Author Publisher Joel A. Moore’s Long Journey to Winning Freedoms Foundation Award
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|IBPA member Joel A. Moore (center) is in the Civil War Encampment at "The Great Train Raid" event at the Wilmington and Western Railroad in Wilmington, Delaware on June 6, 2019. He is pictured here with fellow participants, Tammy Wunderlich (right) and her son James (far left).
“I was gratefully surprised,” says author publisher and IBPA member Joel A. Moore about receiving Freedoms Foundation’s George Washington Honor Medal for his novel, Journey Into Darkness. “I feel my work has been validated by a highly-respected entity, which I have respected for years. I am truly honored.”
The Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge is a national organization that recognizes responsible citizenship in those who embody their Bill of Responsibilities. Freedoms Foundations’ President and CEO, David Harmer, explains, “Journey Into Darkness exemplifies the essence of the National Awards: promotion of an understanding and appreciation for our country’s rich heritage, principles, and unique freedoms.”
Paul Sanborn, an historian at Freedoms Foundation, adds, “I believe that books such as this one are an important way of preserving our national heritage and bringing it to life for the students in our schools. They can relate to the experiences and perspective of Duane Kinkade (the main character in Journey of Darkness) as he lives through the central event in our national history, the American Civil War.”
Joel explains that it has been a long road for Journey Into Darkness to get to this point. “In high school, our family subscribed to The Saturday Evening Post, which back then had great short stories. The April 1960 issue included a story by Ray Bradbury, “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh.” In essence, it was a conversation between a drummer boy and his general, no action. I felt I could do better and began my own story. I quickly realized I had much to learn before I could do it right. Work progressed slowly as time and research allowed. Over the years, it became a campfire story during camping programs. After hearing the story on an October camping trip in 1984, Charley French said he would represent Duane Kinkade photographically if I would finish writing the story. (He knew I used kids to represent main characters from a previous story in which another camper, Michael Flanagan, represented the main character.) As work got underway, Michael pleaded that it not be a thick book. He and his friends hated thick books. Thus, it was that over the next four years, through heavy research and a focused writing schedule, Journey Into Darkness evolved as a four-book series. Charley and friends did annual photo shoots over this time and can be seen to grow up in the photography within the books as Duane and those around him grew over the three and a half years of the story line.”
Joel has learned a great deal from the ups and downs of being an author publisher. “In my early efforts to find a publisher, no one had any interest in my work. Finally, in 2011, I learned about Xlibris from another Civil War author and my work began a new life in publication. The 4-book series was published beginning with the second in the series, Up From Corinth, opening with my version of the Battle of Shiloh, in July of 2011. The rest of the series followed in 2012 along with the 4-part novel format and two other books I had written in 1982 and 2013. But I had no control on the pricing which I learned was way out of line. Fast forward through years of learning and, over the past two years, an onslaught of calls from company representatives who wanted to republish and help market. Out of this came Andy Sullivan who offered to help me learn how to publish on my own.
|Author publisher Joel A. Moore's novel, Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness
“The great positive in all this was a priceless education along with my own account with Lightning Source. I learned how to compute printing costs, set retail price, and finally take control of my publishing future. At the same time, Andy was separating from his then company and helping to create Omnibook Company in New York City. He instructed me in all that I would need to do as an independent publisher and I felt quite overwhelmed. So I asked if I could work through his company and he agreed. For the first time, I can now cost out and set my own retail prices, far below what I had previously been forced to accept. The greatest positive is control. I have reached out to establish my own marketing contacts and believe this has finally put my books onto a path toward greater reader access. The biggest drawback was the initial impact of trying to do it all on my own. With Andy’s support, I have a sense of support and the knowledge that I am not alone in this endeavor.”
Joel has two other books, Blake’s Story, Revenge and Forgiveness and Summer of Two Worlds available. He’s working on a third edition of Blake’s Story with Omnibook Company, and a third edition of Summer of Two Worlds is already available.
Three Questions with Author Publisher Joel A. Moore
IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an author publisher?
Joel A. Moore (JM): First, I have learned that experienced support people are a must. As a novice, one cannot go it alone. Contacts from IBPA have been invaluable. Andy Sullivan has been my guardian in the publishing world.
Second, the ability to determine pricing is critical to marketing. This is just part of the overall lesson–control. I could now control the development of book layout and cover design, working with professionals who took my instructions and brought them to life.
Third, taking the initiative, I have been able to create my own marketing network and have followed up on book awards as I have learned about them and acquired some significant recognition for my works. At the same time, Andy has reached out and enabled Journey Into Darkness to be accepted in nomination for the Newbery Medal, and with my research, done the same for the W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction. Along the way, the first two books of Journey Into Darkness were adapted into screenplays. These, too, have been recognized with a number of awards.
IBPA: Photographs of the characters in the books are real kids that you know. Can you tell us how this came to be?
JM: My books are historic fiction written from the boy’s point of view. In my work as a teacher, a camping program director, volunteer and member of the friends of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, a living historian participating in Civil War events, and member of a local model railroad club has included contact with many middle grade boys. Those who represent the characters in my books come from all of these contacts. Their images appear with character identification in the beginning of each book and are included in author’s notes, photography notes, and in the dedications of the books in which they appear. The boys in the two Civil War novels are also featured in a back album of each book.
With the help of these boys, these books have character images with whom young readers can relate and through whom they can live history with their peers.
IBPA: Sales of your books fund “The Living History Encampment and Tactical Demonstrations,” which includes Civil War re-enactments. Can you tell us more about this?
JM: Each year I help organize and promote a Civil War Encampment/Battle Reenactment Event, which takes place at the Robert Fulton Birthplace south of Quarryville, Pennsylvania, on the last full weekend of June. The budget for the event expenses—gunpowder for the artillery, promotional material, printing costs, significant personages who represent a historic character for a living and participate for a small stipend to cover expenses, and sundries—is covered by income from sales of my books. There are no fees charged of the participants and no fees charged for visitors or parking. It is a free event. The owner of the property, the Southern Lancaster County Historical Society, covers expenses related to the property and its upkeep and program preparation, as well as coordination for local permits and services such as fire, police, and emergency services.
IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?
JM: As a member of IBPA, I have had the opportunity to participate in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. I also obtained a copy of IBPA’s Industry Standards Checklist for a Professionally Published Book, participated in multiple Library Market eBlast programs, placed a Foreword Reviews ad where I was included in the Spring Reading List of 20 select titles, and received the online publications with all their content information and helpful guidance. Probably the most helpful outcomes were the growing librarian contact list from the Library Market eBlast program and the judge feedback from the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards and various personnel contacts from within IBPA.
IBPA: Thank you, Joel, for sharing your publishing experience with the IBPA community! Congrats again on winning this award!
Click here to learn more about Joel A. Moore’s books.
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