I am extremely pleased to welcome Bryce Beattie – author of zombie novel ‘Oasis’ amongst others – as my latest author interview.
1. A quick intro to Bryce Beattie
Born 70 Years too late. Likes big band jazz, audio theater, pulp novels. Wrote a zombie novel. Is working on a sequel.
2. How would you describe yourself and your writing?
Myself – I’m a nerdy father of three that likes writing, jazz, beekeeping, and firearms.
My writing – well I suppose you might say it’s an homage to the pulp greats of years past, guys like Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs. There’s lots of action and improbable circumstances and general crazy fun.
3. How many books do you have published and tell us a bit about them?
I have two books and several short stories published.
The first book is a real estate investment book, and it’s not terribly exciting, but it is very practical. In the real world, I work as a programmer with a family company whose real business is real estate investment. I absolutely hate all the get-rich-quick gurus out there that preach risky and unsound investment methods. I wrote this book with my father kind of as a reaction to those guys.
The second book is my pulp/action/adventure/zombie novel. It’s called Oasis.
The sequel to Oasis is called “The Journey of St. Laurent” and it should be out by the end of the year, assuming I get my butt in gear.
I also have a couple of fantasy short stories that can be picked up for free at smashwords.com or the nook store. I guess I should get those up on Amazon, too.
4. I am particularly drawn towards Oasis out of your back catalogue. Can you tell me a bit about how this book came about?
At the time I was often playing a browser game called “The Urban Dead,” so I had Zombies on my mind. I had long wanted to write a novel, so I started posting chapters on my old wordpress.com blog and picked up a small following. Once you have a couple of people egging you on, you just have to keep going, right?
5. How long did Oasis take from start to finish and do you feel you would change anything if given the chance?
It took over two years to write and edit and such. One thing I would change is that I would carve out some time every day to be writing. It takes me way too long to finish anything.
And then I’m always reading and trying to improve my craft so there’s lots of little things in the book I’d like to change, but at some point you just have to move on and write something new.
6. What made you self publish some of your novels?
Honestly, impatience. I didn’t want the hassle of taking down the first draft from online and writing queries and such. I just wanted to write, get it done, and get it out there.
I did submit it to one publisher, though, and now I wish I had been a teensy bit more patient. The day after Oasis went live on Amazon, the publisher contacted me saying they were interested. *Sigh*
The short stories I self-published so that I could make them free and hopefully get my work in front of more eyeballs.
7. Who have you published with?
I have a couple of short stories published with now defunct magazines, including “Astonishing Adventures Magazine” which was really fantastic for lovers of old pulps.
The self-publishing companies I’ve worked with are CreateSpace, Lulu, and UniBook for physical books, then Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, Amazon’s KDP program, and Smashwords.com for eBooks. I highly recommend CreateSpace for paperbacks (& access to distribution) and UniBook for hardcovers.
8. Did you prepare your e-books yourself? Any pointers?
I do all that work for myself, and have done file prep for a little extra change on the side as well.
However, it’s easy for novel writers to get their work ready for distribution (from a technical standpoint, anyway.) At risk of tooting my own horn, I have a tutorial website where I show how to do all that. (www.HowToSelfPublishABook.org)
I’ve even written a piece of free software that takes a text file and chews it up and spits out all the formats you need to self publish on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and CreateSpace. It’s pretty slick. You may want to tweak that CreateSpace (paperback) output, but it’ll still work as is. You only need to learn how to so some simple formatting to a text file and that’s it. It’s called SPAB! (Self Publish A Book) http://www.howtoselfpublishabook.org/self-publish-a-book/
9. Do you do a lot of self promotion? What do you feel are the most effective methods of self promotion?
I don’t do anywhere near as much as I should. During the periods when I hit the promotion thing hard, my sales definitely jump. I blog and interview authors and such.
There are two things which have worked best, though: Twitter and giveaways.
