Interview with Nonfiction Author Emilio Corsetti

Emilio Corsetti III is a professional pilot and author. His work has appeared in both regional and national publications including the Chicago Tribune, Multimedia Producer, and Professional Pilot magazine. This is his first book. He and his wife Lynn reside in Lake St. Louis, Missouri.

You can visit his website at

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Emilio. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I don’t have the typical background of most writers. I had never read a book for enjoyment until I was twenty-three. I was among the many people who looked upon reading as a chore that was to be avoided at all costs. It wasn’t until my wife, who is an avid reader, gave me the book The Shining by Steven King to read. I read it and liked it. So I decided to go to the bookstore and see if I could find something that would interest me. The book I picked out was 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. It was the first time I had ever been transported to another place and time by a story. From that moment on I became an avid reader. Over the years my tastes have drifted towards nonfiction narratives, though I still enjoy reading fiction now and then. I didn’t try writing something myself until I was thirty. When I decided to start my own publishing company to publish 35 Miles From Shore, I named the company Odyssey Publishing. Odyssey was also the name of the command module on Apollo 13, another story that has played an important role in my life.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I am a fan of nonfiction narratives. I love stories of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. The story of a commercial airliner ditching in the Caribbean Sea under the most horrendous conditions drew me in like a magnet. When I discovered the details of the individuals involved, I knew it was a story I wanted to tell. I also am uniquely qualified to tell the story. I have been a professional pilot for over thirty-five years. I also have several thousand hours in an aircraft similar to the one that ditched.

What kind of research was involved in writing “35 Miles from Shore”?

The process of writing this book involved gathering facts and details from numerous sources and then piecing it altogether to make a readable story. This involved interviews with the participants, both personally and by phone and e-mail; going over the transcripts from the public hearings; reviewing countless documents that a few of the crewmembers had kept from the investigation; and a review of whatever written material I could find such as newspaper articles. There were also a number of NTSB reports. Additionally, I had to contact the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines for deck logs and other related documents. It was a time consuming and labor intensive process. I recorded 95% of all the interviews for accuracy.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I supplied the cover image, which I found online. I also supplied the cockpit image, which the designer cleverly used to simulate it being under water. I actually favored a cover that showed the tail of a plane as it was sinking, but I was overruled by my distributor.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

The fact that I decided to publish the book myself pretty much answers that question.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

This question doesn’t apply in my situation, but I can say that it was nine months from the time I signed with my distributor.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I had two agents represent the book at different stages in the development process. Nonfiction books such as this are most always sold on the basis of a proposal. But the chances of an unknown/unproven writer being successful with just a proposal is zero to none. I did, however, attract the attention of a New York agent. He suggested that I write the first 75 pages and then he would submit both the proposal and those first 75 pages. So I did just that. Problem was that it was too early in the process. I hadn’t fully developed the story. I hadn’t interviewed enough people. The end result was a weak first 75 pages. The proposal was quickly shot down by every major publisher and I was dropped by the agent, whom I never spoke to or communicated with directly during the entire six months or so that he represented me.

I still felt that I had a good story. So I decided to finish the book and try my luck with a finished manuscript. I submitted the proposal to a few publishers and received an offer from a European publisher. But I felt they were asking for too much and offering too little. They basically wanted me to give them all rights to the book – hard cover, soft cover, world, foreign translation, electronic media – all for 1,500 pounds, which was worth about $2,800 at the time. They were unwilling to negotiate, so I turned down the offer.

Shortly after this I found another agent. Within two weeks he had an editor at a major publisher interested in the manuscript. Four months later the book was turned down by the editorial board. No reason was given. The agent dropped me. I wasted another two years submitting the manuscript to over a dozen publishers. During this time I wrote a screenplay adaptation of the book. I signed with the very first agency that I sent the screenplay to. Around that time the book was accepted into the small press program at IPG. I decided that the only way the book would get published was if I did it myself. I have not regretted that decision.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Getting this book published has been such a frustrating experience that I would have to think very hard before I would tackle another book. It would have to be a heck of a story and one that hadn’t been told before. I have written another screenplay, which I’m excited about.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I do most of my writing late at night when there are no interruptions.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I would buy an ad in USA Today and probably pay for radio ads in major cities. People can’t get excited about your book if they’ve never heard of it.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

The whole idea of promotion is to get the title out in front of as many people as possible. In my mind, there is no better promotion than a review. Reviews are how I learn about the books that I choose to read. Most of my efforts to this point have been in trying to garner reviews.

Part of getting the word out in a book is to leave a digital footprint on the web. I am doing this through two web sites and a blog. I am also doing a virtual book tour.

Offline I am setting up book signings in various cities with the hope of getting additional coverage in print, radio, and TV.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Times and perceptions are changing. The internet has made it possible for anyone to publish and market a book. We’ve all heard the terms independent filmmaker and independent music label. The term independently published is already here. Haven’t heard of it before? You have now.

Thank you for coming, Emilio! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

If you would like to leave a comment for Emilio, click here.

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