What took you so long?!
If you made it through 593 pages of my first book, Manipulated, you were greeted with the following closing message:
Here’s what’s coming next!
Manipulated: Book Two – Rise of the Mustangs (working title) is planned for late 2018.
Manipulated: Book Three – Declaration of Independence (working title) is planned for late 2019 and will focus on the 2020 presidential campaign.
Please stay in touch at www.johnfordclayton.com for book release updates and much more.
Unfortunately, 2018 came and went with no Book Two. 2019 came and went with no Book Two or Book Three. Ditto for 2020. Finally…in June of 2021 Book Two was published. It is titled Presidential Power.
But back to the question, what took you so long? I could conjure up a few excuses such as our family moved homes, we enjoyed the birth of a granddaughter, and like everyone else, we experienced a global pandemic. Another factor is that I'm not a full time writer and often struggle to find time to write. Oftentimes when I did set aside a couple of hours to write, I couldn't find the inspiration. Some writers will say you can't wait for the inspiration, you just have to push and struggle through, but that doesn't work for me. I sat in front of my screen on many evenings and nothing came. Before I knew it I was checking scores on ESPN, finding treasures on eBay, or looking at desert outposts in Mongolia on Google Earth.
Finally, enough time passed where the inspiration synched with the time availability and 100,000 words later came Presidential Power. Then came another six months of post-writing, pre-publishing activities. For those of you that ever considered writing and self-publishing, I'll offer a brief timeline for what transpires for me between writing 'The End' and having a book in hand.
Just after Christmas 2020 I completed writing Presidential Power
During January and early February 2021 I re-read the book several times making notes, edits and corrections each time. I found storylines that didn't advance the story and pruned them from the book. I found inconsistencies in characters that had to be corrected. I found timelines that didn't make sense; some were too long, some too short. During this same time I sent the books to a few beta-reader friends who gave me invaluable feedback that I incorporated into the final manuscript. Finally around the second week in February I felt like the story was ready for the next step.
A critical step in making a book as good as it can be is a professional edit. I have been fortunate to work with a fantastic editor at the University of Tennessee who did a deep scrub of Presidential Power, finding all of my typos, improper use of passive voice, and numerous other grammatical transgressions. That effort took around a month and got me to mid-March.
I next worked with a graphic artist to create the front cover, back cover, and spine. I did a Power Point mock-up but the graphic artist made it great. The first draft only took a week or so but this is an iterative process that I'll discuss more later.
I write in Microsoft Word. A major step in making Word look like a book is interior formatting. I hired a firm to convert my Word file into something that looks like a book. This involves making chapter headers, scene breaks, page breaks, margins and gutter. Presidential Power is available in both Kindle and paperback, each has its own unique formatting requirements. This step took around six weeks taking me to the first of May.
Next was loading the formatted book, and the front cover, back cover, and spine into an Amazon application. In this step I had to revisit and finalize the cover as the # of pages is derived from the formatting process, which, with the font size and margin determines the thickness of the book. This process took a week or so.
Once the book looked good on the screen, I ordered a few author proofs to see how the paperback book actually looked. I was fortunate that the book looked good and didn't need further editing or formatting. This took me to the end of May.
The final step is approving the book in Amazon to be published. As the author, I first approve the book, and then Amazon has a step to ensure it meets their quality standards. Once this final hurdle is cleared, the book is ready to go.
On June 3, Presidential Power was published.
I have enjoyed reengaging in the writing process with Presidential Power and feel confident the time between Books Two and Three will be less than the three and a half years between Books One and Two. I’ve learned my lesson about committing to a specific date, but I’m already working on the Book Three outline and excited about where it may lead!
In Presidential Power you’ll be reintroduced to some familiar faces in Elijah Mustang, Jeremy Prince and Victor Youngblood. I intended for Victor to have a lessor role in Presidential Power, but as I was writing his story just demanded to be told; so Victor retains a prominent role in the story. Presidential Power also introduces some new faces such as FBI Agent Ben Gossett, Riley Indigo, the President’s Chief of Staff, and Minnie Carpenter, leader of the Mustang Movement.
Thanks for sticking with me. I hope you’ll give Presidential Power a try.
John Ford Clayton