Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Indie Spotlight: Jeremy Broyles

Welcome to our Indie Spotlight series, in which TNBBC gives small press authors the floor to shed some light on their writing process, publishing experiences, or whatever else they'd like to share with you, the readers!

Today, we are joined by Jeremy Broyles, as he shares the elements he believes make a compelling case for getting your work published. 

Check it out!

What Do Writers Need? 

In a recent online exchange, I attempted to articulate what I thought authors needed in order to see their work published out into the wider world. Like any similar list, mine is not definitive. However, what follows are the elements I felt I could make a compelling case for regarding publication. What, then, do writers need?


1.     Unflinching belief in their book

2.     Dogged persistence

3.     Willingness to celebrate rejection

4.     Time

5.     Luck


It is item number five that, in my own opinion, we avoid talking much about in our various writing circles. Let’s face it though; publishing a novel requires a certain amount of good fortune. Whether that takes the form of a literary agent signing on to a debut project or a dedicated editor believing in a manuscript, luck plays a role in the publication process. We are reluctant to talk about luck because there is nothing to be done about it. After all, it is wholly out of our control. We want to believe that committing to the next thorough revision or recruiting beta readers or building a social media following—these things over which we have some semblance of power—is what is going to dictate how our project goes from submission to publication. I’m not arguing against any of that. Revise, recruit, and build. But as a novelist who has experienced both sides of luck—a little bit of good and plenty of bad—I want to strategize around how we as authors can reclaim some autonomy from the randomized happenstance of fate. How can we help manufacture our own good luck?


·       Read books. All the way through. From cover to cover. I realize this is not the most original advice, and the advantages it extols are already well understood. We can learn about ourselves as writers through reading others, reading makes us good literary citizens, etcetera. But from a purely pragmatic, luck-building standpoint, reading has a distinct advantage for would-be published authors. Read the acknowledgments section at the end of novels, and pay close attention to the people the author thanks. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, those thanks will include the author’s agent, editor, and/or publisher. Keep track of those names. When it is time to take your novel out to agents/editors/publishers, you will already have a point of connectivity with them given your familiarity with the that particular novel by that particular novelist.

·       Contact authors. Now that you’ve read these novels, why not engage the tellers of the stories in a conversation? Yes, social media is fine, but those places are all very noisy. Punching through that noise can often prove challenging. Seek out author webpages; the majority of authors have one. And the majority of those have a contact link. Use it. As a novelist myself, I am always delighted when a reader reaches out to me—even if that reader is soliciting advice. “Hey, Jeremy, I really enjoyed Flat Water. I was wondering how you went about getting it published.” I am happy to share my own story of publication, and I know of very few novelists who would attempt to pull the ladder up behind themselves. Additionally, I think it is also a well-kept secret within the publishing industry, especially indie, how many authors have direct input into who is published next. These are, after all, people with direct experience with the press’ aesthetic. Those same presses recruit their previous authors as de facto scouts. Having a previous conversation or two with those writers will not guarantee anything, obviously, but neither can it hurt for them to know a little bit about you already.

·       Get facetime. These authors, editors, agents, and publishers—they are not as reclusive as the industry would have you believe. There are opportunities to speak with them face-to-face. Here, admittedly, we might have to work harder. Are there conferences or book fairs in your area? Is an author on a limited reading tour or offering a craft talk? Attend these events. Digital facetime works equally as well. For example, if you really want to get in good graces with a novelist, read their book for your book club and then bring them in for a visit. To give away another trade secret, authors are nearly universal in their love for speaking to a group of readers in a shared reading environment. The idea here is to become more to these people than just a name on a page. Names on pages are easy to reject. That happens all the time. But names with faces and histories and stories to tell? These are people, and people are always harder to reject. To be sure, that happens all the time too. I refer you to item number three in my previous list. But if we are to manufacture our own good luck to manifest our published novel, then being people connecting with other people is the closest we are going to get to a foolproof plan in this chaotic industry of publication.


I am a creative writing professor, and I often tell my students that writing is horribly unnatural. We are each called, in our own way, to tell these stories rattling around in the six inches between our ears. For some, myself included, there exists the need to get those stories out of that space and into the world as a published piece. That process is one rife with form rejection letters and briskly slammed doors. I do not know that any advice I have to offer will stem the flow of those letters or prop open any doors. I believe, however, that the author who creates their own luck is far better positioned than the one waiting for fortune to turn their way. So I mean it sincerely when I write that on your own publication journey, I wish you the very best of luck


On a road trip to Flat Water, the home he fled years before, Monty Marinnis must confront the complex and painful loss that drove him away and now demands his return: family. Called back to California for his sister’s wedding, Monty’s journey from the Midwest to the California Coast is also a journey through memory, one complicated by the presence of his adoring, but increasingly frustrated wife Charlotte, from whom Monty has concealed the horrifying details of his family’s fracture and how he remains haunted by what he witnessed as a teenager. The Marinnis's  lost their eldest son in a shocking attack, while Monty watched, helpless. Since that day, he has been obsessed with finding an answer to a question that has none: why do bad things happen to some people but not others? Why were the Marinnis's selected to suffer? In Flat Water, Monty will be confronted by brutal truths that rise like sharks from the depths. Faced with such realities, Monty will have to choose between acceptance and self-destruction.

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Jeremy Broyles is an Arizona native, originally from the Cottonwood-Jerome-Sedona high desert. He earned his B.A. from Doane College, now University, his M.A. from Northern Arizona University, and his MFA in fiction from Wichita State University. He is a professor with nearly twenty years of experience teaching in higher education, and he currently serves as the creative writing program director at Mesa Community College where he has taught since 2017. His stories have appeared in The MacGuffin, Santa Clara Review, Rock and a Hard Place Magazine, The Black Fork Review, Pembroke Magazine, Red Rock Review, BULL, Suburbia Journal, and Reckon Review amongst many others. His novella, What Becomes of Ours, was published in 2014 by ELJ Publications. His novel Flat Water--the story of siblings, surfing, and sharks and what happens when those things come together both in and out of the water--was released by Mint Hill Books, an imprint of Main Street Rag Press, in 2023. He is an aging rider of bicycles, a talentless surfer of waves, and a happily mediocre player of guitars.

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