The Voyage – A Rocky Road to Completion
How to get your book published and translating into English by author Douglas Falk
“Have either of you ever encountered a more controversial manuscript than mine?” I asked Daniel and Jess of Mascot Books, in the meeting held at their office locale in Herndon, Virginia earlier this year. They both shook their heads.
I finally got The Voyage published – but for a good while, it felt as if I was walking a long and winding road, stuck in a never-ending limbo with a manuscript on my hands that seemed to be dead in the water.
I wrote the very first sentence of my novel on December 1, 2017 – almost 2 years to the day of the official release date of The Voyage on Tuesday next week (December 3) as a throwaway attempt of cooking up a fun little story, that later evolved to a behemothian-scale story with a scope out of this world… literally. I can’t remember exactly when the “Jerry Maguire moment” happened, whether it was an overnight epiphany or something that slowly formed in my mind: the idea to write about the most polarizing topic that is trending today worldwide – the theory that there is a worldwide conspiracy at large along all upper echelons of power to suppress the truth regarding the shape of the Earth. Flat Earth Theory.
Is there a topic more controversial and unanimously hated? No, there is not. Everyone has a hot take on it; some (most) dismiss it as an ancient myth that died thousands of years ago. Some are certain that it is the truth. And some are on the fence, or uncertain to the degree that they are now “agnostic” on their view of the shape of the Earth. But there is one thing that every single person in the world will agree on when it comes to this topic… if people are honest to themselves, deep down. One thing, and one thing only – that it is one hell of an intriguing concept.
How could you not be enthralled by the idea that this place we live in maybe not what we have been taught that it is, our whole lives? That said, the fact that it is the most polarizing topic barring none made it a challenging thing to tackle indeed. It’s a double-edged sword – I figured that if I could make it work, it could turn out to be a truly epic tale that would resonate and be cherished by millions of readers worldwide. But to slip up, just by a hair… the vultures would flock and tear it to pieces, and the end result could turn out to be a glorified dumpster fire. It is a premise most volatile, dare I say the most volatile storyline ever conceived. I told myself when I first ran across this about three years ago that I would stay far away from it and not touch it, not even with a ten-foot pole. Yeah… that didn’t exactly pan out, did it!
I finished the script on February 25, 2018 – and immediately sent the script to just about every publishing house in Sweden, big and small firms alike. But they turned me down. One by one, they turned me down. The curse of living in such a small country as Sweden became evident as I realized that after a certain number of rejections, well… there is simply no-where left to go after that, as there are only that many publishers in existence over here. The bridges were burnt.
Some of the publishers gave me very encouraging rejection letters, hinting that I almost made the final cut. Most of them, however, only responded with an automated rejection reply without giving any feedback or detailed response whatsoever. But the essence of it all was that I was soundly defeated, and they did not want me. Naturally, I was crestfallen after the fact. And I gave up… for a while.
About six or seven months later, I had another wild idea. An ambitious notion that was almost as daunting as the original idea to write a book with the premise of a flat Earth – the thought was to re-write the entire script on my own, this time in English. I realized that if this novel would ever see the light of day, this was my one and only chance.
So I prepared myself for the task, and begrudgingly so; needless to say, translating a work from one language to the other is not nearly on the same level of excitement as actually creating a story from scratch. It was a Herculean task for me, having to force myself every day to translate word after word, sentence after sentence. But eventually, I managed to complete it after hundreds of hours slouched over the computer screen. Earlier this year, in fact – late January is when I finalized the script… and this time around, I told myself – that it must work! It has to. I would not accept defeat this time and allow all the arduous work I had put in to drift away like a leaf in the wind.
This time around, I had a whole different experience! I received interest from multiple publishers right off the bat. It certainly helped now that there were more fish in the sea, but I would also like to think that the fact that I had spent so much time on it was the reason that it paid off, because the script I handed in one year earlier to the Swedish publishers certainly was not as polished or thoroughly planned out. I settled with hybrid publisher Mascot Books out of Herndon, a suburb of Washington D.C., in March this year. They have been excellent so far for the entire run, and now it is only a fortnight til’ D-Day – the official day of release.
My advice to foreign writers is that if you, like me, had a nigh-impossible road to tread in your native language market – do not give up! While re-writing one’s script to another language may not be the most stimulating or exciting thing to put time in to, it was however a very rewarding experience for me. Juggling two languages gave me an opportunity to see things from a different angle and it became more clear for me to determine what was missing from the story thus far, what needed to be cut, and what needed to absolutely stay. I can truly recommend to at least give it (re-writing the work to English) a try if you are stuck in the quagmire of your local market.
Author website- https://douglasfalk.com/