Jumping off a Mount McKinley ice ridge into a dark abyss with a Super Cub perked my interest in becoming a bush pilot. That feeling of “where is this taking me?” was similar to how I felt when beginning my first “Novelized nonfiction,” (the movies call that “Based on Actual Events”) Alaska Justice. The research was made easier by having a box full of Trooper notebooks I’d kept throughout my twenty-year career. Coming up with the beginning is always difficult for me, however, once I got started, the memories came back with a flourish and the writing process became enjoyable.
The enjoyable part changed to the proofreading phase, then came the technical editing. My wife was great with the proofing and I’m fortunate to have a magazine-publisher/editor/former Nome teacher/friend who made that stage easier. Then another editor, a doctor-buddy, a gun-expert and fellow aviator jumped in for technical editing. Still, with all this expertise, typos still raised their annoying heads in the final draft and perhaps a couple still lurk deep within the books.
Like most writers I know, the dream is our work will be picked up by a major publisher, then of course made into a blockbuster movie (another former Trooper’s book is the subject of a new Nicholas Cage movie to be filmed this fall in Alaska, so there’s hope). After suffering through the usual rejection letters and non-responses from major publishers, I lucked into an invitation from the World Mystery Writers convention in Anchorage in 2007. My commitment was to appear on a panel about bush cases, but my secret mission was to snag one of the publishers or agents in attendance. Instead, when visiting with a writer who pens about one book a year and publishes with a small house, the event made me feel much better about the self-publishing route. His profit on each book is 80 cents, and the average run is 5000 copies. Even with a 40% (or more) cut to booksellers, it took only a few months of my book sales to surpass his total profit per book publication. After our discussion, he was considering dropping his publisher and going solo with Lightning Source. Sure it takes some sales, accounting, and shipping, but after a year-long representation by a Hollywood agent, I find that perfectly acceptable.
During the Anchorage convention, I was lucky enough to be invited to a morning TV news show which really helped kick off my Alaska books sales. Promotions are hard to come by, so I’ve found taking advantage of any such opportunities wise. That ten-minute interview was the incentive I needed to begin a campaign of finding other free promos, mostly by offering to be interviewed on radio stations and in print media (when I write for magazines, the editor always allows book-plugs in my bio).
In my next blogpost, I’ll share the ups and downs of book-signings, from Alaska to Wisconsin.
Mike Kincaid was a city boy from the Lower 48 who accidently spent a 26-year vacation in Alaska, residing in Denali Park, Girdwood, King Salmon, Copper Center, Fairbanks, Bethel, Palmer and somewhere near Talkeetna. He survived an exciting career with the Alaska Department of Public Safety as a Trooper/Pilot with the majority of his time in the Bush. Mike now operates a seasonal seaplane business in which he is an instructor and Designated FAA Examiner. Mike writes for IDAHO Magazine and various aviation publications and continues the tell the story of the Alaska State Trooper in his Jack Blake adventure series.