Along time ago in an a galaxy far, far away...or...at least it feels that way.
A long time ago (about a year and a few months), when As The World Dies The First Days was first released, I was approached by Bryce Beattie about an interview for his blog Storyhack. You can read that interview here. Today I get to turn the tables and find out why Bryce decided to self publish and if he has any advice for new writers.
As I have stated before, I have received quite a few requests for information on writing, publishing and requests for me to critique the work of new writers. It is very difficult for me to respond to each and every person, so I am doing this series of interviews to provide valuable information from writers who are moving forward in their careers.
Rhiannon: Why did you begin writing?
Bryce: I began writing "for real" after I got into old pulp novels. I loved the energy and the excitement in those old stories, and I was convinced I could put the same oomph into stories of my own.
Rhiannon: How many short stories and/or novels did you write before starting on Oasis?
Bryce: I'd written a few short stories before. Nothing I'm terribly proud of. Oasis was my second attempt at a novel. The first attempt was a science-fiction dystopian detective novel that I was co-authoring with a high school buddy of mine. We didn't get too far, but it was fun while it lasted.
Rhiannon: Why did you decide to post it online on a blog?
Bryce: I was realistic about the chances of getting my first novel published. It just seemed like every "real" author I talked to or read about had written two or three novels before getting published. Since I figured I most likely wouldn't be getting published anyway, why not post my work online.
Posting fiction online has it's bonuses. You can get 'live' feedback. You can build a readership. As you build a readership, there is also the bonus of having to write, or people complain. It forces you to find the time.
Besides, I was sure there'd be at least one person that would find it amusing besides myself.
Rhiannon: How long did it take for you to build a steady readership?
Bryce: I'm not really sure. I don't remember there being a day where I woke up and said, "Wow, I totally have steady hits to my site now." I know that it took longer than a year, though.
Rhiannon: Does the constant feedback from your readers encourage or discourage you?
Bryce: Oh, I love even the negative feedback. I'm an attention whore. I feed off of all of it.
Rhiannon: Why did you decide to self publish Oasis?
Bryce: If figured it'd be better than letting it decay on a hard drive somewhere. Plus I really, really wanted to throw it on a coffee table and when folks came over I'd say (nonchalantly) "Oh, yeah. That's my first novel." Now that I have the novel, all I need for that dream to come true is a coffee table.
Rhiannon: Had you submitted it to any publishers or agents before you decided to self publish?
Bryce: I submitted Oasis to one small publisher that specialized in post-apocalyptic "literature." I sent them the submission with the first three chapters and everything (this was before I had actually finished the book), then waited about six months. I hadn't heard back, so I went ahead and self published.
The day after Oasis went live on Amazon, they contacted me asking for the full manuscript. Alas, they were not interested in a reprint at the time. So, who knows where that would have gone?
Rhiannon: What was the hardest thing about self publishing?
Bryce: Well, once the book was finished, I thought the publishing process was easy. At least until the "OK, now what do I do with my published book?" Phase. Marketing the self published book, then, is the hardest thing for me.
Followed closely by editing.
Rhiannon: Have you noticed any stigma placed on your book because its not from a "traditional" publisher?
Bryce: Not so much that the book was self published. I get more flack in the real world due to the genre.
Rhiannon: What are your plans for the next book? Are you subbing it to traditional publishers or will you publish it yourself?
Bryce: I'm currently writing and posting the sequel to Oasis, called "The Journey of St. Laurent." Right now, I'm not planning on subbing it anywhere. My current plan is to form my own imprint and then go use LightningSource.
The book after that, though, will be more of a mainstream thriller, and I'll probably shop it around.
Rhiannon: Why did you decide to write about zombies?
Bryce: Well, at the same time I was getting excited about writing I was playing an online game called Urban Dead, so I had zombies on the brain.
Rhiannon: Do reviews help you in anyway?
Bryce: The well thought out ones do. And of course seeing many stars in Amazon would give me a warm fuzzy and make me want to write more.
Most of the time, though, reviews are just two lines of either pure love or excessive hate. Without mentioning anything specific from the book, one of the reviews on Amazon compared my work (unfavorably) to a bean burrito from Taco Bell.
Rhiannon: Do you feel you are developing a solid fan base?
Bryce: Well, I'm making a lot of friends online and I'm getting more and more regular comments on my blog, so I'd say "Yes."
Rhiannon: What is your latest writing project?
Bryce: As I mentioned, I'm writing the sequel to Oasis, and I've been off and on outlining about four or five other books.
Rhiannon: Do you plot our your novels or do you just see where the words take you?
Bryce: In general I make an outline using the first few steps from Randy Ingermanson's "snowflake method" of writing a novel. When I lose interest in outlining, I start hammering it out, then revisit the outline as needed.
Rhiannon: From where do you draw inspiration?
Bryce: Fiction influences include mostly old stuff, including the works of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroghs, Robert Leslie Bellem, Lester Dent (Kenneth Robinson) and other great pulp authors.
From a certain standpoint, I'm inspired by modern authors like Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer, inasmuch as every time I pick up one of their books I think, "Hey, if THIS can make a zillion bucks, maybe there's still hope for my books. I'd better get writing."
Rhiannon: Do you have strong support from your family and friends in you writing endeavors?
Bryce: My wife is fanatically supportive of my writing. She's a bigger fan of it than I am. And if you'd ever met my ego, you'd know that was saying something.
Rhiannon: Would you encourage other fledgling writers to self publish?
Bryce: Absolutely. I say follow your dream and if self-publishing helps you get there, do it.
Rhiannon: What is the one single piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started out?
Bryce: Read out loud everything you write! I feel very strongly about this one.
Rhiannon: What is your long term writing career goal?
Bryce: About six or seven books down the road, I'd like to write one that actually changes a lot of people's lives for the better. Whether I ever make any money or not is moot to me. I love writing, so I'll be doing it until they pry my spacepen from my cold, dead hands. Of course I wouldn't mind making a good living as a full time author, either.
For more information on Bryce and his latest works, check out his blog Storyhack here.
To purchase his novel Oasis, click here.