Can’t wait for the book!
While your infamous encounters are interesting, however, sensationalism can only get you do far (as you’ve observed yourself). But since you have indeed grabbed our attention, how are you going to keep us engaged longterm?
What else is there beneath the headlines?
What are some insights for social justice, prison reform, mental illness, quality of care, public administration, management and leadership, rehabilitation, etc?
I get that you’re not on a personal mission to make the world a better place, but you’ve got information that is extremely valuable for the people and organizations who are working on these causes. Not valuable in the monetary sense (although these people and orgs will buy your book), but valuable in the sense that you’ve collected primary empirical data not available elsewhere. Rarity can work in your favor.
You didn’t go to prison as an undercover journalist, but you’ve got Pulitizer Prize winning material here. (Potentially, anyway. You’ll need some chapters with more of a “bird’s eye view,” but the potential is definitely there, imo).
You’re not a trained social scientist or licensed social worker, but you are a college graduate (from a very respectable institution) who has documented observations that social scientists and social justice workers can use. (The Nobel isn’t likely, but many other awards are).
I encourage you to dig deep and explore the kinds insights your current and prospective readers are interested in. The tabloid ship has sailed — you said so yourself. So now what?
I’ve shared many suggestions. You read Nathan McCall’s book. How about a book review? You shared some tboughts about the leniency of his sentencing. Can you say more?
Also, before I forget, I’ve been meaningful to suggest you check out Augusten Burroughs memoirs. Read or don’t read — that’s not the point. He’s a recovering ad agent who writes about his mental health and alcohol challenges with a similar tone and style as you. His publisher may be worth looking into — add them to your prospect list. (You started a spreadsheet, right?) I can’t think of any direct contacts off-hand, but maybe you could do some research to see if they’re accepting inquiries and what their process is.