Sam Wiebe’s debut novel Last of the Independents was published by Dundurn Press this fall. A crime novel set in Vancouver, Last of the Independents, won the 2012 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Unpublished First Novel. Sam’s short fiction has been published in American and Canadian magazines, including Subterrain and Criminal Element. He’s currently at work on his follow-up novel.
How I Got Published
My path to publication was a bit unorthodox. I’d had short stories published, and one had placed second in the ‘Scene of the Crime” writing contest. My ‘break’ came when I entered the manuscript for my novel Last of the Independents in the Crime Writers of Canada’s Best Unpublished First Novel competition. It was short-listed, and went on to win. Soon after, Dundurn Press contacted me and offered to publish the book.
Publication is a slow process–the book has just come out this August. In the meantime, I’ve published other stories, and had one nominated for an Arthur Ellis award. I’ve also secured an agent, based off the manuscript for my second novel.
I’m not totally comfortable giving out writing advice, but I do think it’s helpful to systematize. Track where you submit your stories, make a list of book publishers or agents, and note what response you get. With competitions, you have to be careful. Make sure the entry fee, if it has one, is commensurate with the prize and exposure you might receive. And proofread everything you send out–I once sent a cover letter to a magazine editor with the solicitation, “Dead Sir or Madam.”