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founding
Apr 13Liked by Amran Gowani

That’s amazing, Amran!! My favorite egomaniacal sociopath did it! Congrats to you and Felicia! ❤️🎉❤️🎉❤️

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Thanks, Alice! It's been a long, wild, winding journey. The most amazing part is Felicia only threatened to divorce me like four times.

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Congratulations! That's exciting and I hope you sell enough books to justify your wife's investment 😉

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Thank you! You and me both!

Now I just have to restart this whole process for book two. :-)

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Luckily no one ever has a problem writing their second novel... Good luck!

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Having a good number of friends who did go the traditional route and got contracts, I can testify that this was a remarkably apt description of the process...of course done in your inimitable semi-serious style. And congratulations again on the win!

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Thanks, Mary! It's gratifying yet appalling to hear my experience isn't unique. I'm just very humbled to have arrived at this part of the journey.

Now, I have bigger fish to fry, like figuring out what to write next!

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Their experience is one of the reasons I decided to go the indie route in 2009. And I can see that having the backer (basically the money my husband and I saved in a career of writing that let me spend the time and subsequently invest in marketing when I retired) and the good luck of being an early adopter in the indie movement before all the competition and increasingly not-author friendly Amazon environment happened, so I got the chance to actually get the first books out there, reviewed favorably, and establish a fan base. Not sure if I was starting out now this would have happened.

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In the current, hypercompetitive environment authors are somehow more empowered and more disenfranchised at the same time. The traditional route is nearly impossible to navigate -- I've had a dozen non-writer friends tell me I basically won the Powerball -- and the self-publishing route is just so, so saturated.

As I mentioned before, I would've gone down the self-publishing route because I knew my novel was good, but getting anyone to pay attention to you as an independent author is just such a major challenge these days. And now we've got "AI" spam further crowding the literary marketplace.

I definitely got lucky, and I'll definitely take it.

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Man, step 1 is key. All hail Felcia!

Incidentally, on a recent 7 hour flight, I caught the first two episodes of Ken Burns’ PBS Hemingway documentary. Did you know he lived large not off of being the most famous American author since Mark Twain or selling the second-most copies of a book (all hail Gone With the Wind), but that no, he lived comfortably not on book sales, but because he married the wealthy girl(s), and when they needed more money, they enjoyed the patronage of his wife’s uncle, who was also rich and a fan?? Then there’s the whole episode of his maybe conning the US government to pay for his drunken fishing trips during ration-era WW2 under the guise of watching for u-boats near Cuba?!

Anyhow, congrats again! Thanks for sharing this part of the adventure with us.

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Yes! I watched the Hemingway documentary, and I recall telling Felicia even the great American novelist was a leech and a bum. I vaguely recall dodging a kitchen knife as well.

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Looking forward to your book — I cannot wait to be entertained, learn something new, develop more empathy, and have my life changed for the better by reading your debut novel!

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Thanks, Robin! The book is truly a blast -- it takes all the best parts of Field Research and ratchets the madness to maximum power.

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So incredibly exciting! Can’t wait to read it and then watch the HBO adaptation and complain that the book is better.

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Thanks, Bev! And hard agree. With any luck, they'll hire a director whose work I despise, so I can vociferously disavow the adaptation. Think Stephen King vs. the film version of THE RUNNING MAN.

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Apr 13Liked by Amran Gowani

So, exactly how much of my writing "career" budget should I be spending on Powerball tickets? I tanked your guide (apart from step 3), so I'm leaning on step 6 as my Hail Mary.

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The game's not over until the clock reads 0:00. Go long.

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So if I'd been born straight and knocked up some smart and successful woman, I'd be bestselling author now?

Dammmmmnnnnn.....

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author

The patriarchy works in mysterious ways.

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Congrats! Yeah, all accurate and fair.

(Now the fun part begins... hehehe)

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Thanks, Brent! I'm not sure if I'm vindicated or alarmed by the accuracy of this piece. Perhaps both.

Also, I've never read a more ominous line predicting "fun."

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Consider me the crazy lady with one eye babbling in the first act of the movie, warning you to, Run! Flee now! It's not too late to turn back!

Noooooo! Not really! You made it through the really shitty part, the rejection. Now it'll be, at worst, a mixed bag. And at best, your dreams coming true! And Simon & Schuster is wonderful.

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Haha -- that's normally the role I play!

In all seriousness, it's really exciting. To use a sports metaphor, I've been drafted to the major leagues. Whether I end up a one-season sensation, a replacement level player, or a perennial All-Star, it doesn't really matter. They're all high-class problems.

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Huge congrats! Everything you say about having a support system, especially an incredibly supportive wife, is true, not forgetting the constant hard work and pitching. Your experience eches mine in many ways. In the case of my first article being accepted by a magazine, I jokingly swear to this day that the editor finally accepted one because she felt sorry for me! Good luck with pitching the New Yorker etc

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Thanks, Terry! I'm hoping to replicate your experience with the lit mags. I'm at least 0-6 at McSweeney's and can't imagine I'll bat much higher at TNYer. But, eventually I'll wear them down.

