know this is a story as old as time itself but perhaps by sharing my version it will inspire others or, perhaps, add a dose of reality to those dreams of quitting the day job by becoming a writer. As a quick summary writing may not be overly profitable but it is a lot like applied Christianity, it is never boring.
As a kid I oftern dreamed of accalim, fame, and fortune earned as a writer. As the years passes this morphed into a combination of writer/archeologist.
Well, reality began pushing the dream aside as I discovered a world of working, of responsibilities, and meeting the needs of a family. I may never have tried writing if it were not for the gentle encouragement of my dearest friend.
With her gentle nudging the long buried dream was brought to the service and nurtured ever so patiently. The first problem was ignorance coupled with a can do spirit that would have made John Wayne proud.
There was no research into the proper way to submit material or approach a publisher. There was no querry letter. Instead I simply decided to share a story about a wrecking yard discovered near the Mexican border in southern Arizona with folks who enjoyed vintage vehicles as much as I did.
So, I picked up the phone and called the editor at Special Interest Autos, now Hemmings Classic Car, published by Hemmings Motor News. I spoke directly with the editor, Mr. Brownell, received the green light, broke out the 1948 Underwood typewriter, dusted off my $25.00 Kodak camera, picked up some black and white film, and set out on a new career that wouldd allow me to quite the day job.
That was in 1990. For twelve years I wrote two weekly newspaper columns. I wrote more than 1,000 feature articles for a wide array of periodicals. I still had a day job.
Then I lost a job held for more than twenty years and landed my first book contract all within a space of two months. The book profiling the obscure Checker manufacturing company quite an education. It was also a grand adventure.
This book represented a $2,000 loss but garnered a priceless amount of education. It also provided the excuse for an epic father and son cross country adventure, a story in itself.
While all of this writing was taking place every effort was being made to garner the attention of a publisher and land a book contract, then I could quit the day job. After filling a shoe box I decided that saving rejection notices was a wasted effort.
At one point I was so close to success it could be felt. After writing a number of small features for Old Cars Weekly Krause Publishing and encouraging discussions with John Gunnell I decided to take the plunge and submit a manuscript. 
I was amazed and elated to receive a phone call from Chet Krause, the founder of Krause Publications. He enjoyed the summary, the sample chapter and the entire concept. A promise was made that he would personally submit it to the editorial review board and I was walking on air for days.
Long weeks of silence followed our brief conversation. By the third week the tension was more than I could bear so a call was made and a request for an update was submitted.
The project was still born. The company was being restructured and no new manuscripts were being accepted. That one is still mouldering in a file cabinet drawer.
The next project exemplifies the unique and strange world that is publishing. For several years various efforts were made to get a toe in the door at Motor Books International. In each instance my efforts were rebuffed with polite notes that, in essence, said I had little or no talent.
A friend in California that I met as a result of his association with Old cars Weekly had begun writing books several years before and on occasion had asked me to write special feature side bars to accompany his work. He was deep into two book projects when Motor Books International contacted him about a project with a very short deadline.
As he was involved with these other projects he tossed my name in the hat. The short version of a long story is that within weeks I was contracted for a joint project, Jon would write 30 % and assist with the illustrations. I would handle the rest.
It was a huge project that entailed hundreds of illustrations and more than 50,000 words. Amazingly, even with a full time job, we were able to finish the project in six months, not a feat I would like to repeat.
The end result was The Big Book of Car Culture, a heavily illustrated series of succint histories on a wide array of topics from the evolution of crash test dummies to the history of pavement striping, from Route 66 to the history of parking meters, from the Ford Mustang to Harley Davidson. In my heart I knew this book was a winner, this was the one that would allow me to make writing my full time job.
Enforcing this belief was news the book was awarded the bronze medal at the 2006 International Automotive Media Awards and rave reviews from dozens of prestigious publications. This led to hard knock lesson number two, writing the book is but a small part of the project.
The publisher gave the book a hard push for six months or so and then moved on to the promotion of new projects. Meanwhile, Jon and I were checking the mail box daily for royalties.
To say the least it was a sobering and hard learned lesson. Without an agent there would be no success unless I pushed the books and promoted myself. With an agent I would need to push the books and promote myself but would have assistance in reagrds to expanded outlets for both. Of course, to land an agent I needed to sell books which meant pushing books and promoting myself.
This led to the purchase of books on the subject of book promotion, learning how to write a blog, and now, building a website, In turn this led to learning how to promote the blog and website to promote the books.
Meanwhile I expanded my endeavors by providing photographs for use as illustrations in feature articles written and developed avenues to market material on my second passion, travel. This brings us to the present point in time.
I have written three travel guides – of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, and, scheduled for release in spring 2010, Ghost Towns of the Southwest I am under contract for another title, Ghost Towns of Route 66, and am writing the chapter introductions for a forthcoming Route 66 anthology.
I also write a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, for Cars & Parts magazine. I also still have a day job.
Still, like the prospectors of old that just knew the next big strike, the one that would put them on Easy Street, was just over the hill, I soldier on.
Even though the profits of the labor have yet to manifest the other rewards are priceless. Writing has provided the excuse, and on occasion paid for, some grand adventures.
We have been to Williamsburg in Virginia, and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, signed books at the prestigous Auto Books-Aero Books in Burbank and received a phone call from Jay Leno. We were privileged to develop an association with the iconic Route 66 artist, Bob Waldmire, and have had folks from all over the world stop by the office so I could sign their books.
I can’t quit now. The big break is just one project away. Soon, I will be quitting the day job and sharing my love for vintage vehicles and the road less travel for profit as well as fun.

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