Douglas W. Jacobson is an engineer, business owner and WW2 history enthusiast who has spent considerable time in Europe researching the courage of common people caught up in the most catastrophic event of the twentieth century. Doug’s first book, NIGHT OF FLAMES: A novel of World War Two was published in 2007. He has also published numerous articles on WW2 resistance organizations and is completing work on a second historical novel focusing on one of the most notorious war crimes in history. You can visit Douglas on the web at www.douglaswjacobson.blogspot.com.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Doug. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
I am published for the first time.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
My first book was Night of Flames: A Novel of World War Twoand it was published in October, 2007.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
I believe I received approximately thirty or forty rejections from agents and/or publishers before it was accepted by a publisher.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
I have spent over thirty years in business, much of it in sales, so I am not bothered by rejection. It’s simply part of the process.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
The book was published by McBooks Press, of Ithaca, NY. I chose them because they are a mid-size publisher that specializes in action-oriented historical fiction, which was an excellent fit for my story.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I felt elated. It was one of the accomplishments I treasure the most since I never expected it to happen when I began writing. I celebrated by treating my wife and I to a nice dinner.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I held a book-signing party in conjunction with a local bookseller.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
No. I don’t know of another route except that it requires hard work and perseverance.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I am working on a second historical novel (almost finished) and the publisher has shown a lot of interest.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I would have sent out more simultaneous query letters in the beginning, though I’m not convinced it would have made a lot of difference.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I wouldn’t characterize it as an accomplishment as much as a rewarding experience. In the book I wrote about a WW2 escape organization called the Comet Line founded in 1941 by a young nurse in Belgium. The Comet Line rescued more than a thousand Allied aviators and led them to safety while losing almost as many of their own agents to capture and execution by the Nazis. After the book was published, I was very fortunate to be contacted by a society in Belgium that preserves the memory of the Comet Line and invited to address their group in Brussels. I was able to meet with several surviving agents of the Comet Line (ladies now in their 80’s) and hear their stories first-hand.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I am happy with the profession I chose (engineering and business), but I wish I would have started writing sooner, as it has become a big part of my life.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I believe I have combined the best of both worlds.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Still writing, I hope, with more time to do it and more time to travel and pursue the research.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Just go for it. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that it’s too tough, or you can’t do it. Take the time to develop your craft, seek out help with writing groups and round tables, but mostly just keep on and don’t worry about the rejection – it’s part of the process.