Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview with Jayce Grayson

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES: VOLUME ONE is basically a sci-fi novel about where our evolving culture will have taken us in about 300 years. Seen in microcosm among the relatively few characters in the story—aboard Captain Tom Duncan’s interplanetary luxury yacht/freighter, Xianne— I try to explore the repercussions of our growing “porn culture” upon interpersonal relationships of the future, keeping in mind that by then many of today’s taboos will have completely disappeared, just as those from 300 years ago have in our day. I certainly would like to inspire serious thought, but there is so much potential humor in the subject that the book has also been described as a “futuristic romantic comedy”. I’m happy with that.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
No. Despite the general consensus that “indie books” are not worth reading, I wanted to bypass all of the delays and entanglements that greet a first-time author when trying to break in to traditional publishing. I also know—from having read them—that there are many traditionally published books that aren’t worth reading, either. Certainly, an indie author should feel a responsibility to his readers to produce a professional-quality book—and by that, I don’t mean the subject of the material. (Readers will like almost anything that they’re interested in, and avoid themes that do not interest them.) I mean the format—the look—of the book. It’s up to the author to go the extra mile and make sure that it’s edited properly, that words are spelled correctly, that punctuation meets acceptable standards, etc. The bad rap that indie books have received is a direct result of certain writers just flinging their words down and paying for publication, seemingly without even proofreading the manuscript! Everyone can tell a story, but not everyone can write one.

What do you feel has helped improve your writing?
That’s easy. Reading. The only reason I have a desire to write is because of the many wonderful books I’ve read in my life. We all have our favorite authors, and actually studying how they write is of great benefit. Of course, I’m greatly indebted to every teacher of English that I had, and I’ve found that paying attention to how a sentence rolls off the tongue can make all the difference in the presentation of my story.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Well, if you’ve looked at a copy of something like THE WRITER’S MARKET, it doesn’t take long to discern that the traditional publishing houses aren’t interested in “unknowns”. They want authors who have been previously published—and don’t even think of not having an agent! The “slush pile” for unsolicited manuscripts is fast going the way of the dinosaur. YOU HAVE TO KNOW SOMEBODY. I didn’t. Plus, I realized that with the nature of my subject matter, I’d probably come up against overwhelming obstacles anyway. Indie publishing allowed me to keep complete control of my material, avoid the middlemen, and it expedited the publishing of my book. I know of an author, right now, whose book was completed a couple of years before I began writing XIANNE, and he is still wrapped up in a traditional publishing house’s red tape.  Publication for his book is tentatively set for early 2013. This is not a unique case—it’s one of the most prevalent gripes that writer’s have.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I didn’t, and I hope I don’t fall into the very category of writers that I was criticizing earlier. No, I did it myself, relying on my own education and the practice of rewriting at least three times. As well as the extensive reading I’ve done in my life. I’ve always tried to pay as much attention to how an author writes as I do to what he writes. And, of course, there are many variations of style.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Truthfully, that it was easier than I thought it would be. Also, that, once resolved to publish your book, you must ignore those who parrot the “party line” that your book isn’t as good as those from the traditional publishers. They don’t know that, if they haven’t read it! Knowing what I know now about the process, I’m amazed that these famous authors, who have already amassed their fortunes, actually remain with traditional publishing houses. They’re established, we know their names, and we’ll buy anything they write—They could save themselves a lot of the misery that I hear them relating. Publish yourself.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
At Infinity Publishing’s site, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, several other of the web-based bookstores—just enter XIANNE into the search engine of your choice!

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
A little—and to the detriment of marketing this one. I’ve almost completed the 2nd (and most sweeping) revision of the 2nd volume of XIANNE, and I find that I’m far more interested in that than in making sales of the 1st one. I think that it’s important, as an indie author, to be resolved in your mind that you aren’t likely to become a millionaire. It would be nice, if it happened, but I’m not driven by that. For me, it’s the getting of my ideas down, getting them published, and in feeling a sense of pride in what I’ve accomplished. I think that may be the dividing line between indie authors and traditional authors. Don’t get me wrong—I’d love a big, fat cash advance from a traditional publisher, and I’d probably even compromise what I write about—until I had enough money to have my own way and/or return to indie publishing!

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Really, what I’ve already mentioned. Take responsibility for producing a professional-quality book—pay someone if you have to. I’ve seen indie books that looked as though they were written by illiterate authors—perhaps they were. Writing a book is more than just telling a story. Even a bad story can be made better by a good delivery. Those English classes were important! And then, don’t expect to get rich—great if you do—but don’t publish yourself with that as your goal. And finally, if you’ve written a good book, and you know it, disregard the naysayers. I’ve paid good money for novels from respected publishing houses that were grave disappointments to me. Everyone won’t like your novel, but everyone won’t hate it, either.

What’s next for you?
XIANNE: A COMEDY OF CULTURES: VOLUME TWO. Hopefully, by early 2013. (No deadlines, either.) There will be four volumes; the third is complete, and I’m roughly halfway through the writing of the final volume. After that, I’ll definitely be ready for a change of subject.