Not the most encouraging words in 2002, when self-publishing was still looked at with an upturned nose and dismissed as a last-ditch effort of getting someone's writing out there. They had to PAY for people to read it, so it must not be any good!
I went back and forth with this option, and finally took the plunge with iUniverse in September of that same year, and the rest is a very small piece of history. It launched, friends and family picked up their copies, and then it faded out and I moved on, convinced that the story had peaked.
Only, it didn't. In 2011, I got the rights to the book back and decided to give it an overhaul. Four years later, the overhaul became the five-part serial that it is today.
So much of this story has changed over the years. It had a supernatural tone to it for a while, involving the spirit of a gladiator from the Roman times. It became more cartoonish, then more grounded, and finally it became a lot more political with some fairly heavy social commentary, similar to the sci-fi films of the 1970s before Star Wars was released. But one thing it never really had (with the exception of Charlie Kessler, who helped with the 2005 screenplay rewrite) was someone who would stand beside me and want to invest in it.
It's my honor to give the news that I had been waiting to give ever since I published the first incarnation of this story in 2002: "From Parts Unknown" has a home. And more importantly, it has a new champion. Rocking Horse Publishing - the same publisher that re-launched "Excelsior" - will release the five-part serial as one large eBook in November of this year, and then prepare for a paperback launch in early 2016. If you still want to get individual copies of each part of the serial, you have until mid-September before they come down. Click HERE to see what I'm talking about.
Now, some may wonder why I'm going this route when I could have just self-published this new - and vastly improved - version. I definitely could have, but my reasoning is simple: it's lonely out there. With the market as saturated as it is, it's difficult for one voice to get any louder than everyone else's. And I've done a lot of shouting for this story. I believe in it, I know it works, and I'm shocked to even see myself typing that when I'm still my own worst critic. Something about this story makes me feel that I've got something here, that after almost twenty years of kicking it around, I finally got it right. And it means a lot to me to know that, now that this contract is signed, someone else will be shouting beside me.
This may come off as sappy to you, but this is the direction I need to take "From Parts Unknown." Ever since it was just a pile of Microsoft Word pages, nobody felt the urge to give it a chance, and I'm forever grateful that RHP is giving me the chance I've been craving for so long. So set some space aside on your bookshelf or your Kindle for this November or early 2016. This science-fiction / wrestling / dystopia-in-progress / comic book-esque / epic story finally has what it's been missing since the original idea came to me in 1995: a new champion.