Tell us a little bit about "Demon's Bane." What are your influences and what inspired you to write it?
My first favorite author was Terry Brooks. Lately I've been put off by the formulaic nature of his Shannara series, but I have always loved the way he builds up his heroes. More recently I became a George R. R. Martin devotee, and I love the gritty realism of his novels. Martin has no fear of maiming or killing his main characters, so you truly never know what will happen next. Just like in real life! I'd always wanted to write a fantasy novel, so when the company I worked for went bankrupt, I just combined the best aspects of my favorite authors' strategies and went for it.
You say that you edited the book with an online workshop? Which one?
I used the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. On the website, I met a lot of people that I still correspond with from time to time, even when I'm not in the midst of writing. It's a really great atmosphere over there.
What was the editing process like? Were there various people that made comments or just one or two? How many of the comments were useful?
A lot of the comments were stylistic, where I could see that someone didn't agree with this or that style point. Each person made several comments or suggestions. And several people would point out the same issue if I had a glaring problem. Overall, I'd say I made changes based on about half the comments people made. The way it works is, you find people who do "Crit for Crit" reviews, meaning they'll read one of your chapters if you read one of theirs. Over time you build up a cohort of friends and trade reviews. I always tried to get 3-4 reviews of each chapter before I moved on to the next one.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing with Lightning Source? What percentage of the profits do they give you?
Lightning Source is really just acting as a printer; you are the publisher and they just print & distribute.
Advantages: you have a fixed pricing based on the number of pages, which you determine yourself in the typesetting stage. Calculating the profit is easy. You subtract their fixed production pricing from the cover price, and factor in the short discount you give to middlemen like Amazon. Setup is not very expensive at LS, either - I think about $100.
Disadvantages: you do *everything* yourself. All the proofreading and editing. All the typesetting. The whole cover design. Purchasing of ISBN numbers. Creation of the PDF files, which are fed directly to the LS printing machine. If you make any mistakes, you're responsible for them 100%. Fortunately, the change fees if you submit a modified cover PDF or interior PDF are not too high.
What have you done until now to market your book? What has been the most effective strategy?
So far I've used social networks like Twitter and Facebook, along with sending free copies of the book to reviewers on book blogs. I also sent out some emails to groups of friends/family that were interested. I'd say the most effective strategy was Facebook, though really that wasn't a huge amount of sales. I was really surprised that book blog reviews didn't result in higher sales, even though many of them were very good reviews. Overall, I'm letting things be for now, to give my German agent time to try and sell the book to a publisher here in Germany. I'd like to try an inexpensive e-book version if that doesn't work out in a year or so.
You mentioned that you're not all that happy with the cover. What is it about the cover that you don't like? Who did the artwork?
I had an artist friend draw the cover, based on my specifications. Then I used an auto-painter program to make the simple illustration look a little more artsy. My error was in making it too complex! A cover should be simpler, without so many things going on. The artist did a great job with the specifications I gave him, but I obviously didn't get it right with the specs, because I had a lot of complaints from people about the overall scene portrayed. In case my agent doesn't sell the book, I'll reissue it with a new cover eventually. But right now it's not worth the time and money for a redesign, because I hope it may be bought anytime by a publisher.
"Don't judge a book by its cover" is just a silly expression. Most people DO judge a book by its cover! Instead, live by the motto, "You only get one chance to make a first impression." When it comes to books, the cover is that first impression.
Are there any sequels planned?
I do have a sequel in the works, quite far along in the planning stages. With the amount of advance planning I am doing for the sequel, I should be able to write it quite fast once I begin banging out chapters on the keyboard. I even have a tentative title, but that's still a secret ;-)
Anything else we should know about you?
What else to tell... I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. For many years I was skydiving almost every weekend, and now I do a lot of snowboard carving on a very long & fast board with hardboots. There might be a few e-books in the works: raceboarding, self-publishing via Lightning Source, and one about my upcoming around-the-world trip.