Local author hits ‘bestseller list,’ completes sixth book in series
By Lynn J. Richardson
The Jonesborough native and David Crockett High School graduate has been through his share of ups and downs.
Much like the main character of his legal thrillers, Joe Dillard , former attorney Pratt has had a wild ride.
After a widely publicized and controversial disbarment, Pratt found himself looking to return to something familiar — writing.
It was something he said he enjoyed, having spent several years working as a reporter for the Johnson City Press before getting his law degree at the University of Tennessee.
It worked, but it took a while.
After writing several books, five of which featuring Dillard, Pratt has now found himself hitting the bestseller list.
Recently Pratt’s first in the Dillard series, “Innocent Client,’ hit No. 1 in the legal thriller category in Great Britain.
Now all five Dillard books are enjoying Top 30 successes there.
“Things turned around completely when I got the rights back from my former publishing company to the first three books,” Pratt said. “I wrote out a marketing plan and it worked.”
He also is listening and learning from his readers.
“I’ve removed almost all of the profanity from the books,” Pratt said. “Readers are the bosses. I get feedback and I pay attention. I don’t want them to throw one of my books down and say, ‘I’m fed up with the language.’
“I’m an entertainer. I want them to enjoy the hours they spend reading my books and I don’t want to offend them. The profanity isn’t important to me; readers are. If they’re not enjoying one of my books because of that, then it’s gone.”
Pratt is also working with a new publisher, Phoenix Flying, a company that is locally owned and run by his son, Dylan Pratt.
It is a company that Pratt says is working with writers in a very different way.
“We’re flipping the publishing business model,” Pratt said. “Before, when I was with Penguin (Publishing), writers got 20 percent and the publishing company got 80 percent.
“We are determined to be ‘writer friendly,’ offering just the opposite split — writers get the 80 percent and Phoenix Flying gets 20,” he said. “You just don’t have to be so greedy.”
Pratt said he is excited for this new company as both a writer and father.
“I’m excited for Dylan,” Pratt said. “I think he can make a real difference in the publishing world over the next 5-10 years.”
Pratt is currently working on his sixth book in the Dillard series,“Treasure Trove,” which tells the story of a young female lawyer, Charlie Story, who works for Dillard. She uncovers a stash of gold hidden away in a cave and plans to keep it.
But when the mobsters who hid it there learn that Story has found it, they will stop at nothing to get it back.
“That’s where the tension starts to build,” Pratt said.
“Treasure Trove” is scheduled to go on sale on Tuesday, Oct. 1.