Successfully publishing your first novel often hinges on making the right connections. For author Steven Marini, his persistence in finding those links rewarded him with his first published ebook, Connections.
Marini’s novel is a fast-paced and suspenseful detective thriller set in 1970s Boston. Jack Contino is a veteran cop who knows how to link people and events. He often works with the FBI, so he’s unsurprised when they call him to help unravel a gangland massacre. Soon he’s in hot pursuit of a killer, but the trail takes an unexpected turn. The novel also follows the stories of Maria Falcone and Ben Secani, two childhood friends who grew up together on South Boston’s rough streets. Maria connects by leading a double life; college coed during the week, and high-priced call girl on weekends. A professor loves her. A mobster uses her. Her future depends on one of them. Ben learned to kill for his country in Vietnam and finds opportunity in the Boston Mob. The connections these three characters make lead them on a collision course that will change their lives forever.
While Marini’s experience to get his first novel published may not have been filled with as much drama as his characters encounter, he did endure a setback or two. “Since this is my first novel, I knew it would be near impossible to get in with a large publisher, but I tried to get an agent. No luck there,” he recounts.
“I learned from my writers’ group, the Cape Cod Writers Center, that many new authors are foregoing agents and shooting right at the many new small publishers emerging, so I went in that direction,” Marini explains. This connection showed promise but ended in disappointment. “After getting a contract from such a publisher in 2011, I thought I was on my way. But that company folded, and my contract went up in smoke.”
Another valuable connection for Marini was finding The Writer’s Ally through the Maryland Writers’ Association. He hired us to provide professional feedback on his manuscript. “On my first draft, Ally Peltier showed me numerous places where I needed improvement. At the same time, she pointed out some strong points, too, so I got exactly what I needed and went about revising the manuscript accordingly.”
Marini received two early reviews praising Connections. One came from newly published author Arlene Kay, (Intrusion, Mainly Murder Press), and the other from a retired Massachusetts State Police officer who is familiar with the Boston crime scene from the 1970s. In addition, Connections led to an invitation to discuss writing on a Cape Cod radio show, and to participate on a panel and do a reading at the annual Cape Cod Writers Center Conference in August. Both were exciting experiences that came from his being a member of the Cape Cod Writers Center. He’s looking forward to making more promotional appearances and hopes that his many friends and contacts in Maryland will lead to opportunities there as well as in New England.
Looking back, Marini wishes he would have known more about the publishing business before starting the process. “I could have started shopping for an ebook publisher and not worried about finding an agent or trying for a ‘print run’ publisher. I knew nothing about the state of the industry,” he describes. But by successfully publishing Connections, he’s learned how to build helpful links within the publishing industry, knowledge he can now apply as he prepares to publish Jack Contino detective sequels.
Marini advises aspiring writers to persist through challenges and never forget the reason you write. “Expect rejection and criticism and keep on writing,” he says. “If you’re not writing because you’re having fun, then you’re in it for the wrong reason. Have fun.”