Little did I know ten years ago, when I decided to send my manuscript to BookLocker.com, that I would one day be standing at a podium with the Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs accepting a prestigious award.
But, that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago. Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney was all smiles as he shook my hand after presenting me with a beautifully crafted lapel pin and a framed certificate that commended me for my contribution to “Öthe remembrance of the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians in armed conflict.”
The Minister’s Commendation is one of Veterans Affairs Canada’s highest awards. According to departmental officials, I was selected because of the books I have written about Canada’s military heritage and my speaking engagements to service clubs, universities, high schools and libraries about the heroic deeds of Canadians in times of war.
And I am convinced that I would not have been in line for that award had I not taken that first step of submitting my manuscript to BookLocker.com.
When Angela Hoy responded positively to my query, I had no idea how quickly and easily I would soon see my manuscript in print. I called it Some Sunny Day and it was the story of our family relocating to Wawa, a small mining town in Northern Ontario, after my father returned from overseas at the end of the Second World War.
Following the advice in WritersWeekly.com – an e-zine I have been reading every week for years – I let friends, relatives and business colleagues know about the book and I also started lining up as many reading and signing sessions as possible.
The success of this venture gave me the confidence to submit a manuscript to a traditional publisher based on Canadian soldiers who had volunteered to parachute into Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War to set up an escape network for Canadian, American, British and other Allied airmen shot down by the enemy. Entitled Canadian Spies, that book has since become a national bestseller many times over and an excerpt became the cover story in a national history magazine. I followed that success with D-Day, Great Canadian War Heroes and Valour at Vimy Ridge – an account of a battle that took place during the First World War.
Since then, I have ghost-written Permission Granted, the memoirs of a Second World War Squadron Leader. Based on my track record, Canada’s Defense Department hired me to write an account of an Aboriginal Canadian’s army career. In addition, the department had me turn transcripts of interviews with about 30 Canadian soldiers awarded medals of valour in Afghanistan into a book called In Their Own Words, slated for publication this fall.
A bit of icing on the cake is that my reputation as a writer of Canadian military history got me an invitation this spring for my wife and I to travel free on a ten-day Globus motorcoach tour of military sites in Northern France. In return, I provided each participant with a copy of my D-Day book and I acted as a resource person to assist the Tour Director with any questions the Globus clients might have about a particular battle site.
And, don’t believe those rumors that a traditional publisher won’t touch your work if you first self-publish. When my publisher, James Lorimer and Company, asked me if I had any other book ideas, I mentioned that I had self-published Some Sunny Day. They not only accepted it but asked me for six more chapters and family photographs for an insert.
Because Some Sunny Day already had an ISBN registration, the new version was published in April with the title To Wawa with Love with a new ISBN.
Thank you, BookLocker, for setting me off on a career path that has been both lucrative and highly enjoyable!
For more information about Tom Douglas and his writing career, go to: http://www.tomdouglas.typepad.com
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