A long time ago, in 1980, I got lucky and married a very fine woman who made my subsequent life more fulfilled than I ever imagined it could be. Not long after I became acquainted with her, I found out that one of her older sisters, Rita, had written a book about their family’s experiences at the end of World War II in Germany. She had submitted her book to a few publishers by this time, but there had been no interest. I did have a cursory look at the book, and I could see why publishers might not be interested, and that was that the book desparately needed the services of an editor; it was a great story, but not well written, and to a certain extent it needed to be completely re-written. But who would do it? I had no time for it, and back in those days I wouldn’t have described myself as a writer. And we had no money to pay anyone to do it, and neither did my sister-in-law. And so it lay.
Fast forward 25 years to 2005, and with all our children now raised, it suddenly occurred to me that I now had time that I could devote to the project of editing the book into some kind of shape. After all that time I had also added “writing” to my skillset, and though I wouldn’t compare myself with the likes of Tom Clancy, it seemed to me that I could give it a try. So off I went.
To make a long story short, over the next seven years I rewrote the book six times. When I finished the sixth version last year, it was 20% longer than the original, and in my humble opinion I thought I had turned it into a decent piece of work. My wife, however, did not like it. In her opinion, she thought I had turned it into a travelogue-cum-history-lesson, with her sister’s raw emotion wrung all out of it (I had other opinions that strongly suggested she was wrong, but…). I had been ignoring her complaints all along, and I didn’t agree with her, but she finally convinced me that I ought to go back and rewrite the book, as her sister had written it, without going off into flights of geography and history that I, at least, had thought made it even more interesting.
Well, I thought, after six run-throughs, why not do it one more time?
But there was a complication! About five years ago, my sister-in-law sent us a copy of a trascript she had typed up from a tape-recorded monologue that her mother had given her in 1978, in German, This transcript contained some of the story that my sister-in-law recounted, but because her mother had been taken by the Soviets for forced labor in the Ural Mountains for 3 1/2 years, it contained a whole huge pile of other stuff that clearly belonged in this book as well. But how do I put it in? The seventh version of the original book was 246 pages, and were I to add this new material, this would bring the work to close to 400 pages! After some discussion, we decided to publish them as two separate books.
My search for a publisher was the next step, but I will not describe that here. Suffice it to say that I sent submission packages to about 30 publishers for Rita’s book, but there were no takers. If you can’t publish ONE book, how do you expect to publish TWO?
Here’s the provisional covers for these two books: