I followed Israel’s tragic saga trying to become a nation for some time, beset on all sides by hostile Arab states, struggling to build a Jewish homeland – while expelling the indigenous Palestinians from theirs, refusing their right to exist. In 1947 the UN mandate that created Israel also demanded that the northern part of Palestine was to be the Palestinian homeland. Instead, the Jews forcibly expelled over 700,000 Palestinians into Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, thereby creating a conflict that rages even today, and the UN did nothing. Surely, there had to be a way to reach a settlement, I thought. This conflict, and the inability of successive American administrations to seriously tackle the issue, provided the trigger for writing Cry of Eagles. On a more selfish note, I hoped the book would make it easier to get into the traditional publishing market.
Cry of Eagles touches a possible raw nerve, delving as it does into the murkier side of Mossad, prepared to do anything to further Israeli interests, questioning how real is the friendship between Israel and America. Combining these factors into the mix and not seeing any other book like it on the market, it did not take me long to decide to write about it. I hope it is also an entertaining yarn.
Although I had a plot in my mind, fleshing it out took some time, as did all the research to make the story ‘real’. After a while, the amount of research involved got to be daunting, but it was also fun in a horrid sort of way, and I learned a hell of a lot, perhaps far more than I bargained for. Some of the material made for sober reading. When I had my detailed outline done, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and start writing. It took about six months to finish the manuscript, and perhaps another month to edit it to my satisfaction. At least I thought it was edited.
Double Dragon Publishing, who released my science fiction Shadow Gods series of books, did not publish contemporary fiction, and I had to go looking for another publisher. After some research, I settled on Solstice Publishing. One good thing they do is professionally edit all submissions. Their editor pointed out a number of grammar and punctuation flaws in my work, but in the end the book was released. In 2011, it won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. I guess somebody out there liked it.
I may have given the impression that getting published was easy, and for Cry of Eagles it was, but that happened on the back of some painful early experiences. When I was much younger and naïve, I thought that writing a book was getting to a journey’s end, and getting it published shouldn’t be too much of a hassle seeing some of the stuff that’s out there. Boy, I really was green! Having exhausted myself learning firstly how to format a manuscript – no Internet in those days to help you – researching traditional publishers, making stacks of submissions and getting nowhere, I often wondered if the trip was worth it. Life got easier once I accepted that to get ahead, I needed to embrace the ebook industry. There were still hurdles to overcome, but at least I got my books out there.
Along the way, I learned some valuable lessons about the publishing industry. Like researching a publisher I want to go with and not jumping at the first one who offers a contract. I also learned not to be shy about negotiating my contract. If a publisher doesn’t want to negotiate, I was prepared to leave him. I also had to learn to be a marketing guru, something I am still grappling with, but it is a skill writers are obliged to have these days, as publishers won’t do it for you, happy to reap the fruits of your labors. The other thing is to blog, network and be part of writer chat groups to expand my visibility. It may not help, but it cannot do any harm. Oh, yeah. I would never recommend someone to self-publish. It really is a vanity trip.
Stefan Vucak is an award-winning author of seven techno sci-fi novels, including With Shadow and Thunder which was a 2002 EPPIE finalist. His Shadow Gods Saga books have been highly acclaimed by critics. His recent release, Cry of Eagles, won the coveted 2011 Readers Favorite silver medal award. Stefan leveraged a successful career in the Information Technology industry and applied that discipline to create realistic, highly believable storylines for his books. Born in Croatia, he now lives in Melbourne, Australia.