It takes a publisher an average of 9 months or more to respond to a submission. Multiple submissions are discouraged which means an author can have a novel tied up for years while waiting to be rejected. If it is accepted, there is another year or so wait before the book actually comes out. The author not only loses out on a lot of potential income but once a novel is picked up by a publisher he or she loses control of the book. If you discover an error or you want to make a minor change so it meshes with an unplanned sequel/prequel you're out of luck. As a new author, I knew the odds of being accepted were pretty much zero and so I opted to publish as an indie. I've never regretted that decision. I am not totally against traditional publishers but I'm not going to seek them out.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is part of my overall strategy to get my books out in the wild to the largest audience possible. Smashwords continually searches for ways to expand an author's potential market. The founder, Mark Coker, is an avid supporter of indie publishing and has created one of the best places for an author to distribute a novel. Nobody else has anything that even comes close.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Unlike what many people think, it's not the royalties. My greatest joy comes from knowing that something I've created has been read and enjoyed by people from all over the world. Getting fan mail is a huge incentive to not only continue writing, but to improve what I write.
What do your fans mean to you?
Wow--what a question! Without fans there really isn't any point in writing. My fans mean everything to me and I would love to hear from all of them. I do get fan mail and so far I've been able to respond to each and every person who has written me. If someone finds a typo, grammatical error, or has a suggestion to improve a novel, I want to hear from them. That's how a writer becomes better--by listening to the fans. Nobody is perfect and the only way to get better is to listen.
Who are your favorite authors?
I am a big fan of E. E. 'Doc' Smith as well as Asimov and Niven. My all-time favorite scifi is the Lensman series by E. E. 'Doc' Smith. I've also enjoyed Ben Bova and Keith Laumar (Bolo series).
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have always been a morning person and I do my best writing when the house is quiet, the air is still, and the sounds of nature waking up can be heard. I love to open the windows or sit outside in the morning with a good cup of coffee and my netbook. The inspiration? Being able to spend time writing when my mind is the clearest.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Unfortunately, I have a day job. I am an instrumentation and controls technician at a nuclear power plant and I typically work 10 hours a day 4 or 5 days a week. I often work weekends, night-shift, and long 12-hour days. If I'm not working or writing you can find me working out in the yard or in the house, spending time with my wife, or reading. I don't like to be idle and if I find myself with more than a few minutes of idle time I will fire up the pad and do some reading. I like to read not only scifi, but computer-related books as well.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I have a vague memory of a story I started but never finished way back in 7th grade. My best friend from high school still has an original of one of my first writing attempts. The universe of the Galactic Alliance was very much alive in my head back then but my writing skills were not totally developed and working with a manual typewriter made it even more difficult.
What is your writing process?
I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. I will typically start a story with a single idea in mind and then build the rest of the plot around it. I've never been able to outline a story because the story tends to write itself. There are many times I've sat down at the computer with a plot path in mind but after getting into the groove the story takes an unexpected twist and I find myself writing something I had never planned to write. This has at times caused me to write myself into a corner and I've had to spend days trying to think of a way out of the situation. It makes for a better story though.
How do you approach cover design?
I have no artistic talent and I prefer to let someone else build my covers. I did do the first covers for the Galactic Alliance series myself but they have since been replaced. The wife of my best friend from high school and her son are very good at cover designs and I trust them to build covers that are interesting as well as depict the contents of the story.
Describe your desk
I do the vast majority of my writing from a netbook which means my desk is wherever I happen to be at the time. Since I do most of my writing in the morning, my desk is the lawn chair outside under a tree. If the weather is not enjoyable, then I sit in a recliner in the house in the living room. I also do a significant amount of writing at the local Barnes and Noble book store. My wife and frequently go there. She reads her books and magazines while I write. I do have a desktop machine where I do a large amount of research. It has dual monitors allowing me to keep multiple windows open at once. The shelf above the desk is filled with dragons - a magnificent creature I can't seem to get enough of. I use Scrivener to write the initial manuscript and then Word to do the final formatting.
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