From Zero To Horatio In The Wind

From Zero To Horatio In The Wind

by Jose Diaz-Oldenburg November 19, 2018 0 Comments

I spent a lot of time worrying about how many rejection letters I was receiving for my work, convinced my book was going to end up in a forgotten drawer, along with my first two novels, never to see the light of day.


I told myself success wouldn’t dare come near me until I had an agent, so I kept submitting my work to them. Until one day I received a very special rejection letter, a hopeful one. It was from Sarah Odedina, who published Harry Potter.


She wrote to me saying illustrated tales were not her cup of tea, but she believed Horatio was beautiful, and the publishing business was a subjective one, so to keep on looking.


This was all I needed. I stopped submitting and got to work on creating a product I could stand proud behind and loudly say I had self-published.


I’ve heard people skills are the highest paid skills in any business, and I learned why over the last four years. I come from a film background, though I am very visual, I do not know how to draw at the level Horatio came to be.


My experience before finding Robert Nailon, my principal illustrator, was very frustrating, ranging from:


Giving out text to an artist who found herself lost in what to draw but scared of breaking the commitment she had made. (Lost time)


Giving written descriptions to a second artist but discovering half way through that the style wasn’t working for me. (Lost money)


Finding a very talented and known artist willing to design everything on the page, but in exchange for 50% ownership of my story. (lost control)


Though this last option was unacceptable to me, I understood why she wanted ownership of it. She was going to create my world, making it really half hers, her vision.


I had to say no. Mostly because I thought in order to be entitled to 50% she would have to do much more than art. Like me, she’d have to put money into the project, strategize how to sell it and move it the way I knew I had to.


I took a trip to Barnes and Noble for inspiration and was awe stricken by Simon and Schuster's  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce, which I took home as visual inspiration because it felt like a movie to me, and I know Horatio will be a movie.


Almost two years later, I found out the book was indeed based on not only a film, but an Oscar winning one at that, directed in part by Brandon Oldenburg. I reached out to him because coincidences are never pointless! I thought, “We have the same last name, we could be distant cousins!” We met, and are in touch now, the cuz is an encouraging and talented guy.


By the time Robert Nailon (principal illustration) came along, I had concept sketched my whole world, produced an immersive audio book and made every idea I wanted to see in my project extra clear.


The team was built through Craigslist ads, keeping in mind the cheap fast good triangle.


If something is cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap, and if it’s cheap and fast, you get the picture… may as well use your own stick figures.


If I count in the time spent to write, create audios, illustrate, and figure out printing and sales, this has been a four-year endeavor.


Times have changed a lot, and a lot more is in our hands. A publisher is not a magic entity, it’s a business, and if you have the push through to figure out what they do and do it yourself, then you can do it. My next goal is landing a distributor, but I will remain the publisher.


To me, the most important part in accomplishing anything is making sure I live a good story while I do it, as the book is only a reminder of the process, the journey, and one day soon I’ll be old and telling a willing ear the story of the dreams I had and accomplished, or failed to accomplish, that are then simply that, stories. I choose to make them good ones.


I still don’t have an agent by the way, submissions are open. 

Jose Diaz-Oldenburg
Jose Diaz-Oldenburg


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The Story Behind the Story
The Story Behind the Story

by J.D. Oldenburg September 14, 2022 0 Comments

From a very young age, likely soon after I started talking, I exhibited an unusual fear of dying. I’d often cry on my dad's lap because I knew one day I'd die.

Read more about the origins of Horatio in the Wind. 

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