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Ted Dunagan Reflects on Yellow Watermelon Publication

Ted Dunagan, author of the newly-released A Yellow Watermelon from Junebug Books, will be signing his novel this Friday, December 14, at the Monticello News office. Dunagan, author of the Monticello News’s “I’m Fixin’ To” column, wrote the following about having his book published:

I’m fixing to be a published author.

Now y’all all know I’m prone to just make up stuff, but this is real as rain.

I wrote this novel called A Yellow Watermelon, and it was rejected by St. Martin’s Press, Knopf, W. W. Norton, Little Brown, Panthelon, Simon & Schuster, Harmony, Holt, Vintage, McPherson, and Counterpoint Press, all eleven, giant publishing houses.  Please bear in mind all these rejections were through a literary agent, and it had taken me over a year just to get an agent to read my novel and represent me.

Well after two years I finally got sick of rejection, fired my agent, and paid out of my pocket to have the book self-published.  The problem with self-publishing is not only the money you pay to do it, but also the fact that marketing of the book, publicity, reviews, book signings, etc., have to all be performed by yourself since you are in fact the publisher.

Three or four months after publication I was plodding along, knocking on newspaper doors and trying to set up book signing, selling a few copies, when the most wonderful thing happened.  It was a phone call.  There were two people on the line.  It was the publisher and editor of NewSouth Books, Suzanne LaRosa and Randall Williams, with a publishing house based in Montgomery, Alabama and Louisville, Kentucky.  They told me they had read my novel and wanted to buy the rights to it and publish it.  Well I just about fell out, and you could have knocked me over with a humming bird feather.

The way it had come about was that another Suzanne, Suzanne Jackson, a sixth grade school teacher in Alabama had read the book and declared to her husband it was better than most of the books she read to her class.  Turns out her husband, Professor Harvey H. Jackson III, was a college professor at Jacksonville State University, and an author himself.  Consequently, he put a note on my book and sent it off to the smart folks at NewSouth Books.

After the phone call I immediately took the self published version out of print and sold the rights to A Yellow Watermelon to NewSouth Books, and waited two more years for this moment.

At first I thought the people in the book publishing business just don’t get in a hurry, that is until the last few months before the release of the book. That’s when the multitude of tasks necessary to launch a book was revealed to me and I realized they are actually very busy people.

The good news is that it’s finally happening!  NewSouth has edited, designed, printed and is marketing the book as juvenile fiction, getting blurbs, reviews, and all that stuff. 

I prayed over this book, and I want to tell y’all that the Lord does answer your prayers, but that He does it in his own good time.

I’m fixing to have a book signing at The Monticello News office just off the square, from 10:00 AM through 7:30 PM, December the 14th.  

I hope all y’all will be fixin’ to come on by.

Read more of Ted Dunagan’s columns at the Monticello News website.

A Yellow Watermelon is now available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.