Before getting a life-changing email from an Amazon editor, novelist Aric Davis and his wife had a running joke.

“My wife, very early on, got a very good attitude about the massive number of publisher rejection letters that we were getting in the mail,” Aric told an interviewer on the Suspense Radio podcast. “She’d check the mail and hand me a pile of envelopes and say ‘Here’s your rejections for the day.’ And, of course, they all were rejections. … And there were tons of rejections in the email box. Just a constant stream of ‘no no no no no.’”

So much of it has happened on my terms and with people I respect and that respect me.”

Aric Davis, author of Nickel Plated

Aric didn’t quit. While working a day job as a body-piercer at Mos Eisleys tattoo shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he kept writing fiction in between piercing his clients. He entered one of his six unpublished manuscripts in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. He didn’t win, but he got noticed.

What Aric didn’t know is that his manuscript, Nickel Plated, had found its way to the desk of Terry Goodman, a senior acquisitions editor at Amazon.

“I was checking my email in June of 2010 and I saw an email from this man named Terry that I had never sent anything to,” Aric said. “So I immediately assumed that it was just one of those author-scammy-type things you hear about where, you know, ‘We’ll publish your book. All it will cost is 10,000 bucks in publicity stuff or whatever.’”

“History had taught me one thing and that was that you don’t get any good news ever from people in the book world,” he added. “I read through the email probably about 50 times and did a little bit of research on the situation and walked into the kitchen … and set the computer right in front of my wife and said ‘You’ll never believe this.’”

Terry’s duties at Amazon include finding, signing, and nurturing undiscovered writers. “Nickel Plated had gotten very high scores from the contest judges,” Terry said. “That’s how it jumped out at me.”

The main character in Nickel Plated talks tough, solves mysteries, and rains justice down on the perpetrators of truly vile crimes by committing some lesser crimes of his own. There’s nothing especially fresh or new in a story like that, except that Aric’s hero is a wily, traumatized, ruthless, kindhearted 12-year-old boy. Terry read the novel and loved its “original voice.” That’s when he emailed Aric and offered him a publishing deal.

Aric signed with Amazon. He’s been on an astonishing ride and believes life is different for Amazon writers.

“I was filling out this thing for my publisher,” he said in an appearance on the Swoop’s World podcast. “And one of the things on it was ‘How do you envision the cover of the book looking? What are some suggestions you have for the design of the book?’ And I was blown away because everything I’d ever read about writing was that ‘Here’s your cover. Whatever.’ I can remember reading a piece by Stephen King where the first couple of his books, he was horrified by how bad the covers were. … Here I am, this lowly, first-time-published author, and I’m getting input on it. … The man who did the cover did a wonderful job.”

Terry explained Amazon’s approach: “Our goal is to never put out a cover that the author doesn’t love.”

Aric summed up his experiences with Terry and the team at Amazon Publishing by saying “so much of it has happened on my terms and with people I respect and that respect me.”

“Amazon Publishing has quite literally changed my life and the lives of my family,” Aric added. “I feel shallow talking about money, but I’ve never had much of it as an adult, and writing has made me more of it this year than I have in the past couple combined.”

Aric has been able to quit his job at the tattoo shop and devote himself full-time to writing. “I’ve got all the time in the world to spend with my family and with things like editing and picking out covers and stressing over words. It’s just an incredible opportunity. … It’s been a long time coming, but for a guy who taught himself to write in between piercings, I’d say that just getting there at all is already an accomplishment.”

Aric’s brand-new novel, The Fort, is now available.

Aric Davis is one of thousands of authors being discovered by Amazon customers.

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