In my last update, written in January 2022, I told you about the query process and my attempts to find an agent or publisher for my manuscript, Reclaiming Mni Sota. Today, I’m going to update you on where I’m at in the publication process and what to expect moving forward.
Since January, I’ve continued to submit my manuscript to agents and publishers. However, it’s not been the main focus of my time. So far, I’ve submitted to about fifty agents and publishers. I’ve received about thirty rejections and have not heard back from the others. In March, I received a full manuscript request from a small press called Foundations Book Publishing. Usually, upon submission, authors are asked to provide a sample of their work. A full request is encouraging because it means the publisher was interested in the sample and wants to review the manuscript in its entirety. I have not heard back from Foundations since submitting the full manuscript, but it’s only been a few months.
In the meantime, however, I hired a company called The History Quill to provide me with a Structural Edit of my manuscript. This is similar to a developmental edit but not quite as extensive. A structural edit, as described on their website, “includes a comprehensive assessment of your manuscript and an evaluation of each individual chapter, drilling down into the text to identify problems at a granular level.” This was exactly what I received—a fifteen-page report that outlined the areas for improvement in my manuscript as it relates to plot, point of view, character development, and so forth. This was hard to read, but after sitting with it for a few days, I took notes on the recommendations and determined that there are several things I can do to improve my narrative. That’s why, this summer, I’m making revisions to the manuscript. The story will remain essentially the same, but I plan to do a lot to improve the characters and their relationships with one another. My goal is to finish my revisions by the end of August.
This summer I’m also undertaking several speaking engagements. For instance, on June 16 I traveled to Winnebago, Minnesota, to talk about the history of the Ho-Chunk people. On June 20, I traveled to Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, and Tyler, Minnesota, to talk about the history of the U.S. – Dakota War. On June 26, I traveled to Peterson, Minnesota for the grand opening of a new wing of their museum. There, I talked about the history of a Root River Trail, a 42-mile recreational path that had once been an Indian trail. I’ll be giving various other presentations in the months of July and August. I’m very grateful for these events because it gives me a chance to engage with my audience, sell my books, and earn an income through speaking fees. I’ve definitely enjoyed the events so far, and I’m looking forward to more.
With all that said, my major focus over the past year plus has been on the establishment and growth of my publishing company, History Through Fiction. At this point I can proudly say that it is indeed growing. I’ve now signed five authors to contracts, including Alina Adams, a NYT-bestselling author whose most recent title, The Nesting Dolls, was published by HarperCollins. Her current novel, My Mother’s Secret: A Novel of the Jewish Autonomous Region, which comes out November 15, is now available for pre-order.
In addition to publishing historical novels, History Through Fiction is now publishing historical fiction short stories. The stories are published digitally to our member-only content area where our members can download and read them whenever they like. I’m also producing a podcast which has been a wonderful, but time-consuming experience. Since May I’ve recorded about a dozen interviews with historical novelists and I have about a dozen more scheduled in July and August. The interviews will be published as a weekly series for Season 3 of History Through Fiction: The Podcast beginning in September. And finally, I’m the moderator for What’s New in Historical Fiction, a regular panel series featuring historical novelists with new and upcoming titles. This has been a great experience and the panels allow me to connect with other historical novelists while growing my audience of subscribers. If you don’t already know about my publishing company History Through Fiction, I highly encourage you to check it out and to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
This year, I’ve also been doing freelance editing. I joined the Editorial Freelancers Association and the ACES: The Society for Editing. This has allowed me to gain additional training and helped me to connect with writers looking for editors. So far, I’ve completed three freelance editing contracts, and I’m currently working on two others. I’ve received some great testimonials for my work, which you can read here along with a description of services, and it’s allowed me to bring some income into my company. Since I’ve been working at this for so many years, it’s very rewarding to be able to help other writers while also generating some income.
As you can see, I’m immensely busy pursuing my passions in history, writing, and publishing. I’m constantly coming up with new ideas, networking with other authors and publishers, and interacting with freelancers, contractors, and publicists. My days are filled with a variety of endeavors from writing, to editing, to interviewing, to social media management, to networking and much more! I’m still working my day job as a para educator and my weekend job as a pizza delivery driver. It’s definitely hard work, but I do enjoy it and I’m beginning to see the fruits of my labor. Thank you for being a part of this journey. I can’t wait to share my next novel with you along with everything else that lies ahead.
About the Author
Colin Mustful is an independent author, historian, and publisher. His work helps readers learn and understand the complicated and tragic history of settler-colonialism and Native displacement in the Upper Midwest. He has a Master of Arts degree in history and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. He is also the founder of History Through Fiction, an independent press that publishes high-quality fiction that is rooted in historical research. Mustful is an avid runner and soccer player who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He believes that learning history is vital to understanding our world today and finding just, long-lasting solutions for the future.