The Turning Point

After posting “No Time To Run” up on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the real turning point came a few months later when I decided to run an advertisement on Kindle Nation Daily. Kindle Nation Daily was a newsletter sent out to thousands of subscribers that highlights free and discounted ebooks. It was one of the first of its kind, and now it has morphed into Book Gorilla and also competes with websites like BookBub.

It wasn’t cheap, but it was another chance I was willing to take. I looked back at all the time I had invested in this book and decided to place one final bet on myself. The initial reader reviews of “No Time To Run” were generally positive and I even had readers who emailed me to tell me how much they liked “No Time To Run.” They wanted to know when the next one was going to come out. I didn’t tell them that I hadn’t written anything new in eight years.

So, I decided to run this giveaway on Kindle Nation Daily. For one day I would allow people to download my book for free. I decided that, although I wouldn’t make any money, I might get some more reviews and word might spread about my book. Who knows? These were the early days of Kindle Direct Publishing, and nobody had much figured out.

The advertisement ran in the morning, and when I check that evening over 40,000 people from all over the world had downloaded my book. It was crazy. “No Time To Run” became the Number One on Amazon’s list of “free” books, and then the next day the ranking carried over to the paid bestseller list. “No Time To Run” became the Number One Legal Thriller on Amazon and hit its Top Twenty Paid Bestsellers. With the help of algorithms and the visibility of these bestseller lists, people were discovering my book and taking a chance on me.

It was crazy.

“No Time To Run” led to “No To Die” which led to “No Time To Hide.” The success of these three books led to Thomas & Mercer publishing “Little Boy Lost” as well as “Good Intentions” and “Without Precedent.” Although I now have a publisher and work with a great team of editors, I still have a lot of love for “No Time” series. 

Self-published books are now called “indie” or “independent.” I like the term independent because it puts writers in the same category as musicians. There are plenty of very talented musicians and bands who are not signed by a major record label. Yet, their music is really good. People show up to their shows, and they make a little money too. Perhaps their albums aren’t as polished as those produced at a major record label, but there’s an authenticity about them. They’re aspirational.  They’re hopeful. They’re true to the artist’s vision.

That’s how I feel about my indie books. “No Time To Run” and the “No Time” series are not as polished as the books published by Thomas & Mercer. There are some typos and grammatical errors. I also think that I’ve learned many things as a writer since their initial release. There is, however, something different about them. The “No Time” books were more experimental than the stories I write now and also lighter and quirky. Looking back I can tell that I was in a different place in my life when they were written. There’s a real sense of urgency, particularly in “No Time To Run.” I was a young man in a hurry. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make my mark. I wanted to take the reader on a ride.

“Without Precedent” is my sixth book that is out in the world. Three of my most recent books have been published by Thomas & Mercer, and it has been wonderful working with editors and getting fresh perspectives on my plots, characters, and hunting down and killing the typos. I’m so proud of Little Boy Lost, Good Intentions, and Without Precedent, but I wanted to take a moment and look back at the beginning of how all of this got started. Writing is a skill, and I couldn’t have written any of these books without first writing the “No Time” series featuring Michael Collins and his sidekick, Kermit Guillardo and taking a leap of faith.

There is no right way to be a writer. We are storytellers, and our job is simply to put stories into the world.



JD Trafford