Michael Sears' first novel, the best-seller BLACK FRIDAYS, a thriller with a financial twist, took the Shamus award and was short-listed for the Edgar and three other major awards. MORTAL BONDS, the critically-acclaimed second novel in the Jason Stafford series, won the Silver Falchion at Killer Nashville. Continuing the series, LONG WAY DOWN, was described as "one of the best thrillers of 2015." SAVING JASON is the fourth in the series (Putnam, February 2, 2016).
Until 2005, Mr. Sears was a Managing Director for two different Wall Street firms, where he worked in the bond market for twenty years and, earlier, in foreign exchange and derivatives. Prior to returning to Columbia University for his MBA, he was, for eight years, a professional actor appearing at the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington (Folger Theatre), Playwright's Theater of Washington, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, The Comedy Stage Co., and, in the course of a single year, every soap opera shot in New York City.
He is married to the artist, Barbara Segal and is the father of two handsome sons. Born in New York City, he lived for more than twenty years on Manhattan's Upper West Side and still misses it every day.
HOW TO GET YOUR BOOK PUBLISHED
If you saw that teaser of a title and came looking for magical short-cuts, I am sorry but I will disappoint you. Are you already famous? If not famous, are you at least infamous? Are you a decent writer who just happens to be the heir to the estate of a recently deceased best-selling author? If you answered “YES” to any of those questions, then you have already discovered all the short-cuts that I know about. The only other method is a combination of perseverance, a thick skin, and a strong belief in your own ability. All that, and luck.
How did I get published? Well it seems like magic to me, but, of course, it wasn’t and I am too much a hardened skeptic to believe in it anyway. After ten years as a professional actor and twenty years on Wall Street, I had the requisite thick skin and had absorbed the lessons of perseverance. And I believed that I could write.
After leaving Wall Street – for reasons financial, medical, and because I just needed a change – I gave myself the gift of a creative writing course. I did well enough that I took another. And another. I considered continuing and getting an MFA – I am a believer in higher education, though I acknowledge that it is far from necessary for success.
Then I was invited to join a workshop. Workshops have a bad reputation in some literary circles, the product of both prejudice and experience. There are many bad workshops out there and there are writers who are not suited to the format, no matter how good the group. The process worked for me, and it was a very good workshop. The year BLACK FRIDAYS came out, there were two other debuts from Jennifer Belle’s workshop (ACCELERATED by Bronwen Hruska and TOO BRIGHT TO HEAR TOO LOUD TO SEE by Juliann Garey). Not bad.
The trials of finding an agent are well-known and I won’t recount the horrors here. But I did find an agent – the right agent. That’s key. There are a lot of agents out there and the ones who don’t want to handle you and your work are not evil or misguided. (They may be, but that’s not the point.) They’re just not the right fit. Keep looking. I did a ton of research. I used my contacts. What worked? I targeted Nat Sobel, based on reading interviews with him in which he talked about what he looked for in an author. I thought that I fit the profile. Nat and his wife Judith Weber read unsolicited manuscripts and are always actively seeking new talent. And their current pool is awesome. Check out their website and see (sobelweber.com).
I sent off fifty pages and an email. The next day, Nat wrote back. “Send the rest.” It was a magical moment for me, but it wasn’t the result of magic. Perseverance, research, and good writing had much more to do with it.
Over a first lunch, Nat and Judith recommended some changes to the book. I liked their ideas and over the next month I added some bits, swapped the order of some scenes, and took out a scene that I loved. (I have since tried to fit it into two other books and I have come to realize – it just doesn’t work. It’s still a great scene, but it is not an absolutely necessary scene.) Finally, it was ready to go out to publishers in an auction for a two-book deal. (This was to encourage bidders who might have feared that this untried – and older – new author only had one book in him.) A deadline was set, the manuscripts went out, and I tried to think about something else – anything else.
A week or so before the deadline, Judith called. An editor was interested but wanted to talk with me before committing. Was I willing? Certainly. Fine, she said. I’ll set it up. Then she told me who was going to interview me.
The list of Neil Nyren’s mega-selling crime fiction writers reads like a Who’s Who in Thrillers (think Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, John Sandford, and so on). And now I am one of Neil’s authors. And all it took as perseverance, diligence, and some talent. Oh, yes, and quite a bit of luck. Maybe I do believe in magic.
Michael Sears' website is http://www.michaelsears.com
Saving Jason by Michael Sears. Penguin. 2016. ISBN 9780399166723 (hardcover). 368p.
This week, the publicist is giving away two copies of Sears' new novel, Saving Jason. Disgraced Wall Street trader Jason Stafford is forced to go into the witness protection program with his young autistic son. But, when his son disappears, Stafford has to risk everything to save him. If you would like to try to win a copy, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read "Win Saving Jason." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway will end Thursday, March 3 at 6 PM CT.