Author Interview – Bill Glover

I am very excited to say Bill Glover, author of Empire Time amongst many others, has been kind enough to answer some questions for me. I think you will find his responses on writing and publishing extremely interesting – not to mention humorous.

1/ What can you tell us about Empire Time?

I wrote Empire Time as part of the Orion’s Arm project. Orion’s Arm is a shared, hard science fiction world set ten thousand years in our future and filled with artificial intelligences, post-humans and wild ideas. My story is set a bit earlier in the same universe. I wanted to explore some of the consequences of faster than light travel using wormholes, technical consequences like Stephen Hawking’s Chronology Protection Conjecture (CPC) and the idea of time domains and empire time, and some more human and emotional consequences. It was originally published in RevolutionSF and also on the Orion’s Arm website. It was the first thing I brought to the Kindle, sort of like bringing an old friend along to introduce to new readers.

2/ You are obviously a very technical person. Does your day-to-day work inspire you or influence the direction you take with your writing?

I’m a geek, but I’ve had all sorts of jobs. Everything I do affects my writing. I think the kind of work I do right now, embedded systems programming, makes me want to write about competent people who solve problems using their wits, but still make mistakes. I see that every day in my own work, it’s why we have bug tracking databases. It’s also why I’ll never write a hero who ends up in trouble just for doing something stupid. It’s much more fun when a hero ends up in trouble for trying something brilliant that just doesn’t quite work.

3/ You have books published through the traditional route (i.e. not e-books). How did you find that experience?

I’ve been very fortunate to work with a great publisher, O’Reilly Media.  It can tough sometimes jumping through the hoops necessary to fit into a publishers process, and it can be exhausting working with editors, illustrators and proofreaders changing things over and over, but the result is a surprising transformation. A good editor works this magical sort of transmogrification over a draft. Each change seemed obvious in retrospect, but I wouldn’t have spotted them, and I couldn’t have predicted how, together, they made a very big, positive difference in the final book. As for how it worked out financially, I still get regular royalty checks years later. I don’t think I could have made more with that particular book or done it better alone. For non-fiction, I would still tend toward traditional publishing, and I would work with O’Reilly any day.

4/ What made you want to experiment with self publishing?

I have always been a do-it-yourself sort. I fold my own CD cases and wallets out of recycled paper, that sort of thing. Self publishing appeals to me in the same way. Also, I live online. I don’t see traditional fiction publishers really getting what that’s like and approaching it constructively yet. I think they will, and I will still pursue traditional publishing somewhere down the road, but for right now I want to write for an audience without too much formality or overhead. I want to develop my skills while entertaining people and hearing what they have to say about it. I don’t need a traditional publisher to do that. I also like the idea of retaining the rights to my work. I use a Creative Commons license for most things, and I like the idea of being able to do that without having to clear it with someone’s corporate legal, and being able to take my own work to a new format five years down the road without having to buy my own rights back from anyone.

5/ How have you found he experience to date?

It’s great. I was really impressed to see Kindle allowed straight HTML for formatting, and the interface for uploading and pricing and metadata is simple and works the way it should. The reaction from readers has been great too. I haven’t explored Smashwords or B&N yet, but I will as time allows.

6/ How are sales figure of print vs. e-book or is it too early to say?

I’m really not even going to bother with paper printing right now. It’s a cumbersome, expensive process. I love physical books, don’t get me wrong. I have a house full of bookshelves. but I don’t see POD books as very useful. The reading experience on an e-paper screen is great, and the digital version is more durable than paper because I can back it up. I can carry any number of e-books up three flights of stairs without painkillers and a week to recover. A well bound book is a treasure. A POD book or even a mass market paperback is just a poor substitute for an e-book. All of which is a clever way to avoid saying, “It’s too early to tell anyway.” See what I did there?

7/ How do you market and promote your work?

I really haven’t started. My plan is to wait to promote until I have at least four pieces up on Amazon. I know as a reader I will snap up everything by an author if I like the first piece I read, but it may take me some time to come back around and see if they have anything new later. I want to support that same sort of wonderful gluttony in my readers by laying out a few courses and appetizers.

Would you like a mint? It’s wafer thin.

8/ What are your plans for the future? Do you have any books in the pipeline you plan on self publishing?

I’m working on two novellas and two short novels. I’m not sure in what order they will be finished. One is a follow-on fantasy in the same world as A Dangerous Occupation. The other three are very different and will start, if not a series, a set of related books.

9/ What nugget of advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?

If you haven’t already written and published as many books as Lawrence Block, pay a professional editor. The one great weakness I’m seeing in self published work is a lack of professional editing. It really does show, and it’s very hard to do yourself. Also as a bonus nugget, if you buy into a package deal which includes marketing, be very sure you understand what you are paying for and be skeptical of anyone who claims they can make you famous for a fee. No one can guarantee that, and marketing, traditional or indy these days is mostly up to you.

A little about Bill Glover

Bill Glover has, at various times, been paid to: Write software to control dams on the lower Colorado river, wash dishes, write software to manage offshore trust funds, dig ditches, wire together giant machines the size of buildings and program them to do his bidding, usher people into a movie theater, architect one of the largest travel websites in the world, wait tables, track shaving razors, tires, beer and kitchen appliances with radio frequency identification tags, play the saxophone, work for Sun Microsystems as their consultant to other companies on Java Architecture, measure cattle with ultrasound, scales, hydraulics and high speed cameras, be the Chief Architect for the largest airline software company in the world, count pencils, play with Linux code and write device drivers for high end video broadcast and editing equipment, and write technical non-fiction, fantasy, science fiction and the occasional horror story.

Bill lives in the mountains of Northern California where he attends many wine tastings, music festivals, fairs and farmer’s markets and generally has an unreasonably good time reading a book instead.

You can follow Bill on Twitter @I_Write_Fiction and find more information about him at http://billglover.com.

You can also buy his books here:

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