Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Interviews Coming

In the interest of giving readers more content on the blog, I'm going to be doing some interviews with several authors I've come to know recently, upon reading their work. They're quite talented authors and I'm sure many of you will be interested in hearing from them.

Our first author scheduled will be the bestselling author of The Didymus Contingency, Jeremy Robinson, and a fellow Breakneck Books author with his second fiction offering, Raising the Past.

Our second author interview will be with the IPPY award winning author of The Takers: Book One of the Oz Chronicles, R.W. Ridley with his upcoming release of the sequel, Delon City.

And our third scheduled author will be fellow Breakneck Books author, Sean Young, with the release of his debut historical thriller, Violent Sands.

Until then, I leave you with the links to the book trailers on the book titles and RW Ridley's Taker's trailer is found on the amazon plog. They're all quite good and I'm looking forward to sitting down (virtually) with these talented authors to discuss their work.

I hope you'll grab a sandwich and join me!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Interview with Warner author, Jeff Rivera

How long was your novel out in self published form and how were its sales during that time? Forever My Lady was out for about a year before it was purchased by Warner. It had about 8000 books in circulation at that time.
Did you use Print on Demand for digital printing or did you do a print run for your novel?
I did print on demand.
How big was your initial print run and what percentage (if any) were sold versus given away as a promotion?
My initial print run I think was just 25 books (that's all I could afford at that time). As soon as I would sell some copies I would then reinvest every penny in printing more books. I think I gave away about 100 copies the rest were sold. I also made the book available online as a free ebook for a time too, then I cut it down to just a couple of chapters that were available to read.

What process did you go through to promote it? I did mostly online promotion because I didn't have ANY money at all. I did everything from participate in forums, email blasts, and online interviews. But the real success came from after people read it they told their friends. 100% of my success as a self-published author is because of the readers. Another thing I did was sold the book face to face at speaking engagements and any where I possibly could.

Why did you decide to go from self publish to trade publisher and what steps did you take on your way to publishing with Warner? I guess because I was looking to go the next level, I knew I had to find the right editor so did research online for the houses I wanted to be with and eventually hooked up with the right agent at Levine Greenberg Agency who helped me. I knew I had to prove there was an audience for my niche market, so I was prepared with a marketing plan of how to reach them. I'm glad I self-published and I would do it all over again if I had to. I loved every moment of it (except living on Ramen noodles, unemployed, and panicing about where the rent money was going to come) but the process of writing, printing, and promoting it, I loved every moment of it.
How much effort did you put into seeking agent representation or a publisher contract before deciding to self publish your book "Forever My Lady?" I didn't put any effort at all into seeking an agent. I knew from the beginning I was going to self-publish. I did however have representation for the screenplay version of "Forever My Lady" which is how the novel began.
Do you regret not seeking trade publication for your novel, through agent and publisher submissions, before going the self publishing route? Why or why not?
I don't regret it at all. It was a wonderful experience and I would do it over again. And I just might self-publish more books, who knows. But things are going really well with Warner (Hachette Book Group) and I plan on having a long-term career working with them. As far as self-publishing, it's what I wanted to do from the beginning. I wanted to be that one exception to the rule, the guy who self-publishes and eventually gets picked up by a major publisher.

What has self publishing first, taught you "not" to do again? I learned not to do anything that you can't track the results to, so you know exactly if your time and energy is worthwhile in certain areas of promotion or sales or if you should refocus elsewhere. For example James Redfield (the author of Celestine Prophesy) told me on the set of his movie that he gave copies of the self-published version of Celestine Prophesy to bookstore clerks and they promoted the book for him naturally but for me it didn't work as well as other things I did.

What do you see as the greatest benefit to your overall success, by self publishing before contracting with Warner? I got to learn about the business end of the publishing industry. I recognized that even when signing with a big publisher you still have to go out there and promote and so things won't change that much for me in terms of efforts to promote once the Warner edition comes out in Summer of 2007. I'll still do just as much promotion and probably more. I cannot sit back and wait for the company to do everything.

What would you say to writers who believe that a manuscript should be shelved if it doesn't find a home with a Publisher or Agent representation?
I would take a good look at your story, do "real people" outside of the industry think it's great? Not just your close friends and relatives, if they do think it's great then definitely consider self-publishing, if anything, just to get the story out there.

