Made It Moment: E.A. Aymar
OK, you may not realize this after reading this heartfelt, poignant moment–don’t we all want to roll with the big guys/gals?–but Ed Aymar is also one of the funniest writers I’ve encountered. Read his Washington Independent column monthly. You’ll not only learn a little something, you’ll also laugh, and maybe wince a little in sympathy. (With a third novel about to release, I’ve had a couple of wince-worthy moments.) And then go and check out Ed’s first and second Dead books. They’re really good. They are, I dare say, fit to roll with the big guys.
Similar sentiments have been expressed in this space before, but I haven’t made it yet. I’ve definitely had good times since I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead was published, times I’ve treasured, especially since it took a decade and three books to receive that long-sought acceptance letter. You wait that long, and you pass through periods of time when you think you’ll never get published.
It was in one of those periods–after my second novel came close but failed to find a home–that I ended up in grad school. I got a Masters in Literature, got hungry, and started work on a new novel. I really liked this one. It moved well. It was honest. I knew it was good.
The small press movement was flourishing at that time, and my book found a home within those ranks. Getting published was great, but I learned that life with a small publisher isn’t easy, particularly if it’s not with one of the older, established presses. Don’t get me wrong – Black Opal has been a terrific home for my Dead trilogy. But it’s tough to get respect when you’re not rolling with the big guys. Some bookstores close their doors to you. Book festivals are reluctant to feature you. You don’t have the budget to advertise extensively (well, I don’t), or the pull to get your novel into newspapers.
It’s a fight, and a blind one. Some of my marketing and advertising efforts paid off, but I hated the idea that I needed to spend nearly as much time marketing as I did writing. So I just wrote as much as I could: short stories, guest blogs, interviews, anything. My only condition was that I wrote what I wanted, and only what I wanted. I loved it.
One of my pieces was a guest column for the Washington Independent Review of Books, a publication I’d long admired and frequently read, and the managing editor for the site really liked it. We traded e-mails, met at a conference, and she asked if I’d be interested in becoming one of their regular columnists.
Honestly, that was one of my dreams (it’s exactly the kind of nerdy dream a writer has).
I love writing for the Independent. I’m not a prolific writer; both of my novels have taken over a year to write, practically glacial by today’s standards. But I’ve found that an 800-word column each month is doable, and fun, and I’m sharing space with writers I admire, some of the tops in their respective genres. There’s a bustling readership and energy with the Independent that I enjoy and contribute to. I know I haven’t made it yet, and I’ll likely never feel that I have, but I found the right path. That’s enough.
E.A. Aymar’s debut thriller, I’LL SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD, was published by Black Opal Books in 2013 and the sequel, YOU’RE AS GOOD AS DEAD, is available now from the same publisher. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, SinC and the International Thriller Writers. His column, Decisions and Revisions, runs monthly in the Washington Independent Review of Books. He lives with his family just outside of Washington, D.C.
Writing a lot and what we want may just be the secret that the “big guys” are keeping. And you’ve found them out! Good for you. I’ll check out your titles and your column. Stay the course.
Comment by Susan Sundwall — June 15, 2015 @ 8:11 am
Glad you’re loving the actual writing, Ed, because that’s the thing that sustains us through all the challenges. I’ve been published by a NY publisher but have been with a small but excellent press for years now. There are pros and cons. What is meant to happen for you will happen. Keep writing. Just downloaded your book.
All the best,
Comment by Joan Hall Hovey — June 15, 2015 @ 9:13 am
I hear ya, Ed. I’ve had a similar trajectory all the way around. There is a sense of certain “clubs” in the book world, with the most desirable requiring an embossed invitation; not getting one, for the myriad reasons one doesn’t, can…suck. But, like you, I’ve discovered if you just keep writing—that thing that compelled you down this road in the first place—somehow the sting of struggle lessens and you discover a whole new audience…as you have now at the Washington Independent Review of Books. Well done and congratulations. And, of course, who knows where that leads?
