Guest Post: "How I Published: Bidding Adieu to the Mythical Prodigy," by Jesse Giles Christiansen

For some it is nobler in the mind to clutch one’s masterpiece to one’s bosom, to keep it hidden away like a gold-bounded book of Zeus and wait until he descends from Mount Harlequin to grant one mortal world exposure. I waited in winged shoes for years of unanswered prayers, my thought-to-be brilliant manuscript becoming dusty, its gold binding beginning to flake along with my resolve.

I soon turned to querying agents, sending out almost two hundred in one summer. A New York agent requested a partial manuscript of RIGHT CROOKED, the novella that is the precursor to PELICAN BAY. But she declined, and she should of, for the story was not developed enough yet to be a commercial novel. I knew it. But I did not want to admit it then. I was still clinging to noble illusions.

 After attending some conferences and reading some blogs, it finally hit me that there are two kinds of authors, the mythical prodigy and the career author. The mythical prodigy is that one-in-a-million demigod with ridiculous poignant writing chops whose manuscript is mysteriously chosen from a cloud-tickling stack and he or she is soon visited by six-figure contracts and massaged by Pulitzer oil and dressed in New York Times Robes and sent to Barnes and Noble to sit at a table and smile while two blocks of mortals come to kiss his or her feet. Then there is the rest of us. Career authors have to dig their spiky boots and indefatigable claws into the side of Hard Ass Work Mountain and spend their lives climbing up to the top. But we do it because we love it, because it is who we are, because literature is the greatest canvas that we have to paint upon.

I think the biggest reason authors do not make it is that they put themselves into the wrong group. Please do not misconstrue me. I know many of you could be a mythical prodigy, and I salute you. Perhaps the main thing that separates a mythical prodigy from a career author is life and timing and the deep unknown. The mythical prodigy knows him or herself almost at birth and develops his or her talent with staggering speed, like a singer with perfect pitch.

But with the dawn of the 21st century, the prodigy may eventually disappear, or if he is still anointed by Mount Harlequin, he is going to need to buy his own winged gold shoes. The big publishers have corralled now, become fewer, their budgets having to be stretched farther than ever before. This phenomenon has left room for smaller publishers to start taking foothold in the marketplace. And they have.

 Once I knew that I was not a mythical prodigy, the rest was just hard work and resolve. I quickly learned that the agents who will give you a ride up Mount Harlequin are not interested in authors unless they have done something. It is like looking for a job because you need experience, but no one will hire you because you do not have any experience. The agents you are getting may not be the agents you need, and the agents you need, you are not getting.

 Here is where the career author must make another decision. You can either wait for the big agent to possibly get a larger publisher, or find a smaller publisher who does not require that you be represented by an agent. But be careful, for the smaller publishers you may get are not necessarily the ones you want. Here we go again.

What you need is a smaller house with clout, and these are not so easy to get either. You have to have your work edited, you need to have a social media presence, and you have to be willing to work hard. If you are patient and do your research, you can find a great publishing deal with a publisher that may not put wings on your feet, but they will help you pound the ground, make a fuss, and build your prowess so that the literary gods starting taking heed.

 After a lot of research and developing an online presence and patient submission, I finally became an Imajineer with Imajin Books, a wonderful, reputable publisher with a ton of know-how and 21st century marketing clout. I am releasing my first published book, PELICAN BAY, next month, and with all the author support, design, and marketing materials and strategies I could ever want, I have never felt more prepared to make an echoing inroad toward my final resting place as an aspiring author.

 Perhaps the difference between the mythical prodigy and me is that I am going to be dressed in armor and speak in many tongues when I sit down at the dinner table of the literary gods. But we will all eat the same food and drink the same drink. And fret not, for having drunk wine up until that time will in no way diminish your palate for their nectar.

 Yours in literature,


Jesse Giles Christiansen is an American author who writes compelling literary fiction that weaves the real with the surreal. He attended Florida State University where he received his B.A. in English literature. He wrote his first novel, “About: Journey Into The Mystic” after spending a summer in Alaska working on fishing boats. His newest novel, “Pelican Bay,” focuses on a very old fisherman, Captain Shelby, and the mysterious happenings linked to him surrounding a nosy, sea-battered beach town (release date: July 20th, 2013, Imajin Books). One of his literary goals is to write at least fifty novels, and he reminds himself always of something that Ray Bradbury once said: “You fail only if you stop writing.”

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