One the most awesome things about this RU gig is the chance to reach out to some of my favorite authors and invite them to be a Visiting Professor. Hank Edwards is a person who drew me in through his awesome books (His book, FLUFFER’s INC, is laugh out loud hilarious with a style and characters to rival Janet Evanovich) and then through his generous friendship on Facebook. When I heard that he was doing what everyone else was only talking about – self publishing – I knew I had to get him here. And one lucky commenter (and you would be lucky because I’ve also read and loved it ) will win a copy of his book, BOUNTY.
Here’s to Hoping . . .
I have embarked on a journey. And it all started with the thought, What if…?
The what if led me to think about vampires and zombies. These supernatural beings are very similar: undead, dangerous, infecting others with a bite (or three), and hungry for blood. Yet they seldom appear together in stories. So what if I threw vampires and zombies together? Well, vampires would be the clear winner: they have thought and reason, super strength, and near immortality. Zombies shamble around, moan, and eat people, but don’t really plan anything.
But what if zombies were able to hurt vampires? What if a zombie bite could pierce vampire skin and break vampire bone? When zombies shamble together they are a force to be reckoned with, have you seen any episodes of The Walking Dead? (If not, you should, it’s a great show.)
And what if this all took place in the American Old West? Talk about mashing up genres!
With such a crazy mixture of genres, I knew it would be a tough sell to publishers, but I did inquire with a couple of them. They all were pretty adamant about each book ending with, at the very least, a happy for now, preferably with a happily ever after. But the first book in my series, Bounty, ends with questions unanswered, with characters in peril, and, in my opinion, sets up the second book, Bait, very well. And as a writer (and being rather stubborn), I decided to stick to my vision, and instead of changing my story I turned to self-publishing. It may prove to be folly, but I feel it will be worth it when all is said and done.
There is a lot of work involved in writing and publishing a book. Not just the writing part, though that does consist of a lot of work, but there’s all the stuff waiting once the draft is complete. Edits, for one. And as an author, I didn’t trust myself to pick apart the character motivations, descriptions, and plot I had spent nearly a year trying to dump from my imagination to the page. A writer reviewing his or her work is kind of like my mother was when I was going through those gangly, crazy, hideous adolescent years: she told me that even through the acne, long, skinny limbs, and lack of coordination I was handsome.
I could find the spelling errors and most of the grammar stuff, but I needed some people to be brutally honest with me about the story overall, so I turned to friends, most of whom I have yet to meet in person, to read my book and give me any and all feedback. That is one trait a writer must possess if that writer is to succeed: the ability to take feedback from readers, early betas or those after publication, and use it to improve the story. This is no time for pride; the story must be accessible to readers on all levels and the only way to ensure that is to use those resources available to you: friends on Facebook with similar interests, maybe a local writing group (invaluable, in my opinion), or friends you’ve known all your life who will be honest. Take those suggestions and questions and confusions and rework your story.
I did that, and am so grateful to the friends who gave me their time and insight. The story is mine, but it is stronger because of their feedback.
Next is a cover. All books, even e-books, need a cover. A hot, enticing cover to draw attention and peak readers’ interests. I am fortunate enough to love and live with a fabulous graphic artist who worked with me over a number of days to create an awesome cover. We searched for the perfect models and backgrounds to encompass the many colliding genres in my story and it turned out even better than I imagined. He is amazing, and not just as a graphic artist.
Then, I signed up for Amazon’s Kindle Publishing (really easy), uploaded my Word document (do not forget to include a cover in the Word document; I thought the image I uploaded would be used in the file and not just for the website for some reason … duh!), and published it. In less than 24 hours it was ready and I was able to start promoting the book.
I hit Facebook and posted the heck on my wall and in several m/m groups I belong to. I sold a few copies the first day and was encouraged. But I needed to get the book listed on more sites and available as different files for all types of e-readers.
Smashwords is awesome. I setup my account, typed in the specifics about my book (note to self: have a blurb and description ready beforehand to avoid stress), then uploaded my .doc file and it spawned a whole host of file types. Simply amazing. From one file I can now direct people to Smashwords where they can download my book in pretty much any file type.
And now I’m working on advertising. I’m not sure just how much advertising my publishers do (I’ve never seen my book covers on the sides of buses or atop taxis… wouldn’t that be nice?), but I’m trying to branch out. Review requests need to be sent out, and guest spots on blog sites need to be set up. And this is all while juggling an Evil Day Job.
But I’ve got the freedom for my characters to go where the story wants to take them, and not contrive an ending to please the corporation. Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am I’ll find out by my book sales, but I think readers will be eager for a romantic, suspenseful read that doesn’t pander to them. If you like paranormal stories or Westerns with strong characters and a m/m romantic plot, click on over to check out Bounty, Venom Valley: Book One.
Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a copy of “Bounty” in Kindle, Nook, or PDF format. And drop me a line to let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Have you considered self-publishing? What are the pros and cons in your mind? Hank is in the trenches and here to answer your questions – fire away! Hank has to go the Evil Day Job today, but he’ll be popping in and out!
On Monday, Eleanor Elliot helps us make our marketing checklist.
Bio: Hank Edwards is a member of the Story Orgy writer’s group and posts free m/m stories on his blog every Monday morning at http://http://www.hankedwardsbooks.com/. His published titles include the first book of his Venom Valley Series, the self published cowboy / vampire / zombie mash up Bounty, as well as the Charlie Heggensford series, Fluffers, Inc., A Carnal Cruise, and the Lambda Award Finalist Vancouver Nights, all available from Lethe Press. He has also published three books through Loose Id: the romantic suspense thriller Holed Up, the time travel romance Destiny’s Bastard, and the contemporary romantic comedy Plus Ones. Find out more at http://www.hankedwardsbooks.com/.
- The Lure of a Series with Hank Edwards
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for October 10 -14, 2011
- The Scoop: Using TV Techniques to Write the Killer Novel
- Modern Mythmaking with Jaye Wells
- Group Dynamics and Writing with the Story Orgy