Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blog Tour: Angel Evolution Guest Post & Giveaway

The Road to Publishing Angel Evolution

The road to publishing Angel Evolution (and the entire Evolution Trilogy really) was definitely a bumpy one, full of twists, turns, highs, and lows.  One of the biggest highs was seeing my finished covers for the first time, and the biggest low was receiving a number of rejections from potential agents, but I’ll get to all that soon.

My story really starts when I was a young boy and my mom used to tell me stories.  She has an amazing imagination and could make up amazing stories without even thinking about them in advance.  The craziest characters and plot twists would just come to her, and me and my brother and sister loved listening to her for hours.  I really owe my love of reading to her.  Once I could read on my own, I started devouring books, reading series like The Lord of the Rings, and Hardy Boys mysteries dozens of times.  Then my dad got me onto Agatha Christie and once more I swept through his collection like wildfire.  

For years I dreamed of writing my own stories, but always believed I needed the perfect idea. Many years later, I was still searching for my perfect idea while working a boring office job as an accountant.  It wasn’t my true passion—never will be.  The YA revolution hit and I began swallowing as many paranormal romance, epic fantasy, and dystopian books (The Hunger Games was my favorite) as I could.  But still I didn’t have my perfect idea.

I moved to Australia for work and found my wife, Adele, who helped change my whole perspective.  She encouraged me to go with any idea and start writing, so when I had three weeks off in between jobs, I started writing a book about angels.  I had a very rough outline in my head, but the story began to take a life of its own as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard.  Writing came easy to me—I never suffered from writer’s block the whole way through the series.  

Before I started my new job, I had written more than half my first novel and I was determined to finish the rest while working.  I committed myself to a strict 2 hours of writing a day—half hour on the ferry to work, an hour at lunch, and half hour on the way home.  I stuck to it and finished Angel Evolution a few weeks later.  I researched the publishing process and decided to go the traditional route, querying dozens of agents.  I got rejected at least 30 times, which was hard to take.  At times I got a bit down, but I kept on writing, which is the biggest advice I can give any aspiring authors.  My wife and family were very encouraging in this regard.  

Next, I took a break from the angel stuff and I started writing a children’s book, which I finished in three weeks.  While still querying agents for Angel Evolution, I wrote Demon Evolution in four weeks.  My writing process was becoming more refined, more structured and I could see my writing steadily improving.  I got some feedback from an agent and further improved my writing.  I took another break and wrote a standalone YA paranormal suspense novel.  But I kept coming back to the angels and finished Archangel Evolution in four weeks, about 10 months after starting Angel Evolution.  

The Evolution Trilogy was finished!  But I still didn’t have an agent, nor any leads in getting my series published the traditional way.  So I decided to self-publish.  I had a number of friends and acquaintances review my work for typos and provide feedback, which I took on board.  I also read each of my books 6 times (3 times out loud) to uncover typos and errors.  

While I was editing and revising, I hired a cover artist, Claudia McKinney at phatpuppyart, who took my wife’s artistic concept and brought them to life.  My friends at Winkipop Designs took the covers and made them professional with custom font and my own symbol for the series.  When I got my first proof from CreateSpace in the mail I was so excited.  A year’s worth of hard work had finally paid off in something tangible that I could hold and give to people!  

I used CreateSpace to publish in print via, and Smashwords and Kindle to publish in all major e-book formats.  The hours I spent formatting were some of the most painful, but paid off when my digital and print copies came out looking professional and error-free.  I started selling them and I got my first few reviews, which was awesome!  

A couple hundred reviews later, the reviews have been mixed which is fine and expected for a first novel.  But the reviews on the second and third books have gotten steadily better, which confirms I am improving with each book. I’ve had to grow some pretty thick skin, but I’ve come to realize that everyone has a different opinion and even bestselling books get negative feedback.  I never get angry at negative feedback anymore, even if it’s malicious.  At the end of the day, you have to focus on being positive and just keep on writing and learning and remembering that you aren’t the best writer in the universe, at least not yet haha!

On that note, there are a few key things I’ve learned throughout the process that I’d like to share with anyone who is considering writing and publishing:
  • Write every day.  Even if it’s only a couple hundred words, it keeps you in your story and makes it easier to pick it up and continue writing.  Plus, you’re less likely to forget something and change the storyline or details partway through.
  • If you can’t afford a copyeditor (which I couldn’t at the time), get a few eagle-eyed people to review for silly errors.  Read it yourself at least five times too!  No one likes a book they paid for to have a bunch of typos.
  • Use independent beta readers!  This is something I didn’t do for Angel Evolution and now wish I did.  I asked friends and family to read and provide feedback and I made some good changes from it, but it wasn’t enough.  Make friends on sites like Goodreads and ask people to read your unpublished manuscript to provide feedback, particularly around character development, the beginning, the ending, what annoyed them, etc.  I wish I would have done this so I could have avoided some of the negative reviews from my readers.

There are a million other little things I learned but these are the big ones.  I am so lucky that I will soon be able to start writing full time.  I have 6 books that I haven’t published that I’ll be releasing over the course of the next year, with many more planned, so I look forward to taking my writing career to the next level.  Thanks to all my early readers of Angel Evolution (even the critics), and I look forward to seeing what you all think of my new dystopian series, which I hope to publish in the middle of 2012.  As always, I appreciate any questions, comments, and feedback on my Facebook page, blog, Twitter, or Goodreads.  See below for links for how you can connect with me!  Finally, a special thanks to Trini, for allowing me the opportunity to do this post on her amazing site!

David Estes
Author of the Evolution Trilogy!/davidestesbooks
Angel Evolution Now Available @
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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