Would you say that self publishing your book, to begin with, has better prepared you for publishing with Warner? If so, how?
Definitely, the lessons I learned from promoting the book helped me win the deal. Before Warner made an official offer they asked us (my agent and I) how they should market it. I wouldn't have known how to create the marketing plan if I hadn't based it on what I'd done already.

What would you say is the best marketing strategy for an author, self published or not?
In order to see the results immediately then I would say do speaking engagements but only in places where the people are already there (ie: the Optimist Club, college classrooms, business conferences -- wherever your target market is), not in a situation like a booksigning where you have to promote in order to get people to show up. In terms of online promotion I would say adding your link to your website to the signature of your email and the signature of any forums you might participate in.

What is the most important thing, about self publishing a novel, that you see authors doing wrong?
They get a horrible cover. The cover is 90% of the sale. Or they claim they're too shy to promote the book themselves. Even if you have the next Gone with the Wind you can't sit by and wait for people to come to you, you have to promote.

Any final advice to authors who are having a rough time getting published and might be considering self publishing their book?
Do what's best for you. Don't listen to the "experts". Consider what they have to say, but follow your own instincts. And if you're going to commit to self-publishing don't expect sales to happen over night (they could, anything's possible) but plan on spending even as long as 3 years promoting that title. Also, don't spend some much time promoting you forget to write your next few books. Have them lined up because the first thing people say after they finish reading your book is "where's the next one?" Have the next one ready. If I could do it over again and knew the book was going to do so well I would have written Forever My Lady 1 and Forever My Lady 2 at one time.

Jeff, thank you for your time and sharing your publishing experience with us. When can we expect to see your book coming from Warner and are they requiring any big changes to the book before publication?
Thanks for the interview. Forever My Lady is coming out July 2007. No big changes to the Warner edition just lots of copy-editing. :D

Monday, December 18, 2006

Booksigning in Johnson City, TN

Now, you might be saying, "James, you're looking kinda girly there," but this is not my picture.
A book signing can be a lonely experience even for a famous person like anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, seen here at her booksigning near the president's Crawford, TX ranch.
Fortunately, we had a few visitors at the Mr. K's booksigning for the Chronicles of Soone, over the three hours I was there. It's interesting to me to see what happens at a booksigning--this was my first.
We sold about 10 signed copies and I'm grateful to those who stopped by the table. For the most part, if someone investigated the table and book, then they got a copy, but I was surprised at how little people even bothered to investigate.
This had me wondering about how unnoticed one's book can be in a bookstore if it's not a bestseller at the front of the store. My book was showcased at the table and yet few people gave me more than a passing glance. Now, imagine the new or midlist author whose book doesn't receive the big press and marketing campaigns that land it up front "face out" in your local Barnes & Noble. It's easy to see how these books, relegated to a "spine out" life can go completely unnoticed and then, eventually, out of print with their publisher due to low sales.
This gives emphasis to the fact that today's author must be proactive in their own promotion of their work. The fact of the matter is, most books receive very little attention, otherwise.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Series: A World Within

Hello, everyone and Merry Christmas! I've begun a new series just this week called, A World Within.
This is a fantasy series and will be somewhat reminiscent of LOTR or Narnia in scope, but with my style. I love lots of action, so we'll see what happens.
I'm actually beginning this series as a short story that will hopefully appear in a new fantasy anthology sometime after summer in 2007. I was asked by author, William Kooiker, to be a part of the project and hopefully my story will make the cut. Normally, I don't write strictly "High Fantasy" with wizards and elves, etc, but the Lord gave me a different angle and I'm hoping everyone will enjoy it. The great thing about sci-fi / fantasy is that you can build your worlds and characters from scratch which is alot of fun!
Chronicles of Soone continues to do well with Breakneck Books and I should be approaching or past 300 copies sold by now. Perditions Gate (my other new thriller series) is well underway and I hope to be submitting the first book to agents and publishers in the spring 2007.
For anyone interested in the new series: A World Within, here is a brief synopsis, that I'm working from.
A World Within

Daniel Harwick: Master Hardwick is quite wealthy, or at least he comes from money. This is how he has come to be a resident at Ekhart Academy for Young Boys. Children should be seen and not heard, they say. Master Hardwick’s parents, however, prefer neither from their only son. He’s not athletic, but rather scrawny yet brilliant and imaginative and his antics have made him some enemies among the older boys.

