APOK is one of the new detective fictions published by FriesenPress, today we will be discussing with the author Michael Walton about his new novel, influences and his strategies behind how he is promoting it as a self published author.
Michael tell us a little bit about the story of APOK.
The perception of what’s right and wrong in a cruel world is often skewed. Cops seeing nothing but life’s ugliness can be more susceptible than others.
APOK is about a cop, Miguel Mejia, who made a split second decision that affected a country and ruined his life. Now sitting behind bars he is visited by a news reporter who will stop at nothing until she reveals the untold story of the ‘Killer Cop’. Before she can release her story she is trapped by extremists into a dark twisted society, and forced to watch thousands die.
As Terror grips the world Miguel has no alternative but to escape and evade a lynch mob hunting him while taking matters into his own two hands.
What inspired you to write something like this, do you have any real life experience?
I’ve always had a vivid imagination and I use it in almost everything I do, where applicable. It has served me well as a Police Officer. In order to catch a criminal an effective Police Officer has to think like a criminal. Objectively think of weaknesses and how to bypass them with minimal risk.
After September 11th, 2001, the world was in shock over the massive terrorist assault. The government called upon everyone to report suspicious activity, fearful of another incident. As a Police Officer in the Greater Toronto Area, we were given special instructions while patrolling the streets. Over the course of the next while Pearson International Airport received an influx of officers to assist with security measures.
It was at this time that APOK began forming in my head. Over the next ten years, the story continued to grow, while I served as a Detective working Homicides, Firearms Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Internal Affairs and various other investigations. From early in my career I always felt as though I was in the middle of a movie or a television show. Some days I could hardly believe myself what I was being exposed to. Everything kept adding to the fictional story developing in my mind.
My expertise as a Detective was writing Search Warrants some as long as 350 pages. Daily I would bring work home and spend hours writing trying to stay on top of the endless pile of paper work filling my work space. In my mind there was no time to sit down to write a fictional story for myself when so many people relied upon me to chase down these ruthless criminals. As such the story remained in a raw phase caught within my grey matter.
Finally a quirky question rung like a church bell inside my head. It was shortly after New Years 2011 and several people in my office were talking about resolutions. I scoffed at the idea, as I did every year. Then from nowhere came the question, “So you’ve done everything that you’ve ever wanted to do?” For whatever reason that question kept bouncing off the inside of my skull until I remembered about my story. From that moment on I decided to stop taking so much work home and I started writing APOK.
What does APOK mean, is it just a code name or is there more to it?
APOK is the street name for the main character Miguel Mejia. He has APOK tattooed across his left bicep. There are several meanings behind the title both for the character and for me. The last chapter of the book reveals the meaning behind the main character’s reason for the name, which may or may not be similar to my own.
Are any of the characters or incidents based on real life people?
My belief is that a good character is based on real life people. To me it’s the easiest way to make a fictional character come to life. Each character in APOK is loosely based on a compilation of several people I’ve come to know over the years both good and bad.
Michael, as a self published author you have already planned a number of book signing activities across North America. How did you plan all these ?
It was actually much simpler than I had imagined. I have spent a great deal of time performing Internet searches, making phone calls and sending emails to Book Store managers throughout North America. I have had a great deal of success thus far.
Working with Friesenpress backed by Ingram has made the sales pitch much easier, especially with the book return insurance. This allows the book companies whether it be, Chapters and Indigo in Canada or Barnes & Noble in the United States to order in the book without worry. If the book doesn’t sell they can ship it back and have their money refunded.
In many of my conversations with book store managers they have often told me that they are not permitted to order any books in from self published authors but because of the reputation of Ingram that hasn’t been a problem. Touring across North America, the fact that the book stores can order the book in makes things much simpler and less heavy. The books are at the store waiting for me rather than me lugging boxes around in my car or trying to transport them by plane while I fly down to the States.
And not only that, you also have created a whole fleet of branded merchandises and even have sponsors to back you. What was your strategy behind all these?
After I finished my first draft of APOK and begun the editing phase, I knew then that I was going to publish my work. Knowing that my book was eventually going to be available, I began thinking about marketing strategies. I’m no expert, but by simply examining the movie, and video game industry, I could see that they start advertising long before the work ever becomes released.