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Well, keep on keeping on. So much depends on the editor, a truth that came up in the comments in the article I posted today as it happens: https://terryfreedman.substack.com/p/experiments-in-style-editorial-remarks

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By Grabthar's Hammer! I hope I am not the only one, apart from you, who has seen Galaxy Quest. 😅

Here's to many more deals and bestseller listings! Go go, the sky's the limit.

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Great film! And thanks, Alexander! Hopefully this is the beginning of a long, interesting journey.

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Cool update, been looking forward to this, Amran. Love your journey and how you focused on your goal of getting a deal with a publishing house. Congratulations and can't wait to read the book!

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Thanks, Claudia! I'm just dumb and stubborn enough to sink my teeth into something and refuse to let go, consequences be damned.

I hope you love the book! It's a lot of fun, that I can promise.

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Apr 15·edited Apr 15Liked by Amran Gowani

I've been reading your writing here on Substack and if there's one thing I know, is that I'll enjoy it!

The more I write fiction, the more I start to think that being 'dumb and stubborn' is an essential part of the game. 🤣

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Thank you! ☺️☺️☺️

I try not to reduce really complex problems into cliches, but yes, in my personal experience, and after following the careers of others, I'd say it's pretty clear tenacity will take a writer much farther than talent. Especially when it comes to the business side of the equation.

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It's a high stake industry, you need talent, tenacity and luck. The sooner we get this clear as writers, the better we'll fare. Like you say, having unrealistic expectations is not something to give up as a writer but to hone. You might get a chance or not. But you never know if you don't try.

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Can confirm re: delusions of grandeur being a prerequisite.

So well said, man, and once again, congrats!

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Thanks, Carlos! Glad the piece resonated. We both jettisoned our science/technical backgrounds to become artists, which is ample proof we're deeply, deeply unwell individuals. It also means we have what it takes!

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Amran I loved this post. I feel like I know you well now. You are absurd! And yet, I will gladly read your novel.

I'm in the process of finding an agent for my memoir and although I'm writing non-fiction, this post is very relatable.

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Thanks, Istiaq! My wife wholeheartedly agrees with your assessment.

There are similar themes in this post, which covers the entire 5 years of my writing journey from midlife crisis to securing an agent. The tone's more sincere, and many writers found the inside look useful: https://agowani.substack.com/p/taking-stock-and-giving-thanks

Good luck with your agent search! My top tip is to get a Publishers Marketplace account and use it to build your agent list. In PM you'll be able to pinpoint agents who repped similar memoirs (e.g., "comps") and that will drastically enhance your odds of finding a good match. PM is $25 per month, but it's worth ten-fold that in saved time and sanity.

My second tip is to treat the querying process less like a slog and more like an opportunity. Yes, it'll still suck, but framing the work positively makes a difference. Happy hunting!

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I will take you up on that advice and start a PM account!

Thanks for sharing that post, will bookmark it to read and let you know my thoughts later :)

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Very entertaining and true. I've often wondered if I should be so obsessed with my own novels and it's good to hear there are others like me.

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Thanks, Jessica! Being a little insane is a prerequisite for writing novels, so you're doing it right.

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Apr 27Liked by Amran Gowani

Hey Amran, Well done! Getting a book set in the financial world out into the real world is something! Tell me, are your short form pieces aimed at publicizing your book? As in.....the book title will be included with your dark and depraved article? Nice marketing if so!

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Thanks, Shirley! It was an interesting sale process -- a lot of editors passed due to the setting, but luckily Peter at Atria was an instant evangelist and we quickly locked up a deal.

The evolution of this newsletter is something I planned, but which admittedly I could never be sure would pan out. In a nutshell, the goal was to build an online portfolio to showcase my writing for readers, fellow writers, and prospective agents and editors down the line. I started with 160 imported subscribers (friends, family, acquaintances) and have grown my list to almost 1,050 subscribers over the past two years. As you might imagine, given the nature of my content and writing I churn a ton of readers.

As I've reached different milestones during my traditional publishing journey I've modified the focus of this newsletter. It used to be a free weekly humor/satire piece every Friday, then I introduced a paywall and did every other post "paid," then I throttled down to once per month with most everything free -- including updates on my path to publication. That said, I do want to deliver value to my paid subscribers, so I'm still looking for ways to sneak them extra posts.

If you want the full story, in gritty detail, you can read these in sequence:

https://agowani.substack.com/p/welcome-to-the-party-pal

https://agowani.substack.com/p/celebrating-an-entire-year-of-madness

https://agowani.substack.com/p/taking-stock-and-giving-thanks

https://agowani.substack.com/p/field-researchs-2023-year-in-review

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May 1Liked by Amran Gowani

Thank you so much for the history of this...it helps a lot to read of writers' paths to gory glory. I'll keep up with your adventures. Shirley

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