The New Issue of Shelf Unbound Is Out, and Free, and I Will Be in the Next One

And you can get it here. The folks at Shelf Media Group are fixing to publish my novel, The Final Appearance of America’s Favorite Girl Next Door in October as an ebook. I’m going to try to get a little more diligent about posting on the progress. This is a huge experiment for them and for me.

The novel was, of course, rejected by all of the finest old world publishing houses in New York, but the weird thing about the rejections was there was essentially no common theme. I’ve been sending out stuff for centuries and my experience had always been that there was a common theme — peripheral characters were a bit thin. Main character too whatever. 

But with this novel, the comments were all over the board. One editor admired the subtlety and depth of the prose. Another felt that the prose wasn’t sufficiently subtle to carry the story.


And perhaps it was because the agent was going for young and hip editors, but I was really surprised, in a number of cases, at the shallowness of the responses. One editor, the one who seemed to be the most enthusiastic about it despite turning it down, turned out to be utterly clueless. When I wrote to her directly and asked her if, perhaps, she might be willing to nominated for Pushcart Press’s prize (the name escapes me at the moment) for a worthy novel that was rejected by the mainstream presses, she had no idea what I was talking about and gave me the electronic version of that reaction you get when a very smelly drunk person bumps into you and spills their nachos on your best shirt.


So when the good folks at Shelf Media came to me and asked if I had a book that I would be interested in and publishing electronically, I jumped on it, partly because I wanted to see the novel out there, but also partly because I thought it would be fascinating to be what the publicist who will be working with us referred to as “part of the conversation.” That conversation being the not-so-nascent transformation of publishing. I search the New York Times Book Review each week to see if they’ve yet reviewed a book that is solely an e-book, and I have yet to find one. So, given my 2nd novel was (a totally unrelated aside: if anybody has advice on using Dragon Dictate for Mac, I’d love to hear about it) a notable book of the year in 1992, a Barnes & Noble Discover new writers selection, and the piece was in the New Yorker, you would think my work might have sufficient goodwill somewhere such that my new novel could stand a shot, given the stars being aligned correctly, at getting reviewed in a newspaper. Or not.


But so. The deal is an interesting one. There’s no money up front, so anything I earn will be on the backend from royalties. I have no idea what to expect.


The above-mentioned publicist that Shelf is hiring will be helping with this site (recommendations on how to make it a more effective tool to sell the novel) and with social media, such as the Facebook fan page I have yet to create.


The novel will published in October instead of July as originally planned. That’s to give the publicist time to work her magic (Are you listening?) And also to see if somehow the timing can work for the Frankfurt Book Fair.


The editing is done. The cover is mostly done. The text will be put through the e-book grinder and formatted for all available devices before too long. And then we shall see what happens. As the publisher, Margaret Brown, said, “if nothing else, you could look at this as a huge advertisement for the print rights to the novel.”


Given world enough and time, I will be posting much more regular updates about the progress of the novel through this process, which is entirely new to me (if I haven’t mentioned that already). Stay tuned.


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About Steve, i.e., him

Stephen Stark is an award-winning novelist and bestselling ghostwriter. His fiction and nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, Poets & Writers and in many other journals. He has been a fellow and taught at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and won an NEA Literature Fellowship in fiction. His novel, Second Son, was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 1992, and a New and Noteworthy Paperback of 1994.

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