In 2010, Wilton-based Tony Garritano started Progress in Lending, a business publishing company focused on the mortgage industry. Garritano has established print and online media resources and coordinated industry-focused trade shows for financial services and real estate professionals, and over time has become one of the most respected in the mortgage industry media niche.
But while Garritano was content with his loan progress activities, he was secretly nurturing another career path that he was never able to actively pursue.
“I’ve wanted to be a crime novelist since I was about eight years old, when I read my first Agatha Christie novel,” he says. “It’s not something I talked about a lot. But it was one of those dreams that I felt compelled to achieve.
Garritano was no stranger to the realm of fiction — he wrote plays in high school and short stories in college — but his career as a journalist did not provide an opportunity to pursue that passion.
“When you become a journalist and you write every day, it’s really hard to write creatively because it’s just a different mindset,” he continued. “When your whole day is spent writing about the financial services industry, it’s hard to disconnect and then write creatively. But it’s something I did a lot in my youth and I wanted to start doing it again.
Garritano has set aside time in his schedule to turn off mortgage news and turn on a new track for mystery fiction. And not only did Garritano create his first mystery novel with “I Saw What I Saw,” he also launched a new fiction brand called Cozy Books LLC as a publishing house for his new writing quest.
Subtitled “A Harmony Neighborhood Mystery,” Garritano’s first crime novel centers on Sheila Sammartino, a crime reporter turned blogger residing in the small town of Harmony. After witnessing a murder in an alley, local police attempt to classify the crime as an assault gone wrong. But Sheila decides to take matters into her own hands and begins probing the murdered man’s past to determine why anyone would want to kill him.
While creating “I Saw What I Saw”, Garritano quickly discovered significant differences in the process of writing fiction compared to his financial journalism.
“I went through several reviews and had beta readers give me ratings,” he said. “I edited it myself after I finished the first draft, then asked some of the beta readers for feedback. Then I had a literary coach give me her edits And then I had a development editor give me his notes as well.
Although Garritano had significant experience in B2B media, he was an unknown quantity as a mystery writer and he quickly realized that influencing book publishers would be difficult.
“I’ve done a lot of research on what it takes to traditionally publish a book with an established publishing house, and it takes a lot of time,” he said. “Most publishers won’t even talk to you unless you have an agent.”
And even if one gets an agent, he continued, the new writer is assigned an in-house editor responsible for both cleaning up the book to meet the company’s editorial standards and advocating for resources to promote. and properly distribute the book. Since Garritano planned to turn his first book into a mystery series, he felt uncomfortable going through the long and unpredictable process of working with an established publisher.
“Most traditionally published authors publish one or even two books a year,” he observed. “Given that, I started my own publishing house – I think I can definitely publish two books a year, maybe even three or four. The stories are in my head, and they’re kind of just waiting to be on the page.
Garritano’s Cozy Books company published “I Saw What I Saw” in November, and the book quickly snagged several independent publishing awards and topped Amazon.com’s mystery bestseller list. .
Garritano is open to expanding Cozy Books to include mysteries written by other authors, but for now he plans to use it as a platform. However, he actively encourages others with a penchant for mystery stories to consider trying their hand at the genre.
“Make sure it’s something you really enjoy and it’s going to be a great experience,” he said. “It was for me. If you have an idea and you really want to say something, start writing.