YA author Tom Blubaugh shares the story behind his first novel, and how he got it published. Night of the Cossack follows teenager Nathan Hertzfield’s life-or-death adventures through Russia and Europe during the early 1900’s.
A: Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. The older I grew the more I noticed their absence. I tried to find out about them, but there was very little information. One day I found that my maternal grandfather was a Russian Cossack soldier. I took this fact and started creating my grandfather for myself.
Q: Why did you decide to go with Bound by Faith Publishers? Tell us a bit about them.
A: Actually, they came to me. I knew the owners, Dennis & Polly Vance, from church. I had helped Dennis with a website and he came to me for help with his publishing site. I showed him my website, which contains the first chapter of the manuscript I was working on, just to give him some ideas. He and Polly read that chapter and wanted to read the rest. They asked me if they could publish it. Not your usual publishing story.
Q: You’ve used three different publishing methods–a bigger house, an up-and-coming house, and self publishing. Can you tell us about your experiences with each and how they differ?
A: The self publishing was in regard to a ministry I had at the time—a seminar of developing a bus ministry back in the mid-seventies. I used it as a tool of my ministry and didn’t mass produce for marketing. I didn’t even keep a copy of it for myself, but my publisher found it on Amazon.com a couple of months ago and I grabbed it. That title was Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry.
I am a member of some online writing groups. One day I received an email telling me Barbour Publishing was looking for male writers to write devotions based on nature and the outdoors. I sent them a sample devotional and they contracted me, flat rate, to write twenty for their publication The Great Adventure. I believe there were fourteen other writers. This did not involve anything other than writing.
The Night of the Cossack is my first foray into fiction writing. This experience is totally different and I am learning a lot. It’s interesting knowing the publishers personally because we talk over everything, brainstorm, and work together. Dennis supports me by attending speaking engagements and book signings. Recently we participated in a Career Day at a local elementary school. He presented the publishing side and I presented insights into an author’s world.
The downside is there’s no distributor, so it is a lot like being self published. It’s hard work getting my books in stores. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. It has given me great insight into what is involved in publishing. Dennis has almost as hard a time getting the book into stores as writers do getting an editor to read a manuscript. We trust the Lord to open the doors.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A: Work hard at building a marketing platform from the beginning. Don’t wait until your manuscript is done. Get active on Facebook, Twitter and get your name out there. Don’t think, “If I get published.” Instead think, “When I get published.”
Tom Blubaugh is a freelance writer. He has written nonfiction most of his adult life. He is also a member of the Missouri Writer’s Guild and speakers bureau. He resides with his wife Barbara in Southwest Missouri where he is currently writing fiction. Tom and Barbara have six children and fourteen grandchildren. In addition to writing, Tom loves macro photography. He was president of Jericho Commission, Inc and still serves as a board member. Tom believes that retirement is about continuing to fulfill God’s purpose. And yes, he is currently working on a sequel to Night of the Cossack.
Tom’s website: www.tomblubaugh.com