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Talking with Toby Ball

His second manuscript landed him an agent and a two-book deal. This one, he said, is suspenseful, and is categorized in the mystery genre. Editorial reviews by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal and Mystery Scene summarize Ball's work as impressive, convincing and a "satisfying nourish stew." Ten out of 13 customer reviews on Amazon.com have given it five out of five stars, calling his work rich in characters and plot, an engaging page-turner and "very much like reading an American version of a classic Dostoervsky novel.

Ball describes his writing style as bare bones, kind of dark, not violent or gross, but also not flowery. The outlook is very much like a black and white film, he said.

Ball realized his initial goal to become published was not necessarily an achievable one; it wouldn't have devastated him had he not found an agent, but self-publishing, for him, was never an option.

"The first [manuscript] I wrote, I finally realized it wasn't good enough," Ball said. "It wasn't going to get picked up. But if somebody said you've gotta write two before you get a novel published ... you've gotta be kidding me, because it's a lot of work."

And more often than not, it takes more than two tries.

"Some publishers request a partial [manuscript], which may be 20 pages [or] 50 pages, so that's step, a small reward," he said. "[If they request a full manuscript], they're interested enough that they're willing to read the whole thing and you have to look at those as victories. It's not an all or nothing thing, which is hard, because at the same time, unless you have an agent, your work is not going to get to the big publishers. You also have to be realistic that a lot of people don't find agents."

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