Sunday, February 12, 2012

Indie Insider - Steve Reeder


How many words do you do write a day? Where do you do it?

That depends on a number of things: I’m busy setting up a publishing firm as well as marketing my own book, which mean trips to Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to talk to people, give speeches on writing, publishing and of course on my book. So, when I’m at home I write for an hour a day while knowing that I should be doing a lot more, especially since I’m actually busy with 2 manuscripts and have two more ready to start with.


Do you think that people judge a book by it’s cover? Who makes yours?

I think the cover of a novel will be the first thing that draws someone to picking it up and reading the back cover blurb, perhaps reading the first few pages, so yes, I do think that, initially, that’s true. Hopefully though, it won’t be the deciding factor. After all, you know what they say about judging a book by its cover!


What do you do when you get writers block?

I can honestly say that I’ve never had writers block. If anything, the reverse is true. There are times when I find myself writing a chapter and then getting side-tracked and writing either the start of another book, or a chapter that will only appear later in the book; the scenes come to me and I write then down and then work out how the book will get to that scene! Sometimes the book seems to write itself while I sleep and I wake up and type madly before I forget. Naturally, this does lead to an awful lot of deleting and editing.


How much time do you spend on social media per day? What do you concentrate on?

I do. I have friends and family scattered around the world and Face Book is the best way to keep in touch and let each other know what’s going on in our respective lives. But it’s an important method of promoting yourself and your work. These days practically every business has an identity on Face Book and there are groups for everything including authors. I find it to be very helpful.


Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? What is your process?

Once my manuscripts are finished I send them to contacts of mine to read and comment on. I take in what they say and then read the story again and try to see it from their point of view and I may make some small changes. Then I send it to a firm in London – professional editors and critique people – and that will come back in four to five months’ time. I then go over their comments, correct the spelling, punctuation and grammar – there is always lots to correct there – and then think about their suggestions and criticisms. Usually this will result in changing a word here or there, but in the book Adrenalin Rush I did rewrite half a chapter in the middle of the book and they were correct, it did read better.


How important is it for an indie author to use a professional editor?

Very important. The last thing we can afford, as indie authors, is to look amateurish and have mistakes, bad grammar and punctuation will kill your book. Not to mention that the pros are very good at fine-tuning not your story, which is your own and should remain so, but making it just that little bit more readable; making your writing flow more smoothly so as not to distract the reader from the story.


How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish?

Once again this is a difficult question to answer. I wrote the first draught of Adrenalin Rush in six months working three hours a night (usually between 11pm
And 3am) but if I had worked flat or it may have taken two months. Bu then again I believe that a story needs to flow out of you at a space that is comfortable and not forced. I put the book aside for two months after I had finished it before reading it from start to finish as a way of critiquing it myself. That first book was a major learning experience for me and although it took three years to get it into print, in the professionally written and edited way it is now, I could, knowing what I now know, do it all in a year.


Please list three unique blogs or web sites for writers that you read on a regular basis.

http://www.braxtonacosbygodson.com/ who is one of Bill Cosby’s family. He started following me on Twitter and I began to read his tweets.
http://twitter.com/#!/Jack_Hanger. James is a local author of the book Jack Hanger
http://twitter.com/#!/RonBarakAuthor. Ron is an American author of political novels
http://twitter.com/#!/VanHaywood. Actress, model and friend

I also have joined the Face Book groups: Authors, Agents, and Aspiring Writers as well as Uncensored Writing - All Genres Welcome.


Is there anything else you would like to share?

I believe that as an author, the first prize is a huge publishing deal with one of the Random House or Penguin or so on firms. They throw lots of money at you and you can go about your business writing the next two novels that your contact demands while they spend serious money marketing your book. You get very small amounts of money from each sale, but there will be, hopefully, lots of sales. These sorts of deals are getting more and more difficult to get though. One in a thousand manuscripts submitted to a publishing house or an agent will ever get published and make money! There are all sorts of reasons for this that I won’t go into now.

However, these days there a growing number of ‘vanity press’ publishing firms (they are so called because most of the books they publish are so that the author can see themselves in print) or more recently ‘Subsidized’ publishers, where you pay most of the costs and they promise to help market your book around the world. I know several authors who have gone this route and none of them are happy, so I not keen on the idea.

I believe that with the technology and social media available to us today we can self-publish in a very professional way, so long as you use the out-sourced professionals mentioned above. The only problem then is the marketing one. How do you get your book in front of millions of potential buyers so that you can sale a hundred thousand books? Social media help quite a bit here. This is a question of profit and the numbers add up differently depending on the way you go about it.

My books are stocked in shops – I have a distributor in Cape Town – and when a book sells I take a profit, deduct the cost of printing (you MUST print large numbers and have a top printing firm do it) and end up with the equivalent of $2.00. So I need to sell many thousands of books that way to live. If I had gone through one of the traditional publishing firms, and two of the local branches made me an offer, but told me that this wouldn’t help get an international deal, then my income per book would be half that.

The big advantage of self-publishing, in the absence of one of those mega dollar deals, is that I hold book signings around the country and bank $17.37 per book AFTER print costs. And that means that for every 1000 copies I sell, I make as much money as someone like Wilbur Smith when 9 000 copies of his books sell. I’d still like to be in his shoes, but I’m a lot happier being self-published that either not being published at all, or have one of the vanity-press or subsidized deals.


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