Tag Archives: Pat Krapf book

Why Did You Self-Publish Your Thriller Series?

Self Publishing Brainwash
Time was my primary reason for self-publishing the Darcy McClain Thriller Series. 
When I began writing thrillers, I focused on doing just that—writing. Many years later, and after countless revisions, I had four novels I felt were ready for submission to literary agents. But for one reason or another—and many times no reason was given—the books were rejected. My reaction to these rejections? Disappointing, but they only reinforced my commitment to write the next book in the series. Blind Revenge and Genocide were rejected because of their length, and justifiably so. However, back then, as a novice writer, I was in a quandary as to how to cut the word count, so I enrolled in a self-editing class—one of the best investments of my writing career. Our professor, Don Whittington, made it a course requirement to attend one meeting of the Dallas/Fort Worth Writers’ Workshop, a read and critique group. I was a member for ten years, and the knowledge and direction gained was invaluable.

Of the book rejections I received, one stands out as the most constructive, and it steered me in the right direction. The handwritten note came from literary agent Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen Pomada Literary Agents in San Francisco. “Dear Pat—Thanks very much for sharing Genocide with me. The idea is intriguing, but more pacing and pruning would help. Keep at it.” After Ms. Pomada’s comment, I enrolled in Don’s class.

As for Gadgets, one agent wrote, “You write well . . .  no question about it, but this isn’t what I am looking for right now.” Regarding Brainwash, the general consensus was that agents didn’t like me “sticking my toe into sci-fi” when the book was labeled a thriller. Undeterred, I kept honing my craft and I pressed on with my writing, occasionally taking time for submissions, but my main focus was working on the next book in the series. Bottom line, I was hooked on Darcy. In 2001, Gadgets won the Betty L. Henrichs Award for Best Publishable Mystery Novel, bolstering my confidence in my writing skills. In 2004, Brainwash failed to make the cut but didn’t miss the mark by much, and the critique proved helpful. In my estimation, the deficiencies cited were minor because they could be easily fixed. For example, an argument between Darcy and Charlene took center stage at the beginning of the book but fizzled toward the end with no solid resolution. I never intended for there to be a resolution. After all, how do you resolve a lifetime rift in one book? However, I did tone down the conflict, and the long-standing divide between the two sisters will explode in a heated argument in Clonx and a decisive resolution will occur, as I had originally intended. The judges also wanted to see, hear, and smell more of the New Mexico landscape. From reader reviews, I’ve gathered that this has been corrected as well. Many readers have commented that they felt as though they had been to New Mexico even though they have never set foot in the state. Others who knew the area said I captured its essence, and my love for New Mexico was apparent.

Self Publishing Gadgets by Author Pat KrapfAs the years passed and I wrote one thriller after another, still more consumed with writing than pursuing publication, I realized the time had come to do something with the seven Darcy McClain novels I had, and the two others that were firmly planted in my mind. I toyed with the idea of, once again, going the traditional route but weighed the time involved. At lunch one day with several fellow writers, I listened to someone say they had waited months for a reply to their query, while another had waited almost sixteen months for a response regarding her manuscript submission. Another said his novel had sat on a desk for over two years, and when pressed, the literary agent finally admitted the box containing the manuscript had never even been opened—and the agent had personally requested to read the book. None of this was news to me, for I had been through similar experiences. For weeks, I mulled over the time issue and finally made the decision to self-publish.

I came to this conclusion by weighing the following considerations: Publishing is a subjective business with agent and publisher wants/needs always changing, which makes predicting what they want, need, or find marketable at any point in time an impossibility. Besides, my goal was to write what interested me and not to write simply for commercial appeal. Publishing is also a slow industry. It takes weeks, sometimes longer, to get a response to a query letter, and months to read a three hundred- to four hundred-page manuscript. I waited over a year to hear about Brainwash. When I did, the response was encouraging: “You write well and you have a compelling concept for a thriller.” However, the editor did not like my crossover from the thriller genre to science fiction, even though the step was, in my opinion, minor. She agreed to “take on the book” if I deleted any sci-fi references. I pondered this request for over a week and relented, only to learn that she no longer worked for the publishing house and was “pursuing other interests.” Around this time I began to ponder why any writer needed to look to the publishing industry for validation. Why not self-publish and let readers determine the outcome of your series? Either it sold or it languished on Amazon. And as far as promoting the series, with a degree in advertising and post-grad work in marketing, I stood a fighting chance of seeing the series sell, and sell well. Would it take a lot of work to self-publish and to promote the books? You bet. But how rewarding to promote your own creation. And another upside to self-publishing? You have control. You can’t control someone else’s time, but the more you are in charge, the more you can control.

Self Publishing Genocide by Author Pat KrapfSomeone once asked me, “Why does it take so long for you to write your next book?” First of all, writing is not a footrace, which is another plus to self-publishing: working to your own deadlines and not those mandated by a contract. And my goal is to produce quality, not quantity. I have no interest in adding to the glut of poor-quality books already in the marketplace any more than I wish to surpass my fellow writers in the number of books they have on Amazon, or any other book outlet. Producing a quality book from cover to cover is what I am striving to do with the series. I recently read an interesting article titled “Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year” by Lorraine Devon Wilke and thought you might enjoy reading it as well.

