My Rookie Year

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This time last year, I was finishing up what I thought would be the final round of edits on my manuscript and working on getting a cover design for my first complete novel. I published Officer of the Watch on February 23rd, 2015 and I remember telling my wife, “Well, even if no one ever buys it, at least I can say I did it. I published a book.”

A year later, I’ve sold just shy of eleven thousand copies—10,699 as of writing this and counting.

The past twelve months have taught me a great deal about myself as a writer and about the business of selling books. When I decided at the ripe old age of ten that I wanted to be an author, I had no clue what that really meant. All I understood was that I loved reading and I wanted to be the guy on the other side of the page telling the stories, building the worlds, developing the characters, and pulling readers into my own little world. Twenty four years later I finally achieved that dream, but writing the book was only the first step in a process that I have come to respect in a whole new light. From internal layout and font choices to cover art and marketing strategies, the biggest lesson I learned is that when the final key is struck on the manuscript, the work is really only just beginning.

Another aspect of the publishing industry that I have a newfound respect and admiration for are the editors who work tirelessly to help authors like myself craft and present the absolute best work possible. If it weren’t for the editors who worked on my manuscript to polish up, sand off the rough edges, and help me unravel the mysteries behind the proper (and often improper) use of commas, my work wouldn’t be anywhere near as refined as it appears. I don’t know about other authors, but I am thrilled by the creative process of writing the story, not the seemingly endless minutia of punctuation and grammar. Editing is a necessary part of the process, but not a necessarily enjoyable part of it.

So, from a sincerely appreciative and eternally indebted author to all of the editors out there, THANK YOU!!!!!

Probably the most rewarding part of this experience has been the feedback I’ve had from people who have actually read the book. Officer of the Watch has accumulated more than 150 reviews on Amazon with a 4.3 out of 5 star rating. Getting to read the firsthand accounts and thoughts of people who have read my work has been just awesome. I think the best example of that was the reaction I got from one of the men in the Sunday school class I teach. When I first put the paperback edition out for sale, I brought a copy into my class to show off a bit. After the class I was on the way out, and one of the guys who is a regular attendee and someone whose opinion I deeply respect (he’s a captain on the Charlotte Police) stopped me at the door. He pointed to book and proceeded to tell me how awesome it was, and that he was pretty sure the author grew up somewhere in Charlotte since they used a lot of landmarks from the region and described them in great detail.

I just smiled and nodded, and when he was done I said, “Thanks for the compliments; I’m glad you liked my book.”

He’d read it, but didn’t have any idea that I had written it.  We talked for a  little bit about the research I did and my method for writing, and he congratulated me again on a job well done. To hear that kind of honest, unvarnished opinion from someone I know and respect was one of the highlights of my year. For the first time I had real, tangible confirmation that writing isn’t just a passion of mine, it’s something I actually have a talent for, and that is a feeling unlike any other.

I want to send special thanks out to all of the wonderful authors who have helped me through this process by lending me your experience and your wisdom. The self-publishing and independent author community has been an invaluable resource for me from the moment I decided to put my work out there for consumption. It is really humbling and inspiring to see a community of experienced professionals and amateurs alike who are willing to reach out and help someone getting their toes wet in the industry for the first time. I hope to be able to pay that kindness forward and help any new authors and writers who may have questions, so feel free to contact me.

My second book, and the second in the Blackout series, Storm Tide Rising is currently in editing and I hope to have it ready for publication soon. As I get closer to the finish line on this second installment I will be posting cover previews and a few excerpts to give you guys a taste of what’s to come.  I learned a valuable lesson about putting out premature release dates when I first advertised that the second installment would be ready for publication by late August.  With that in mind, I won’t attempt to put a release date on Storm Tide Rising, but I will say that it is progressing nicely.  I am roughly a third of the way through the first round of edits, and I’m working on a preliminary cover design as well.  Keep in touch for the previews and teasers.

To all my friends and family who have given me so much support over the years, to all of my awesome and amazing readers, and to the entire community of self-published and indie authors…. Thank you for making this one of the best years of my life and for helping me successfully achieve one of my life-long dreams.

Here’s to many more to come….

 

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