Antler Dust: The Longest Ride

I wrote Antler Dust in the mid 1990’s. I’d tell you the exact date or year, but I have no clue.

Friends gave me feedback and fellow writers, too.

In pretty quick fashion, I got a good agent in New York City.

(This was my third manuscript and third agent in New York; I was unpublished but gaining experience.)

The agent gave me feedback. Editors at “big” houses gave me feedback.

I re-wrote it for the agent. I re-wrote it, for nearly a year, for the editors.

But, no sale.

Layout 1I put it aside.

I wrote another mystery about a television reporter and finished it.

In 2007 a small, independent publisher in Niwot (not that there would be any “big” independent publishers in Niwot) read both Antler Dust and the mystery about the television reporter. The publisher liked Allison Coil and Antler Dust came out—2,000 hardbacks! Good advance, the whole bit.

I did 42 bookstore stops in two years, had a blast getting my first book out there. Antler Dust hit the Denver Post best-seller list in 2007 and again in 2009.

But that publisher went under.

When Buried by the Roan (the second book in the series) was ready, I got picked up by George Stranahan’s People’s Press in Aspen. They offered to print a trade paperback of #2 and a trade paperback of Antler Dust. Good advances, the whole bit. Buried by the Roan came out in 2011.

But, guess what? More editing for Antler Dust. Two (count ‘em!) professional editors made more suggestions and edits. Whole chunks taken out; other parts touched up.

Then, People’s Press closed shop.

I was thrilled to get picked up by Midnight Ink in 2013 and the third book, Trapline, came out in 2014 and the fourth book, Lake of Fire, came out last September.

4 Covers With Shadows SmallI started my own company, Third Line Press, so those two books would remain in print.

(It was a good move. Mystery readers love starting at the beginning of a series.)

But, when the Antler Dust files were uploaded to Ingram (Lightning Source) for the new version, yes, I made a few more tweaks. Nothing too noticeable.

My point?

Books have a life of their own.

My other point?

You never know.

I can’t begin to count the number of editors and agents who have weighed in with ideas on that first Allison Coil mystery. (Maybe that’s a good thing. Antler Dust carries a five-star rating on Amazon with 52 reviews posted. That’s not a ton of reviews over the course of eight years, but still, I’ll take it).

Anyway, Third Line Press (yours truly) recently applied for a promotion via Book Bub.

So this coming Friday, Jan. 8 through Tuesday, Jan. 12, the e-book of Antler Dust is free (only on Kindle; not other e-book platforms).

Yes, I’m still promoting Antler Dust.

After eight years.

You never know.

You just never know.

(P.S: Tell your friends.)

Mark Stevens
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Mark Stevens is 2016 RMFW Writer of the Year. He writes the Allison Coil Mystery Series--Antler Dust (2007), Buried by the Roan (2011), Trapline (2014) and Lake of Fire (2015). Buried by the Roan, Trapline and Lake of Fire were all finalists for the Colorado Book Award; Trapline won. Trapline also won the 2015 award in genre fiction from the Colorado Authors League. Kirkus Reviews called Lake of Fire "irresistible." More about Mark on his website.

4 thoughts on “Antler Dust: The Longest Ride

  1. This post inspires me, Mark, and it should encourage other authors who’ve had to put up with lost agents, publishers going out of business, and other aggravations of the publishing world. We need to persevere. Carry on, writers, and keep trying. Something good may happen tomorrow.

  2. This is an impressive journey; its twists, turns, and moguls remind me of a ski slope at Crested Butte that we found most challenging when we were kids. (I forgot the name of it, but it was a dandy.) One thing I never really considered when I started writing was the ever-shifting skill set that authors have to have, and this post demonstrates it perfectly. I admire your tenacity and flexibility, Mark. And of course, also your writing. Congratulations.

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