April 13, 2011

Made It Moment: Jim Wills

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 7:56 am

A Few Men Faithful

We seem to have a theme going here about brave new world publishing options, people deciding to forge their own paths, and whether the traditional model is…missing stuff. Clearly, this theme is pretty near and dear to me at the moment. So take this Moment from that perspective. Jim Wills figured things out after just a little heartache, and I say more power to him.

Jim Wills

A bit of background first. I’ve been a professional freelance trade editor for more than twenty years, working with new authors to form good ideas into polished books. I also authored or co-authored several titles in the automotive area, plus wrote video scripts, corporate stuff, speeches, magazine articles and so on. A professional writer, in short. I watched, rather anxiously, as the cracks began spreading in bricks and mortar publishing.

Trade experience, it turned out, meant nothing on the fiction side; nothing to publishers, nothing to agents. I had three inter-connected novels written and professionally edited (not by me), and got absolutely nowhere with them. This all ate way too much time, cost far too much money and caused way too much frustration.

I just gave up for a while and shelved the novels, though I believed—and believe—strongly in their value. Then sites like Scribid showed up: a light-bulb moment. Many fits and starts, wrong turns, and questionable deals later, I found myself at the CreateSpace/Amazon doorway, stepped through and became an Indie author.

Experience told me I needed professional jacket designs for all three books. Connections work sometimes.

I knew I’d made it when the first very enthusiastic unsolicited review appeared on the Amazon book page for A Few Men Faithful: A Kavanagh Story I. Then more for Philly MC, II, and Shooter in a Plague Year, III. The fourth, “This Hard Gemlike Flame,” will appear this summer. Difficult to believe sometimes, but the stories I’d spent nearly ten years developing actually existed outside my hard drive; difficult to credit, but the readers are out there, and most of them seem to like what I do. Indie publishing and e-books are here to stay, and the good will be winnowed from the bad just as it always has.

I’ve had many and varied careers. In more or less historical order, I’ve been a motorcycle mechanic, a race engine builder, a teacher, an academic, a hard rock miner (silver), a book editor and ghost writer, a commercial writer in print and video, a novelist, a mason, a wood-fired artisan bread baker and a teacher of that craft. Some, if not all, have overlapped in time and continue

Jim’s books, A Few Men Faithful, Philly MC, and Shooter in a Plague Year, are available on Amazon.


  1. Sounds like it’s been a hard road for you. I am glad that you are happy with the road you’ve chosen! Best of luck to you.

    Comment by Savvy — April 13, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  2. Congratulations on your success!

    Comment by Judy — April 13, 2011 @ 11:33 am

  3. Thanks for sharing your road to publication. The books sound interesting. Congrats!

    Comment by Brenda — April 13, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

  4. Congrats! I’m following a similar path, turning to self-publishing after 12 traditionally published books, because it seems like the most exciting activity today is outside mainstream publishing. It’s all a gamble, but it’s nice to know the alternative path works for some.

    Rattled: romantic suspense in the dramatic and deadly southwestern desert
    Read the first three chapters: http://www.krisbock.com
    paperback $7.99, e-book $2.99: http://tinyurl.com/3hvdxyy

    Comment by Kris Bock — April 13, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

  5. Read A Few Men Faithful and went to one of Jim’s wood fired oven bread bakes classes. The man’s got talent that’s for sure.
    Seems like when he gets into something he doesn’t understand mediocre. He obviously puts his heart and soul into it.
    Definitely worth the read. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of his books.

    Comment by Sal A Sgroi — April 13, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

  6. There’s nothing like life experience to make a writer. Plus practice, hard work, revisions and persistence.

    Comment by Warren — April 13, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  7. Don’t forget luck, Warren ;) Thanks for dropping by, Savvy & Judy & Brenda! Kris, best of luck with your own path–Suspense Your Disbelief is always open to you if you want to talk about the journey. Sal, very nice to meet a fan of Jim’s work! Come back any time!

    Comment by jenny — April 13, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  8. It’s a brave new world out there – a kind of grassroots reader/writer democracy where writers control their own production and marketing and readers get more opportunity to “vote.”
    I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

    Comment by Carolyn J. Rose — April 13, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

  9. You said that so well, Carolyn, I want to frame it.

    Comment by jenny — April 13, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  10. Excellent blog. Jim, I remember meeting you online on the ABNA threads and being intrigued by your titles. You’ve found your way now – and it’s only the beginning!

    Comment by Alison DeLuca — April 14, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  11. I’m really quite humbled by the responses and encouragement. Thanks, first, to Jenny for giving me the opportunity to post about my experience. Second, to all of you for taking the time to read and respond. Alison, yes I recall our exchanges during the ABNA nail-biting fiesta. And, Sal, I expect a bushel of your excellent NJ figs. Publishing, I guess, is always a chancey business, but the Indie world at least keeps you more in control of the chances taken. I’ve always found that traditional publishers, except for the very biggest guns, aren’t particularly good at promotion: no staff, no budget, shortage of ideas. Not that I am, but I’m sure learning how tough it can be. Just stick to it everyone.

    Comment by Jim Wills — April 14, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  12. Great to hear this story. We must never give up, people!

    Comment by Tess Hardwick — April 14, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  13. Good luck in the industry to both of you!

    Jenny: You’ll find your way, one way or the other. :)

    Comment by Thomas M. Stratford — April 15, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  14. Jim: when is your next book?? enjoyed the first three and the bread book. Terry

    Comment by Terry Cullison — April 15, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

  15. Terry,

    I’m thinking June or July. There’s some technical stuff to sort out–arrrgh–and a cover design to get started and approve. As I’m sure other authors here will appreciate, most of this is tedious but must be done. Really, in the end, I don’t expect to be the next (name author), but I would like to get the stories out there and read. Just looking for that fat Hollywood contract, LOL. More realistically, I’d like to find the peace and freedom to write the fifth in the series. Wishful thinking, mayhaps. Not easy.


    Comment by jim wills — April 16, 2011 @ 1:05 am

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