Author of the Sector 64 and Dimension Space Series

Award-Winning Present-Day Apocalyptic Science Fiction

Sector 64: First Contact Free Eook! First Contact Free Audiobook!

Do Indie Authors Need Editors?


The Indie Publishing School of Hard Knocks

Do indie authors need editors? Read on.

I released my first book in 2011, a novella that briefly rose to the top of Amazon’s sci-fi charts. In 2013, it was a third prize recipient in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. The novella, SECTOR 64: Coup de Main, garnered many five-star reviews, but rightfully, it also earned a few negative appraisals.

I sharpened my trade while working on book two of the two-book series, and it became apparent that my first effort did not deliver the polish and finish I initially thought. Essentially, I was that guy, the guy traditional publishers pointed at when berating the indie publishing world. If you did a Wiki search of the indie publishing stereotype, you’d likely have found my smiling mug at the top of the article. I never imagined I’d be that guy, but there I was, putting out a book that passed all the MS Word grammar checks, but nonetheless presented a myriad of amateur errors.

When I earned my military pilot wings, it was with the assistance of numerous professional instructors and extensive training. When I built my custom motorcycle, I sought out professional assistance, and now, building an airplane, I tap my pre-pilot history as a helicopter mechanic and the knowledge base of various professionals throughout the industry. However, when I finished my novella, I didn’t think I needed a professional editor.

I was wrong.

The Algebraic Curve

As I soon discovered, the road to literary excellence is an algebraic curve; it is a constant struggle to push the line of progress ever closer to that elusive goal. When authors go it alone, that curve takes exponentially longer to reach the same area code as the axis of perfection.

After a not insignificant amount of soul searching, I paid heed to those few negative reviews and read between the lines of some of the other, less glowing ones. I halted work on book two, reopened the source files for my first book, and hired a professional editor.

From his inputs as well as the feedback from various reviewers, I formulated a plan. In addition to its mechanics, my book’s characters needed further development. For instance, my main female character, Air Force Captain Sandra Fitzpatrick, plays a huge role in book two, but in book one, I had Sandy, an elite fighter pilot, sitting on her thumb while aliens attack.

With editorial assistance, I rewrote the entire story, fleshed-out the characters, cleaned up the writing, and threw some aliens at the West Coast, sending Sandy after them. Developing her storyline and character afforded me the opportunity to develop the other protagonists through her eyes.

The new material, characters, and scenes more than doubled the size of the original book. In the process, the 52,000-word novella grew into SECTOR 64: Ambush, a 108,000-word full-length novel.

See It on Amazon

Do Indie Authors Need Editors? Hell yeah!

The Path

Along the way, I filled my writer’s toolbox with techniques and tools that vastly improved my prose. For instance, once you have that sentence, paragraph, or scene just the way you want it, use your device’s text-to-speech feature to have it read said prose back to you. Echoing headwords stand out, and the computer will not glean over typos or missing words. Additionally, it highlights clunky sentences, the ones that require multiple passes for full comprehension, the ones that yank readers from a story like a stick jammed in the spokes of a speeding bicycle. When spoken aloud by your computer, a sentence that sounded perfect to your mind’s ear may suddenly sound clunky. This technique dramatically improved the flow of my writing, eliminating the literary tripping hazards.

Once I had the scene edited and flowing, I loaded it into Grammarly’s grammar checker as a final stopgap. It is a premium service and well worth the price. Over a period of months, the status of scene after scene cycled from Revised Draft to Final Draft, until finally, the last of ninety scenes crossed the finish line. Then, I handed my editors a vastly improved manuscript.

Before I started the rewrite, when my first editor went through the book, the errors were so ubiquitous, he was unable to do a granular editorial pass. It limited him to pointing out the basic mechanics missing throughout the manuscript and making general suggestions on character and story development. More than a year later—and due to scheduling conflicts, with a new editor—the process was painless. The manuscript progressed smoothly and quickly into a finished novel.

The final result has reviewers comparing me and Ambush to the industry’s heavy-hitters.

Dean M. Cole is without a doubt the next Dan Brown. Sector 64 is a book that you can’t put down.” — Amazon Reviewer

Even the hard knocking reviewers at Goodreads have awarded Ambush an average of 4.1 stars with over 70 ratings to date. (Coup de Main had 2.84—and still does, ouch.)

