(C) 2014 Luke T. Bush
PLATTSBURGH CITY - 3/29/14
To my left sat David Monette: dark long hair and Van Dyke beard. To my right: John Sparks, well-trimmed light-colored hair, clean shaven.
No, this wasn't not a liberal versus conservative political debate. In fact, despite appearances, you couldn't find two more like-minded guys around.
Topic: self-publishing. Genre: imaginative fiction. Both David and John prove that failure to place a book with a mainstream publisher doesn't mean The End like in the old days.
Online info: "As an illustrator, [David's] highly detailed fantasy and science fiction work has appeared in many books, magazines, board games, and collectible card games..." The Zombie Axiom features his illustrative talent, key scenes in the novel. Also, David uses an icon – e.g., a baseball bat, a sword – as a symbol of a character when there's a change in POV.
It was relatively easy for David to land an agent but not so with selling his book to a traditional publisher. No go. The agent told David to self-publish. What was once considered a sign of low quality – think vanity publishing – had become respectable according to his agent. If the work was good enough it would stand on its own.
That turned out to be true with David's novel which recently was picked up by an Australian publisher. The first book in a trilogy, a powerful being called The Necromancer is transforming humans into the undead, directing his eldritch army to wipe out the last of the normal people in the world.
For John Sparks self-publishing is part of his long term plan to see his story, Unearthly Tales, transformed into an animated feature. It has already been adapted to a graphic novel, a format that has in the past served as a storyboard for a movie adaptation.
Online info: "John is an Unexploded Ordnance Technician certified by the Department of Defense." This means traveling to various sites, a changing schedule, working in motels on his writing. One advantage: he meets new people who share life stories, more potential material for his writing.
In contrast David has a more stable, set schedule with his home studio. His daily routine: from 4 to 6:30 AM – work on promotion online; then concentrate on his main gig, illustration assignments; and then spend time with his writing.
The disruption caused by lay-offs at mainstream publishers and the rise of the web has meant opportunities, not disadvantages, for both authors.
The shrinking publisher staffs has led to editors becoming self-employed editors-for-hire who can help new authors create works and find outlets. John mentioned that part of his novel is set in the 1950s, a time before he was alive. His editor was around then and has helped John avoid any anachronisms. (Score one for the old farts.)
Asked about their voices being heard among the countless others ones on the web, both authors agreed that can be a problem but a writer has to take an active approach, using the medium to promote and make connections.
David says that the web has helped with his promotional efforts. It was through the web that his agent made contact with the Australian publisher.
Like David John has also used the web to get the word out. A quick Google search reveals a number of online spots where John has left potential connections: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google +.
For both writers making connections with readers is important, meeting new friends. Sure, being lucky and hitting the big jackpot, money and fame, would be great but so is sharing their ideas and enthusiasm with like-minded people.