In advance of my upcoming release of THE CHOICE from Double Dragon Publishing, I will be posting about the characters in my story. 

The first person I’ll start with for this series is, as should be, the main character. JARED STONE is a complicated character to explain. Not because of his personality, but because Jared Stone is two characters in one! 

As my book blurb summarizes, Jared Stone is split between two worlds. Forced to make a decision between right and wrong, Jared’s world is split between good and evil. In one world, Jared is a young man, focused on rebuilding his life. In another world, Jared is known as JROCK, a ruthless gang leader.

 Jared is forced into rehabilitation after regaining consciousness from a coma; a result of the decision he made. He learns how to fight for what he needs in order to lead a normal life. To add to his difficulties, he is bombarded with visions of his alter ego committing atrocities he could never commit.

JROCK is Jared’s alter ego in another universe. Unlike Jared, JROCK is not happy unless he’s causing someone pain or hardship for his own gain. He is motivated by greed, and preys on other people’s kindness; a trait he considers as weakness.

Jared and JROCK find their worlds intersecting and trade places. How does Jared cope in JROCK’s world, and how does JROCK add chaos to Jared’s world? Well, I can’t get into that without writing the book here – grab a copy of the CHOICE this spring and find out!

I haven’t posted in a long time, and it’s usually a sign when an author goes quiet for a while after completion of a book. I’ve been busy dealing with the slew of rejections many hear authors groan about. I can break my silence now and say that as of yesterday afternoon, THE CHOICE has a home with Double Dragon Publishing! I signed the contract and it’s in the mail, making its way to Canada as I write this.

The first step to publication as many know is to create a ‘perfected’ query. Writing a query is certainly an art. My query went through many stages of revisions, and I admit, I started querying too early. After many (many = MANY) rejections, I began to re-think my strategy and began to research publishers – a learning step for me as I submitted to some publishers that do not fit with my story. This isn’t a complete misstep for me since material was requested from me over a Twitter contest. I figured that if they wanted to see my story, why not?

I had very good success querying small to mid-size publishers. I even queried editors at major publishing houses to receive personalized messages back thanking me for reaching out. One publisher was not acquiring at the time and was focusing on television only, but liked the idea; another thought my writing was a little too dark for what the publisher’s needs were at the time, but she thought the idea was great. Contrary to what feedback many in the industry give, some editors still like to work with authors and want to see their work.

I had a couple requests for full manuscripts from various publishers. One publisher that requested my full manuscript switched gears, to focus solely on romance going forward. That stung for a bit, but if they didn’t want a great story, their loss! Plus, I had my sights on Double Dragon at that point and really wanted to submit to them. As soon as I was able, I submitted my fully edited work to Double Dragon, and just shy of six weeks later, received my acceptance.

At first I saw the header line in the e-mail and expected a ‘thanks but no thanks’. Instead, what I read made me nearly fall out of my chair.

‘Thank you for your submission, I would like to offer you a contract with Double Dragon Publishing…”

Wow! What a feeling, compared to trudging on through rejections. My story will be available in both electronic and paperback format in early 2018.

After much thought, I’ve decided not to publish “The Choice” on Amazon and work to publish my story traditionally. I am going to try to find an agent to represent my work.

Why am I doing this?

Deep down, I have a desire to publish traditionally. It would be amazing to have my story on the bookshelves of brick and mortar stores. While Amazon has been a great way for me to get my stories into reader’s hands, it’s not the same as a traditional publisher.

I have learned how to write a story, suffering through MANY edits on my own, manage obtaining cover art, format my book to work for Amazon and Smashwords, and plan a release strategy. All of this information is not lost and will help me as I work to be a stronger writer.

While self-publishing is certainly rewarding, the key issue I see in the process is that unless an author is willing and able to hire professionals (cover artists, book formatting, editors, marketers), the amount of work it takes to make a self-published novel reach many with the chance of being paid, is slim. Sure, an author can hold a free drive and give away thousands of copies of their work for free, the chances of doing the same, but paid, for many Amazon authors is small. My story, “Conduit: The Beginning” was downloaded 10,000+ on a free drive I had. It was gratifying knowing that so many people downloaded my story, but I would have loved if I got a buck for each download. Greedy? Maybe – but hey, I put a ton of work into it.

My major flaw in self-publishing has been the inability to hire a professional editor. The cost of an editor on a novel of 65,000 words would run roughly $1,200+. Add in a professional cover, $200. Throw in book formatting, $200. Don’t forget another $400 or so for marketing. So, on the low side, the cost of self-publishing falls around $2,000. Now, I didn’t hire for formatting, and I did a lot of marketing myself. I admit, I didn’t have enough for a professional editor – unless you’re an established author, who does? Again, $2,000 to self-publish – why is this a factor? Because this is what publishing traditionally will do for an author. Unless an author is willing to shell out AT LEAST that amount of money on a book for self-publishing, he or she will not have as good a product as a traditionally published book.

Am I never going to self-publish again? No, I will. Self-publishing has it’s advantages – the biggest being: complete freedom. I will go about self-publishing a story differently though. I will make sure I have the capital for professional editing (yes, I admit, it has to be done), cover design, and marketing. I’ve pat myself on the back for starting with no understanding of the self-publishing business to learning each step of the process. It’s unrealistic for me to take on all aspects of the industry, all while raising two kids, and holding a full-time job. Publishers have teams dedicated to every piece of the puzzle.

So, onward for me and into the slushpile. My story rocks though. 🙂