Decatur author finds success with online edition of first book

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt October 17, 2015
Book cover photo provided by Doug Keeler

Book cover photo provided by Doug Keeler

Doug Keeler has always been a fan of the crime thriller genre, but for most of his life has been an admirer and not an author.

He moved to Decatur 30 years ago and had a career in corporate sales and as a land broker.

When he decided to try his hand at writing his own crime novel, he decided to forgo the traditional publishing route and publish his book online.

“There’s been all kind of success stories who went straight to independent publishing I figured I would give that a shot,” Keeler said.

His first book, “Savannah Gone“, was published in April. Its protagonist is Ray Fontaine a private investigator probing the disappearance of a marine biologist.

“In a nutshell it’s the story of a missing marine biologist who opposes what in reality is one of the largest economic development projects in the U.S. which is the expansion of the Savannah Port,” Keeler said.

The book, which sells for $1 on Amazon, made a couple of best seller lists.

According to Keeler, it once occupied the No. 1 slot on Private Investigator Mysteries, Financial Thrillers and Action Adventure. As of Oct. 17 it is Nov. 5 in financial thrillers, No. 11 in travel and No. 12 in Pulp. It currently holds an average customer review of four and a half stars.

He said he’s had the book printed a few times, but the book’s primary residence is online. He said didn’t have the patience to find an agent or mainstream publisher.

“It just seemed like a good way to forego the however long it takes to find an agent, however long it takes to find a publisher,” he said. “I didn’t have the patience to go that route. I just launched it right up on Amazon. I had nothing to lose if the book sank. It would be kind of crazy a lack of patience precluded me from going the traditional route.”

Joe Davich, an assistant with the Decatur-based Georgia Center for the Book, which promotes events involving authors, said while e-publishing has helped some authors find audiences, it’s increasing popularity has drowned a lot of them out. He said there’s been a resurgence of traditional publishing formats. Hard copy books are cheaper and easier to share.

“E-books have kind of like plateaued for a few reasons and all of them are kind of logical,” Davich said. “The format for e-books is you have to buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire. For some people spending $300 or $400 on a piece of technology isn’t in their budget.”

He said it’s a very small number of authors who find an audience and subsequently find success going the e-book route without finding a mainstream publisher.

“It’s kind of like high school quarter backs that want to go on to play in college and play in the pros,” he said of e-book authors. “Then you have to try and cut through some of that e-book noise.”

Keeler believes he’s got the volume turned up loud enough to be heard. He said he’s already working on a sequel.

“I’ve had an amazing reaction the protagonist and a number of readers have asked if there’s another book in the pipeline,” Keeler said.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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  • Kristi Williams

    I Loved Doug Keeler’s Savannah Gone. I’m an avid reader, & this is the best book I’ve read in years. Can’t wait for the sequel.

  • Deana

    Just a note on something the author said about the expense of converting to different formats for different devices: Amazon’s KDP is free and whether people own Apple devices or Android devices — most of them have the Kindle app on their devices since the majority of all e-books are bought from Amazon. Ideally, you’d have your book formatted as both .mobi AND epub but if budget is a concern, there’s minimal to zero cost to use KDP.

  • Jack Kelly

    My wife & I both loved Savannah Gone. It’s a great Book that kept me turning the pages. Fantastic premise with well developed characters. I especially loved Ray Fontaine & his acerbic wit (I think my wife has a crush on Ray). Keeler brought the lowcountry to life like few authors ever have, including Pat Conroy. Can’t wait for the next one!


    My intuitive reaction to Davich’s comments about plateauing ebook sales and resurgence in print sales was huh?

    As a print publishing professional until 2014 whose publishing division closed in favor of our far more profitable digital media products, I found that hard to put my head around.

    The tiniest bit of research found a Fortune Mag article that digs into the sales numbers after the NYT’s story on e vs print sales on 9/22/15.

    Conclusion: “what’s really been happening is that the market share of established publishers has been declining, while sales of independently published e-books have been growing. In particular, sales of books that don’t even have industry standard ISBN numbers have increased.”

    So, big welcome to author Doug Keeler – this trend is because of “I must write, therefore I am” authors like you. Hurray and praise the lord you have a medium to follow your passion and share it!

    The notion that the reading experience requires lugging around heavy books and turning paper pages wrinkles my botoxed brow. I have read hundreds of books on my trusty dated iPhone (and I am the crusty age of 56) with the Kindle app and more than a few on my $99 Kindle reader – and guess what! Amazon prime includes a lending and sharing library and public libraries check out e-books too.

    I am a baby boomer who prefers the convenience of carrying 10 books (or 100) on my 7 oz device wherever I go. Anything that makes reading more accessible to me (and everyone) is a good thing and worth supporting.

    Print books will always be around just like vinyl records – for those who love’em, you don’t have to leave’em.

  • Terri G

    First of all congratulations to Doug Keeler. My book club read Savannah Gone last month, & we are still talking about it. It is, without question, a great book.

    My second point is this: How in the world can someone like Joe Davich say, “Hard copy books are cheaper and easier to share?” Seriously? Have you priced a hardback book lately, Mr. Davich? They run from $24-$28 dollars. My entire 27 member book club downloaded Doug Keeler’s book for less than the cost of a single hardback book.

    Comments like this remind me of the music industry ignoring what was going on in the digital world. Well look what happened to those entrenched companies when Steve Jobs and itunes came along. Now we have spotify, pandora & a host of other digital music platforms.

    It’s the same with e-books. We are at the very beginning of what will surely be how the majority of us read. And it’s because of writers like Doug Keeler that the digital book world is exploding in popularity.

    So back to my original point. Savannah Gone is a fantastic book. If you haven’t read it, download it it now. You can thank me later.

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