Lawyer and author John Abramowitz talks about his book, his approach to writing and his plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I’ve been writing in some form for a long time. I went through a phase as a teenager that I think a lot of aspiring authors go through — I decided I wanted to be a novelist and started trying to put together stories, and then realized that what I was writing, well, sucked. So I put the dream away for a while and focused on other things.
Then, slowly, I got back into writing in other formats. I started making serial short fiction and running RPGs, and I did that for a few years. And then I noticed that for several weeks in a row, the episode plots on one of my favorite TV shows were very similar to things I’d just done in the serial I was making at the time. So I thought, “Huh, maybe I can play in this league.” That, and the lousy economy, drove me back into novels.
And so, the circuit is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the — wait, no, that’s my other job.
Tell me a little about your books.
Weaver is the first book in The Weaver Saga. It’s my attempt to put a slightly different spin on the “team of FBI agents investigate supernatural events” genre of sci-fi that’s sprung up starting with The X-Files and continuing with shows like Fringe. I took that, threw in a little Buffy, and voila!
Then there’s Atticus for the Undead, the first book in The Legal Fiction Series. It grew out of the fact that I’d been wanting to write a legal thriller for a long time. I’m a lawyer in the day job, so it seemed like the logical thing for me to do. But I didn’t have a good idea. And then, I started reading Seanan McGuire’s novel Feed, which is about the politics of a post-zombie-apocalypse world. And then I thought, “Huh, next thing you know, they’ll be putting one on trial or something… Hey! That’s it!”
I also wrote a short story called The Antlerbury Tales, and it’s essentially a five-thousand word homage to the classical fantasy and roleplaying cultures. It’s in the mold of stories like The Princess Bride and Spaceballs — a loving satire of the source material.
And, if all that’s not enough, The Void, Book 2 of The Weaver Saga, is coming very, very soon. A teaser, called Who Is The Stitch-Faced Man, is up now on my blog.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
No, but I try to write every day. Now, having said that, sometimes the law job calls, and sometimes I’ve just finished a book and I’m burned out, and in those cases I just don’t write for a few days. But every day is the goal. And I’ll try to have at least one WRITING SPRINT (those must always be in capital letters) every day, where I take an hour and just write. No Twitter, no distractions.
I try not to write less than 500 words in a day, and on a good day I can crank out 2-3,000.
Oh, and caffeine is an absolute essential. The spice must flow!
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
No, I went straight to the indie route. I like the fact that self-publishing gives me more control — not just of the story I’m writing, but also of the advertising. Any clever slogans you see on my Tweets? I came up with them. The McClain & Gamble firm website? I made it (with a generous assist from Danielle Bourdon for the banner graphic). My guest blog posts? I wrote them all, on topics of my choosing. There’s an incredible sense of accomplishment that comes with that.
Oh, and the fact that the royalties are better doesn’t hurt, either.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
Obviously I’d love to pull an Amanda Hocking and have millions of people buying my books, but that’s not my primary measure of success. I mainly measure success by two things. At the end of every book, I look at it and ask myself two things.
One, does it meet the requirements I set for myself in my Indie Writer’s Pledge of Quality?
And two, is it a better book than the last one I wrote? Did I effectively use the lessons I learned from writing the last book?
As long as I’m always growing as a writer and meeting my own standards of quality, I think I’m succeeding. The sales will come later (I hope).
How have you marketed your book(s)? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
I cannot stress enough the importance of Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter in any self-promotional effort. There really aren’t better tools for connecting with potential readers. Meeting other authors and joining author groups on Facebook has been tremendously helpful to me.
I’ve done some paid advertising, too (Goodreads being my favorite), but I think the free stuff, using social media to make connections with readers and authors, has been more helpful.
Have you signed up for KDP Select? If you have, how has it gone for you? Do you think free promotions are helping with your paid sales? If you haven’t signed up, why not? Are you worried about the exclusivity clause?
I haven’t signed up any of my current projects with KDP Select because of the exclusivity clause. A lot of my most loyal readers own things that aren’t Kindles. For that reason, The Weaver Saga and The Legal Fiction Series will probably remain available on all platforms.
Having said that, I’m quite certain free promotions help with sales. Whenever I’ve made a book or story of mine free, even for a short period, a flurry of downloads has always followed. So I’m brainstorming some other projects that I may put on KDP Select.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
Not really. First of all, I don’t think it’s likely to happen — if nothing else, the iPad is popular enough that I think it will keep Amazon from a total monopoly. And Barnes & Noble didn’t get to be as successful as it is by being a pushover, so I think the Nook will remain a force to be reckoned with.
Having said that, even if it does happen, I’m much more concerned about my readers than my platform. I can sell my books as easily on the Kindle as anywhere else. As long as people keep reading them, I’ll use whatever vehicle is available to publish them.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
Right now, all of my creative time and energy are going into finishing The Void, which is the paranormal thriller to end all paranormal thrillers. It’s Book 2 of The Weaver Saga, but I’m trying to write it so that you can read it even if you haven’t read the original. It explores both the past and the future — it takes you into some of the backstory that was only hinted at in Book 1, while also expanding on the events of that book.
After that, the only other novel I have planned for 2012 is Book 2 of The Legal Fiction Series, which I’m calling Identity Theft. Depending on a whole lot of factors (how hard it is to write, what else is going on in my life, etc.), it could be out anywhere from late September to late December.
Note that I said that’s the only other novel I’m planning to write this year, not the only other project I have in the works. Stay tuned…