Continuing with my author interview series, today I would like to welcome Steve Symes, author of Shadow House.
Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I actually started writing books when I was in high school. For a time, while I was going to college, I stopped writing books and that bothered me. I began again after I graduated, got really serious about an epic fantasy novel I had begun writing in high school, but realized I was not ready for such a heavy undertaking. I decided to write something more manageable and the idea for Shadow House just popped into my head one day while I was working in my yard. I started plotting out the book, reading other books like it – and watching a fair amount of movies as well – and just started writing the book without knowing where it was going to take me. I wrote every day, faithfully, until I finished. And then I revised it at least a dozen times and had other people revise it as well. That took the majority of the time and was the hardest part of the whole process.
Did you query agents or traditional publishers before independently publishing?
I actually had one of my professors from college tell me that I would probably need to go indie at first since the industry was in such upheaval, but I didn’t believe him so I pounded the pavement hitting up agents. I don’t even want to admit how many agents I queried. I heard back from many of them, and quite a few said they simply were not taking on new authors. One agent gave me the nicest rejection of all, saying he hoped he was not making a huge mistake but he could not take on any more than he already had.
What factors influenced your final decision to self-publish?
Well, my professor’s advice started to really gain weight in my mind. Then I ran across a CNN report that I wished I had saved, that talked about the self-publishing wave. In that report they highlighted bestsellers that were self-published works, which shocked me since my perception of self-publishing sales was that only the author’s family bought the books. One of the self-published authors was interviewed by CNN, and she said that she believed so much in her book that she had no doubts about going independent. I really believe in Shadow House, and so I started moving forward with the self-publishing process.
Will you ever consider a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
Sure, I would consider one, but for now I am enjoying the creative freedom of doing things myself. I am absolutely open to entertaining anyone who would want to adapt any of my books into a movie, since I think Shadow House would make an excellent movie. I have actually had quite a few readers tell me they think it would make a great scary movie.
Did you design your cover art?
I actually did design my own cover art. I did Shadow House on an extremely skinny budget, so I tried to keep costs down every which-way. I actually do art as a hobby, so I was not too scared to try it myself. That being said, though, I am working with an artist for my next novel’s cover.
How did you feel when you got your first sale? Are you pleased with sales so far?
I got my first sale right after I published Shadow House, like the same day or the next one if I remember correctly. I was really surprised that anyone was that anxious to read Shadow House, after all I was not highly known. Sales have been staying consistent, which has also surprised me. The Kindle edition is now starting to out-sell the paperback, which has taken me by surprise.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I am on Twitter and try to tweet fairly regularly about writing and the paranormal. My username on Twitter is stevenwriter if you want to look me up. I also have a Facebook page and a blog, writerstevensymes.blogspot.com.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Gee, I can’t even keep track of all the sites that are selling Shadow House. Several months ago I searched and searched the internet and compiled a list of around thirty sites in almost a dozen countries, but I have found more since. I can tell you that I have little pockets of followings in Australia, India, the United Kingdom and Russia of all places. I think a lot of people around the world can identify with living in a haunted house.
What’s next for you?
I just launched a new series called Shades of Night. The series is an experiment, where I add a new installment once a month on Amazon’s Kindle store. Each story has a different set of characters experiencing some type of paranormal phenomena in all kinds of different places and time periods. I am working on my second novel, which should be ready sometime in 2011, called The Devil’s Nightmare. Beyond that, I have three or four solid ideas for other novels, including at least one young adult novel.