Reading Matters

From self-published to New York publisher

Novelist Nancy Peacock of Hillsborough had sworn off writing before. Countless times.

But one day a sentence fell into her head that sent her charging back to her writing desk: “I have been to hangings before, but never my own.”

She went on to write the novel, “The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson,” the story of a jailed former Texas slave who wants to prove he is not guilty as charged of kidnapping and raping his former master’s wife.

Peacock chose to self-publish the book because, after an unhappy experience or two, she wanted control of the publishing process. Her goal: to make a bit of money or break even, which she did.

Now, skip forward a few years: It’s 2015 and Peacock enters the novel in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award in Main Stream Fiction. She wins first place and a cash prize of $1,000, a feature article in an issue of Writer’s Digest, a paid trip to the Writer’s Digest conference and other good things.

In the meantime, she’d gotten an agent, and when she told her agent about her big win, he started making a list of publishers. Within a few weeks, he’d sold Persimmon to Atria, a division of Simon & Schuster, which published the novel last month.

Here’s the story Peacock wrote for Writer’s Digest about her experience:

This year’s deadline for the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards is April 3.