Someone asked me the other day what it felt like to have five books in print. The answer I gave is “surreal.” It doesn’t seem real to me at all and I honestly think I might wake up some day and it will have all been a dream. I guess it’s because it wasn’t something I planned out as a career goal, it just happened.
Most people who know me tell me they never would have thought I would have written one book, much less five. It just wasn’t something that I ever talked about. Even after I wrote JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN and got it published by Abique Books, I never counted on a second one.
When I got CHANCES AND CHOICES published by Southern Charm Press I never counted on a third book. I first contacted Mercer University Press about reprinting my first two books, not about printing anything new. When they asked for HALFWAY HOME I was shocked. Then they bought THE BOOKINDER and then THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS.
A few months ago I contacted Marc Jolley, Mercer University Press’ Publisher, and asked if he would be interested in my new book BACK TO THE GARDEN. I haven’t finished writing it but I have titled it. He didn’t say they definitely wanted it but did indicate an interest. I was a nervous wreck.
To say I am insecure about my writing is to say the sky is blue. In the past when people such as Jeffery Deaver, St John Flynn, Terry Kay and others have said nice things about my writing, I have mainly chalked it up to friendship. Even when people send me e-mails and say how much a certain story has meant to them, I appreciate it but I am not convinced.
Since I am convinced each book is my last one, I always get nervous when I approach a publisher about purchasing a book. I don’t feel really secure until the contract is signed. And even then I think some bizarre twist of fate could change things.
Of course the economy is doing its best to tamp down my hopes. I have too many friends who have not been able to get their latest stories published – and most of these efforts are very good. Publishers are cutting back and going with the “sure thing” authors they have.
I finally did get my courage up and approached Marc again a few weeks ago. He said the selection committee was meeting that week and he would know in a couple of days if they would buy my book. Two days later I got an e-mail that they do want it! Oh happy day! There were two stipulations: (1) they want this one to be forty to fifty pages longer than the last one – no problem, (2) they are not going to publish it until 2011 – I had asked for 2010. They said with the economy being what it is they want to get the maximum sales out of THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS. I can see their point.
So now I have a goal and that is to get the best book possible completed by July 2010. It really isn’t that far off. After this book comes out I will probably want to do another one and then this whole insecurity thing will start again. My writing career is only as secure as the next book that is purchased. Call me crazy but that is the way it is.
Jackie K Cooper's latest book is THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS. His next one, BACK TO THE GARDEN, will be published by Mercer University Press in 2011.