Next up in my author interview series is J. Dean. Welcome J!
Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
To tell the truth, I’ve never had a more fun or rewarding time working so hard in my life. The concept started, ironically enough, when I was playing a video game (Yes, I’m a 30-plus year old man who still plays video games) entitled Shadow of the Colossus. In the game, you have a character who traverses across this large section of land that is cut off from the rest of the world and contains a diverse set of climates and environments. While playing one day, I said to myself “It’d be cool to have a setting like this for a book.” Before long, the wheels started turning in my head, and I set out to write my first novel, having the basic outline of the story arc in my head, and squeezed in an hour here, and a page there. After a couple of self-edits (not the best way to do it, but when you don’t have the $$$ for an editor, you do what you have to) and proofreads from others, I set out to self-publish, and found my opportunity through booksurge (now createspace), at the recommendation of Frank Holes Jr., author of Year of the Dogman. And from there, as they say, the rest is history….
Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
Honestly, no, for a couple of reasons. For starters, while I don’t know a whole lot about publishing with a big company, I do know that big companies at times have a tendency to interject themselves into the author’s writing process. While I understand their motivation behind doing this, which is to get more readers and more profit, I didn’t want to take the chance of having the core of my story altered. I happen to be very protective of my work. People are welcome to give me suggestions, and I’m always willing to listen, but what I won’t do is turn over the final say on the essence of the story.
The other reason is that of rejection: it can be difficult to find a publisher willing to take a chance on you, especially when economic times are less than bountiful, as they have been for the past couple of years. I was anxious to get The Summoning of Clade Josso out for people to read, and didn’t want to have to wait until that letter of approval came through, so I traveled the indie route. Again, I don’t begrudge traditional publishing companies: they need to make a profit and have their way of doing things. I just didn’t want to have to take what might be a more difficult route to accomplish the goal of getting this story out for everybody to read.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Like I said above, I wanted to retain full control of where the story is going, and get the story out for people to read as soon as possible, so the self-publishing route was the best way to do so. In addition, I can keep the price for the book at a low level, and still bring in a fair profit for myself. I’m realistic about this-the chances of becoming somebody with the fame and fortune level of Stephen King or J. K. Rowling are pretty slim. Having said that, it’d be nice to make some kind of steady income in the process, and maybe even garner enough to make a meager living. If I made what I make right now in sales, I’d be perfectly happy.
Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
Good question. For the moment, all I’m concerned about is writing, so the idea of submitting the work to a traditional publisher isn’t on my plate at this point in time. Perhaps, if the opportunity came about, and the numbers were right, and if I could keep creative control and veto power over proposed suggestions, then yes, I could see myself taking the Vein series down that road.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did design the concept for it, but only because the original person whom I had contacted for designing it didn’t get back to me about it. To be honest, I’ve been giving some consideration to the idea of changing the cover up a little bit. While I like the idea of the current cover-which ties into something in the book-I think it needs a little more than what’s there now. In either case, The Summoning of Old Velt, the second book in the Vein series, will have a somewhat different look. Ah, the things we learn from experience….
If you used a graphic designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
The Booksurge/Createspace team did the actual labor on the book. What I did was explain to them the idea that I had, and they were off and running with it. Did a good job on it too, and produced a well done cover.
How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
On top of the world! When I saw people ordering the book off Amazon.com, I let my mind go wild, wondering how long it would be until Paramount would be contacting me for a movie deal (Okay, not really that nuts, but I was on a high for a while).
Admittedly, sales are a little slow. One of the drawbacks to indie publishing is that you have to advertise your own work, and I’m not at all the salesman type. That’s where word-of-mouth comes into play: you ask people to tell others about your book if they liked it; review it on their blogspots, facebook, or twitter; or any other way that word about the book can get out. You try to push yourself as well on public forums, but you do it in such a way as to not become obnoxious or pushy about it. Still, every little bit helps, and hopefully when The Summoning of Old Velt is published, the slowly growing audience will grow just a little bit faster.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I’ve got a blog site (http://enterthevein.blogspot.com) which keeps people up to date on the novels, as well as the free short stories I’ve put up on Smashwords.com for enjoyment. I do have a myspace site, but don’t use it as often; it’s just easier to keep the updates going on one spot instead of spreading yourself out too thin. Soon I plan to set up a facebook and twitter site, but dividing my time between writing and editing my work diverts me from getting these prepped the way I’d like.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?Smashwords.com has The Summoning of Clade Josso available for 99 cents via digital platform, with a free sample of the first few chapters, so if your preference is kindle, nook, or just reading on your computer screen, you can check it out there. If you live in Michigan, paperback copies of the book can be found at the Great Lakes Artisan store in the Great Lakes Crossing mall in Auburn Hills, across from the Rainforest Café. I’ll be doing a booksigning down there in July, and will be announcing that on my blogspot when more details come out.
What’s next for you?Writing, writing, and more writing! The editing on The Summoning of Old Velt is in process right now, and I’m well underway with The Summoning of Kran, the third book in the Vein series. On top of this, I do occassional free short stories, and am working on one now that I hope to put up on the Smashwords site by June. The wonderful thing about writing is the creative process: you never know what’s going to happen next, and I can’t wait to share with everybody the wonders and terrors that have yet to be explored by our brave Bearers as they make their way to the Vein!