Eirik Gumeny, author of the Exponential Apocalypse books, talks about his approach to writing and his plans for the future.
Tell me a little about your books.
Exponential Apocalypse is the tender, heart-stirring tale of crappy jobs, a slacker cult, an alcoholic Aztec god, reconstituted world leaders, werewolves, robots, and the shenanigans of multiple persons living after the twentieth-aught end of the world. It’s fast-paced, frenetic, funny, and frequently fond of other f-words.
The plot revolves around Thor, the former Norse god; his friends, clones of a variety of deceased political figures; and their attempts to first survive in a post-post-post-apocalyptic world and then save it from another calamity.
Dead Presidents, the sequel, takes place a year after the first one, following Thor and company back into a world teeming with dinosaur armies, zombies, mad scientists, rhinos with lasers, and all manner of action and misadventure. There’s slightly less swearing than in the first one, but there are more poop jokes.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut are personal favorites. They did their own thing, wrote their own way, and still managed to gain significant respect and fame despite not being the most “literary” of writers.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I try to make myself write a certain number of words per day, but I tend to fail spectacularly. My most prolific writing actually comes when I’m supposed to be doing something else. If my to-do list includes cleaning the kitchen, I will probably knock out a few thousand words. If my to-do list says “write,” my dishes will be sparkling. I’m an equal-opportunity procrastinator.
How have you marketed your books?
I am not the best marketer. I use Twitter and Facebook – Twitter being much more helpful, in my opinion – and I’ve done some advertising through Project Wonderful, but I think it’s mostly word-of-mouth and random browsing that’s sold books. I keep track of sales numbers kind of obsessively, but I’ve never seen any real, discernible jump because of advertising.
Have you signed up for KDP Select?
I only recently signed up for KDP Select, after talking with fellow sci-fi comedian Benjamin Wallace. I originally stayed away because of the exclusivity clause – for all the usual anti-corporate, hippie reasons – but, when I looked at the numbers, it didn’t make sense. Sales outside of Amazon were miniscule to nonexistent. So I gave it a shot and it’s been great.
I gave away Exponential Apocalypse for free for two days, I think, and my sales afterwards increased sixfold. It was kind of incredible and I can’t imagine doing it any other way in the future.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
Ebook sales outside of Amazon were virtually nil, despite my making an effort to promote those other sites over Amazon. I gave away the same book for free for a week on Smashwords prior to joining KDP Select. It didn’t affect my itty-bitty sales numbers at all, and, even after a full seven days, fewer people picked up copies than they did from two days on KDP Select.
I really like the idea of Smashwords – their general attitude towards publishing and the multiple formats available there – but, through no fault of their own, they just don’t have the same audience. I can argue principles all I want – and I have – but if you can’t even give away your books on those sites, it might be time to give them up.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
A little. They’re certainly a juggernaut, but, even though KDP Select kind of toes the line, I don’t think they’re a monopoly. Those other sites and e-readers do exist, other authors have found success on Smashwords, and, to the best of my knowledge, Amazon isn’t running around buying companies up to keep them from competing. So, technically, no, I wouldn’t call them a monopoly.
Honestly, I think they’re just the best at it right now. Amazon is friendly to indie writers and big publishers alike, they’ve got a significant market share, and, unlike Apple, they’ve yet to be accused of running factories like it’s the 1800s.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I’ve got a few short stories I’m working on and I have a chapbook coming out this fall from indie publisher Kattywompus Press, though that’s already written and contracted. I’ll almost certainly start on a third Exponential Apocalypse book at some point, but I highly doubt it will be finished this year.