A New Project

From now until the rest of the year I will be doing a weekly focus on one of my books. Hopefully some of you have read it already and left a review. Hopefully many of you will rush out to spread the word. A guy can dream right?

This week I want to highlight a pet project of mine that was stewing for some time. I decided to write So…You Want to Write a Book after answering numerous questions from fans and potential writers. Why not throw down what I know about the craft so that others can benefit?

Here’s a little taste:

We live in an era where everyone is a subject matter expert. I mean everyone. You can’t throw a stick without hitting someone who happens to know everything about anything. I don’t know about you, but I long for a return to the day when people were humble and could admit when they didn’t know something. Who am I kidding? This is the world we live in and these are the cards we’ve been dealt. Why not make the most of it?

The most challenging part, for anyone who still isn’t sure, is trying to decipher quality work from BS. Shelves, physical and digital, are littered with volumes by this person or that, all promising you the key to unlocking the future. The key to literary immortality itself. There’s only one problem with that; the key doesn’t exist. Each of our journeys is different and needs to be treated as such.

Charlatans abound in the modern world! Beware lest they rob your pocketbooks and leave you bitter. I fell for it once, in the beginning. Shortly after redeploying from Afghanistan I was in contact with a man in NYC. He promised all sorts of treasure while managing to keep the carrot at the end of the stick just out of reach. His agency accepted my manuscript and gave it quick edit. But wait there’s more. For the low-low price of $1800, I could select to have a full edit. Why wouldn’t I want to do that? Turns out he took my money and told me that I wasn’t ready to be published. Of course, if I shelled out a little more he could help. Ummmm…..no thank you. Was I naïve? Yup. Did I learn from it? Damned right I did.

This line of thinking brings us (mostly you) to an inevitable question. Why should you listen to me? I’m glad you asked. First, I don’t profess to being an expert of any kind. In fact, the majority of my adult life has been spent marching, training, firing every kind of weapon you can think of, and even going to war. I’m a soldier. Always have been and will continue to be until the day I die. Do you have any idea how difficult it was to transition from being a fulltime warrior to a civilian—scratch that, a retiree in a civilian world?

None of that is particularly relevant to your individual situation, however, so I will begin by saying the following. I began writing as a small child. My first endeavor was a ridiculously mediocre comic book called Gleep and Glop. No, really. Why would I make that up? Adulthood brought a more serious aspect and I began to write in earnest. In 2002, in a moldy tent in Bagram, Afghanistan, I wrote Armies of the Silver Mage. Two years later I wrote the prequel The Dragon Hunters and developed rough plans for the third stand-alone novel Beyond the Edge of Dawn.[1] A pre-prequel. Don’t judge because I wrote backwards!

I really didn’t have much faith in getting published. The drive never went away, but the reality of the matter was stacked against me. Books continued to pour out. My military career was winding down, and it was time to step out of that uniform one last time. Then the miraculous happened. E-books! Everyone could suddenly be published (though I contend that not everyone should be). It was a brand new world, and I jumped. I threw two books up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and waited for the money to flow in.

Only that never happened. Sure, I made a little, but not what I wanted.[2] Dissatisfied, I turned to the booming market of small publishers. Having already learned my lesson, I vowed never to pay to have a book published. The system is designed to work the other way. You do the writing and the publisher foots the bill and takes their cut from the profits. I eventually got both books picked up by two different publishers and began writing in earnest.

[1]     You might be asking yourself how I could accomplish all of that while in the middle of two different wars. Easy, anyone who has ever been to war knows that the vast majority of time is painstakingly boring. That doesn’t make up for the 1% of sheer terror when the bullets are flying, but it provides an escape. Some men smoked and played games. I wrote.

[2]     You’ll soon discover that the majority of your initial sales will be to friends and family. Things get wonky after that.

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