Michael Gabriele ’75 can handle rejection. As an author and artist, he’s had his fair share. “There are a lot of ‘no’s’, he says, “but when you get a ‘yes’, it’s so rewarding.”
Before Michael had two published books under his belt, he was a student in the Philosophy and Religion Department in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, a department he remains closely connected to today. “The faculty members of the department were always good with mingling and interacting with students, encouraging us to attend lectures and planning activities for us,” says Gabriele. “So after I graduated, I just stayed connected”.
Staying connected for Michael has meant many different things. He is a former member of the Alumni Association, has had his pastel landscapes and still lifes displayed in the George Segal Gallery three times, and often comes back to attend lectures and events on campus. “I got a lot of out of my time with the Association,” he notes, and adds that having his work in the Segal Gallery is “a really proud connection” for him.
His career as a writer started in Mr. Gordon’s English class, where Mr. Gordon mentioned to his students that the Nutley Sun was hiring writers to help with its 80th anniversary edition. He landed that gig, which prompted him to return to them after graduation. “Remember me?” he joked with them, and ultimately he was hired by the paper and worked there for many years.
Michael left the Sun to do some corporate work for about two years, but then found himself back at the Nutley Sun, this time as the editor. After a three year stint in that position, he landed a job at Fairchild, working with another former editor of the Nutley Sun.
For almost twenty years, Michael worked for big name publishing houses including Fairchild, McGraw-Hill, and others, ultimately working at Cahners Publishing Group as managing editor.
His career path continued with a position writing for the Archdiocese of Newark for about eight years, until the publication was closed down. Throughout his career, Michael was a freelance writer, which helped him to make connections and continue building his portfolio. “It’s hard to move from job to job, but in journalism and communications, it happens. But it’s nice to get comfortable. You invest a lot, especially in a management position, and you want to see things through. It’s nice to feel like you’ve got a piece of the pie”.
The first of his two books, The Golden Age of Bicycle Racing in New Jersey, was written in 2011 after an inspiring trip to his local Barnes & Noble. “I was looking around the New Jersey section, and noticed a lot of books published by The History Press,” he notes. “I had been writing about cycling for years, and compiled it all. I thought, ‘it would be nice to write a book’.”
So began the process of getting rejected. He reached out multiple publishing companies and got his fair share of ‘no’s’. Knowing that his idea fit the mold for The History Press, he reached out to them. After waiting and querying, he had a deal. That deal went beyond his initial idea for the book. Soon, he had his first book published.
“Everyone was really happy, so then they said, ‘Let’s do another!’”, says Michael. His newest book, The History of Diners in New Jersey, is not your typical coffee table book or guide to the best diners. It’s about the history of the diner business. “I didn’t really know too much about the topic, so I started with a blank slate and jumped right in,” he says.
Michael is enjoying the success of his second book, receiving great reviews, including one from The Star Ledger. When asked what his advice might be to aspiring authors, he says:
“Start out with an idea. Instinctively think journalistically. Choose a familiar field, but tell the story in a way it hasn’t been told before. It’s a big undertaking, but take your chances.”