"The Long Life of My New Book"
The Last Wife of Attila the Hun is a fifteen-year project. I wrote the first draft back in the year 2000. I was fortunate to have a well-know agent to represent it back then, but the consensus among publishers at the time was that a novel that featured Attila among its characters was “too dark” for most readers. I put the manuscript aside for a while. But when a friend called and told me she’d seen a movie about Attila the Hun and that he was portrayed as a halfway decent guy, I took my manuscript out and blew the dust off and started sending it around myself.
The next leg of the book’s long journey was in 2003 when I found Beagle Bay Books, a small indie publishing company. The owner, Jacqueline Church Simmonds, loved my book and published it with great care. She was a fabulous editor. She published it in hardcover with a beautiful jacket and she offered it to many reviewers and to magazines for various contests and even to foreign presses. I could not have been more pleased with the results this very small press got for the book. It won IPPY and ForeWord magazine awards, garnered lots of reviews, and was even translated into Italian and Russian.
Books don’t have a very long shelf life as a rule. The book sold well for the first year or so and then sales began to fizzle as new titles came in to replace older ones. Still, I remained happy about my publishing experience. My only regret was that there was never any film interest in the book. We’ve had all kinds of movies based on ancient history or legends or combinations thereof, with male hero figures. Here finally was a story based on a highly intriguing but under-used segment of history and some of the world’s best loved legends—a true embarrassment of riches—with a very strong female hero figure to boot, and while I have always known the chances of any independently published novel finding its way to Hollywood are slim to non-existent, I had secretly believed that if the book was out there long enough, someone would realize that it would make a great film.
The next leg of the journey began a few years ago, when Jacqueline at Beagle Bay contacted to me to let me know that I could reclaim rights to the book because Beagle Bay was transitioning from book publishing to book packaging, and they would no longer be representing their previous titles. Knowing that it’s quite difficult to find a publisher who will handle a reprint, and being busy with other manuscripts I’ve written more recently, I didn’t really imagine that I would want to expend the energy to try to find a new publisher. But then I happened to read a blog post by someone published by Booktrope, a publishing company I had never heard of before. I looked them up and discovered that they are fairly new, that they have a very unique publishing model, and that they have won awards and investment dollars based on it. Moreover, I read that they have a relationship with IPG (Intellectual Property Group) which represents books to the entertainment industry. And so I submitted by manuscript, and it was accepted, and having been provided with a new cover, new identification numbers, and fresh edits, it is about to embark on yet another leg of its journey—maybe the last one, maybe not.