Originally published in Book Publishing Secrets.
Name: Philip Cioffari
Publisher: Livingston Press
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Philip: I’ve been writing since the age of nine, so writing has been a part of my entire life. My first stories were either mysteries, baseball stories, or cowboy stories. I wrote this particular book, THE BRONX KILL, because it was a story that had been haunting me for several years. I grew up in the Bronx, and as a result feel an intimate connection to its people and places. They live inside me even to this day and, like most of us writers, I had a need to get down on paper what it was like living there, how I came to see the world by way of its people and streets, its alleys and its tenements. This particular book centers around a drowning incident when a group of friends challenge each other to swim the East River from the Bronx to Queens. One of them dies and another one’s body is never found. The three surviving friends meet again five years later and must confront an obsessive NYPD detective who believes they are responsible for his younger brother’s drowning.
Is this your first book?
Philip: No, it’s actually my fifth book. My first, a collection of short stories called A HISTORY OF THINGS LOST OR BROKEN, won the Tartt Fiction Prize, and then I went on to write three novels: CATHOLIC BOYS; JESUSVILLE; and DARK ROAD, DEAD END.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Philip: I chose to go with an Independent small press, Livingston. They published my collection of stories, have been very supportive and professional, and so I have stayed with them with each successive book.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Philip: I began publishing short stories in literary and commercial magazines. I did this for many years. I also published some poetry, and had several plays produced. I think the novel is the form I’ve always aspired to.
And so, now, I’m quite content writing in this form. One of the difficulties in my journey was that it took me six years to get my first story published. And before I won the story collection contest and began publishing in book form, I wrote at least five or six novels which never saw the light of day. So the road to publication was a long one, though worth the effort.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Philip: One important lesson I learned was perseverance is necessary. You have to discipline yourself to keep at it, if writing is something you have to do. If your work is rejected, it doesn’t necessarily means it’s inferior. It may be you haven’t found the right market yet. But always work on improving. Another thing: traditional publishers are not the only option. You may get more attention and support from smaller venues.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Philip: Yes. Most definitely. There are many good small and independent publishers out there.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Philip: Explore all your options for publication. Traditional, big-time publishers are only one of your options. And always: stay true to your vision. Hang in there. Writing is a life-time commitment.