March 13, 2015

Made It Moment: Debbi Mack

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:14 am

Deep Six

I wonder how many of the writers here have struggled with what to do in the face of rejection? I can hear my tween answering me now. “Duh, Mom…all of us.” Debbi Mack has been through it all–nibbles from literary agents; should I keep knocking at the traditional route door? questions; only to decide to indie publish, then landing on the NYT bestseller list! Her journey is as inspiring as it is relatable. AND she has a new book about to come out in her bestselling Sam McRae series…one she never expected to publish at all.

Debbi Mack

Thanks, Jenny, for the opportunity to post on your blog!

My latest Sam McRae mystery has taken years to make its way into print. Ironically, this was the first novel I wrote with this protagonist. I got such encouraging feedback on it from a professional writer that I shopped it around to several agents. Despite the occasional nibble of interest, the book never found a home with any of the literary agents who considered it.

After striking out numerous times, I decided to write another Sam McRae novel. My intent had always been to create a series of Sam McRae mysteries. Thus, I wrote a second book, Identity Crisis. After trying to find an agent for this book, I ended up publishing it through a small press that folded nine months later.

Years went by after that book went out-of-print. During that time, I continued to write and seek a literary agent or a new publisher. In 2009, I decided it couldn’t hurt to self-publish Identity Crisis, just to have my book available for readers. It was at that time I learned about publishing ebooks. While I hadn’t intended to do so, it seemed logical to publish my book in as many formats as possible. Since publishing ebooks involved no strings and little additional cost, I found the decision to do so a no-brainer.

There have been a few “Made It Moments” since then, the most exciting probably being the day I found out that Identity Crisis made the New York Times ebook bestseller list. Writing and publishing the third book was also a “Made It Moment”, in that I’d finally realized my dream of having a mystery series published.

However, my latest novel has particular significance for me. The story explores Sam’s personal relationships and delves into the subject of land use, local politics, and corruption. It was greatly informed by my experiences as an attorney practicing land use and zoning law with a firm, as well as my stint with the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

I’d come to think of Deep Six as my “practice novel” – one that would likely never be published. While it’s had to go through many revisions over the years, I’m happy and proud that I could finally whip this book into shape and keep the Sam McRae mystery series going.

Deep Six will be published on Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

Debbi Mack is the New York Times ebook bestselling author of the Sam McRae mystery series. She’s also published Five Uneasy Pieces, a short story collection that includes her Derringer Award–nominated story “The Right to Remain Silent.” Her short stories have appeared in various other anthologies and publications. Her most recently published short story is “Jasmine”, appearing in Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays. Debbi is also a screenwriter and aspiring indie filmmaker. A former attorney, Debbi enjoys walking, cats, travel, movies, music, and espresso.


  1. An interesting publishing story, one that everyone whoever tried to shop for an agent can relate to. Contemplating my own publishing route, your blog is an inspiration.

    Comment by Joseph Baran — March 13, 2015 @ 9:30 am

  2. Thanks, Joseph! Best of luck with your writing and publishing journey! :)

    Comment by Debbi — March 13, 2015 @ 9:33 am

  3. I love this story of endurance! So happy for your success, Debbi. I needed this boost of encouragement today :)

    Comment by Windy Lynn Harris — March 13, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  4. Awesome, Windy! :) Thanks for your comment. Glad I could help!

    Comment by Debbi — March 13, 2015 @ 11:53 am

  5. What a true success story!

    Comment by Savvy — March 13, 2015 @ 12:55 pm

  6. Thanks, Savvy! :D

    Comment by Debbi — March 13, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

  7. Encouraging post, and one many of us can relate to. Congratulations! I’m glad things turned out so well.

    Comment by Marja McGraw — March 13, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

  8. Thank you, Marja! :)

    Comment by Debbi — March 13, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

  9. Bully for you! And that’s quite an accomplishment. It’s what all indie authors love to hear. :)

    Comment by Sandra Hutchison — March 13, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

  10. I’m happy to share! :) Here’s to all of us authors! Here’s to success for everyone!

    Comment by Debbi — March 13, 2015 @ 2:31 pm

  11. Congratulations on the success and validation of your hard work. Have you been able to identify one or two things that you did to raise your book’s visibility above the crowd to achieve the sales volume of a best seller?

    Comment by Bob Spearman — March 13, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

  12. Hi, Debbie. I’m always happy to see a fellow Quiet Storm survivor do well. Best wishes for continued success with your series.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — March 14, 2015 @ 12:47 am

  13. It is encouraging to hear of your success. Good for you for persisting in the face of those agent rejections.

    Comment by Nancy J. Cohen — March 14, 2015 @ 7:26 am

  14. Bravo, Debbi! As they say persistence pays. Going it on your own is always risky, but the day comes and you decide to go for it. Good for you. Truly inspiring.

    Comment by Susan Sundwall — March 14, 2015 @ 7:42 am

  15. More often than not, I hear that successful authors get that way because they never give up. Glad you’re doing so well!

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — March 14, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

  16. What fun to have two of my favorite writers in conversation, Debbi and Jenny! I really look forward to reading Deep Six, Debbi.

    Comment by Donna Fletcher Crow — March 14, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

  17. Debbi, I was so lucky to be in your critique class for a number of years. You are a great writer and a real fighter! Always wishing you the best!

    Comment by Sasscer Hill — March 18, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

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