From the Island of Misfit Books, Episode One

Remember the Island of Misfit Toys from that animated holiday special on TV? This was a community of sentient toys who predated Pixar, and who had all been exiled together as factory rejects because of a variety of defects. For example, one was a Jack-in-the-box named Charlie, which really shouldn’t have been a disqualification, given the state of the “in-a-box” toy category.

Who's in a box?

…and not a Jack in the bunch!

There was also a bird that swam instead of flying, which again, isn’t necessarily a defect.

Swim, you misfits!

Swim, you marvelous misfits, swim!

But in the special, some toy factory gatekeeper had decided that these toys–along with a spotted elephant, an ostrich-riding cowboy, a train with square wheels, and others–were unfit for general release. Their punishment for existing was a life-sentence on an isolated prison island from which there was no escape. Ominously enough, the fate of the factory workers who created them was never shown.

Meanwhile, out in the world, a group of kids were horribly sad because all their toys were too realistic and practical for creative play. Or because they had no toys at all, and adjusted their expectations downward accordingly. Or something. Fortunately for everyone, by the end of the special, a deer with a filament on his face and a tiny dentist were able to prove the gatekeepers wrong and unite the toys with the children who needed them.

I like to imagine that there’s another island off the coast of this one called the Island of Misfit Books, which is entirely populated by unsalable manuscripts. These are books that have been rejected by every editor in the business, and can’t be published no matter how many times they are revised, rewritten, or polished. Maybe the subject matter is too esoteric. Maybe conventional wisdom says there are already too many dystopian/wizard/vampire books on the shelves. Maybe nobody wants the fourth book in a trilogy.

Many authors are sitting on novels we strongly believe in, even if the rest of the publishing world thinks of these books as polka-dotted elephants. We love our misfit books, and we just know there are readers who would also love them, if only a flying reindeer could deliver them into the right hands.

People have been asking me about the second book in my Galaxy Games series. The first book has a base of fans, who are an awesome bunch by the way, but someone decided there were too few fans to support a sequel, and no other publisher has been interested in starting a series with Book Two. It’s a shame because I think GG#2 is better than GG#1 in many ways–the action is bigger, the stakes are higher, the plot is tighter, and the characters really come into their own. But you’ll have to take my word for it, because poor GG#2 has been sitting on the shore of the Island of Misfit Books, looking mournfully out into the mist.

We can’t count on Rudolph to save the day, but there’s still hope. Apparently there’s this thing called “elf-publishing,” run by Santa’s factory workers in the off-season from an outpost in the Amazon. Or something like that. I’m still in the very early stages of research, but it’s a very promising lead.

At the moment, all I have is a misfit manuscript, an Internet connection, and a dream. Will that be enough to get this book off the island and into your hands? I will keep you informed of my progress.

Greg R. Fishbone is the author of The Penguins of Doom and the Galaxy Games series of middle grade sports and science fiction books, past and future. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and the Web.

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Greg R. Fishbone
Greg R. Fishbone is the founder of Mythoversal, a project dedicated to restoring inclusion, diversity, and equity to classical texts, and Cryptoversal Books, a launchpad for experiments in sustainable Web3 publishing. His latest work is the Wordler Village series of innovative story tokens. Greg lives in New England with his wife, two young readers, and a pair of stubbornly illiterate cats.
1 Comment
  1. Amen to that! Go for it! I have a few misfits myself.