Necessity Is a Mother: Becoming a Fiction Writer

August 2000
by Burt Levy

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I suppose I should start by plugging my books. Always start out
by plugging your books. You may never get another chance. So here goes. The Last Open Road is a hopefully funny, worthwhile, and
entertaining coming-of-age story about a 19-year-old New Jersey gas
station mechanic set against the backdrop of postwar open road sports car
racing in the Eisenhower 50s. It was originally self-published (in July of
1994) for one very simple reason. Nobody else wanted anything to do with
it. “Oh, it’s a wonderful story,” as one particularly snotty and arrogant
young lady in the New York publishing business told me, “but those
people don’t read!”

I disagreed.

So, with my wife Carol’s trembling approval, we took out a second
mortgage, formed our own publishing company—Think Fast Ink, and published
it ourselves in July of 1994. Our necks were stuck out a country mile! If
this thing flopped, our son might not be going to college. Fortunately,
the book got great reviews (none, I might add, in the mainstream “book”
media—more on that later), sold out two hardcover printings (about 12,000
copies at 25 bucks each), and became something of a cult classic on the
old car hobbyist/motor sports scene. Or to put it less delicately, among
those very same people who “don’t read” that the know-it-all New York
publishing lady warned me about. Ultimately The Last Open Road
attracted the attention of St. Martin’s Press, who bought…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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