Monday, 7 September 2015

Finding the Limelight Again?

September is the start of the academic year in many countries in which children go back to school after the summer break. With September comes the sapphire, representing clarity of thought, intuition, and peacefulness. In September we celebrate "Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month". And September 2015 marks the beginning of my own little DIY project. After having submitted queries and manuscripts to indie publishers and agents all year, I have decided to once again pursue the route of self-publishing.

This time I am not entering new territory, neither am I very anxious. No, this time I am equipped with extra self-confidence, knowhow, and what may be the most crucial of all when it comes to editing your own book: patience. Self-publishing a second time was a carefully-planned and long decision. In June, it seemed like I'd found my publisher after receiving a publishing contract in the mail. But after much debate, I turned it down. I had to avoid falling into the trap of what seemed to me like vanity publishing. As I've said before, I must think bigger and more long-term. My book was deemed worthy of publishing, but by accepting such an offer, I would've been setting the ambition bar too low.

Now with 'The Perfectionist', I have to fine-tune a marketing strategy and make sure to blow my own trumpet in the months prior to the launch, during, and in the weeks following the launch. I shall seek additional readership, but being better prepared than I was for 'Out of Bounds'. And who knows? Maybe I'll get spotted by someone who can take my work to the next level or I could stir up some kind of buzz? Whatever the outcome, I'll try to do my best. Larger commercial success can come later. I'm not in a hurry. Maybe novel number three, or number four which I'd like to work on in the coming months, or one of those I will write in the future will be my ticket to stardom? Dream big, I say, for no-one will do it for you.

I've set up a calendar listing the main tasks at hand and what I need to do between now and the time of the book launch, which I have penciled in for early-2016. This gives an overview and makes sure I don't lose focus. I have learnt valuable lessons with 'Out of Bounds', which I hope to put into practice in the coming months. I must ramp up promotional activity. I need to be more active on the reviewer front and more interactive as far as social media is concerned. And I have to generate more following and cater to my existing followers - or dare I say fans? - by writing here too, on this blog. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

My team is in place to help me with the book cover and formatting before I undertake the self-publishers' grinding process. In fact it's the same one. I loved the 'Out of Bounds' book cover and, as they say, you don't change a winning team. It's so good to brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other. We've got a great understanding and I'm impressed by what the guys can come up with. I'm also currently working on the book's inside, making sure that it all looks good. 'The Perfectionist' is approximately 115,000 words long. That comes down to a bit less than 400 pages (paperback). Add on the front and back covers, as well as the spine, and we'll have a hell of a book.

Feel free to contact me if you wish to be kept informed of the editorial process and the book launch. All you need to do is send an email to

Here's the synopsis (in case you haven't yet seen it):

Synopsis – The Perfectionist – by Simon Duke

1988. A severed and decomposed head belonging to an unidentified old man is found rotting in an Iowa corn field. Confronted with this gruesome discovery, rookie reporter Gerry Stokes is urged by the local sheriff and his newspaper editor to cover up the affair. But the truth can't be concealed forever.

2010. Stokes, now an arrogant and unpleasant sex-driven, yet seasoned veteran journalist at the Chicago Tribune, must at last atone for his wrong-doings as the shunned-upon past returns with a vengeance. Payback ultimately comes in the attractive form of Sarah Howard, a nostalgic but committed young woman, who believes she has identified the old man as being her own long-lost grandfather, Ted Callaway. Unwilling to be exposed by the young woman, Stokes is forced into an investigation to discover the truth of what happened twenty-two years ago.

Looking for Callaway's killer leads Stokes to an even more sordid truth: Callaway is one of many victims; people seemingly chosen at random across the nation by a serial killer who has been at large for more than two decades: a killer so cunning that he has flown under the radar of the cops and the FBI by navigating through the loopholes of the federal law enforcement system while respecting a unique and horrific modus operandi. By fine-tuning methods of execution, the killer seeks artistic perfection. He is "the Perfectionist".

As the case is in full swing, Stokes's parents die in a tragic car crash. Reluctantly he must temporarily halt his pursuit and travel back to Iowa for the first time in years to take care of the funeral with his brother, Joe. Stokes faces Joe's anger regarding his decision to leave the family hog farm behind and never come back. Little does Stokes know but this tragedy and its aftermath impact him more than expected.

As the hunt for the killer progresses, Stokes becomes obsessed with the case and questions his own selfish nature. The evil lurking behind the investigation causes a gradual attitude shift inside him as he looks back on his former Iowa life, this time with feelings closer to regret. He not only tries to resurrect a difficult relationship with Joe, but he also begins to feel a mixed array of emotions for Sarah who becomes a crucial part of his life, in some ways his anchor.

2013. Three years later, the investigation is given a new lifeline after Stokes is alerted to a series of gruesome Colombian neckties in California. Stokes realizes that the Perfectionist, who had been dormant for a long time, is still at large and has resumed his hunt for new victims. The current nature of the murders and the media buzz around them put the FBI in the hot seat, and Stokes must confront their determined lead investigator, Special Agent Elliot Keppler, to obtain confirmation that his killer is still active.

At the same time Stokes is quick to identify a promising path to journalistic success. He sets himself an ambitious and innovative target; a risky objective preventing him from keeping law enforcement in the loop, one which may very well merit a Pulitzer prize and pave the way to fame: he wishes to publish a truly special book; a book, which for the very first time in publishing history will give the police the means to capture a serial killer. And not just any serial killer... America's greatest and smartest: the Perfectionist. Using the potential shared success generated by such a book as bait, Stokes finds unlikely help along the way from Frank Craven, his editor at the Tribune; Dr. Ken McFarland, a forensic autopsy technician and old friend; Prof. Dennis Morton, a criminology professor; and James Henry Johnson, a death row convict - all of whom acknowledge the need to proceed in discretion. But to keep his book project alive, he has to keep on hiding the full truth from the FBI. And by doing so he becomes a Person of Interest, arousing Keppler's suspicion.

With such high stakes, the pressure is on. Stokes is in the race of his life to discover the killer's identity and publish his bestseller, while bending the notions of what can be considered ethically right.