Monday, October 4, 2010

Interview with Valmore Daniels

Continuing with my author interview series, today I would like to welcome Valmore Daniels to the blog.  Daniel has 2 books available for sale.  Welcome Daniel!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
As early as grade school, I’ve been writing stories, but it wasn’t until my first year in university that I decided to write a novel. I had taken every creative writing course offered in school, and by that time I had read over a thousand novels. I felt was I was ready for the challenge.  The novels of C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and Tolkien turned me on to fantasy at an early age, and in the tradition of their great works, I wrote An Old-Fashioned Folk Tale. The initial draft took about three months, but the editing process was much longer; and the journey from completed book to publication has taken over twenty years.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
After researching the submission process, I felt I was ready for the onslaught of rejections from publishing houses. My first rejection was heartbreaking, and it took an act of willpower to send it out a second time. The second rejection was easier to take, especially since the editor praised the writing, but told me YA fantasy was difficult to market at that time. I continued to send the novel out year after year to similar result, until …

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
… I got accepted at a small press. My joy, however, quickly dissipated when I examined the terms of the contract, the negligible advance, and the publisher’s meager projections of sales over five years. By this time, I also had completed my second novel, Forbidden The Stars, and the first publisher to whom I submitted it asked for drastic revisions with which I disagreed. I declined both offers, and became uncertain about the future of my writing career. When I stumbled across a blog talking about Lulu, Createspace and Smashwords, I began researching in earnest, and made the decision to publish independently. 

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I’ve always been an independent spirit, and have been (for the most part) self-employed for the past two decades. Unless a traditional publishing contract was extremely lucrative, I will remain an independent. I do not discount the possibility of signing an agent at some point in the future to handle subsidiary sales in other markets, but being the captain of my own ship brings as much reward to this venture as the writing itself.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
For An Old-Fashioned Folk Tale, I licensed cover art directly from renowned fantasy artist Howard David Johnson. For Forbidden The Stars, I found the cover illustration on by an Italian artist named Innovari.

If you used a graphic designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Aside from the illustrations, I did the titles myself in Photoshop. Originally, I designed An Old-Fashioned Folk Tale for paperback, not realizing that the ebook format would dominate sales. Everything is a learning experience, and so I focused on the ebook version when designing the titles for Forbidden The Stars. When I received the proof copy in paperback, I was delighted at how well the artwork translated to full size.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
When I got my first sale, I was elated, but the real validation for me was my first fan email.  I was dancing on the ceiling for days after that. The various publishers who rejected An Old-Fashioned Folk Tale said that YA fantasy is difficult to market. It is a difficult market, but not an impossible one. Sales started slowly, but have been steadily increasing every month. Forbidden The Stars seems to have found an immediate audience, and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback for it (as well as demand for a sequel).

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
It’s extremely difficult to measure from what source a project will get the most attention. I have a website, twitter, facebook, and I participate on a few forums. However, I believe the greatest exposure comes from the many wonderful bloggers who shine a spotlight on our books.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
The ebook versions are available on Amazon US and UK, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobobooks, Apple, Diesel, and Sony. The paperback versions are available on Amazon US, UK, and CA, as well as Barnes & Noble and

What’s next for you?
I’m currently in the first draft stage of a paranormal drama concerning a young woman cursed with pyrokinesis, who accidentally killed her parents in a house fire, and how she tries to return to her home town ten years later. I am also in the outlining stage of a sequel to Forbidden The Stars.