A Day I’ll Never Forget

        Last week I had one of those days you remember for as long as you live. Hours after I self-published DREAM KILLER, I informed my editing partner I actually wrote two novels twenty years ago before my sportswriting career took off which allowed me to see the country (details in Meet Mike Baldwin).

The reason last Saturday was special is after I described the plot to my editorial partner, he informed me he’d like to read the story I wrote twenty years ago. After I spent fifteen minutes digging around the back of my closet, I not only found the manuscript, I was pleasantly surprised to re-read communication from New York literary agents twenty years ago. I completely forgot one agent, Jay Garon, seriously contemplated signing me from my first manuscript, a mystery I ended up throwing in the trash.

Digging through my closest produced the equivalent of the best Christmas present of your life! After I put the manuscript through some major rewriting, the second novel I wrote twenty years ago is a “thriller” with potential which is why SLAM DUNK instantly became my next project.

I hope my story encourages anyone who has ever had aspirations to write a novel. I’m the classic example an author can always “revive” their dream, even if it’s a burning passion that lies dormant in our closet for twenty years. Today, I’m a full-time novelist who writes whodunits that feature female lead characters involved in roller-coaster paced plots with surprise endings.

I’m in the early stages of building a fan base of readers who enjoy entertaining, thought-provoking mysteries. Sports fans love my whodunits, but I can’t emphasize enough “non-sports fans” thoroughly have enjoyed SMASHED TATER and DREAM KILLER. My stories with female lead characters appeal to mystery fans of all ages and gender.

Nowadays, an author no longer is dependent on the Big Five publishing houses in New York for their stories to be read. After I transitioned to becoming a full-time novelist earlier this year, I talked to three established authors I know. All three advised to self-publish eBooks.

Reality is eBooks were 1% of the literary market in 2007 but have exploded to 34% in 2015. Those statistics should inspire every would-be-novelist. The best part of self-publishing an eBook is your stories get on the market 12 to 18 months earlier than if you take the old-fashioned route — sign with an agent, then go through the tedious journey with a publishing house before you eventually make it to print — and that’s for the fortunate few that make it all the way through the process that starts with query letters to extremely picky agents.

Before I forget, the first step to specializing in self-published eBooks is conceding your stories may never appear in print. For some, that’s a buzzkill since they can’t take their friends to the local bookstore to purchase a copy. Trust me, it’s worth it to self-publish eBooks.

Because self-published authors don’t have the luxury of a publishing house editor to “clean up” their stories, it’s essential to hire an editorial service, or find an editorial “safety net” to convince readers your stories are of the upmost quality.

For my second novel, my “safety net” was a six-person All-Star reading team I assembled; four women and two men who provided everything from feedback on the characters and the plot to taking out a red pen and helping me edit the manuscript. I can’t thank enough my All-Star readers for helping me with DREAM KILLER. (A shout out to George Darkow; Jualetha Pearn; Rob Hale; Lisa Johnson; Michelle Altdorfer and Sharon Nelson!).

Self-publishing has numerous challenges. The obvious hurdle is you do all the work yourself, including finding someone to design an eBook cover. I found a jewel in Brandi Doane McCann, an eBook cover design specialist in Maine (ebook-coverdesigns.com). Brandi has done a fabulous job on the covers for my first two novels!

In closing, there is a huge perk to self-publishing eBooks. Because you do all the work yourself, I was stunned profits from a reader-friendly priced $4.99 eBook (the modern-day paperback) are eerily similar to trickle-down profits from a traditionally published $22.99 hardback. And you get your novel on the market 12 to 18 months earlier!

Everyone dreams of writing a New York Times bestseller, but the actual joy is in the writing itself! It’s intoxicating to sit in front of a computer and watch a character come to life or see a scene come together. Fellow writers can relate to that magical feeling of creating something out of nothing, write a story you believe others would enjoy reading.

I want to encourage anyone who has aspired to write a book to keep dreaming. If you ever make it to the finish line and publish a novel, even if it’s a dream delayed twenty years, it’s an indescribable feeling of accomplishment to receive compliments from friends who tell you how much they enjoyed reading your book and can’t wait to read your next one.

Good luck!!! Keep writing!!!

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