I have allocated ten copies of The Drone Enigma for a Goodreads Giveaway that will run through February 13th. Residents of the US, UK and Canada are eligible to win a copy. If you win, please review the book on Goodreads.
This weekend I returned from North Carolina, where my wife and I had been visiting relatives over the Christmas holiday, to find that Readers’ Favorite, the book review and award website, had given The Drone Enigma a 5-Star rating. The Drone Enigma has been available in bookstores and through on-line retailers since mid-December.
When a young, healthy employee of LTG, a defense contractor for the US Navy’s drone development program, dies suddenly from an overdose of a dangerous chemical, Jake Palmer is called in to investigate. Jake, an ex-Navy SEAL turned private investigator, is reunited with an old SEAL buddy and a woman he dated in college, making this assignment different for him than most, but he is certain he can get to the bottom of the mystery in just a few days. Unfortunately, the theft of a laptop and the murder of his former SEAL friend, along with a chance encounter with Alona Green, a beautiful corporate spy, complicate Jake’s investigation and make the situation uncomfortably personal. Injected into the chaos of an investigation that appears to be getting out of hand is a terrorist plot, concocted by a dangerous member of the Taliban in Afghanistan, being hatched against the drone program itself. When all of these elements begin to collide, the action begins.
The plot of The Drone Enigma moves quickly and always in one direction. Its author, Ron McManus (no relation to this reviewer), continuously builds the tension by the unpredictable, but quite believable, plot twists and turns. The dialogue he skillfully presents is often witty and always crisp and to the point. His characters, especially Jake and Alona are well defined. Their relationship makes me believe that we will see them together in future works. I would recommend this book to readers who like action and adventure and a frighteningly believable plot.
What happens after signing with a publisher has been a mystery to me. I signed with Koehler Books earlier this month, and over the next several months, I will be posting my experiences and opinions regarding the process leading up to book launch.
Although I’ve had two informal meetings with John Koehler of Koehler Books, I had the official welcome meeting on Monday, March 18th. Margo Toulouse, author representative, of Koehler Books joined us on the call. The purpose of the meeting was two-fold: to review the timeline to publication and to review the author questionnaire I had completed and submitted.
The first task was to review the timeline to publication. Publication is slated for January 2014 with advance reader copies of my book and the electronic version available well in advance of that date. If “well in advance” sounds vague, the milestones on the timeline are also vague. Before the call I checked with colleagues, who confirmed that publishing timelines are stated in terms of tasks and the approximate time each task should take. For example, creative development, which includes copy editing, should take 3-4 months. As a former vice president in pharmaceutical R&D, I know that a timeline like this for a drug development project would get you fired. For book publishing, from what I understand, it’s the norm. I’m getting the impression it will be a hurry-up-and-wait process.
One item that has been stressed over and over is that the author—me—has primary responsibility for promotion of the book, including hiring a publicist to train me on the use of social media. I’ve already retained one of the best, in my opinion, Shari Stauch, CEO of Where Writers Win. I have a web site with a good Alexa ranking, as well as a presence and following on the Big Three—Twitter, Google+, and Facebook—as well as a presence on Goodreads, Shelfari, AuthorsDen, RedRoom, and other high traffic reader/writer sites. Because I’ve been working with Shari and her team for a while now, I’m doing pretty well. That doesn’t guarantee results, but it’s a start. Being present and being engaged with the community are two quite different things. I’m still working on the latter while trying not to let it eat away at my writing time. This can become a rabbit hole from which you never emerge, if you allow it to be.
With the timeline reviewed and agreed, we moved on to the author questionnaire. This was a useful exercise to review the information related to the book and my background and experience. Included in the discussion were a possible title change, initial thoughts on the cover design, and other information that will be used to prepare a tip-sheet for the book.
The above took about an hour. There were a few a action items, which completed the next day. The next step will be the cover design. I’ll be receiving two or three draft covers for review and discussion with John. John’s plan is to post the top two on the Koehler Books web site, where anyone can vote for his or her favorite. I’ll let you know when it is posted.