William Harding: William is Daniel’s best friend. Daniel has helped him to keep his grades up so that he can remain at Ekhart Academy on the scholarship for the less desirable that was given to him for playing soccer. In return, William often looks out for Daniel’s welfare among the other boys, some of which would like to catch him alone. Within the Living Land, young William will appear as a Mem, a vision that advises and strengthens Daniel’s resolve in the situations he must endure. He claims to have been dragged into the Living Land by Daniel, but he cannot physically aid him there.

Meineke: is a Wil. A Wil is a high spirited shape shifter approximately three feet tall. A Wil desires nothing more than to be free. They tend to answer to no one, but the arrival of Mortis in the Living Land has changed everything and now the inhabitants search for the Wielder. Mortis searches for the Wielder as well so that he may take the life from him and bring death to the Living Land, becoming all powerful.

Mortis: is a purveyor of death. He hails from a void known as Necrom and his power is the ability to animate the inanimate and control it. Mortis seeks to extend the borders of Necrom across the entire living land. Since he has no direct power over that which possesses life, he seeks to stamp it out completely and become all powerful. Only the Wielder can stop him.

The Wielder: is the sustainer of the Living Land. He has never been seen by any of the Living Land’s many inhabitants, but they know of him. The Wielder holds the power of the Living Land at his disposal, but when he finally appears to put a stop to the encroachment of Necrom, will he know how to utilize this power? When young Daniel Harwick finds himself transported into the Living Land, he has no idea that he is the key to winning the conflict taking its toll there.

The Living Land: is the world within young Daniel Harwick’s mind only he doesn’t yet know it. He is transported to this place when an injury leads to a massive head trauma and coma. There are many strange inhabitants in the Living Land, all born of the imagination of the Wielder. A desperate battle rages in the Land to prevent Mortis from spreading the Necrom void across the land. In the meantime, a brave band of warriors including: A human male, a griffin, a Wil, and a female from the Order of the Bard, has been dispatched to search for the Wielder. Little do they realize just how close he might be.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book Signing This Weekend!

Well, I'm going to be having my first book signing this weekend, Saturday December 16th, and I'm frankly quite nervous about it. This being my first, I'm not really sure what to expect.

I've read plenty of stories where an author shows up, but no one else does. I certainly hope that I can have all copies sold by the end of it. I've got about 30 copies that are either on consignment in this independent bookstore already or that I'll have with me when I come. I've put out hundreds of flyers for it over the past week and the store owner has a list of contacts that she sends out signing announcements to when they have them--so, we'll see what happens. I'll post about it next week.

If anyone is local to Johnson City, Tn -- the signing is at Mr. K's new location on Roan street near the mall from 1pm-4pm. I'm hoping to have a powerpoint going with some new samples of the Chronicles Comic pages that have been produced by artist, Ed Watson.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Christian Science Fiction/ Fantasy Blog Tour

Trackers, by Kathryn Mackel, is the second book in the sci-fi fantasy "Birthright series."
This book is getting some excellent customer reviews over at and it was published october 2006, by Westbow Press.
Read the reviews, check out the book and then head on over to the website for the birthright series for more great information.
The genre of Christian Sci-fi/ fantasy isn't exactly new, but it is limited by a lack of titles. This is something we as Christian writers hope to see change with time and new Christian writers who are being published.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Email Mishap!

Well, I've had a mishap with my old email. I really need to get in touch with my partner on the comic book proposal, Ed Watson. Ed if you read this, my new email is and for anyone else, as always I'm very open to comments from readers.

Chronicles is doing pretty good right now, but an after Christmas slump is expected. Maybe that won't be the case. It's in the Lord's hands anyway, right? Of course it is.

I've been working on my new series, Perditions Gate, and have come up with what I believe to be a very good query letter for the time when I finish the novel and send out to agents for representation. Thanks to everyone I asked for opinion's from on the query letter. Your comments really helped alot! Hopefully it will find agent representation easily, when the time comes next year. Also in the Lord's capable hands.