Student releases debut novel

‘Absolute Knowledge’ explores a world where a hidden government collects the thoughts of its citizens. Photo courtesy of Drew Cordell.

Jacob Ashton entered into his three-year evaluation. While he worked as a Thinker making ends meet, his results came back askew, and he knew instantly that something was wrong.

That’s how Drew Cordell, a senior business major with a concentration in innovation and entrepreneurship, opened his first novel, which came out this month.

Cordell has published the first book in a trilogy entitled “Absolute Knowledge” after two years of writing. While the initial retail launch was on Jan. 2, he has already sold over 100 copies both in print and digitally.

“Basically, there is a faceless government that nobody has seen or knows what they do and they collect people’s thoughts,” Cordell said. “The evaluations are special tests to determine if citizens can be selected for a special government job rather than just working as a Thinker. That’s the citizen’s only way to earn a legal income. The overarching idea is that all thoughts have value no matter how small.”

After deciding to pursue the novel, Cordell said he put the book online on Wattpad, a site where writers can publish their work for free and users give feedback. He posted it on a chapter-by-chapter basis for others to read and critique. Due to the positive responses he got, Cordell decided to publish his book.

“I would love to become a full-time author in the future, but I also wouldn’t mind writing as a hobby on the side,” Cordell said. “Nothing is more rewarding as an author than having a reader contact you saying how much they enjoyed your book. If I am able to become a full-time author in the future, then I know my business degree will be incredibly useful as I manage all aspects of my career myself.”

Friends and family helped Cordell initiate the Kickstarter campaign, a project that seeks funding through crowd sourcing, and once they backed him, he said he began to get pledges from people he had never met.

“As a college student, I don’t have a huge budget,” Cordell said. “I launched my campaign with a goal of raising $500 and I doubled that.”

Cordell published his book with Createspace for about $1,000. While publishing the book was his main goal, Cordell said he endured a few obstacles during the publication process.

“Setbacks in terms of crowd funding were difficult,” Cordell said. “At first I didn’t know how to market it and who my audience would be, so I began a kick starter campaign and other people were interested.”

Cordell’s friend, mechanical engineering junior Josh Williams said he knew Cordell since middle school and was thrilled to be one of the first people to get to read the book.

“He told me to read it, and by then he was getting ready to do the kick starter, Williams said. “The best part about it was the idea that it is very possible for the society to actually happen.”

Cordell’s girlfriend Elizabeth Howard, who attends Collin College, said that while she does not normally read science fiction and prefers romance or comedy, the idea behind the novel was captivating and she’s eager for the next installation in the trilogy.

“I came across the book because I’ve always been really bad at writing,” Howard said. “Whenever Drew gave me the first sample of his book I was like ‘Wow this is really good, you need to continue it.’ I was just blown away with how good it was. The book itself flows so nicely and it was just a really good read.”

Cordell’s decision to make the novel a trilogy came from the notion that long books aren’t always attractive to readers.

“When I was writing, I was really close to 100,000 words, and I wasn’t even close to done,” Cordell said. “Nobody wants to read that much, so I decided to make it a trilogy. I even have a spreadsheet with plots and subplots so everything fills out.”

Cordell said that he expects to have the second installment ready for publication soon.

“Definitely going to be this year for the second book to come out, hopefully before the end of the summer,” Cordell said. “I’m already up to 50,000 words. Then I’ll take a break and edit. Once I finalize the plot then I’ll send it off to the editor.”

Throughout the whole process, Cordell said that although there was a steep learning curve to self-publication, it was worth it in the end.

“For other people looking to write, self-publishing is the better way to go, because if you have sales numbers it’s easier to get a contract,” Cordell said. “It’s also known as hybrid-publishing and it’s popular because you can essentially sell books now and get representation later.”

Despite the strenuous process, Howard said that Cordell could not be happier with the result.

“I think it’s funny because Drew’s a shy kind of guy, but once he found something he’s passionate about he’s very willing to show it to people,” Howard said. “He has done something really amazing that people enjoy.”

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