How I published 2 books at 14 years old
by Randy Gingeleski
5 minutes to read
How I traditionally published two fiction novels at age 14, and how virtually anyone can do the same thing.
This is the story of how I hacked two fiction books together and got them published at age 14. Not e-book publishing or self-publishing but real you-pay-nothing-we-send-you-royalty-checks publishing. I’m going to show you how you could easily do the same exact thing - plus why I’d now discourage it.
They haunt any Google searches for me.
In elementary school, I learned to write like everybody else did. But I fell in love with it – as my chubby, nerdy 10-year-old self I would write all the time. My spare time just got consumed by it. I can vividly remember sitting in my bedroom, all dark except for just one desk lamp on, writing in solidarity. Always pencil to paper. I got callouses. What did I write? All sorts of ridiculous things, typically short stories. Always fiction and it would be about spaceships or dragons or robots, the culmination of who I was at that time. So in fifth grade I finally hunkered down and wrote some longer stuff. One manuscript was what would become The War of Lord Capani and the other was my own version of this story I was obsessed with as a kid, The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat. Yes, I was really lame. That summer before middle school, I typed up Capani and started shopping it around to publishers. All the major ones, like Random House, turned me down. A bunch of smaller operations too. Eventually I sent it to this publisher PublishAmerica, now America Star Books. They wanted to put it out, and I was ecstatic. It was my childhood dream coming into realization. When they found out I was 10 years old, however, they quickly wanted nothing to do with me. The floppy disks and stacks of paper that made up the book would get stowed away in my closet. Despite what the local newspaper would write about my “story”, that book was always sort of in the back of my mind. As I got older, I sort of thought of it as a golden ticket instead of a dream coming into fruition. My interests had changed, I dreaded any extracurricular writing, suddenly I wanted to be a filmmaker or a fighter pilot. In 8th grade, I decided enough time had passed to send the book back to that same publisher. Lo and behold, they accepted it again and this time I left out any business about being under 18. [
](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1605637580/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1605637580&linkCode=as2&tag=randyginge-20&linkId=B34KSCTUIO26UU4I)The book came out in November 2008, if I’m remembering correctly. I was now in high school. Family bought it, but that was as far as sales went initially. Then Publish America emailed and asked if they could set up a book signing. I thought that would be pretty neat, signing books in Barnes & Noble and whatever. They arranged a date. My mom got in touch with the school district’s newsletter, seeing if they would put print something about it. They thought it was such a big deal that they passed the story along to the local newspaper. [
](/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Screen-Shot-2014-09-24-at-5.33.31-PM.png)So, as a result of that, a lot of people actually turned up to this book signing. I met a lot of people I’d otherwise have never crossed paths with, a bunch of family and friends came out, and as a whole that was a good experience. I sold maybe 50 copies just that night. Beyond that, I had no idea how the book was selling because the publisher only tallied sales twice a year to send out royalty checks. Therefore - I quickly wrote and published another book. Another sloppy science-fiction title. [
](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1615467351/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1615467351&linkCode=as2&tag=randyginge-20&linkId=R5SEYH6A4FYNQO5K)The grand total I made off Capani ended up being about $200 for all time, and World’s Something has literally never sold. I don’t even have a single copy of it. God’s honest truth. The thing about PublishAmerica (now America Star Books) is that they will publish anything. I get daily emails from them about both books, offering me sales prices to buy bulk or marketing services. For $100 they’ll send a copy of my book to a local radio station. For $200 they’ll put it at their booth for some expo. It’s a sham.
I imagine they made a lot of money off the 100 - 200 _Capani_ copies I sold. If you want to publish a book, send them something. It won’t cost you anything upfront. But they will hold the rights to your work hostage, make zero marketing efforts, and overall not really care.
Overall, and this will sound corny, but the experience was priceless to me. The book signing was neat, I got to speak at a local elementary school, and for about a month people recognized me in restaurants. I’m glad I didn’t do any due diligence because then the whole ordeal might not have happened to begin with. A better idea if you want to publish today would be e-books. Amazon seems to have a solid platform. There are some really inspirational stories out. If that was around when I was first looking to be in the book business, that’s how I probably would have done things.