Congratulations to Book Country member D.J. Pizzarello on publishing COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others! D.J. workshopped several short stories on Book Country and received outstanding feedback. We recently featured D.J. on the Member Spotlight. In this Q&A, D.J. shares what surprised him most about the publishing process and advice he would give to other writers considering the self-publishing route. You can purchase COLLECTED STORIES: Angel of Mercy and Seven Others on Book Country, Amazon, and other major online book retailers.
Janet Umenta: After years of writing, what was the moment like when you decided you were ready to publish?
D.J. Pizzarello: I’d actually decided to publish some years before I finally took the plunge. I felt strongly that my stories should be told, that I had something to say others might find interesting, perhaps even thought-provoking. I’ve always loved language, loved trying to express myself in inventive ways. So I spent some years working on stories I’d already written, revising, and revising, and revising—and at times, creating new ones. At a point, fairly recently, I decided that my work was ready to be published. How did I feel at that point? Ready, eager, energized. Raring to go.
JU: What surprised you most about the publishing process?
DP: The thing that surprised me most about the publishing process is how difficult it is for an unknown fiction writer, especially one interested in placing short literary fiction, to find representation. Most agents I contacted praised my work but declined interest, citing, generally, a small potential market. So, finding my way to publishers using an agent seemed unlikely to succeed. It was then that I investigated “self-publishing.” The process was becoming more common, and I decided that I could try that route and hope that my work would find an audience that way.
JU: You’ve workshopped numerous short stories from your book on Book Country, including ANGEL OF MERCY and THE GIFT OF LIFE. How did receiving feedback from other writers shape your writing and editing process?
DP: The feedback from the workshops was quite valuable. It often made me see my work in a different light and helped me revise what I’d written in view of the criticism of readers. I didn’t always agree with the suggestions that were made, but I did take each of them seriously and tried to find the merit in them.
JU: What do you most want readers to get out of COLLECTED STORIES?
DP: I hope my work will provoke thought; I want that the most. However, I want my readers to be entertained, to feel the time they spent on my work was a pleasure. I want readers to find my characters interesting, memorable human beings—whatever their defects, or, perhaps, because of them.
JU: What advice would you give to writers who are considering the self-publishing route?
DP: Read the work of others. Critique the work of others in the workshop formats. Listen carefully to criticism of one’s own work. But most of all, I’d advise people considering self-publishing to try a service such as is offered by Book Country. One gets valuable advice in plotting, character development, dialogue, and other things. And there’s help available in the mechanics of publishing, manuscript preparation, cover design, and formatting, as examples.
About D.J. Pizzarello
I spent a lifetime in biomedical research. I wrote and co-wrote four science texts dealing with radiation biology and cancer care, contributed chapters to other medical books, and authored numerous research reports. I’m retired now from my position as Professor of Radiology at The New York University School of Medicine. I love reading, travel, classical music, theater, museums, cooking, eating, and walking in the country.