Comment by Lorraine Devon Wilke — June 15, 2015 @ 11:10 am
Dear Ed: I think we are having similar lives. I too am published by Black Opal Books. They, too, have been good to me but I’ll chalk up my lack of knowledge to “How do you know what you don’t know. What you wrote above: “Black Opal has been a terrific home for my Dead trilogy. But it’s tough to get respect when you’re not rolling with the big guys. Some bookstores close their doors to you. Book festivals are reluctant to feature you. You don’t have the budget to advertise extensively (well, I don’t), or the pull to get your novel into newspapers.
It’s a fight, and a blind one. Some of my marketing and advertising efforts paid off, but I hated the idea that I needed to spend nearly as much time marketing as I did writing. So I just wrote as much as I could: short stories, guest blogs, interviews, anything. My only condition was that I wrote what I wanted, and only what I wanted. I loved it.” Is exactly what I am going through. I live in Troy, New York. I’m having a book signing at a local independent. The owner told me what she needed and the price points, return policy, free shipping wtc. I went through hell getting what she wanted. I got it and then she said, ” I don’t like working with small press because they are all aligned with Amazon and I don’t want to deal with them or write a check. I felt like the great unwashed. I did exactly what she asked for and was treated like crap. I got my books from BOB and I will do the book signing but I won’t be going back there anytime soon. I don’t need the embarrassment at my age. Just thought you would like to know you are not alone. Dan Barrett.
Comment by Dan Barrett — June 15, 2015 @ 6:41 pm
Dealing with a small press can be both rewarding and disappointing. I had two books published by a wonderful small press run by two women. They created great covers, edited the books perfectly and sent me advertising material and promoted my books.
Sadly, one of the women got cancer and passed away. The other said she could not go on without her life-long partner and closed the business returning all rights, covers etc to the authors.
That I believe is a major problem with small presses. Many come and go. You must do your research before you sign with anyone.
I now have another wonderful small press for my latest book. The are very professional in their covers and editing, and they also do promotion as well as continually give advice where authors can promote their books. The company is run by 4 women and I beleive they will be around for a long time.
For those who are interested the publisher is vinspire Publishing. http://www.vinspirepublishing.com
Comment by Richard Brawer — June 16, 2015 @ 10:00 am
Thanks for sharing your own press, Richard. I bet a lot of writers will appreciate that.
Great comments, everyone! I’m so glad you discovered Ed.
Comment by jenny — June 16, 2015 @ 10:10 am
Thanks so much for the comment. Just found you online and looking forward to reading your work! That Jenny – bringing people together.
Comment by Ed — June 16, 2015 @ 10:25 am
Thanks, Joan! I just bought a copy of THE DEEPEST DARK. Sounds really interesting, and I’m excited to add it to my (ever-growing) to-read list.
Comment by Ed — June 16, 2015 @ 10:28 am
I found that too, Lorraine. That club mentality is both irritating and seductive. Like Flo, the spokeswomen for Progressive. Maybe that’s just me.
Comment by Ed — June 16, 2015 @ 10:31 am
Thanks for that comment, Dan. It’s a tough business, and it’s tough for everyone. Everyone scraps and claws and fights for some measure of respect. I’ve had some great experience with bookstores, and some that were ultimately frustrating – same with festivals, same with conferences. In the end, I always try not to let the marketing distract me; not easy, especially when it’s so tied so closely with writing.
Comment by Ed — June 16, 2015 @ 10:36 am
I had a similar experience, Richard. My first novel was accepted by a press that closed two months later (I was able to get the rights and find a new home for it, luckily). I hope that my current publisher will be around for a while, but you never know in today’s climate. That’s what led me to get an agent. You need someone on your side who has an insider knowledge of publishing, believes in you and what you’re trying to do, and is generally a cool person. And organizations help. ITW has been hugely supportive and beneficial to me. I love what they do, and I’m happy to do what I can to contribute to their mission.
Comment by Ed — June 16, 2015 @ 10:39 am
Sorry, everyone, that it took me a day to get back to you. I loved your feedback and would be happy to talk more. And thanks for reading!
Comment by Ed — June 16, 2015 @ 10:40 am