About 18 months ago I started my first science fiction novel, No Other Gods. I worked on it about 30 minutes a day, usually at 6AM before phones started ringing and emails started dinging.
A couple of months ago I finished it (edited three times, proofread by 2 pros I know) and self-published it to Amazon. It was doing OK, and got some great reviews, but nothing huge.
So I decided to take a leap of faith and started to @ message people on Twitter about it who were interested in science fiction. One of the ones who came up when I searched Twitter was David Brin, who’s of course a best-selling SF author with something like 20 books to his credit.
I asked if he’d like a copy of my book, he gave me his email address, and I sent him a copy. A couple days later he made my day when he read the first chapter and emailed back: “Okay you got decent action chops. Still no promises when I can get beyond the wakeup scene. But you are no amateur.”
Then 7 days later, he blew my mind when he emailed again, having read the entire book. This time he said:
“John, thanks for sharing your novel. You have very solid skills. The work makes no pretense of being deep, but it is completely professional and successful at what it aims to be. I would be happy to provide a comment/blurb for you to use, if you like.
I went ahead and took some notes. Some inconsistencies I noticed and some typos. They are provided below. I hope they are useful.”
Obviously I wanted a comment/blurb from him (!!) but below I carefully read through his notes. There, David Brin had carefully compiled about three pages of detailed notes on my first attempt at a novel, ranging from a couple remaining spelling errors to suggestions on foreshadowing events, deepening emotional connections with characters, and one unbelievably critical suggestion on enhancing and clarifying the goals and motives of the main villain of No Other Gods … one of the “gods.”
Bestselling authors (and working scientists) don’t take time out of their day to edit unknown self-publishing “authors” books. They just don’t. It doesn’t happen.
Except … it did.
I made all the changes he indicated, re-submitted to Amazon as a second edition of the book, and included his promo blurb right on the front cover:
“Non-stop action! An eternal champion battles his way across centuries, gradually learning to ask the question: why?”
Wow, wow, wow.
With the help of that recommendation, No Other Gods is now climbing Amazon’s SF time travel bestseller list, hitting the first page of the list for the first time today at #18.
Thanks David Brin!