Rancher Reid Rosenthal was on horseback with a six-point bull elk about 200 yards away. Instead of reaching for his rifle, he reached for his pen and notebook.
“There was a particularly incredible scene with crimson tendrils of sunset sinking over a mirror image of a pond up on one of the ranches,” Rosenthal said.
It was then, he decided that it was time to put the book that had been dancing through his head for more than 40 years down on paper.
In October, that book crashed Amazon.com
“I was astounded,” he said. “Sales were so rapid, at 9:07 a.m. on the 12th of October, it melted down the Amazon button. From what we’ve been told – we don’t have the records yet – but it was something like 50 books a minute. The sales button shut down, and for the day of our launch, we didn’t sell a book from 9:07 a.m. until 5:18 p.m.”
The suspicion is that the first printing, all 5,000 copies, were sold out by 9:07 a.m. Despite the problems, Threads West was an overnight best selling paperback in five genres and was Amazon.com’s most active book in the world for two days. A second printing of 20,000 copies has been ordered. Barnes and Noble has picked up the book and will release it in its stores Nov. 16.
“The last time I fell madly in love with a Western historical saga, the title was Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry; it won a Pulitzer in 1986,” wrote Eve Paludan, a two-time No. 1 bestselling author, in her review. “Reid L. Rosenthal, cowboy and rancher, has written a novel that spirited me away to the 1850s-1860s era and provided me with gripping hours of authentic Western history, action, drama, heartfelt romance and something extra special and seldom seen in literature of this caliber: well-written, sizzling sensuality.”
The book begins in 1855 and tells the story of a land and people on the cusp of history. It was several years after the revolver was invented, but a few years before the repeating rifle. Gold was discovered in 1848. The Singer sewing machine was invented in 1851.
European immigration was on the rise. The country was teetering on civil war.
Threads West takes place entirely in 1855 and introduces the first of four eventual generations.
“It is a rock em’ sock em.’ It is action packed with loads of surprises,” Rosenthal said. “It is the adventure and romance of the West, wrapped in the silver bolo of the American spirit.”
Rosenthal is currently writing book two in the six-book series, called Maps of Fate. He is more excited for the third book, called North to Wyoming. It will take place primarily in this area of Wyoming, Reid said. The series is written for for the female romance crowd, the male west adventure crowd and the American patriot crowd.
“The last novel is 2010. It is real time, contemporary west. This is not just a story of the people, it is a story of the land, how it shapes personalities, how it shapes destinies and what has happened to it over two centuries,” he said.
Though Rosenthal’s new career as an author appears to be moving lightning fast, his career as a writer started in fourth grade.
It was then that he and his family took a week-long vacation to the Caribbean. For homework, Mrs. Darling instructed him to write in a journal that he would read to the class when he got back.
“When I got back, I read to the class with the typical trepidation of a fourth grader, and they loved it. I looked up and they were enraptured,” Rosenthal said.
That day, the 9-year-old boy promised himself he would write books. He took creative writing courses in high school and had some journalism training in college, but was pulled into the ranch lifestyle and struggled to put pen to page.
“This story has been in my head for 40 years. It is tough to explain but I have written these books. They are written, just up here,” he said, pointing at his head.
After passing on a six-point elk, Rosenthal had much to learn about taking a book from between his ears to store shelves. He attended writing and publishing conferences where he was able to pick the brains of published authors about some of the concrete rules of book writing, how to submit a manuscript to a potential publisher and many other trade secrets.
Rosenthal wrote his first draft of Threads West in about 60 days and spent about four months editing and polishing the work.
“For me, the most important thing is to get it down on paper. Once it is on paper, then I really can go to town. But if I sit there and I try to edit this line or that line as I am talking or thinking . . . that doesn’t work for me,” he said.
He received interest from several publishers of differing sizes, but opted to go with Rockin SR publishing out of Cheyenne. The small company allowed more freedom on writing the next book in the series and permitted Rosenthal to maintain his own film rights, book rights, foreign distribution rights and title rights, all of which would be gone had he signed with a large publisher. It is a relationship some authors compare to indentured servitude, Rosenthal said.
All are rights that may prove valuable several years from now, or as evidence of what he left on the table by choosing a smaller publisher.
“I’m under no illusions. I’ve only been an author for two weeks, almost three. In the literary world, despite the success of this book and all the accolades, my name is still ‘Reid Who’ with three question marks,” Rosenthal said. “I think in the end, having talked to all these people and doing this big digital release and lining up another, a book is one person looking another in the eye and handing it to them.”
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