Because I am an enthusiast of quality music, I decided to write in-depth reviews of my favorite records and named my blog The Music and Myth. It was never meant to be anything other than a place for me to write about cool records, but in time it grew into much more than that. I ended up covering gigs and festivals, getting review request and meeting and interviewing some of my favorite musicians. The one thing I’ve consistently discovered in my activity with The Music and Myth is that the independent music scene is a vast and varied soundscape, where the true creative spirit is left to freely thrive, without the restrictions of popular demand and financial expectations.
Since deciding to self-publish my novel almost a year ago, I’ve discovered that the same thing is true for the independent publishing scene. Thanks to the power of the internet, so many brilliant storytellers emerge, who would have likely gone unwelcomed by the insular entity that is the traditional publishing industry. Unsilenced, many of them are now able to tell incredibly daring and diverse stories and find an audience who loves their work.
One of my favorite things to do under the Music and Myth moniker is to talk to independent musicians and get a take on their life and creative process. The interviews are by far my favorite articles to write, so I decided to do a similar thing on my author blog. From time to time, I’m going to feature an interview with a promising indie writer and get their take on the market, the creative process and anything related to books.
First on the list is David Neth, a young author whose debut story The Blood Moon, an urban fantasy novel, is up for preorder on Amazon and will be published in August. I was interested in interviewing David when I found out that The Blood Moon is a concept on which he’s been working for a decade, an unusual occurrence in the fast-paced indie publishing world.
David, you are very close to publishing The Blood Moon, a book you've been working on for almost a decade, from your teenage years into your adult years. Please tell me a bit about working on the book, especially about the way in which your perception of a story might change over the course of such a long time, mirroring the changes in the author’s life.
“When I started The Blood Moon, I was 15 and didn’t do much besides go to school and come home. I would usually have a couple hours of silence from the time I got home until the time the rest of my family came home. I used that time to write and create, working on the book day-by-day until I thought it was complete. At the time, I was just starting to become an avid reader and I used these after school writing sessions to help hone my craft.
Back in high school, I didn’t plot. I was a pantser, as some people call it. I just followed where the story went and hoped it worked out in the end. I was lucky enough to have one of my English teachers read it and she became my first editor. Even though there was a page of that book that didn’t have some red ink on it, she motivated me to continue on the journey to publishing this book. It’s for that reason, that extra nudge at a time when I could’ve so easily turned away from a hobby, that I am where I am today and why I dedicated The Blood Moon to her.
Unfortunately, on the journey of this book, I got busy with college and friends and set it aside for a while. For those who read my blog, they know it wasn’t until I was in grad school that I really became reinvested in not only The Blood Moon, but writing in general. I recalled the passion I had for it and dove right back into edits, this time with eight years of experience.
Now in my twenties, I am much more of a plotter. I want to know where the story is going so I can add in little twists and turns along the way. But, while working with The Blood Moon while I was older, I wanted to preserve as much as I could from my teenaged days. The editing process was a lot more challenging on this book than it was on my other books because I didn’t really have a plan when I wrote it. There were some major inconsistencies that I needed to make sense of. Slowly, I worked through them with the help of my excellent (professional) editor and a few friends, as noted in the copyright page of The Blood Moon.“
How did you prepare for publishing the novel? Why did you choose to have it professionally edited and how did you find your editor? What made you decide to put it up for pre-order?
“Essentially, The Blood Moon was an experiment to test the waters of self-publishing to see if it was worth pursuing. As I learned more, I became more invested. I knew that if I was going to be taken seriously as an author and make a viable career from self-publishing, I needed to create a book that looked like it was traditionally published. That meant having an excellent cover and having it professionally edited. I went through 99Designs to find my cover designer, I wrote about my experience on my blog https://theindependentauthor.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/book-cover-design-99-design/
As for the editing, I looked on the Editorial Freelancers Association website to find someone who was credible. I lucked out and found a great editor in Tammy Salyer. She has a passion for my genre and has a great eye to details.
