A year later, I got out of the Army, came home, went through the piles of research I had assembled, and began writing said book, titled Blue Falcon. Three years later, the book was finished and I began searching for an agent.
I had some nibbles, including a full manuscript requested by a pretty prominent New York agency. But in the end, I got nowhere with it. I spent about three years trying to sell it, and every time I tried to work on something else, my mind kept getting seized back to Blue Falcon and Korea.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. In late 2003, I scraped together some money from various sources, including selling plasma, and published the book through iUniverse.
In some ways, it was a stupid decision, and in other ways, it was the best thing I could have done. The stupid: iUniverse is a vanity press, and despite its best efforts has never been able to shake that reputation. So I ended up with several copies of a book no one wanted to buy, other than my mother and a few friends.
The best: deciding to publish forced me to think like an editor and pare the manuscript of tons of fat. And the comments I got when I submitted it to the iUniverse Editor's Choice program were more specific and insightful than the comments I had gotten from either the big New York agent or the Penguin Putnam editor who read it. By the time I finished revising the manuscript for publication, the book was miles better than it had been before.
Even better: getting the book published, and holding it in my hands between two covers, allowed me to finally put the book to rest in my mind and move on. Without iUniverse to help me get Blue Falcon out of my system, there would have been no Digger, no Death Wave and no Whatever Comes Next.
But I have to say that putting Blue Falcon between two covers also allowed me to get the distance to see its many flaws, to the point where I'm more embarrassed every time I think about it. Nowadays, I mainly try not to think about it at all.
So it was a weird surprise tonight to go over to my wife's house to see my daughter and find a letter from iUniverse. Even stranger to open it up and realize it was a ROYALTY CHECK!
For, uh, $3.78.
But still, that's $3.78 more than I ever expected to get out of it.