By Bob H. Lee, author of Backcountry Lawman: True Stories from a Florida Game Warden


An old jalopy creaking down a pot-holed dirt road in the dark aptly portrays my journey to find a publisher for my first book. Uncertainty and confusion became the norm until one day I finally succeeded. Here’s my take on the whole thing and a brief look at how and why I came to choose the University Press of Florida (UPF).

Before submitting my manuscript to UPF, I did considerable research into the publishing industry. I joined the Florida Writers Association and attended seminars held monthly in St. Augustine, where a variety of speakers talked about different facets of writing and how the publishing industry worked.

Discussion topics included how to write pitch letters, manuscript preparation, editing, and writer critique groups. Then there were the pros and cons of whether one should choose self-publishing or traditional publishing. Comparisons were also made between national traditional (normally requires an agent) vs. regional or small press traditional (think UPF—no agent required).

Frankly, all this writerly chit-chat confused the heck out of me.

Like many problems in life though, the more you let it roll around in your head the more a clear path begins to emerge. I guess you could say I had an epiphany of sorts. Most important to me was perfection in product. I wanted the best. So, I scratched the idea of self-publishing. There appeared to be numerous pitfalls and blind tunnels to navigate around and through. I didn’t trust my nascent instincts and skills as a fledgling writer to guide me.

Self-publishing’s attendant stress of having to do a boatload of self-promotion was another challenge I didn’t care to shoulder alone. I was also fearful of the stigma others attribute (rightly or wrongly) to a self-published book. In addition, I wanted to see my book on the shelves of big box book stores, which rarely happens to a self-published author. Thus, I was left to choose between a national or a regional traditional publisher. After considerable reflection, I decided my nonfiction manuscript (80,000 words) was better suited to the latter.

But it wasn’t until I had lunch with a professional freelance editor based out of Gainesville that I got the straight scoop on the inner workings of UPF. She told me point-blank, “If you can get UPF to publish your manuscript, they would be the best choice. The quality of their books is second to none. Their promotion and distribution outlets outmatch any other publisher in Florida.”

Done. Sold. Exactly what I wanted to hear.

My first book was published three years ago and my second book is due out in the spring of 2017. At this stage in my life—I’ll be 63 in a couple of months—I’m way more concerned about getting it right. Perfection is what I wanted and perfection is what I got.

I’m happy.

Bob Lee at the Putnam County Community Read kickoff event
Bob Lee’s book Backcountry Lawman was selected as the 2014 Community Read for Putnam County, Florida. Here, Lee speaks at the Putnam County Community Read kickoff event.

Bob H. Lee is the author of Backcountry Lawman: True Stories from a Florida Game Warden, winner of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association Excellence in Craft Award. Lee is a former lieutenant and thirty-year veteran of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). During his career, he caught hundreds of poachers in the act and through complex wildlife investigations. Prior to his retirement in 2007, he taught man-tracking classes through the FWC Law Enforcement Academy. He also writes freelance articles for law enforcement and outdoor magazines. He lives with his wife, Karen, on eighteen acres next to a secluded lake in south Putnam County.

Connect with Bob Lee online at

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