Glencoe resident Holly Rozner was working as an accountant in 1982 when she decided to buy a seat at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to make some extra money. She’d planned to lease it, but when that fell through she began using it to trade Standard & Poor’s options.
“I had a sense that this would be a very successful seat and I was right,” she said.
She traded profitably until the crash of 1987, standing out as a woman in her 40s in a crowd of 20-something male traders. When she was done, she knew she’d had an unusual experience that she wanted to share. She wrote Open Positions, a romance incorporating her time as a trader, and worked with an agent to try to get it printed.
“At the time, publishing houses thought it was too complicated for the average woman,” she said. “They thought women didn’t have the vernacular for the story, so they decided to shelve the book.”
Rozner wasn’t willing to let her work go and retooled the story incorporating criticism she received on her first draft. The new book combines romance with a murder mystery set in a fictional exchange that echoes the events of the 1987 crash and the FBI investigation that followed.
Never giving up
“It really has been a work in progress,” she said. “There’s one of two ways of approaching fiction. John Irving knows his last sentence when he starts his first one, but most authors don’t do that. They don’t know where the book is going to end up. I tried to have an end and wanted to have it all put in place, but the book took off on its own. The characters write the story for you. It’s a phenomenal experience.”
She sent information on her new work, Trade Secrets, to many agents, but none of them asked to read it. But Rozner still didn’t give up.
“I just decided I’m not going to let this book die on the floor of my closet so I would put it out there as a self-published enterprise,” she said.
While authors can self-publish on Amazon for about $1,200, Rozner said she spent nearly $10,000 on her novel, which will be released Sept. 18. She spent 60-hour weeks coordinating everything, hiring a proofreader, an artist for cover design and doing the entire process a second time with Lightning Source so she would also be able to sell her work at independent bookstores.
“It’s been a huge learning curve,” Rozner said “I feel as if I could become a consultant now in self-publishing. Every single day is a new adventure.”
Hoping for a bestseller
Some self-published authors have become New York Times bestsellers and Rozner hopes to join those ranks.
“I’d like the book to really be a huge success,” she said. “I’d like it to go viral. The amount of money an author makes on a book is quite limited. The way an author succeeds is by volume. Until an author has sold at least 10,000 copies it’s not much of a profit.”
Rozner will speak at the Birchwood Club in Highland Park on Oct. 10. As soon as she’s done working on Trade Secrets, the 69-year-old said she plans to start work on another story.
“I think writing is a marvelous outlet for someone and if I had my wish I would actually be a legitimate author,” she said. “I have found this to be a very personal passion. It’s something that someone can do forever. You don’t have to be a very young person to write.”