Discussing how many books an author has written brought to mind a conversation I had with a woman at a recent party I attended. She said, “So, you’re an author. Tell me, how is that working out for you? Are you selling a lot of books? Making a lot of money?” I replied, “The goal was to write and produce the best book I was capable of publishing, not to see how much money I could make.” As she walked away, she said, “Well, we all have different expectations.”

Next week: “2016: New Year, New Website, New Books.”

Shotz: Living With a GIANT

Shortly before her first Christmas, Shotz developed a bad case of diarrhea. We racked our brains trying to think of what she had eaten. The following week the situation worsened. Nothing we tried worked. The condition continued, and her water consumption greatly increased. Now we were really concerned, so I had Dr. C, our vet, test a stool sample. It was negative. No parasites. No infections. Nothing. She prescribed metronidazole. It seemed to work, but the minute Shotz finished the prescription, the diarrhea returned.

When she didn’t improve, I was determined to resolve the problem, so I spent an entire day watching her. Around noon, while I was on the telephone, she slipped out of my study and disappeared into the kitchen. I followed but kept my distance. The door to our pantry had a single lever, not a knob. She leaned on the handle with her muzzle until the door popped open.

On the lower shelf, hidden behind a container, sat an open bag of chili-roasted nuts someone had given us as a gift. They were so hot, we couldn’t eat them, but evidently someone loved them. Shotz helped herself, backed out of the pantry, and nudged the door shut. Then she made a beeline for her water bowl. This is why she became known as The Trickster.

One Sunday we made a run to Home Depot to order blinds for our new house and took Shotz along for the outing. My husband was certain we had been neglecting her. I guess those ninety-minute morning walks and two-hour romps in the swimming pool, not to mention an hour of playing ball every day, didn’t count as paying attention to her.

As soon as we arrived at Home Depot, Shotz was surrounded by kids. She was good with them until one started to shriek at the top of his lungs. Then Shotz headed in the opposite direction, and I went with her.

In the hardware section, my husband deserted us and I headed for the window coverings department, where I tied Shotz to my chair with a long lead my husband had custom-made for her. I didn’t trust the leash because twice Shotz had managed to twist free of the clasp connected to her harness. Hubby had said when told this, “That’s impossible.”

While the saleswoman was typing up my order, I thought, “Gee, Shotz is being so quiet and good.” When I looked down to praise her, I saw her lead lying on the ground with no giant attached to the end. I jumped up and said loudly, “I have to leave.” The woman typing my order must’ve thought I was having a seizure of some kind. I could barely spit out that I had to go find my dog. Now.

As I ran through the store, I had visions of her slipping out the front door and a car hitting her in the parking lot. Frantic, I jogged down the center aisle of Home Depot shouting to everyone I saw, “Have you seen a big black dog?” No one said yes, so I raced to customer service and asked them to announce over the paging system that if anyone spotted a big black dog to grab her by her harness and hold onto her until I got there. The woman behind the counter looked at me in horror. “Grab her? A big black dog? Are you sure?”

“Yes. She’s friendly,” I insisted. Skeptical stares all around. “Okay, well, at least post a person at each door. If she gets out of the store, she might be killed. Please.” They posted a person at each exit.

By now, panic had set in. Then I heard marvelous words over the PA: “Big black dog on aisle five.” I bolted and skidded into aisle five, my eyes sweeping the passage. No black dog. My heart was pounding so hard, I barely heard it when someone bellowed over the address system, “Black dog seen in lumber. Moving fast.”

I sped down the hardware aisle toward lumber and zipped around the corner so fast, I almost tripped over my own feet. After my recent knee surgery, I had no idea I could move this fast, but I had the right incentive. I kept wondering why my husband hadn’t joined the chase, and until then, I hadn’t thought to call his cell. I just wanted to find Shotz—and quick. I made three trips through the aisles in lumber, but no Shotz. I finally flipped open my cell phone to call Dave.

A loud bark. My heart soared. I flew into the next aisle but still didn’t see her. I hurried past the stacks of fence slats, stopped in midstride, and backed up. A big black mass came into view, and that docked tail wagged back and forth so fast, it looked as if she were about to take flight. I climbed onto the pile of fencing, seized hold of her harness, and yanked her out.

The minute I set eyes on her, I burst out laughing. Her ears, muzzle, and beard were covered in dust and cobwebs. What a sight. I started to pick the spiderwebs off her, then reached under her beard to brush off some dust. Something warm and soft touched my hand. I pulled back, wondering what was wiggling in her mouth.

“Okay, drop it.” Shotz looked up at me with those big brown eyes as if to say, “Ah, Mom, can’t I keep it?” Before I repeated the command, she shook her head from side to side, dropped the rat on the floor, and pranced off, obviously proud of herself. I sprinted after her and quickly leashed her, just as my husband came around the bend and asked, “Hey, where have you two been? I’ve been looking for you.” He unplugged himself from his MP3 player and never plugged in again, at Home Depot, or in public period.

All giant owners (all dog owners, for that matter) are fortunate to have a wealth of interesting stories to share, laugh about, and sometimes cry about. We are fortunate, for even when our dogs leave us we have fond memories to draw upon despite how painful it is to see them go. They change our lives forever and always for the better.

Next week: “Shotz: Surgery #1.”