You’ve probably heard that old expression, “The longest journey starts with a single step.”
That’s an apt description of my publishing journey. But, in my case, the journey started with a single pedal stroke.
After I graduated from the University of Michigan, my parents gave me $500 to spend in any way I chose. I don’t remember where most of it went, but I sure remember that $189 Peugeot ten-speed.
It was too big for me, but I loved that bike anyway. Rode it before and after work and on weekends as well. My weekend rides were with the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, and those guys and gals showed me – literally – that one could go very far on a bicycle. It got to the point where I was knocking out 50-mile rides like they were nothing.
A year after I bought the Peugeot, I realized that it was indeed too big, so I traded up to a custom-built model that was fabricated by Mark Nobilette in his basement.
Then I took a page out of the Touring Society’s playbook and went very far on this bicycle. I ended up riding through all 50 of the United States. Only took 12 years – and 15,000 miles – to accomplish this goal.
About a third of the way through my 50-state quest, I decided to write a book. I went about it in the conventional way – pitching the project to agents and publishers. Their response? A pile of rejection slips.
During the summer of 1984, I lamented my lack of publishing industry success to a coworker. I said, “I guess I’ll just have to publish that book myself.”
My coworker’s face lit up, and she exclaimed, “Oh, good! Now you can do it exactly the way you want!”
How right she was.
That conversation got me rolling on a new journey as a publishing entrepreneur. The little book that the big publishers didn’t want became my big project.
I self-published for the first time in 1985, and darn if that little book didn’t make me some money. I took that money and hit the road again in the spring of 1987.
During that adventure, I spent a week in Tucson, fell in love with it, and vowed that as soon as I was finished riding, I would settle here. On June 30, 1987, I did just that, and I’m still here. Still publishing too!
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