book and sent it out to New York publishing houses, but wasn’t getting any nibbles because of Addled’s so-so sales history. If I had not asked her if I could send Float out for contests, and if she had not said yes, and if I had not also submitted to a small press called Ashland Creek, I would never have hooked up with them. This shouldn’t seem so amazing, since they specialize in environmental literature and Float is eco-fiction, but the magical part is that I seemed to have submitted to them in my sleep. Truly. They were not having a contest. I made no other regular submissions to small presses. They were not listed in places where I was fishing for contests, such as P&W or Duotrope. I made no record of it, in spite of being a known record keeper. But at some point, either in my sleep or through the Book Fairy, a chapter got uploaded to Ashland Creek Press on Submittable, they asked for the rest, and then they asked for my hand. What are the chances?
JoeAnn Hart is the author of the novels Float and Addled, and her short fiction and essays have been widely published. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, but she can be easily found on Facebook, Twitter and joeannhart.com.