I have a working title for my in-progress nonfiction writing, but “the Irene book” is what I’ve been calling the story of Irene Sherman. It’s so compelling and wide-ranging that I’ve been immersed in it for more than a year. One day in fall 2022, I rolled back from my desk, walked into the other room, and tentatively told my husband, “I think it’s done…” We both stared at each other, like, “Really?”
Though Irene was decades older than I, we had Fairbanks, Alaska, in common. An early newspaper called their frontier town the “haunts of the wild beast.” I love that description, for the people and the animals. My own story of settling there in 1978 is entwined with Irene’s, who was born in Fairbanks in 1911. Irene and her family are the stars, and mine is a supporting role. It’s the story of two families, really, decades apart yet overlapping in the post-Pipeline years. The narrative is laced with surprises that were revealed as I researched. Several respected readers have combed through the manuscript, and I’m genuinely proud of it.
And now, getting the Irene book published requires a different kind of tenacity. (Interesting how “tentative” and “tenacious” look like fraternal twins.) In my industry right now, a hot topic for unagented authors is deciding whether to pursue the traditional route of signing with a publishing house versus personally investing in one’s book through indie publishing services (which might include help through Kickstarter).
Both routes have their benefits, but I’ve routinely published traditionally. I had a friendly relationship with a California-based publisher, and there was interest in this story, and then the floor fell out when I learned that they’d been sold. The gears stopped moving. Now I’m starting over in the search for an agent or publisher. Help!
I’ll keep you posted on how things progress, and if you have any suggestions for representation or publishing, would you let me know? I’ve had many, many requests from people who want to buy the book NOW, so there’s a wide market already. Send me an email or a PM on Facebook if you have a good lead, okay?
Can’t wait for the next steps!
P.S. In case you’re wondering, those pups on my computer screen are Flower, left, and Willow, brilliantly illustrated by my talented sister-in-law, Julie Sigwart. Thanks again, Julie.