012: Scott Huesing – From Iraq’s Deadliest Cities Stories of War

Share

Download this episode to your computer

Listen on Stitcher.

Scott A. Huesing is a retired United States Marine Corps Infantry Major with 24 years of honorable service, both enlisted and as a commissioned officer.

Today, Scott talks about the triumphs he had in getting his book published and rising on top of the charts as well as the pain in losing the manuscript and how it feels to celebrate the lives of many marines. He also talks about how his book was picked up by a traditional publisher and the importance of reaching out when writing a book  

Scott and I first connected because of a mutual friend and guest on episode 08 Major (ret.) Joshua Mantz, the author of The Beauty of a Darker Soul and a fellow veteran who made a huge impact with his book on several veteran authors. You will love this episode.    

About Echo in Ramadi

His book, Echo in Ramadi,  is a ten-month snapshot in time that changed the face of operations on the battlefield – a captivating story of Echo Company, 2d Battalion, 4th Marines during the Second Battle of Ramadi in support of the Multi-National Forces (MNF) Surge Strategy in 2006.

His true-life account provides keen insights into what may be an unfamiliar world to readers, but very familiar to those, like Scott, who lived it and endured this historic fight.

Echo in Ramadi was written to honor the sacrifices and spirit of his Marines and the families they supported – it is his tribute to them and his honor to tell this great story. Readers will feel the pain, emotion, laughter, intensity, and friction that Scott describes in unvarnished detail.

[01:10] The Premise of His Book

  • After having spent 24 years in the Marine Corps, the idea of the book came about after the Battle of Ramadi in 2006.
  • In 2009, while in another deployment in the Philippines, he met a general who talked about how he admired what they did in Ramadi in such a short time and it was a story that needed to be told. This was when the spark was lit! Scott started writing, putting in 20,000-30,000 words.  
  • While on his way from Arizona to California, his car was broken into two and his computer case (which had everything in it) got stolen. Everything was gone – the book was gone!
  • It wasn’t until after he retired and got a ranch in Southern California that he made a conscious decision that he was really going to write his book, which took him a year to write it.

[05:00] Worth a Story to Tell

  • There are so many great stories out there and you can’t tell them all. But it’s important that you write about it. Find an outlet to tell those stories, be it a book or an article.
  • Through the loss of the original manuscript that he took the book in a different direction. He did personal interviews with over 75 marines and their families to tell their story. The result was a better story due to the compilation of voices that told the story.
  • Scott’s editor had this major comment saying there wasn’t so much about him in it. So he realized he did have to share a little bit more about himself.
  • Having heard stories from others who went through it who shared their pains and tears, he felt it was also his responsibility to give off himself, his perspectives, and his struggles.

[09:30] Looking for Resources

  • Scott believes that being a self-learner is important and a lifelong learner at that. And this is how he approached it while writing his book. All of the information is out there and no one is going to give it to you.
  • How he put the book together was that overarching theme of emotional journey from beginning to end. It was more about telling emotions of people as opposed to the details of the events.
  • Scott explains Echo in Ramadi was not only a war story but a story about the families and people, emotions and the friction. He wanted it to be accessible to even the general audience so they can understand what it’s like to be a wife, brother, sister, marine, etc.
  • Other resources he had were his network of fellow authors and marines who have written the book. To be great leader (and writer too), you have to surround yourself with great people. So don’t be afraid to reach out!

[14:30] Overcoming Setbacks and The Editing Process

  • Books don’t write themselves. You have to sit down and put the work in. Scott recommends reading Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art that teaches struggling writers how to avoid the resistance and all those outside influences that draw you away from writing.
  • They’re never perfect the first time around. They’re always places that you need to rearrange.
  • Picking a great editor is critical too to get an additional set of eyes on what you’re working on. You’d soon realize that writing the book is the easy part. It’s in editing where you need to buckle down and listen to the advice of people
  • Plus, it goes to your project editor through your publishing house before this goes to copy editing. Then there’s more editing so you’d never feel like it’s going to be done.

[19:40] The Process of Being Vulnerable

  • Scott explains how hard it can be to put yourself out there on the page and there’s this apprehension among many who aren’t willing to risk vulnerability for fear of criticism. And if you fear it, just don’t anything!
  • It takes a lot of courage to do this. But if you’re not willing to share it, you’re never going to get any affirmation on what you’ve written.
  • Scott had plenty of endorsers for his book but what mattered most to him were those from the marines he had written about and their families who have validated what he has written. It was validation that indeed he told the story right.

[22:55] Marketing and Publicity: More Beyond the Writing and the Publishing!

  • Once you’ve written the book, there’s more to it – marketing, publicity, and promotion. You also battle with sharing that story. But unless you broadcast your story through the biggest and loudest speakers so everyone can hear it, no one is going to know what you wrote.
  • You have to be willing to share the story and get it out there in whatever medium you can use.
  • The whole thing for him was to get his story told, and by doing that a portion of his proceeds from the book would go to support veterans with post traumatic stress.
  • Authors and publishers have to be committed to creating this momentum for the book to be good. If you don’t want your book to be read by people then write a journal. But if you want a book to be celebrated, you have to care enough about it to talk about it.
  • You have to want to tell your story. And it has to be something people haven’t already heard of. Who cares about your story? That’s what you have to ask yourself. Why do people want to hear your story? And you have to believe in it.

[29:15] How Much Do You Have to Share

  • How much to write about and how detailed and granular to describe the things, Scott wanted to be detailed but not graphic.
  • Even though he lost his original manuscript, he thought the timing was much better. And so he produced a much better story. One of Scott’s wishes for the book is for this to be used as one more portal for these marines to heal and for families to continue to heal through all the chaos.

[34:45] The Traditional Publishing Route: Finding an Agent and Publisher

  • Scott initially wanted to go through the traditional publishing route and he drew his timeline. He set some time to find an agent and after dozens of rejections, he figured out the formula and found himself an agent finally. The agent he went for was the one who knew what he was talking about and they did get picked up by a publisher after a month.
  • It’s like a risk vs. reward game in how you want to move forward with that decision on publishing your book and who to go with. Scott shares some tips in choosing your publisher.
  • It’s not about emptying your life savings, but before you even submit it, you have to also invest in your manuscript in terms of editing and getting it out on social media. But you have to also balance it.

Links:

Get to know more about Scott on www.echoinramadi.com or if you want to give back and help, check out www.savethebrave.org.

Echo in Ramadi

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Want to know more about honing your writing skills? Check out www.coachazul.com/challenge

Listen on:

>