Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Book Publishing Secrets with John Ford Clayton, Author of 'Manipulated'

Name: John Ford Clayton
Book Title: Manipulated
Genre: Political Thriller
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author: For close to 20 years I worked on creative teams in churches helping to write full-length dramas as well as 3-5 minute sketches. That process led to a nagging question that just wouldn’t go away; “I wonder if I could write a novel?” After doubts and procrastination, I finally decided to give it a go.
That led to the next important question, what would be the subject matter of this novel? For me, that question had to be aligned with something about which I felt great passion. That something is our country, the United States of America. Unfortunately, I see our country in difficult times as our political culture has become so toxic that it is tearing us apart. A major source of that toxicity is degree of manipulation we all face on a daily basis, regardless of our political leanings. To highlight the phenomenon, I decided to write a work of fiction, Manipulated.  
Is this your first book?
Author: Manipulated is my first book. It is the first in a trilogy. Rise of The Mustangs will be released in the Spring of 2019, Declaration of Independence will be released in 2020.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author: I self-published Manipulated using the services of CreateSpace and Amazon. Before opting for self-publishing, I pursued traditional publishing through two rounds of queries. As most writers have experienced, agents receive too many queries to respond to aspiring writers. Rejection letters have been replaced by “if you haven’t heard from us in 8 weeks, assume we’re not interested.” I was not interested in a third (or fourth, fifth, sixth…) round of queries. I wanted Manipulated in the hands of readers. I met with a few small press and indie publishers, but I could not achieve a comfort level with those that I considered. I wanted more control of both the process and the schedule. Self-publishing was the best fit for my situation.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author: For me, the primary pro of pursuing self-publishing was control of the process. I selected a graphic designer and we designed the cover together. I selected an interior designer. I got to write the story I wanted to write incorporating only the input I chose to consider. Aside from the logistical time it took to complete the editing and design, I was in control of the schedule. When the book was ready to be published, I could hit the “publish” button and the book was for sale. Another pro is the print-on-demand service offered by Amazon. I didn’t have to purchase a large quantity of books and interested readers didn’t have to wait weeks to receive a book. I found that books were delivered in 3-5 days from the order date.
The primary con of self-publishing is very similar to the pro, that you control the process. Before you publish you can seek honest input from friends and family, but in the end, it is up to you to decide which input you’re going to chose to incorporate. This leaves you vulnerable for plot holes, unrealistic storylines, and unbelievable characters if you aren’t open and astute to receiving constructive criticism. For some, another con is the stigma that self-publishing is rushing or settling for a second-rate alternative.  
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: When I completed writing Manipulated I knew absolutely nothing about the publishing process. I did not understand that traditional publishing companies must be approached via an agent. I did not understand that agents are typically approached via queries. I did not understand that most agents do not respond to queries in which they have no interest. This process was a rude awakening. When I’m not writing I work as a project management consultant for large Federal projects. In this capacity I am accustomed to following a process where step one leads to step two, which leads to step three, until the final step finally consummates with something being completed. In the traditional publishing process, I could never mentally complete the cycle and envision a published book. The process seemed to be on auto-repeat with no end in sight. The self-publishing process scratched my professional itch for a process that I could follow that would end with a book in my hands, or more importantly in the readers hands.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Before an author can make this important decision they, need to ask themselves an important question; what are my objectives? Do I want to achieve commercial success? Do I want to have a book published in six months? What is my budget? There a likely other important question unique to your situation. If you write down these questions and allow yourself to honestly answer them, the publishing avenue that’s right for you will emerge.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Understand the process for all publishing avenues you are considering. If there are areas where you are uncomfortable, seek some tailored professional help. There are literary professionals in all steps of the publishing cycle that have been where you are wanting to go. Seek their advice. The relatively small investment will be worth it. Lastly, in the immortal words of the late, great, basketball coach, Jim Valvano, don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

About the book:
Manipulated is a political thriller set during the 2016 presidential election season from January 2015 through January 2017. During these two years, a fictional account of the election is chronicled. The first half of the book provides a back story illustrating an American political system soiled by political parties, a misguided media, and lots and lots of money, all orchestrated by a clandestine organization known as Mouse Trap.
The second half of the book provides a glimpse at what the 2016 election might have looked like had a different candidate been introduced into the campaign. A candidate not bound to either political party, deep-pocket investors, or Washington insiders. A candidate who had absolutely no interest in the job but is drafted by those that know him best to fix a broken system. A candidate who personifies integrity, character, and humility. A candidate whose core values are guided by his faith.

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