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 guess I write because I have to. If I’m not working on a project I start to get restless. It’s fun for me, but it’s also a compulsion of sorts.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In high school I worked at R.J. Julia Booksellers, one of the top independent bookstores in the country, where I sold books, handled publisher returns, and helped set up for events whenever authors were in town for readings (which was just about 365 days a year). As a kid I wanted to be a writer and filmmaker, which is why I studied film production and screenwriting in college. Eventually, when I got tired of writing scripts and never seeing them turned into a final product as a film, I turned to fiction writing, where the success of getting the story out there rests solely on my shoulders. It adds a lot of pressure, but the freedom is amazing.
Tell me a little about your books.
I’ve released three books so far. The first, On/Off, is a literary college drama with a bit of a science fiction twist. My other books are Brick Ransom Adventures, action/mysteries with a comic view point. I have two other books finished, but I’m waiting for the right time to release them (the subjects are a little controversial). I’m currently working on the third book in the Brick Ransom series. I try to write genre books that read as though John Irving and Woody Allen were handling the revisions.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
I’m a big fan of Stephen King, John Irving, and Raymond Chandler. I’d kill to have written even one of their sentences!
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
Probably owing to my screenwriting background, I work from extremely detailed treatments, with each scene broken down moment by moment. I try to write at least an hour a day. With the current book, I’ve been aiming to finish a certain number of scenes a day, so I’ve had a few marathon writing sessions, but I’ve inevitably slipped a bit behind schedule as I’ve circled back and made adjustments to earlier pages whenever needed.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
Yep, and it was a total waste of time. Between screenplays and books I’d say I spent about ten years sending out query letters to agents, production companies, editors, and publishers. I hoped connections from the bookstore (the owner worked with Esther Newberg on a book deal with Gotham) might help me when I focused completely on fiction, but the traditional publishing world is apparently an old school club that isn’t taking on new members. Thanks to ebooks and POD, I’ve actually taken great delight in the fact that that club seems to be all but unneeded anymore.
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?
I aim to have five Brick Ransom books released by the end of 2013, with at least one more literary title completed in the same time period. My goal is make a full time living from my fiction.
How have you marketed your books?
When I released On/Off I sent out a press release, serialized my second book, Billionaires, Bullets, Exploding Monkeys, ran some Facebook and Google ads, and approached print and web publications about interviews and reviews. Aside from a couple of local papers and my college alumni newsletter, no one was interested in indie titles and none of those approaches resulted in sales. Things have changed a LOT since then. Now I visit indie forums, socialize on twitter, and deal solely with websites that are interested in indie ebooks and I’ve had much more success.
Have you signed up for KDP Select? If you have, how has it gone for you?
I have signed up for KDP select. I’ve had amazing success with it. I think the free sales help up to a point, but it really seems to come down to how Amazon is displaying your titles, and whether you can get on their radar. In December they were featuring my books prominently, and I ended up making more from my books than I made in my day job as an editor. I’d like to get back to that again!
I’m not worried about the exclusivity clause at the moment, but with Microsoft’s recent investment in Barnes and Noble/Nook, I’m open to switching things up if Amazon doesn’t start making KDP worth my while again. I really do think the Microsoft investment could be a game changer, which is interesting, cause up until February I was certain Amazon had it sewn up.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
I had some titles on Barnes and Noble via Lulu, but I had very few sales, so it was a painless decision to drop those outlets.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I’m nearly finished with my third Brick Ransom adventure. I plan to release it around mid-November.