Author Experience: Steve Smith

The bond formed between FriesenPress’ published authors and their production team is a powerful one. Our Author Experience feature gives our authors a platform to tell the story behind the publication of their story, in their own words.

Steve Smith, author of the The Psychopath Machine, first contacted FriesenPress in March 2016:

Steve Smith FriesenPress

I wanted to write this book for thirty years.

It so happened that bestselling author Jon Ronson learned about me and wrote about my experiences at Oak Ridge [Psychiatric Facility] in his book The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry. The book was published in 2012 and received rave reviews in the likes of the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post Book World.

I liked the book but I wasn't content with my part. I knew I had an unusual story to tell but I also knew I lacked the talent to do it right.

Yet one day I decided to just give it a go. I started typing.

I sent a draft of the first chapter to Ronson expecting he would tell me not to quit my day job. He kindly told me I had some writing ability and I should continue. Jon advised me to start at the beginning and recall everything as best I could and stay true to the facts.

So I did.

For more than a year I struggled, but in the end I had a manuscript about four inches thick. But what, I asked myself, should I do now?

From the first phone conversation, I knew this was the way to go.

I started looking for a publisher. I thought any publisher would be just waiting for a story like mine.

I got a rude awakening. I almost gave up on the whole project!

I didn't know anything about self-publishing - I just had the manuscript and knew I had to do something with it.

Then I found FriesenPress.

I'm not sure what I expected when I first contacted FriesenPress; I thought I might be walking into a shark tank of skepticism. I was ready to slink away with my manuscript at a moment's notice.

But from the first phone conversation, I knew this was the way to go.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith

The process was smooth and encouraging from start to finish. I worked with an editor who not only had a great command of literature but he understood my story. Many at FriesenPress were familiar with the historic facts of my story before I even contacted them. As a new writer, I had enough sense not to micromanage the process. I let them do what they do best.

They say "you can't judge a book by it's cover", but we all do it. The way FriesenPress put the art together made my book "pop"! They took my amateur effort and turned it into a polished book that would look great on anyone's bookshelf.

It's as simple as this: if you are an aspiring writer, take your manuscript to FriesenPress. Let them guide you. Be patient with the process. You will have something you can be proud of and that hopefully leads to you wanting to write another one.

I may actually do it again.

Learn more about Steve Smith & The Psychopath Machine at and the FriesenPress Bookstore.