And then all of a sudden, we were halfway through 2020 and I was getting ready to write a book.
Casey Palmer, Author — I didn’t see it coming, but I’ll take it!
It all started back in the summer when Scott Fraser reached out to ask me about an idea. Recently named the President/Publisher of Dundurn Press, one of the things he wanted to make was a parenting book from a Black father’s perspective.
It wasn’t hard to do the math. In an environment where sizeable publishers had published only a couple dozen books on Black fatherhood in the last thirty years and so many people trying better to understand after the events of May 25th, it was a perfect moment for a quality book to give voice to a group too often written off by the world around them.
It was clear that a book on Black fatherhood was direly needed to keep up with the times, but at first, I didn’t know if I was the man for the job.
Casey Palmer, Author vs. Impostor Syndrome.
Here’s my issue—in a few weeks, my eldest son will be seven years old. And my world today looks entirely different from the one I lived in when he first showed up in 2013. It means that I’ve learned a lot through raising my kids, and the pandemic gave me a lot of insight into them I might not have gotten otherwise… but there was still so much parenting I’d have no idea about because I hadn’t made it there yet!
What did I have to offer the dad to a seventeen-year-old? What could I say to the dad of a twenty-seven-year-old that he hadn’t heard before? These were the kinds of questions bouncing through my head as Scott explained the vision he had in mind. Who was I to write this sweeping tale on Black fathers when I’d barely scratched the surface myself?
But Scott just asked me this:
“If not you, then who?”
Why we need more books on Black fatherhood.
The reasons why we haven’t seen more books on Black fatherhood are flimsy ones, often wrapped up in excuses on why no one wants to read Black books.
There aren’t enough of us to make it profitable. People wouldn’t understand. Despite a rich narrative that sees so many of us hustling to bounce back after generations of social trauma, so many of us are told repeatedly that the stories we have to share aren’t marketable enough for a wider audience, so we shouldn’t bother.
But the swell that came after the murders of Black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor told a very different story, asking us all to take action. For me, that meant taking three decades of writing and all the late nights refining to create work that could make a difference. Or more specifically, when the opportunity comes up to put form to a story too often overlooked, you take it even if you don’t think you’re the right fit for the job.
There’s no guarantee the opportunity will come up again, and our space is sparse as it is—it was time to take the fatherhood experiences I spent seven years writing and make something significant from it all.
But it wasn’t going to be easy.
Don’t expect any handouts, though — this is still a book-selling business!
Although Scott wanted this project come to life, it wasn’t getting special treatment—after all, he had a business to run. That meant I’d have to inspire as much confidence in this project for his team as he already had himself, and so I needed to write a proposal.
I admit—my first attempt was a bust, not knowing how much detail it would need. Looking back, I wouldn’t have greenlit that book either, with no idea why it mattered. But Scott knew there was a great idea in me—he gave me additional time, challenging me to make something worth getting excited about. And that’s when I took some templates I had sitting around and spent every spare moment I could find writing about the book.
Chapter outlines. A marketing strategy. A comparative analysis of the books that came before mine. I needed to show why this book was worth investing in with resources beyond my efforts alone.
And after weeks of solid work, I finally had it—a proposal ready to submit that I thought would do the trick.
Now all I had to do was wait.
Casey Palmer, Author. Announcing a book — a moment that makes it all very REAL.
In the end, it all worked out, because that proposal got me an offer for a book. It took some time to get things going—when you’re a twenty-person shop putting out a hundred books a year, I can see why—but once my signature hit the page, it’s just been go, go, go!
And that’s a good thing. I might have eight months to write a book, but eight months can go by in a flash—I need to research and plan and talk with dads whose experiences differ from my own. I needed to invest the time in this project to make it as complete as I possibly could. And the sooner I got going, the better, to give myself time to figure out what I’m really trying to create.
It’s been a nice ride so far—all the love I got on social media when I could finally announce I was working on a book was overwhelming. It blows my mind that I’m working to put something tangible into the world after all this time in a digital space, but I already smile when I think about seeing that book on a shelf, knowing how much work it took to get it there.
There’s plenty yet to do as I figure out the business side of this project—how to bring all the pieces together and do it so it’s ironclad.
But we don’t accomplish anything truly worth it without some work involved. If you want to tag along for my journey, feel free to join me in my Facebook group below where I’ll share what happens along the way!
…now all I have to do is WRITE it. 😐
So, friends, I’m writing a book, and I hope you’ll help me make it amazing. If you know a Black father I need to talk to—or even a family affected by one’s absence—feel free to reach out! This book’s something that’ll get a lot of my time in the weeks and months ahead!
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the next update!
Thanks and all the best,