LISTEN TO YOUR AGENT!
At the very start of my professional writing career back in 1998, my brand new literary agent gave me some advice I was very, very reluctant to follow. He told me to abandon my aspirations to write military science fiction novels in favor of doing straight technothrillers. I had just spent a couple years, off and on, writing and then self-editing a lovely military SF novel manuscript – I got to “THE END” in 240,000 words(!) and then winnowed it down to 165,000 then 115,000 then 95,000 and that was the version I had queried him about. His reasoning was that the markets in both a) selling new-author manuscripts and b) copies sold once published, were much better for technothrillers. But tossing out my opus and starting from scratch in a different genre was highly dismaying pour moi. I almost didn’t do it, which would have cost me this terrific agent’s offer of representation – on the basis of the quality of my writing, but NOT on the basis of the story I’d written!
It was only after some hurried but painful thinking and angst that I started to understand for myself, like an apprentice would learn new things by a process of observation and osmosis, what my agent’s point really was.
For decades, I had totally loved reading all about the real world military, from history and strategy, to biography and technology, to novels. My late dad was a Navy Seabee and my uncle had been a WWII merchant mariner. Thus a Sailor’s blood ran in my veins and I had the deepest appreciation for maritime drama, real and fictional. On the other hand, my idea of “good” SF dated back to the ‘50s and ‘60s, early (and highly commercial) Asimov and Crighton. Reading some current SF magazines, I saw real quick that what I liked and had written was way far away from the latest, late ‘90s SF literary genre. I attended a big SciFi con and did not much fit in atoll, while when I attended a U.S. Naval Institute conference I made many fast friends rather easily.
I did then obey my agent’s #1 advice, “Listen to your agent.” Together we began to outline the background premise (i.e., universe creation) for the saga of my continuing character hero, a near-future U.S. Navy submarine commander, Captain Jeffrey Fuller. These books did sell well enough for me to make a comfortable living as a full time writer. My agent continues to represent me, very capably, today.
Writer of many books, this blurb is taken from Joe's personal website: Joe grew up in New York City. His father was an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy before Joe was born, during the late 1940s and the Korean War, and his uncle was a merchant mariner on World War II convoys in the North Atlantic. From this childhood nurturing by family seafaring role models, Joe developed a lifelong interest in naval history and military affairs. Over the years, as a hobby, Joe read literally hundreds of fiction and non-fiction books on war and national defense. Then, once done with school and out in the real world, Joe spent twenty years as a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries -- he worked for several leading firms, mostly on the subject of investment risk control and strategic planning for insurance companies. (Joe is no longer involved in actuarial work, but his training from that as a Risk Analyst is directly relevant to his fiction and non-fiction writings today, about national defense, homeland security, and foreign relations.) At last, in his early forties, Joe's decades-old devotion to reading about naval warfare, biography, and history culminated in him deciding to try his hand at writing -- he had some ideas for stories and they just grew and grew inside him until something simply had to be done!!! He set about learning the writer's craft and the business of publishing as much as he could, every way he could. This quickly taught Joe that to break in professionally requires tremendous amounts of commitment and heart, and tons of time and effort and hard work too. He wrote several papers that were accepted by a professional military journal, about submarine technology and tactics and the future of undersea warfare. Joe quickly gained agent representation (John Talbot Agency), and now SEAS OF CRISIS is his sixth novel.