PATHS TO PUBLICATION
Fire Men started as nothing more than wanting to record some of the experiences that my father and I had in the fire service and which my son Michael was starting to have. Writing of one incident often brought back memories of others and the list of individual stories of calls grew. After I had a hundred plus pages, it became clear that there was more than a pile of vignettes—there was a book there trying to get out. The writing was cathartic as well. It made me smile and laugh and took me back to less pleasant experiences—some still painful to recall even with the passage of time.
Eventually, a so-called first draft was complete and some friends encouraged me to try to obtain an agent and the querying process began. Lightning struck with surprising quickness and a young agent from a large New York City firm agreed to work with me. I know now this was an incredible stroke of luck as the manuscript wasn’t remotely ready. She provided great feedback and suggestions as I worked my way through a second draft. This revision much improved the book and she offered more suggestions to help fine tune the work.
The manuscript was one final pass from the point at which she was planning to send it to some editors she believed would be interested when calamity, at least for me, struck hard. My agent accepted a position as an editor at a big six house, which orphaned me. Yes, she passed the manuscript to another agent at her firm, but he wasn’t interested, and so two years after the start, the query roller coaster began running again. This time I decided to widen my view and include some of the fine small publishers in the business as well.
After a period of ups and downs with manuscript requests and rejections, a yes came in the door from a wonderful publisher, Nicole Langan of Tribute Books (www.tribute-books.com). Her assistance and guidance through the final edits was invaluable. The cover and artwork she and her staff designed was beyond my wildest expectations. At the release and continuing now, she has been a great cheerleader; helping to push the book in conventional and unconventional ways. With a huge social media presence, she has been a tremendous teacher in how to use this medium.
Doing events and book signings has resulted in new friends and opportunities to re-connect with old ones. As much fun as the whole experience has been, I will never forget holding that first printed copy in my hand.
Gary Ryman is the middle of three generations of firefighters or the center of the Oreo. His book Fire Men: Stories from Three Generations of a Firefighting Family is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com in paperback as well as in all eBook formats. Visit www.fire-men-book for more information.
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