If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down. ~Ray Bradbury
A discussion about going indie.
Mary: Visiting Spacedock 19 today is Michael Pierce, the very talented author of the science fiction novel, Provex City. Welcome, Michael. Care for a beer?
Michael: Would I? I can’t think of anything better on a warm summer day than an iced cold Boddingtons. Cheers, Mary! *clink* Thank you for having me on the Spacedock.
Mary: There is nothing better than a cold beer on a hot day. I chose the indie publishing route because it best suits my independent nature. What made you decide on this path to publication?
Michael: I love having the creative control. I don’t want someone else changing my vision, from the scenes I think are important to how I picture the covers. Maybe I’m just a control freak, but I love not having to compromise. Now the fate of my stories rest in my hands…no pressure. The one thing I didn’t fully understand is how much work it would be after the writing and editing was finished. That’s only one leg in the indie publishing adventure. What has been a key learning for you in bringing your books to the marketplace?
Mary: Finding an editor I could work with and liked was a bit of a challenge. Took a few tries. Even with a sample edit, it’s impossible to figure out whether an editor is a match or not. After that, getting notice among all that’s out there is quite a trick. What have been your greatest challenges?
Michael: Exactly what you said, getting noticed in a sea of great writers. I never fancied myself as a salesman, but that’s now what I have to become to get noticed. Be conspicuous. Get out there to be seen and heard. I am not an extroverted person, so I find this push to get noticed, to get my writing noticed, quite the challenge. What has been your favorite part of the indie publishing process?
Mary: I’m not an extrovert either. In real life, that’s my husband’s job. Although I don’t find it difficult to talk to other writers and through working at the observatory I’ve gotten much more comfortable with public speaking. My favorite part is fan mail. I really enjoy making covers and I love the process of molding my product start to finish. It’s a definite rush every time I hit ‘publish’. What’s your favorite part?
Michael: I need to get better about talking to writers and other people of the industry. And public speaking? I get nervous just thinking about it. I took some acting classes to get over the fear, but they didn’t work. I think I need another beer. Haha. I don’t have the artist talent to do them myself, but I also love seeing my finished covers. I recently received the final cover to my second book (which I’m waiting to reveal) and it felt what I remember Christmas morning feeling like as a kid. A wave of excitement. That’s when I feel like my book is really coming alive. Once getting past the cover, how do you go about formatting for an ebook?
Mary: I read the instructions and format them myself. Each site gets it’s own document. I keep a master and create the others from that. I start with a clean document, then paste special unformatted into the clean document. Then format. It’s important to make sure no stray commands are in the document. Then I check the file to make sure it came out how I want it. It’s not hard to format. It does take a little patience though. Do you format yourself?
Michael: I was overwhelmed with all the formatting advice and instructions I found online and in writing magazines, and ended up going to a company to format my ebook for me. But I wasn’t impressed with the job they did, so this time around I am planning to format for myself. As of this weekend, I found two free programs, Sigil and Calibre, that I’m starting to experiment with. Sigil seems to be a pretty in-depth program for formatting an .epub file, and Calibre can be used to convert the newly formatted .epub file to other file types (like .mobi for the Kindle). I still have a lot to learn, but I feel like I’m more prepared for the challenge this time. Hopefully, I can do it successfully without pulling all my hair out. Haha.
Mary: It seems more overwhelming than it is. I definitely learned to use MSWord better. Maybe I’ll get smarter and create templates for each site. Any marketing tips to share? I’d say my smartest move was giving away the first book in the Backworlds series. I’m not a bestseller, but I sell at a steady trickle. From there, I can build. The blog network helped me start, too. And I have an ad on Goodreads which gets me some sales here and there. I feel a bit like Sarah Palin lately, never turning down an opportunity for some publicity. Has anything you’ve done resulted in some traction?
Michael: I didn’t do a blog tour for my first book, Provex City, but now that I’ve been blogging a little while I feel more confident about setting one up. So that’s my plan for the release of SUSY Asylum, hopefully in January. *Fingers crossed* I’m still learning about Goodreads, so I’d like to utilize that more in the near future. I’ve done a few Amazon free ebook giveaways, which went well and led to some sales. I’m at the trial and error stage right now, researching ways to be introduced to new readers. If I uncover some great secret I’ll be sure to reveal it to you, right here, over another beer (or two). Thank you so much for having me.
Mary: It was pleasurable to chat with you, Michael. You’re welcome to come back when you release SUSY Asylum. Interesting title.
Check out Michael’s Provex City —-
Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him. Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls? Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: “When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls.” And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.
Michael Pierce lives in Southern California with his wife, daughter, and two ultra-protective Chiweenies. Provex City is his debut novel and the first book in the young adult fantasy Lorne Family Vault Series.