From Draft to Publication: How THE BEST PEOPLE Came To Be
How did THE BEST PEOPLE come to be? Well, Marc Grossberg didn’t always intend to be a lawyer. When he was just 16 years old, he aspired to be a novelist. As he read more books about lawyers, especially Clarence Darrow’s Attorney for the Damned, he started thinking that maybe law might be an interesting path. After earning a degree in political science at the age of 20, he worked for a year and then went to the University of Texas School of Law.
Marc did well in law school and was chosen to be a law clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then he has practiced law, mostly tax, becoming a Board Certified tax lawyer and one of the Best Lawyers in America©.
Through it all, he was a voracious reader and Marc never gave up his desire to have his fiction published.
Coming up with the Idea
It wasn’t until one night at the Houston Marriott West Loop in 1996 that his dream of writing a novel that would be published would start to unfold. Marc was attending a family event and ended up in the ladies’ restroom by accident.
“I heard the voices of women,” Marc said. “At first I thought the voices came through the vent. Then I realized I hadn’t passed any urinals. I was totally embarrassed and managed to leave without being seen. Then I wondered what would happen if someone overheard a conversation they weren’t supposed to hear because they were in a place they weren’t supposed to be.
The whole story appeared in my head and I sat down and did the first draft. That scene doesn’t occur until later in the book but it is pivotal to the story.”
The Writing Process
Marc didn’t do much with that first draft until 2004. He was working long hours and raising a family, so he didn’t have time for much else. But then he showed the draft to a friend. “She gave me some comments but still I didn’t work with it for five years. Then in early 2009, she said, ‘If you don’t write that book, someone else will.’ That got my attention,” Marc explained. “I decided to treat the novel as if it were a client and all the obligations that come with that.”
Marc was able to get his friend, the late Al Reinert—a great journalist and Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker—to read the draft next. His feedback? “It’s a very good story but the way you have written it doesn’t make a novel.”
Editors, several months of isolation in a house in the Pisgah National Forest and lots of unsuccessful runs at agents followed. “A first-time novelist in his seventies is not someone an agent flips over,” Marc said. “I must have gone through a hundred drafts, reading it aloud at least five times.
Each time it got better. I cut out large portions that I thought were really good but didn’t drive the story. I didn’t have a particular time for writing. If I get back to my second novel, I will do it much differently: a set time to write each day, more seminars and try to get in writing groups—all the things that the books on how to write a novel suggest.”
Finding an Agent and Publisher
At a certain point, Marc concluded that at his age, by the time he found an agent and a publisher, if the book was published at all, “there was a good chance it would probably be posthumously. I wanted humously,” he said. “I sat next to a woman on a plane and she had just self-published with Greenleaf Publishing Group. Her name is Patricia Hunt Holmes, also a lawyer, and her book is Searching for Pilar. I made some inquiries and found out that two of my friends had used them: Andrea White, a best-selling author, and Lois Stark, whose book has won prestigious awards.”
So Marc went with the publishing group. They required he use one of their editors, but thanks to all the work he had already put into the book, they didn’t require much change.
Being a Published Author
In the months leading up to the book’s release, Marc worked 5-10 hours a day with a team of people to get potential readers interested in the book. “That included working with the publisher on the book cover, hiring a publicist, a social media coordinator, a website designer, an email consultant, a virtual book tour person, someone to help with my blogs, and a professional actor to help with my presentation at readings. Friends and family became advocates.”
He continued, “my publicist, Javier Perez, has been terrific. He got me every bookstore I wanted. I did realize that the only people likely to show up for readings/signings were people I already knew, so I tried to sort the contacts I’ve made in the last 50-plus years as a lawyer and the last 70-plus years as a person. I have had two book readings where close to 100 people showed up!
I’ve also had radio and television interviews, on-line interviews, and a nice long article in The Houston Chronicle. To these things, I credit my publicist mostly.”
For Marc, it comes down to having fun at the end of the day.
“Being a published author results in people you’ve known all your life looking at you in a different and more respectful way. Strangers think they’ve met a celebrity. I love it. I’m having fun meeting and talking to people,” he exclaims. “It’s been hard work, but the passion for wanting people to read it gives me amazing energy.
It’s a dream come true and I try to manage my expectations. Unless somehow the national media picks it up or it is made into a movie—everyone who reads it tells me they see it as a movie or a Netflix or Amazon series—there will have to be lots of word-or-mouth for it to sell lots of books, but I live in the NOW and right now, people are buying it and reading it and liking it and I am having a great time.”
“The Best People: A Tale of Trials and Errors” came out on October 8, 2019, and has received rave reviews. You can pick up a copy at several online and brick-and-mortar bookstores. Marc is also currently touring around the country doing book readings, signings, radio and television interviews and more. You can find the entire list of cities and events here.
Interesting blog. I’ve had the Ladies’ Room experience but haven’t written the book. We need to compare notes!
Wow didn’t realize what goes into finally getting a book published 😳
interesting book info
Interesting how you progressed from an attorney to a novelist. Thanks for sharing
What an intriguing writing timeline and process. It makes me want to read it even more!
Ordered The Best People, I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading this book, especially after seeing th I post! Thanks!
A great read, engrossing, absorbing. Can’t put it down.
WOW I never realized how much some people go through to create a book. Sometimes spending years on the book that takes me 2 or 3 days to read and leaving me wanting another by that author.
3/1/14/20 With the cancellation of public gatherings due to the virus , I am assuming your speaking engagements for the near future have been suspended. I was originally going to ask if you would meet with a small gathering of women who have read your book at any location of your choice. We live in the Champions area.
I am aware that it is tax season, but I was wondering if you would spare an hour or so to speak with us. We would be able to have a virtual meeting with you if that is more convenient. I was hoping to arrange it for late afternoon March 26th or 27th. If this is not convenient please give me a few choice afternoon dates that will work for you and I will get back to you quickly.