Richard Denoncourt, whose books include Milo Banks and the Tower of Light, talks about 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 always wanted to write, ever since I was six years old and started making tiny books out of cardboard and paper. I just had these stories in my head and I needed to get them out somehow.
Tell me a little about your books.
Milo Banks and the Tower of Light is about a boy and his twin sister, both of whom are thirteen years old, who find out that their entire family is descended from ancient gods. These gods created another realm parallel to our own, and when the family is attacked by an old enemy, the kids find themselves in this other realm. Since they are also descended from gods, thanks to their parents, they realize they have these superpowers that make them very special. The book is, in one sense, a coming of age story about this boy and girl. It’s also a fantasy adventure about a battle between good and evil forces.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
I dedicated Milo Banks to JK Rowling, Raymond E. Feist, George Lucas, and Ayn Rand. A weird assortment of authors, I know. But these four people were essential in coming up with the story, theme, and characters of the Milo Banks series. Though I feel the book is totally my own, I couldn’t have done it without their help.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I try and follow the Stephen King rule of writing: get 2,000 words a day, every day. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. But I try and write at least that much every evening when I get home from work. I usually end up with about 6-8,000 words a week, if I’m lucky.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
I tried to get an agent, but they all ignored Milo Banks and the Tower of Light. I think they felt it was a Harry Potter clone, even though the two stories are radically different. I don’t blame them, though. I’m sure they’re flooded with query letter proclaiming the author to be the next JK Rowling, or the next Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins.
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 measure success by the amount I get done. My goal is to complete the second book in the Realm of Astros series (Milo Banks and the Crystal King) by the end of 2013. I think the best way to measure success is by how much you actually write in any given period of time.
How have you marketed your books?
I use all of those social media sites, but I’m not crazy devoted to them. I paid for advertising on Goodreads and so far its going well. People are adding the books to their shelves. I think the most helpful thing has been my blog. I try and add value to the internet with each post I write. It’s not easy though. I often get writer’s block when it comes to my blog.
Have you signed up for KDP Select?
I used KDP select with my first novel, Trainland. It didn’t go so well. But that was when I was first starting out and didn’t have much of an internet presence. I don’t know how it would be today. I haven’t signed up any other novels. I feel it’s more beneficial to have my books out on different sites, like Smashwords. KDP Select doesn’t allow that.
Away from Amazon, have you had much luck with other outlets? Do you use Smashwords, Barnes & Noble etc?
I use Smashwords and really like it. The coupon feature is awesome and helps me with free book promotions.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
Not really. I’m optimistic about human ingenuity and the American marketplace. Someday someone will come along with a business model/idea that will give Amazon some serious competition.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
I’m working on an epic sci-fi ovel called Ascendant that will be released in five episodes starting next Spring. It’s almost finished. My only problem is saving enough money to hire an editor. That’s been the hardest part of this whole experience. But I’ll find a way to make it work. I’ve already designed the covers myself, and they actually look pretty good.