Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview with J.A. Paul

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My latest book Gladius and the Bartlett Trial is a fantasy adventure novel for Middle Grade readers on up.

When fifteen year-old Gladius Oldmont is thrust from his peaceful home into the dangerous Longwood Forest he finds himself pitted against a tyrant who has been terrorizing the lands in search of answers to an ancient secret that could unlock absolute power.

From the shadows of Longwood Forest to the Hills of the Moon, Gladius must survive encounters with a near extinct scimitar cat, an ornery dragon, a horde of death bats and a tumultuous underground river which leads to a subterranean labyrinth of tunnels. Along the way, he makes new acquaintances and discovers the true meaning of friendship, including Elle – a girl who captivates his heart.

Can Gladius and friends solve the riddle of the ancient secret before the evil Mulhurt does? If they can, will they be able to do anything about it?

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No, I have never tried to go the traditional route. No reason, I just did not go that route.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Not really. However I did have several beta readers, but most of my improvement came from working directly with an editor.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon? Do you like having total control?
Amazon makes it do-able for the do it yourself-type writers and that appealed to me. It’s not really a ‘being in total control thing’ for me as I will listen to anyone’s ideas. If they improve my writing, the story or the book, I will use the ideas if I can.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, I worked with an editor for three months with Gladius and it was the best money/time I spent on this process. Just above hiring a professional cover artist as I feel that is crucial as well.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Writing the book is the easy part. Marketing, selling and getting it out to my target audience is the hardest part. My target audience is the preteen and teenage readers and most of them are not really into viewing author blogs or checking out author websites. My own 11yo son said, ‘great website, Dad, but I don’t know any friends of mine who check out author websites’. Still, you have to have one just in case that one reader decides to look you up!

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. I also have a signed print version for sale on my website as well as a PDF file using PayPal.
I have also seen Gladius available at stores like Abebooks and Booktopia.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I am on Twitter and I do some Facebook stuff on my JA Paul author page. I do try to interact with readers through these social platforms and love it when I see a review on Twitter or Facebook.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I write every morning so my writing comes first. I will then go online and interact with people throughout the day. For instance, the other night I received an email from a Boy Scout troop who told me they read my book while at camp by lantern light and loved it! I thought that was awesome!

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Read as much as you can. Write as much as you can, then write some more. Learn the craft and practice it by writing. Find a good editor. Get your 10,000 hours or your first million words in as fast as you can. 1,000 words a day for 3 years! It’s do-able if you really want to be a writer.

What’s next for you?
I am currently just over 60,000 words in book II of the Gladius series, which will come out in the fall of 2011. Then I hope to sneak in a couple short stories that have been screaming to get out before I move on to writing book III, the final chapter of the Gladius adventure series.