Small Press Friday: Mystery Writer Tom Gill

My guest today is mystery writer, Tom Gill. He writes about his diligence in finding the right publisher and seeing his first mystery in print. Welcome, Tom
Why I Chose a Small Press
G. Thomas Gill

My first novel, a World War II tale of intrigue, was completed in 2004. Like many other hopefuls, I shopped the manuscript to several agents. I attended a Pitch-n-Shop workshop to hone the query. I learned a lot about how the industry works. Still, the rejections piled up. It was a slow, painful process, and I got a lot of advice.

“Enter contests,” one voice cried, so I entered a Tampa based competition and everything I submitted was selected for publication. My writing must not suck that bad, but rejections from agents kept coming. I entered the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Competition and took first place in the unpublished Mystery category. Still the rejections trickled in. In the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, I was ranked by readers as high as ninth place among the mysteries but the official reviewer shot it down.

At that point, I started a second novel, a contemporary story of a man sucked into a battle for his life by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This novel is more marketable, and my queries resulted in several requests for partials and a few fulls, but no offers of representation came. Interestingly enough, the rejections varied in why the manuscript was rejected. Without concrete reasons, there was no way for me to modify the manuscript to better fit their expectations.

“Attend witers’ conventions,” another voice cried, so I joined Mystery Writers of America, which is a terrific organization by the way, and renewed my FWA membership. At Sleuthfest, I met a publisher and an agent, but again no offers. But in the process I learned one valuable piece of information – not all publishers require agents!

This revelation set me on an entirely new tack. I queried a couple of independent publishers, and got an offer from Oak Tree Press. Dog Island is now a published reality, and I was able to bypass the need for an agent entirely. 

I understand the need for agents, and have a pretty good idea of how they work and the value they bring, but the process (and odds) of getting out of the slush pile and into publication is often beyond the reach of an aspiring novelist. My experience taught me that independent publishers are approachable and are much more willing to work with unpublished writers.  That’s why I chose the indie route and recommend it to anyone.

G. Thomas Gill, Tom to his friends, is a well traveled adventurer.  Having lived in Michigan, Ohio, Wyoming, Louisiana, and the Netherlands, Tom settled in Florida with Mary Beth, his wife.  They have two lovely daughters, who are now busy with homes of their own.

An army vet, Tom served at a NATO headquarters where he was introduced to counter-espionage tactics. In civilian life, he worked on projects that gave him access to top secret facilities such as Los Alamos, Sandia, and Livermore Laboratories. He draws on his travels and experiences to craft stories of suspense and intrigue that transport readers to some of the lesser-known corners of the world. While not writing, Tom enjoys traveling with Mary Beth and tinkering with his 1946 MG TC.

Tom is currently Poetry Editor for Conclave: A Journal of Character and has published several short stories and poems in Wordsmith, the Tampa Writers Alliance annual anthology. He is also a recipient of the Florida Writers Association prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award.

Thanks for being my guest today, Tom.