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 always written in one way or another. Ten years ago, I was writing songs all the time, and because I didn’t have the ability to record them, I amassed around 300 in three years. With books, it’s obviously a bit more time-consuming, and self-editing certainly slows the process, but I feel its much more rewarding to spend so much time on something that others can enjoy.
Tell me a little about your books.
“Swept to Hell: A Novel of the Civil War Era” was written for fun, whereas, “Bright and Dull: A Novel of an American Youth”, was written as an entertaining and informative homage to my rural upbringing. “On the Rocks: A Novel”, however, is something more of an experiment, as it’s part travelogue/part thriller.
“Swept to Hell” is historical fiction, where “Bright and Dull” is more of a simple American novel. And “On the Rocks”, though I call it a novel, is really a thriller novella, throwing a normal guy in the middle of a situation much larger than himself.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
Quite a few. To be honest, they are quite the odd mixture. I’m a huge fan of Elmore Leonard, as his old books from the ’70′s still seem great today. Also, I enjoy reading Anthony Bourdain, whether it’s various articles, or his “Kitchen Confidential”, which was a great book about the food industry. To give one more, I guess the final author would have to be George R.R. Martin. I didn’t give the Song of Ice and Fire books too much love when I first heard of them last year, but after taking the time to read through the first of the series, I found myself hooked. To write fantasy novels so well versed in history is an admirable feat.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
Quite a few times. Agents are really looking for the big deals these days, which really do happen. But if I’m going to be a mid-seller at the start anyway, then I’d rather do it on my own terms.
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?
Success is having all of my readers enjoy the content I put forth. If nobody likes what I’m doing, then there’s no point in me doing it. I know that most of it is great, but I also know that anything can be better. There’s a reason that Jonathan Franzen takes five years or more to release each of his books. I’d love to get to the point where I could work on one book a year, but in order to get good sales numbers these days, you have to keep putting books out.
How have you marketed your books? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
Haven’t paid a thing as of yet, and my books have sold relatively well. “Swept to Hell” is usually anywhere from 25,000-55,000 on the Kindle list, and “Bright and Dull” has only just started to sell consistently. It’s all very early, though I can say that I was pleased with “On the Rocks” being the number 1 Free Spy Thriller last week.
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 think it has gone well for me, but it certainly depends on the day. If you go with a lead-in to a weekend for the free promotion, you’re going to get a lot of giveaways. But if you start on Monday or Tuesday, your numbers will suffer.
The exclusivity thing doesn’t bother me. Right now, I’m nobody. At least Amazon is allowing me to get my books out there.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I am currently working on “Old and Gone”, which is a basic American novel about a teenager’s murder in a rural town. Though the crime certainly takes center stage, the book is about the people of the town, and not the murder itself.
Also, I will be working on “Let The Thing Be Pressed”, the second book in my “A Novel of the Civil War Era” series. It will be a bit different, and a bit longer than “Swept to Hell”, but I intend on giving some unique glimpses of the war’s end.