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Author speaks at Friends of the Pine Island Library luncheon

February 24, 2015
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

The Friends of the Pine Island Library presented local self-published author Mitch Grant to a crowd of about 50 islanders at the Pine Island Elks Club Wednesday afternoon. Grant is the author of two books, "The Popping Cork Murder,, published in 2013, and "The Cut Bait Murders," published in 2014.

"I am a strong believer in libraries," Grant said. "I still remember the first time I walked into the library at my elementary school. I believe I was in second grade and I was overwhelmed. It didn't take long before I began to see the magic of the place. Growing up in a small town here in Florida, a town of just 2,000 people the library allowed me to travel the world.

"I grew up in Mulberry, Fla. the phosphate capital of the world, where I went to school until I joined the ROTC program in the middle of the Vietnam War," he continued. "I served with the Big Red One, the Army's premier combat unit. I was fortunate to have served and even more fortunate that I wasn't deployed to Vietnam. Graduate school followed and then I spent 35 years in the commercial banking industry."

Article Photos

Author Mitch Grant and Joy Veatch.


Grant's books are all mysteries and all set in St. James City.

"My books attempt to combine classic Florida mystery fiction with a passion for life in Florida in a way that, I hope, will appeal to visitors to Southwest Florida: fishermen, boaters, retirees, and mystery fans of all ages," he said.

"I discovered Sherlock Holmes, PD James and somewhere along the line I discovered Florida writers John D. MacDonald and Randy Wayne White," he added. "I think they spoke to me about the Florida I knew and loved having grown up in the state.

"My first book is three love stories. First is the couple's love for Pine Island and St. James City. It's also about their love of fishing the waters of Southwest Florida. And it's the love of that couple as they transition from their working careers into retirement.

"The second book picks up about six months after the first murder in 'The Popping Cork Murder," he said. "A number of island people have disappeared and the Sheriff's Department doesn't think anything nefarious has happened. The book explores the science of organ farming."

Grant says the inspiration for his books comes from many sources. He read about organ farming in the newspaper and decided to incorporate that into his second book. He also discovered Burgess Island (off the north tip of Pine Island) was for sale for $25 million and built that into the book.

"I have just finished my first draft of my third book entitled 'The Silver Spoon Murder'" Grant said. "All of my titles are about fishing but this one could have different meanings. I am excited about my third book because it features environmental issues, which many of us are passionate about. It also features some of our local environmental heroes - politicians, Realtors, developers like King Ranch, big sugar, gambling, the Seminole Tribe, the shrimp farm and even the governor. My wife has told me if I don't get sued by somebody, it will be a miracle. This book should be available in 2 or 3 months."

Grant then talked about self publishing books.

"The difference with traditional publishing vs self publishing is, in traditional publishing the author submits a manuscript to a publisher through a literary agent. The publisher prints, markets and distributes the book. You, the author, get paid a royalty for your book. They provide editors, provide suggestions, cover designs, etc., and the author gets about 10 percent of the cover price. That was the business model for centuries.

"Today there are a variety of ways that an author can be published in either print or by electronic publishing," Grant said. "Amazon has made it possible for anyone to get published through 'CreateSpace.' I learned about Create Space at the Pine Island Writers. You no longer have to print 1,000 copies, you can print just one if that's what you want. It's called Print On Demand. They can provide editors, professional cover design and marketing materials for a price. A simple cover costs a couple of hundred dollars and a more professional cover five or six hundred dollars.

"If you want a totally professional book, the cost might be around $2,000 or $3,000," he said. "Printing is based on the number of pages. Figure about an average of $5 per book for printing.

"So as an example, let's say you have your book printed and you sell is at $15. The retailer wants 40 percent - that's about $6 leaving $9. It costs $5 to print the book so your net/net is $4. If it costs you $3,000, you have to sell 750 books to break even. So don't expect to get rich real fast.

"Amazon has changed the business model because they will put your book up for sale and they offer inexpensive printing," he added. "Today it's possible to be published easily and relatively cheaply.

"If anyone is thinking about writing a book, I would suggest coming to a meeting of the Pine Island Writers. We welcome writers of all skill levels and share our work. Pine Island Writers meets at St. John's Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall in St. James City, every Monday evening at 7.

The audience then asked the author some questions.

Q. "How long did you think about your first book before you wrote it?"

A. "I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I've always loved mysteries and began to wonder whether I could do this, too. It took me about a year to get the first book done and the second one came easier - maybe 6 months."

Q. "When you are writing one book are you thinking about the next book?"

A. "I heard Bob Macomber say he's always working on five books at a time. I can't do that."

Q. "When you begin to write a book do you write an outline?"

A. "That's a great question. I get an idea and then I will sketch out a broad outline trying to think it through. Then if there are things I don't understand I do some research and start writing."

The Friends of the Pine Island Library provides cultural enrichment for the community, raises funds to enhance library services and purchases library equipment and needed supplies. The Friends meet monthly from October through May in the Library Meeting Room. The Friends also sponsor literary programs, community events, children's programs, dramatic readings, book sales and the sale of T-shirts, stationary and book bags.

Contact the library at 239-533-4350.



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