Ask Dayton #85 – You Never Forget Your First Time
How did you get your first novel published? Was it a difficult process?
Wait…is someone asking for my secret origin story? For me to recount the heretofore unknown tale how I, as an up and coming short story writer, I was rocketed from a slush pile across a sea of rejection letters to an editor’s desk at a great metropolitan book publisher? As I sit here on the veranda overlooking the acreage surrounding stately Ward Manor, sipping champagne and eating caviar brought to me by a pair of strippers while the team of ghost writers I now employ works to craft my next novel, I’ll do my best to think back to those far off days of strife and uncertainty.
It turns out that my story isn’t even close to being that exciting, though as “big breaks” go, I like to think it ranks up there among the cooler tales. Set the Wayback Machine for 1997: Pocket Books, the publisher of Star Trek novels, has announced a contest that’s the first of its type: soliciting fans and hopeful writers to submit their Star Trek short stories to be considered for publication in anthology. The guy whose inane blathering Nick’s now reading to you was convinced by a well-meaning friend to submit a story to the contest, and lo and behold? The contest editor picked it. Yeah, I was as stunned as everybody else, but that story was in fact published in the first-ever edition of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
I submitted stories to the next two contests, and they were picked for the second and third SNW anthologies, when I got the phone call from editor John Ordover so he could tell me my story had been picked for the third book. Then, he followed that update with something I really wasn’t at all prepared to hear:
“This is your third sale, so you can’t enter the contest anymore. I think it’s time you wrote a Star Trek novel for me.”
I’d never written a novel before. I’d never written anything longer than a short story before. I had no idea what writing a novel entailed, let alone how long it might take.
Naturally, I said yes.
After verifying that John wasn’t dicking with me, he got down to brass tacks, and extended an offer for me to submit a proposal for a Star Trek novel. He told me to take a month or so and write up the proposal (10-15 pages) and send it to him, and he’d give it a look-see. Now suitably instructed, I went to my corner and began crafting a novel proposal. After figuring out a plot and working my way through most of the wickets to get the broad strokes of the story nailed down, I was given a contract, an advance check, and a deadline for my first novel, which turned out to be a Star Trek tale, In the Name of Honor.
The hardest part of getting the novel published—for me, anyway—was writing the damned thing. John gave me plenty of time to write it, and stumbled and fumbled my way through the process until I finally delivered a manuscript in the fall of 2000. What followed was a brief series of back and forth e-Mails as I addressed feedback from John, revised my manuscript accordingly. None of that was difficult; John was supportive throughout the process. Once I was done, it was a matter of waiting for proof pages and final corrections, which wouldn’t come for months. So, I waited. And waited. And waited some more.
While I was doing all that waiting, I started writing with my friend Kevin Dilmore, co-writing a couple of articles for Star Trek Communicator magazine as well as our first fiction collaboration, Interphase for the Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers e-Book line. About the time In the Name of Honor was published, I was already at work on what would be my second novel, The Last World War, and for the most part that’s the way it’s gone since then: waiting for one novel to be published while working on the next project.
There certainly are worse ways to earn money.
So, as you can see, the road I traveled to get my first novel published was a lot shorter and filled with fewer obstacles than what many other writers face. Don’t think for a nanosecond that I don’t understand that, or that I take it for granted. I know how very lucky I’ve been, and I never let myself forget it.
Now, will somebody tell me why my champagne flute is empty?
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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