As with Hammond, Jones has spent much time thinking about the marketing of his book. He credits his Babson education for helping him.
Other novelists, who assume that the job of being an author is over once the writing is done, aren’t so lucky. “I know other authors who don’t have that background who flounder,” he says. “You can hear anguish in their voices. They don’t know how to handle things.”
To spread the word about Two Brothers, Jones writes a blog, travels to book signings, and speaks before Civil War roundtables. “You have to shamelessly self-promote,” he says. “It’s all on the author. If you’re not out there, the book drops off the radar.”
The roots of Jones’ novel began when he was researching genealogy. Examining his great-great-grandfather’s Civil War regiment, the 6th Maryland Infantry, he came across the fateful story of the Prentiss bothers. One was a Union officer, the other a Confederate soldier, and both were wounded at the battle of Petersburg. Reunited on the battlefield, they ended up at the same hospital but ultimately died of their wounds. Today, they’re buried side by side.
“This is the quintessential story of the Civil War,” says the Tarzana, Calif. resident. “It’s brother versus brother.” Discovering the brothers led Jones into a three-year research project as he tracked down their tale and visited historic sites. He amassed lots of information, though he wasn’t sure what to do with it all.
Eventually, he decided to write a novel. That proved to be an eye-opening process, for while Jones had done plenty of business writing, having worked in manufacturing and defense contracting, he had no experience with penning fiction. “I wasn’t prepared for this,” says Jones, who is currently a marketing consultant.
He hired a creative writing tutor and later a professional editor to help him craft the book, and he also faced the same responsibility that Hammond did, that of making the novel historically accurate. Unlike with other historical fiction, Jones had no intention of playing fast and loose with the facts.
Three years of writing and rewriting passed. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Jones says.
Instead of sending the finished manuscript out to publishers and waiting for one of them to accept it, Jones set up his own publishing company to put out the book himself. He’s not sure if he’ll ultimately make money off the novel, but that doesn’t matter to him. “This is a story that has to be told,” he says.
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