Becoming A Published Author
Agony and Ecstasy of Writing a Book
By Evan and Lois Swensen
Retired to Write
I spent ten years researching to produce my first book, Last Phoenix, and was altogether convinced that it was the new Great American Novel. However, literary agents, some 150 of them, were less sanguine about the book. More accurately, they were not interested in my query letter. Two read the book. One found it interesting, but not to her taste, and the other said it needed more work to make it professional—end of story.
I went hunting to Alaska, and as usual, took my manuscript with me to tweak it. I met my nephew after the hunt and learned that he was the artist for an illustrated children’s book. He and the author were working with a very congenial publishing company in Anchorage called Publication Consultants. He arranged for me to bring my manuscript to Evan Swensen for consideration.
Evan did me the courtesy of listening to my explanation of the book and took the manuscript to read and evaluate. A short time later, Evan called me to tell me that he thought it was an excellent book, but it needed polish. Unlike my previous experience, Evan gave me practical suggestions, including submitting the manuscript to Edit Ink for a complete evaluation. From that encounter, I learned to punctuate and to spell—apparently, my 17 years of post-high-school schooling had been lacking to some degree. I rewrote the book; Evan had me do it again for final submission, and the book was published. People who read Last Phoenix have found it a fascinating story and learning experience. Others reject it because it is long.
I recently submitted a second book to Evan, which would also be long, except that Evan insisted that the autofictional story of my life and career, Saga of a Neurosurgeon, needed to be divided into six books. That was done, and the marketing is underway. A third book, All in Jest, is in production and is a shorter novel about the conflicts of the malpractice world faced by physicians who treat serious and complicated disease processes.
Separately, I have published two large nonfiction tomes: On Evolution, and Something about Religion, both too long and too controversial for the style desired by Publications Consultants. Evan has helped me in every way possible to get my books from concept to market and has been most cordial and willing to discuss the issues of publishing and marketing. He produces a finely constructed book, and has demonstrated sophisticated competence in all aspects of management of a limited market book enterprise. I continue to value him and his expertise.