If multimillion dollar companies think this way, I planned to do the same. In doing so I began branding my title on business cards, shirts, posters, and now bookmarks. I had a vision and I had a plan. The more I did, the more people saw and soon I was being approached by people saying things like, “Hey so and so owns…you should go see him for a deal…” When I met with them they liked what I was doing and decided to help, whether it be discounts, or volunteering their services to help out the cause. I am truly humbled by my sponsors’ generosity.
Now typically I won’t wear anything but my own gear and why would I? Until a designer starts paying me to start wearing their clothes I will be advertising my clothes and book. Plus it makes for a great conversation piece when speaking to someone new. I’ve often heard, “What’s APOK?” That’s my cue to ask a new customer, “Do you like to read suspense action thrillers?” If they answer yes, I give them my business card and watch their eyes light up…
Lots of self published authors shy away from promoting their work and say no to social media and networking, as an active marketer of your work, what advice would you give to other fellow authors?
If you want your book to sell, people have to know it exists. The only way to do that is through networking and promoting. Social media sites provide a great start but getting out there and meeting new people is the key to success. At best without it, if you sell one copy to every one of your friends how many books is that? The larger market is with new friends and supporters that you haven’t met yet. If you believe in your work so will they, but they have to feel it from you, and so far from what I’ve seen there is a lot of support from strangers who find out that you’re an author.
Did you ever think of going through traditional publishing instead of self-publishing for your first book?
Yes I did. That is the process I started with however to obtain a traditional publisher, there is more of a demand on literary agents to sift through the thousands of books or manuscripts to find what they perceive to be the next big thing.
I began my research and spent a great deal of time drafting query letters and sending them out to literary agents across Canada, the United States and England. One agency’s stats on new authors were 5 were selected out of approximately 15,000 entries per year. Those are some heavy odds. I wasn’t obtaining any success and began to question the process knowing of such legendary authors as John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Stephanie Meyer and others. Each of these famous authors had the same difficulty and now look at them.
Instead of continuing with this process, I decided to take another route, following the advice of a quote, “put your money where your mouth is.” Instead of spending the time trying to impress a literary agent (one person) I decided what if I published my work myself and let the people decide. I believe that if enough people see and love my work publishers and or literary agents will present themselves if they want to capitalize on revenue being generated.
What made you choose FriesenPress as your publisher?
As a police officer I am extremely skeptical on the best of days, especially when it’s over the internet. I began performing numerous internet searches and I found several self publishers. When I found Friesenpress they caught my attention for several reasons. Their internet site was clean and professional. Myself and my friend have had College text books printed by them, confirming that they are a valid company. The Better Business Bureau of British Columbia rated them at an A- and my continued research found YouTube videos and other links displaying how much they were out in the community educating and helping new and old writers.
When I called and spoke to the first employee, I was impressed. I had a million and one questions and they remained patient, answered all my questions and were extremely professional. I didn’t buy right away. I called back numerous times and asked to speak to the same person who again was a pleasure to speak to.
This last fact tipped the scales completely into their favor. The fact that they were located in Canada made me more at ease, because I knew if they fraudulently took my money I would be able to call on some friends to investigate them.
How was your self-publishing experience with FriesenPress?
I am so pleased that I found and chose Friesenpress, so much so that I even included them in my acknowledgements in my book. From the moment I spoke to the first person from the company, to and through the editing phase, the personal touch and customer service was impeccable. When I received my first order of books I couldn’t believe it. They were gorgeous.
I highly recommend Friesenpress to any author who wants to self publish.
Any thoughts on a sequel for APOK?
Lots of thoughts! I have already begun the sequel and look forward to finishing another novel.
Please let our readers know, how they could reach out to you and where they can find your book.
If you want a copy of APOK, order it online through my website or through any of the major book retailers.
For more information on APOK visit my website WWW.APOK.CA – should you want to reach out to me, use and complete the CONTACT tab which sends me an email directly. I will attempt to answer any questions that you may have.
Thank you very much. Keep writing!
Interviewed by Rasanga Weerasinghe