In the summer of 2010, I had dinner with Kristy Makansi, Jason Makansi, and Jamey Stegmaier, who were launching a publishing company right in my backyard, St. Louis. They talked about their vision and I talked about a novel I was working on. It was about 32k words old and tentatively titled The Samaritan. I could tell that Blank Slate Press was different, and by the end of the dinner, I knew it was worth throwing my hat in the ring with them. Sure it was risky launching my writing career with a small, unknown, startup press. But I thought it was equally risky that they were willing to debut with an author who didn’t even have his novel finished yet. Peas in a pod.
Fast forward two years later. The novel got published (and published well, I believe). A few awards rolled in. I got a larger audience than I ever expected. Blank Slate Press has added authors and gained steam. And in what I think is the next big leap for both myself and BSP, today I signed the contract that effectively ends my relationship with Blank Slate Press.
My writing career is now under the guidance of the good people at William Morris Endeavor. Kirby Kim is my literary agent and Anna DeRoy is representing the film push. I think it’s incredible that they believe so strongly in a larger audience for The Samaritan and I can just chill and finish up this next novel while the shopping goes on in the background.
But first and foremost, this blog is sort of a thank you letter to BSP. Blank Slate Press, myself, and my first novel will always have intertwined DNA. Our relationship will always exist in spirit, as I’ll support their efforts as I’m sure they’ll support mine as the next chapter of my career unfolds. The relationship is only “dissolving” in a purely paperwork and rights standpoint, since Kristy, Jamey, Jason and all the others involved with BSP have done an unbelievable amount for my progress as an author.
How did we get here? We leaned on each other and tried to get my book out there, and after months of effort and buzz, it ended up on Shelf Magazine’s list of the best indy releases of the year. That list, in turn, then ended up in the USA Today and then the agents started calling.
William Morris Endeavor is the world’s largest talent agency, the type of holy grail agency that I might have never even bothered to approach if I were shopping my novels in a traditional sense. And one of the main reasons I hooked up with Kirby and WME is because he wasn’t just interested in the new books I’m writing now—he wanted to breathe new life into The Samaritan on a larger scale. So while I’m putting the finishing touches on some new work, the book so many of you have already read and enjoyed will be out in the market once again, in the largest of possible ponds. But I’ve got one hell of a fisherman guiding the boat in Kirby, so my hopes are high.
BSP brought the vision and passion to help me get noticed by a really big agency. Not only did they give me guidance and an opportunity, over these last two years they’ve become trusted friends. I’m glad they’re right across the river so we can continue that relationship long after the paperwork is filed.
And it’s also a great opportunity to thank everyone out there who has taken the time to read my stuff. Without readers, without word of mouth, without buzz there’s no way I would have the opportunity that rests before me. Thank you!
And that’s all this is—an opportunity. Nothing is guaranteed. I’ve got a novel under my belt, I’ve got an agent who can drive my work to the highest of heights. Now it’s on me to keep producing work and make sure that I don’t squander this chance. An agent is just an agent. I have to hand him a quality manuscript in order to make this work.
As for my newest book, it’s almost done. A small lake wedged away in a quiet part of the Midwest is the battleground, and at the bottom of those waters, a Biblical force waits to be unleashed . . . the end of the world begins on those quiet shores, and I hope when the time comes you’ll come along with me for the ride.