Three aspects of Alex Avitabile’s journey as a self-published author stand out. The first is his twenty year odyssey, from having the germ of an idea for a story to seeing the book published—a tale that in itself provides inspiration for other would-be authors. (As Alex says, “To those who have started a book, finish it! If I can write a book, anyone can.”)
Next would be the importance of proofreading, and the final theme could easily be “book marketing for beginners,” as Alex has quite an inventive plan for introducing his books to potential readers.
A Twenty-year Odyssey
The idea for Alex Avitabile’s book, Occupational Hazard: An Al and Mick Forte Story, developed over the course of twenty years. The book, which is available in both paperback and eBook formats, took only four months to complete once Alex made the decision to move forward. “The story came to me in bits and pieces over a period of twenty or more years,” says Alex, “although there was a fifteen year hiatus between when I put it down and then picked it up again in earnest. When I finally committed to finish the story at the start of 2017, I only had the beginning; I needed to figure out the middle and the end. It took me four months to do it, and I am absolutely amazed at how ideas popped into my head, permitting me to complete the book without any significant delay.”
A retired lawyer, Alex’s inspiration for the book was a delay on the New York City subway system. “I was on my way to an administrative hearing before an agency,” recalls Alex. “I feared I was going to be late because of a delay on the subway. I decided that if I were to be late, I would argue that my tardiness be excused because it was due to an ‘instrumentality of the City of New York.’” This inspiration became the germ of an idea, of having the book’s protagonist contend with “dirty tricks” used by a powerful government official to thwart efforts to bring that same official to justice.
Indeed, Alex’s initial idea did make its way into the book, minus the subway delay. In Occupational Hazard, Al and Mick Forte are cousins. One is a lawyer and the other is a semi-reformed mobster who grew up on the mean streets of South Brooklyn. Al and Mick team up against a powerful and conniving “bully” to seek justice for a woman who says the bully fathered her child.
Originally, Alex was planning to find an agent and publisher for Occupational Hazard, but decided against dealing with all of the “rigmarole” involved. Self-publishing allowed Alex to get his book published on his own timeline, without getting involved in what he calls “that chase.”
The Importance of Proofreading
“You cannot proofread enough. This is one of the few unassailable truths,” admits Alex. As do most writers, Alex found this process to be time-consuming, boring and tedious, but knew that careful proofreading would help him avoid the embarrassment of seeing his mistakes in print. He knew from his own experience that finding misspellings and grammatical errors can make a reader view the book negatively, no matter how well it is written. “Seeing misspellings and grammatical errors in the early version of my book made me feel horrific,” says Alex. “I gladly paid the additional cost to correct those mistakes. I consider the cost of an editor to be the tuition I paid to learn how to self-publish the right way.”
During the proofreading process, Alex suggests that the author reads the book out loud, as reading out loud forces the writer to focus on each and every word rather than take unconscious shortcuts by simply skimming or scanning certain parts. “This improves the proofreading effort, as it will be harder to miss errors,” advises Alex.
Book Marketing for Beginners
In addition to cover design, interior design and providing guidance, 1106 Design was pleased to assist Alex with his author website, which you can find at www.alandmickforte.net. Alex reports that he is at the very start of marketing and has engaged a firm to assist with online marketing, line up reviewers and generate interest about the book.
As a retiree, Alex freely admits that his goal for Occupational Hazard was to self-publish a book as a hobby and not as a means of financial support. His marketing plans, however, might seem to belie that fact, as Alex is taking the marketing of his book very seriously, devoting much time and effort to ensure its success.
To augment his online marketing activities, Alex is organizing a book launch, local readings, and more. “My former employer has invited me to do a reading at my old office. This will be the official ‘launch’ of Occupational Hazard,” Alex reports. Like Al and Mick Forte, Alex grew up and lived most of his life in a particular section of Brooklyn, New York. As such, he is approaching local bookstores in this area to ask if they might be interested in book readings. Alex plans to donate copies of his book to libraries in New York City, and also in Florida where he has a vacation home. “I’ll offer to do readings and to be involved in different writer events there as well,” he continues. “I’ll also contact the alumni associations of my high school, college, grad school and law school so that former classmates learn about the book.” Alex’s approach to book marketing is a source of inspiration for self-published authors.
Clearly, Alex is having a lot of fun. He enjoyed writing the book and learning how to self-publish. Learning the various pieces of the puzzle was one of the biggest challenges for Alex. “There is much more to self-publishing than one would imagine,” Alex says ruefully. However, he plans for do it again, and soon. In fact, as the subtitle of his first book suggests—An Al and Mick Forte Story—this will be a series. “The idea for the next book has already come to me and I’ve begun to work on it!” he smiles. We wish Alex every success with Occupational Hazard and look forward to working with him again.
Occupational Hazard: An Al and Mick Forte Story
Genre: Crime Fiction; suspense; mystery
Author Website: AlandMickForte.net