Audible published the audiobook version in November. Nationally recognized narrator Mike Ortego lent his voice to the project. You will know him as the voice from audiobooks and documentaries as well as commercials for Toyota, Kingsford Charcoal, Coke Zero, and more. As production drew to a close, Mike told me, “It’s been a joy to be a part of your fine book,” and “You got a great talent, bud,”—immensely rewarding sentiments from a nationally known professional.

In mid-November, AudiobookReviewer gave Ambush an across the board five-star rating.

SECTOR 64: Ambush was a highly imaginative action-packed apocalyptic assault on your mind.”—AudiobookReviewer

In December, IndieReader awarded it five stars and named Ambush a Best of 2014.

SECTOR 64: AMBUSH is an engaging book from the very first page to the final words of the epilog.”—IndieReader

…Not as I Did

Please forgive the horn-blowing. I only mention those accolades because they leave me asking: What if I had done it right the first time? Where would I be today if I had not rushed my manuscript to market, had not ruined a good story with an amateurish presentation?

I certainly would not be fighting the uphill battle of countering a bad first impression.

So, do indie authors need editors?

Hell yeah!

Do as I say, not as I did the first time. Learn from my mistakes.

Don’t be that guy or girl.

About the Author:

Dean M. Cole, a world traveler and commercial helicopter pilot, writes from locales as remote as Equatorial Guinea and romantic as Paris’ Champs-Elysées with his trusty sidekick and beautiful wife, Donna. A combat veteran, he flew Apache Attack Helicopters in the US Army’s First Cavalry Division.

SECTOR 64: Ambush (Available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. Find the audiobook on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon.)

It’s 2015. Friendly extraterrestrials JUST found us. So why have the enemies of these benevolent aliens HATED humans for millennia?

X-Files meet Independence Day when incredible events thrust Air Force Captains Jake Giard and Sandra Fitzpatrick into a decades-old conspiracy to integrate humanity into a galactic government. Then, the plan renders present-day Earth a pawn in an extraterrestrial civil war. Wading through looters and apocalyptic infernos, can Sandy save her family? Can Jake save humankind?

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Best Science Fiction Books of 2014


SECTOR_64-_Ambush_Cover_for_Kindle With IconsSECTOR 64: Ambush Named Best of 2014

As tweeted by the Huffington Post, my sci-fi novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush, made the Best of 2014 list as a top ten indie-authored novel in the grouped genres of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal.

Over the last month, SECTOR 64: Ambush received several excellent appraisals from reputable review sites. Here’s what the critics are saying: – 5 Stars

“SECTOR 64: Ambush was a highly imaginative action packed apocalyptic assault on your mind. Take everything that you think you know about the current military, the knowledge that we are alone in the universe, and flip it upside-down. I will continue to listen to this series.” – 5 Stars

SECTOR 64: AMBUSH is an engaging book from the very first page to the final words of the Epilog. – 4 Stars

“Cole has a good thing going here … His descriptions of aerial battle and military procedure are accurately detailed and his knowledge of the aircraft themselves fascinated me … He created a couple of races of aliens, gave them their own histories and cultures and just made them outright interesting. His characters are realistic and believable as well. Sector 64: Ambush is a great read.” – 4 Stars

“Sector 64: Ambush is an easy, fast paced, unputdownable read of alien invasion and race against time to save the Human race.”hardcoverjacket_747x1076

This kindleunlimited title is available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Click the appropriate link to check out SECTOR 64: Ambush in your preferred format.






Amazon – Audible – iTunes


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Reptilian Aliens? Why Wouldn’t They Be?


People ask why writers often depict reptilian aliens, sometimes referring to it as cliché. While humans seem predisposed to fear reptiles and regularly equate them with evil (see: Garden of Eden), I think there is a fundamental and practical reason for casting reptiles as a viable intelligent alien species.

The vast majority of Earth’s vertebrate animals sport scales.

The one example we have of life’s diversity—the biosphere we call Earth—demonstrates that hair follicles are the anomaly, not scales. Of all the classes of animal that constitute this planet’s vast wealth of life, only mammals have hair follicles. Species falling within the mammalian class only constitute 5400 of Earth’s 60,000 vertebrates. That’s less than 10%. The percentage falls to 00.3% when you include all 1.5 million known animals.

What if no Earth-changing calamity took out the dinosaurs?

If not for a big ass rock knocking down their evolutionary tree 65 million years ago, dinosaurs would likely still rule this biosphere. Considering we mammals managed to progress from rodents to spacefaring homo sapiens in the intervening 65 million years, it’s interesting to imagine what the dinosaurs might have evolved into had said ‘big ass rock’ not ended their reign.

