We’ve all heard stories of how many times a best-selling book was rejected before it finally found the right publisher, but the story of Mike Wells novella Wild Child tops most of them for me.

As he explains in his blog The Wild Publishing Story, after dreaming about the story, he completed the novel in 40 days. He found an agent and publisher who loved it but wanted him to add 15,000 words to make it a more viable product. After trying to expand the novel, he decided the original was better and walked away from the publishing contract, deciding to self-publish the book.

Within weeks of receiving the 3,000 copies of his self-published novella, he accepted a teaching job at a Latvian university and left all but 200 copies in his parents garage in Nashville.

In Riga, Latvia, his wife taught at a local high school and talked to other English teachers in the school about the book. Word spread, copies were distributed and soon hundreds of Latvian teenagers were reading the book.

In the meantime, his stepfather was sending frantic messages asking what to do with the other 2000 + books cluttering up his garage. Finally, Wells reluctantly told him to just recycle them and sent a $200.00 check  to cover the price of hauling them to a dumpster.

More time passed and all the books he’d taken with him to Europe were given away. One day, a student who had already read the book requested another copy of the book. Wells explained that  there were no more copies of Wild Child in print. The boy said that couldn’t be true because the books were being sold at To Wells’ surprise, the boy was right. Someone obviously pulled the boxes of books out of the dumpster, offered them at Amazon and sold them all.

A few years later, while teaching in the creative writing program at Oxford University, Wells decided to publish Wild Child and some of his other unpublished novels as Ebooks.  Now, Wild Child is a best-seller again and even has a sequel.

Wells refers to it as the book that wouldn’t die.

Mike Wells is a bestselling American thriller and suspense author who teaches part-time in the Creative Writing program at Oxford. He is known for his fast-paced, “unputdownable” novels.


About Sharon K Owen

I am a fiction writer, a university professor, a copy editor and an online writing teacher. My first Romantic Suspense: Thicker Than Water (Brands Crossing Series) was published in 2011 and the second book in the series, Whatever Goes Around, will be published in 2016. My short stories and poetry have been published in Descant, Concho River Review, Iron Horse, American Literary Review, Trinity Writer's Workshop newsletter and collections of Christmas stories. I am blessed with a loving, supportive family, a multitude of friends and the good fortune to share a cozy sanctuary in North Texas with my two cats (Matt and Cinders).

Posted on September 15, 2011, in Blogs, Book Recommendations, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. What a great story. You can’t be dissuaded by agents or editors. The ones I approached told me no one would be interested in a murder mystery based in an English seaside village and suggested I change the location to somewhere in the U.S. I didn’t take their advice and that book (A Graceful Death) outsells all my others.

  2. I loved it as well.

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