After a thirty-year career in academic medicine, teaching, research, and private practice, Dr. Wesley retired from cardiology to pursue his lifetime passion of storytelling. He completed the writing and illustrating of his graphic novel, “Portal of the Ancients: Book One of the Ancients Saga,” the first in a planned series of ten books, to bring his true vision to print. To facilitate this project, he formed Hearts Quest Studio with his wife, Margaret, an MBA with decades of marketing, training, administration, and business development experience. His subsequent novels in the Ancients Saga will further develop the characters and themes introduced in his first book.
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Your writing journey:
I started my first graphic novel approximately four years ago as I prepared to retire from my cardiology practice. My initial vision was to write a novel based upon my experiences over my thirty-year medical career. I started with a prose novel, which took place during my years as a medical resident. After writing a chapter, I decided to change my novel from fiction to science fiction/fantasy. I changed to a graphic novel format to fully utilize my creative storytelling skills and my drawing skills which I developed in childhood. I created some conceptual sketches on a laptop using Microsoft Paint, and proceeded to create one hundred comic pages on my iPad. At this point, I realized that my project needed upgraded hardware to succeed. I purchased a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 16 tablet, and started over with my graphic novel using Clip Studio Paint EX. I utilized my weekend time to advance my project, as I completed my cardiology career.
After retirement, I added a desktop computer to my desk, which I linked to my Wacom tablet. After creating ten pages, I shared my work with friends to receive feedback. I finished thirty additional pages, and invited more creative friends over for dinner to gain additional feedback and suggestions. I rewrote my graphic novel a third time with new page layouts. After approximately one year in full time production, I completed a polished draft. With additional feedback from my teenage daughter, I replaced my text fonts to add a more professional look. My wife assisted me with editing. I sent my graphic novel to several publishers. I got feedback from these publishers, who stated they were not ready to commit fully to my project for at least twelve months. I talked to a physician friend who had recently self-published a book, and another friend who had self-published a comic book. I completed my graphic novel, and decided to self-publish it through an online printer as a comic book edition. I subsequently self-published a graphic novel edition through a local printer. I marketed my comic book edition through Amazon, Ingram, and Goodreads. I marketed my graphic novel edition through local bookstores including Quail Ridge Books. I marketed electronic books through Hummingbird Digital Media using the My Must Reads app, and Rakuten Kobo using an e pub format.
I published “Portal of the Ancients: Book One of the Ancients Saga” on February 28, 2020. Since that time, I have seen some initial success in my three local bookstores, as well as modest success through Amazon and Hummingbird Digital Media. My wife and I formed Hearts Quest Studio, and created a website at http://www.heartsqueststudio.com. I have reviews on my website as well as Amazon. To further promote my books, I created six animated videos which I uploaded to my website, as well as Pinterest and LinkedIn. I am currently working on my seventh video which includes events which take place in the first third of my graphic novel. My goal is to animate a six-minute video with a soundtrack which includes the entire storyline of my first graphic novel. I plan to finish this by the late summer of 2020. At that point, I will start official production on my next graphic novel, “Quest of the Ancients: Book Two of the Ancients Saga.”
My marketing strategy consists of two tiers. My first tier is a local strategy which utilizes three independent bookstores in my area, where I market my high end graphic novel edition, which I produce through a local printer according to my precise specifications on seventy pound gloss paper which showcases my original art, which I created at 600 dots per inch resolution. Quail Ridge Books has a convenient website which allows this version to ship across the United States. I promote this graphic novel edition through comic conventions, mailing lists, and contacts throughout my geographical region.
My second tier marketing strategy focuses on my comic book edition, utilizing my webpage which links to multiple sites including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Deviant Art, and Indie DB. Deviant Art is a website which hosts a large community of manga, anime, and graphic artists. Indie DB is a gaming website.
On LinkedIn, I connect with a variety of gamers, animators, comic artists, visual effects artists, authors, readers, and film producers. I upload the animated videos which I create to LinkedIn, as well as to my website, Pinterest, and Deviant Art. These websites link back to my Hearts Quest Studio website, increasing my website traffic. My comic book edition features a matte finish which has a comic book look. It is more affordable, and is available through Amazon and Goodreads, as well as many other worldwide retailers. I market the comic book edition through the Ingram catalog, which distributes globally as well.
I have reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and my website. My electronic book editions come in a high resolution format which is compatible with many readers, available through the Hummingbird My Must Reads app, and a medium resolution e pub format, available through Rakuten Kobo, which has a low memory requirement and is ideal for tablets and mobile phones.
My goal with my animated videos is to make readers more familiar with my characters and worlds in my stories. I have a series of short videos, but my recent videos are longer with an in depth storyline, as requested by multiple enthusiasts and creators on social media.
I have noticed a significant increase in traffic due to these videos, especially on Pinterest.