There’s a glut of ideas out there to help you use Twitter in your promotion without seeming like a slug. The two that I have enjoyed the most and were the most helpful to me were John Locke’s book “How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months”, and Michael R. Hicks’s articles (the first one: http://authormichaelhicks.com/2011/09/07/marketing-tips-for-self-published-authors-using-twitter-effectively-part-1/).
The thing that worked much better for me was giveaways. I went on several forums and offered to give away a physical copy or two of my book. No strings attached, no hokey “like me on Facebook for a chance to win” crap or anything like that. Response was fantastic and I earned a couple of rabid fans that went out and mentioned me everywhere. I think this worked because I was never one of those lame guys who signs up for an account and then started four threads that all basically say “Buy my book”. Plus, everybody likes free stuff.
From a financial standpoint I made about 300% almost immediately over the cost of the books by giving those few copies away to the right crowds. And sales kept up higher for longer than anything else I’ve done.
Oh, oh, oh. I almost forgot. After I finish writing Oasis, I also built a site to help set up virtual book tours. I built it specifically so I could set up a tour when I finished the sequel and I wanted an easy way to do so. It’s free to use and located at www.BlogTour.org. I’ve never really structured a full on tour before, but I’m trying it out when I finish the book I’m working on now.
10. Do you find sales peak and then drop off after your initial self promotion?
Yeah, I ran out of Zombie-themed forums on which to do giveaways. And became distracted by other pursuits.
11. Who does you cover art? I love the Oasis cover.
I did the original cover for Oasis and I just didn’t think it really fit the genre I was shooting for. So I set out to find an artist who could do it better. I found him by going on to deviantart.com and browsing around until I found a bunch of artists whose styles I liked and though would fit my book. Then I just messaged all of them (50 or so) and asked if they would consider doing a book cover and if so how much would they charge.
Over then next week or two I heard back from most of them. Several that got back to me had absurdly high rates. A few came back way out of the range of what I could afford. Adam Masterman was the one of the fairly priced group http://www.adammasterman.com/ and is who I ended up hiring. He was fast and easy to work with and I was very pleased with the quality of the covers. I say covers because he’s already painted the cover to the sequel as well.
12. What advice would you give to a newbie to self publishing?
Try not to be freaked out by the myriad options out there. Concentrate on your writing and then make it easy for yourself to distribute your work. Publishing for the Kindle should be a first priority and then the Nook, Smashwords and CreateSpace. The Kindle has the biggest market share but the Nook is giving it a good run for its money. Smashwords distributes to so many places that it’s impossible to ignore.
Warning! Shameless Self Promotion Ahead!
Remember, I’ve got that free software that’ll pretty much do all the text layout work for you, anyway.
So, yeah. Write, write, write.
13. What lies in store for Bryce Beattie?
Next up is a couple of Fairy Tale – type books for my kids and then I’ll concentrate on some novella-length political thrillers that I’ve been dying to write. I’m hoping the shorter formats will make it easier for me to finish in a decent amount of time. If I don’t get something done quick, I get bored and its hard to keep working on it.
14. I can’t leave the interview without asking – ‘Beekeeping?’ How did you get into that and do you find it helps you relax and think through your novel ideas?
My brother-in-law is a commercial beekeeper, and I traded him some site design work for a couple of hives. I did it primarily because I’ve always been paralyzed by my fear of bees and I wanted to prove to myself I could overcome it. After I got to be okay around them, there was no reason to lose the hive. As far as insects with stingers go, honeybees are really quite gentle.
Unfortunately, It doesn’t help my writing in the least, but I do get the best tasting honey in the world. I can’t even stand the store-bought stuff anymore. I’ve become a local, raw honey snob.
Thank you Bryce for your time and your great advice and insights. Everyone please follow Bryce on Twitter @BryceBeattie, check out his site here www.storyhack.com or view more information about his hit novel Oasis here www.zombienoveloasis.com.