Paul Stutzman spent twenty-five years in food service, but left that career after his wife died of breast cancer. At 58, he hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, seeking healing and answers to questions about grief and God’s relevance to his life. His book, Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail, chronicles his hiking journey and his spiritual journey. His website is www.hikingthrough.com.
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Paul. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
That’s an easy one. This is my first venture.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Hiking Through is my very first book. For many years, I dreamed about writing a book about “life”, but I was too busy living to get it written. Then my wife died, and this hike gave birth to a book that was entirely different than what I had planned to write.
Q: 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 guess I never gave anyone the pleasure of rejecting me. I went straight to self-publishing, because I had a message I needed to get out there. I already had a following and an audience from my online trail journals, and I didn’t want to wait a year or more to get the book out.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
I’m sure rejections would have been hurtful, but I also know I would have persevered until I found a publisher.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Synergy Books, a division of Book Pros. The reason I picked them was that it was as close as I could get to traditional publishing in that they offered book distribution, something I was happy to have someone else cover.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
How did it feel? It was amazing to hold that first book when it came in the mail. I celebrated by going to my knees and thanking God, then calling my children and telling them the story of their mother’s bravery was going to be published.
Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?
We let the local newspapers know; they did press releases. I did a radio interview in the first few days after publication. Word of mouth in my small community is pretty effective.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
No. I’m very satisfied with the route I took.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
No, no more publications. Very busy promoting this one. I’ve certainly learned a lot about the publishing business. I know there’s another book coming, though, just waiting for me to put the words down.
Q: 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?
Since I’d quit my job to do the hike and then write the book, I pretty much devoted my whole life to getting this book in print.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I’m happy that the book is selling well, but even more pleased that people are responding to the message, and I’ve been able to connect with others who have been through the loss of a loved one.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I guess that now I’m a writer. That’s what has filled my life for the last year and a half. But if I would do something else, I’d go back to food service. I miss the people. Yes. I’d go back to food service, and run a little hot dog stand.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I don’t have to. I could easily run a little hot dog stand and write! I can be a purveyor of wieners and still hear people’s stories.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
Well, I will have at least three more books out. They’re in the pipeline right now.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Be persistent. If you have a story or a message that you feel is helpful to somebody, with the resources available today you can definitely be published.
Paul V. Stutzman will be on virtual book tour March & April ’10 to promote his new book, Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail. To find out where he’ll be touring next, click here!