Now for the fun part, the part where I go off into one of my thought experiments, the part where I ask: ‘What if?’ (And, you probably respond: Well, IF my Aunt had testicles, she’d be my Uncle.)

Thousands of millennia ago, Velociraptors were already hunting in organized parties, a level of intelligence far ahead of the tiny mammals scurrying about their feet.

Imagine those Velociraptors continued to develop and evolve. Hell, I’ll even diminish (but not eliminate) their huge head start over mammals. Let’s suppose it takes this advanced dinosaur species 64 million years to do what base mammals did in 65 million years: produce a spacefaring species.

In other words, what if during the first 64 million of the intervening 65 million years, Velociraptors developed into an intelligent earth-conquering species. Through utilization of superior intellect, opposable thumbs, and tools, they render the planet safe; free of the bigger more threatening species like T-Rex. Who knows, maybe they hunted them into extinction (as we likely did to the wooly mammoth). At the end of those 64 million years, they conquered gravity and put the first dino in space; one even famously referring to their astronauts as ‘Spam in a can.’ (A reference to a popular mammalian meat product.)

Now you say: “Dean, you’re missing a million years. The dinosaur’s evolutionary tree toppled 65 million years ago.”

You’re right. In my hypothetical scenario, our slow-to-develop Velociraptors conquered space a MILLION years ago. I think that is a conservative number. If we instead suppose they maintained their massive evolutionary head start, they might have conquered space tens of millions of years ago.

Where will humans be in a million years?

Back to the real world. If we don’t kill ourselves (and somehow survive Ebola), where will humans be in a million years? Perhaps the reptiles populating a nearby solar system will look up and see scale-free aliens descending on their world. After seeing our hairy heads, they will turn to their science fiction writers and apologize for calling their depictions of hairy aliens cliché.

Enjoyed my writing? Be sure to check out my new novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush.

Free Audiobook Sample:

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2014 Galveston Lone Star Motorcycle Rally


My ‘Choppers’

Many of my readers only know me as an author who flies ‘choppers’ for his day job, but you may not know I build and ride them, as well.

I finished the baby pictured above in June 2008. A few months later, she made her Galveston Lone Star Motorcycle Rally debut, and she’s still going strong in 2014. It’s almost time for this year’s rally. Look for Donna and me there November 7-9.

Save us a parking space … a really long parking space with plenty of turning room. That rake allows for the turning radius of a Mack truck … but it looks good doing it. Hey, I never said it was practical.

When you see that ten-foot-long yellow chopper with my beautiful wife, Donna, behind my ugly mug, give us a yell. If you can’t remember my name, just yell out, “Hey you, author!”

Hope to see you there.

Me and the Chopper on the Cover of the Houston Chronicle 2008 — Hurricane-Ike-Delayed Lone Star Rally

2008 Ike Delayed Lone Star Rally

Bike Stats:
Chasis: 2007 JSR Custom – Outrage
Suspension: Rear – None (Hardtail)
Front – American Suspension Inverted Forks
Wheels: Xtreme Machines – Burnt
330mm rear tire (WIDE)
Engine: Ultima 127 cubic inch El Bruto
HP – 140
Tq – 145 LB FT
Exhaust: Vance & Hines Big Radius

Parking a 10′ chopper can be a challenge.






The Night I Met Donna, My Beautiful Wife.

The Night I Met Donna, My Beautiful Wife.

Daytona Biketoberfest 2011 - First Place at the Broken Spoke Saloon

Daytona Biketoberfest 2011 – First Place at the Broken Spoke Saloon








Daytona Beach Biketoberfest 2011 - Main St.

Daytona Beach Biketoberfest 2011 – Main St.

Key West - 2012

Key West – 2012










Key West - 2012

Key West – 2012

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Audiobook in Production


Click the red play button at the top left corner to hear nationally recognized voice artist, Mike Ortego, read scene 1 of my novel, SECTOR 64: Ambush. You’ll recognize his voice from documentaries and commercials for Coke-Zero, Kingsford Charcoal, and more.

He’s currently producing and narrating the audiobook for my new novel. It sounds great; he really brings the dialogue to life. The ebook and paperback versions of SECTOR 64: Ambush are available now. The finished audiobook should be available on iTunes, Amazon, and Audible by Halloween.

Ambush Audio Cover Art 1.1

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