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Marc Abbott: Writing it the right way

Glenn Townes | 4/12/2011, 4:39 p.m.

Native New Yorker Marc Abbott has an affinity of sorts for numbers and words. As an accounts payable representative for the New York City Department of Education (DOE) for nearly six years, Abbott crunches numbers daily and makes certain that contractors and vendors for the DOE are paid properly and expeditiously for their products and services.

However, his passion for the written word is far more ubiquitous and innate.

Abbott, 37, is an author, a scribe and an entrepreneur. Having penned and self-published three books, he is indeed an advocate for the written word. "My love for writing started in the 2nd grade when I had to make up stories using spelling words given to us by the teacher," Abbott said. "It was the one thing I was not only good at, but always got a rush out of doing."

While a senior in high school, Abbott was inspired to write a screenplay after seeing the popular science fiction movie "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." "It was actually my mother who encouraged me and said that I could come up with a similar concept," he said. "I eventually wrote a screenplay and it was almost picked up by New Line Cinema."

Abbott said the deal eventually fell through. However, the interest expressed in his work by the major American film studio gave him the confidence to seriously pursue the art of writing. He was initially torn between writing novels or screenplays, but eventually decided that writing books was his niche.

After sending out dozens of queries and manuscripts to virtually every major and not so major publishing house in the country, Abbott decided to follow the path by many of his literary contemporaries and self-published his first book, "A Gamble of Faith," an urban-based contemporary fiction novel. He utilized the services of popular self-publishing giant IUniverse and invested some of his own money in getting the book marketed and distributed. However, the book generated little interest via the medium and, by this time, Abbott had completed his second book, "The Hooky Party," and it had also been rejected by various literary agents and publishing houses. He was at a crossroads in his literary journey.

"I didn't want to market my second book under IUniverse," Abbott said. "I enrolled in a seminar about self-publishing through the Gotham Writers Workshop and learned everything I could about self-publishing."

His publishing company, Hobbcat Publishing--cleverly named after the family pet cat Hobbs--was born in 2007.

Using personal savings, including funds left to him from his father--about $700--Abbott started the tedious process of obtaining bar codes and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) for his books. He also sent review copies of his books to several local newspapers--including the New York Amsterdam News--hoping for some positive press. Abbott's own gamble of faith paid off. The AmNews featured a review of "The Hooky Party" in October 2007.

"I had a booth at the Brooklyn Book Fair and the Harlem Book Fair," he said. "I sold nearly 100 copies of 'The Hooky Party.'"

As for his own role models, Abbott said the iconic Langston Hughes is his all-time favorite writer, followed by award-winning sci-fi writer Brandon Massey and the popular, yet always controversial novelist Terry McMillan. "I can relate to each of them," he said. "They all bring different and unique elements to the art of writing through their storyline, characters and dialogue."

As for the future, Abbott said he is working on another book and advises others who want to self-publish books to be diligent, resourceful and patient.

"If you are in this for the money, then be prepared for a lot of disappointment," he said. "It may come in time, but in the meantime, become a master of your craft and always have a backup plan." Abbott holds a degree in mass media arts from Clark Atlanta University and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Benereia.