I never considered writing fiction. In all honesty, I never expected to write anything. It started about 1990. I was at the downtown public library in Buffalo. I think I was trying to find information on the Mafia or something. While sitting there, I overheard a librarian tell someone there was no book on the mayors of Buffalo. A lightbulb went on in my head. I could see schools and history lovers flocking to buy this one-of-a-kind book and I’d make some money.
From there I started contacting local publishers, of which there was three at the time. One was interested to see the final book, so I wrote it. It was almost 500 pages, 8-1/2 x 11. This was a big book. Well, no one else had ever tackled the subject. When I went to the publisher, they said it was too big and they could not print it. I cut about 50 pages out, but it was still too big. So I shelved it and my dreams away. I spent the next couple years trying to convince the other local publishers it was a worthwhile book, but no one thought so.
Fast forward to 2001 I moved into a circa 1893 home in Buffalo. I was intrigued by the age and wondered who lived there before me. I went through my title and ended up doing research on the home and writing a house history. Some other people in the neighborhood were interested and I wrote several more house histories and made a few dollars. I contacted the Buffalo News, the only paper left in Buffalo and started an unpaid column on house histories.
In 2005 I started kicking around the idea that I wanted to print a copy of my manuscript for myself. I had spent some months doing the research years earlier and felt I deserved to at least have a copy on my shelf. The Internet was still somewhat young, but I found an online company Lulu that did print on demand books. After looking into it I created a cover, formatted the book in Open Office, and self-published Through The Mayors’ Eyes. It was an amazing feeling! At the time I had no idea I was a pioneer in self-publishing.
That publisher that didn’t want to print the book was also a distributor. When I contacted Brian Meyer at Buffalo Books he said he was interested in distributing the book. So I purchased 150 or so copies and through his company, we sold nearly every one. My dream of becoming a wealthy author had long ago faded, but I had a new interest in writing. Brian wanted more and I came up with my book on retailing, Nine Nine Eight: The Glory Days of Buffalo Shopping. This book was released in 2007 and the content attracted a wider audience. I began to get speaking engagements and the book sold quite well.
That is how I started a career in writing.
Next time, how I write my books.