I chose to put my book up for preorder for two reasons. First, I was just too anxious to wait any longer to publish. But I still wanted to allow myself time to finish the next few books in the series before I published the first. So as a compromise, I decided to put The Blood Moon up for preorder to test the waters, allow for an exact publishing date for all retailers, and feed my burning anxiousness. Second, I was becoming more and more involved in the self-publishing community and I wanted to be able to direct those I interacted with to a sales page rather than a blog.”
The Blood Moon will be the first installment in a series called Under the Moon. Do you already have a plan for where you want to take the story? What inspired the story and what is your ultimate goal for the book and the series?
Originally, I had planned for four books in the series. In high school, after I had finished The Blood Moon (then called The Lewis Brothers and the Demonic Couple), I wrote two sequels for it and had some ideas for another. Ultimately, after the edits I made later in life to The Blood Moon, the sequels no longer made sense for the story. Plus, I was ready to write.
I’ve always been a fan of prequels and some of the characters in The Blood Moon had such interesting back stories that I thought it’d be cool to tell their story. Put off a sequel to The Blood Moon for a while until I told the back stories of other characters to make everything click into place. So, the next two books in the series will be prequels, each focusing on a different character in The Blood Moon and leading right into the events of the first book. From there, I have two more sequels (in the future) planned and then I’m calling it quits on the series.
I don’t like series to run too long. I even think five books is too long, but I think in this instance it’s necessary to tell the stories of these characters. I have a few other special projects planned for the series that I’ll announce when the time is right, but the biggest thing right now is getting the story right, which is what I’m working on.
My goal for this series is really just to entertain people. I don’t think it’ll be the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, but you never know. I’ve always loved reading about the supernatural and I started writing to create the story I wanted to read. I know I can’t be the only one who wants to read these types of stories.
On an indie scene built on the idea of "speed” and building a large backlist, how difficult is it to transition from being able to develop a book over such a long period of time to having to put out multiple books a year? Do you plan to follow this self-publishing model in the future?
The reason I took so long to publish The Blood Moon was really because I was too young when I finished it at 15. I didn’t really know what I wanted for the book. I sent it to a few agents who turned it down and I didn’t really understand why. As I got older, I saw the flaws the original manuscript had and fixed them. So really, the almost ten years it took was more due to the fact that I needed to learn the publishing industry before I could just dive right in.
My next book, the first prequel in the series, was written in about six months. I’m finishing up my third round of edits now and then it’ll be in my editor’s hands in July. That means from the time I started it to the time I wrap it up, it will have been a little over a year. Right now, I’m planning on putting out a book every six months. That’s still a long time in the self-publishing world, but it’s a schedule I think I can manage. Things still pop up that push my writing to the side, but once I really sink my teeth into a project, I can’t stop.
I think what also helped my transition from developing a book over a long time to a shorter time is really the plotting. I don’t have as many days where I sit at the keyboard and think of where the story should go next. I have it all plotted out. Sure, I take side trips and add in subplots, but if I’m having an uninspiring day, I can still write out a chapter, no matter how crappy it is, and move on in the story. I put myself at ease by promising that I’ll touch it up in editing.
Do you already have a long-term plan for marketing the book/ series or will you "play it by ear"?
Honestly, I don’t really have a concise plan for marketing. I need to work on that. I’m torn between promoting it everywhere to get reviews and just letting it sit on Amazon until I have at least three books done. With more books you get more of your money’s worth in terms of marketing. What you’re really trying to gain is readers by selling your books. If you hook one reader and you only have one book, you’ve only sold one book. If you hook one reader and you have ten books, you’ve sold ten books. So I don’t really plan on marketing too much, outside of guest appearances on blogs and such, until I have more books in the series out.
What I do plan on doing, though, is contacting my local media with the release of The Blood Moon. Start with what you know in the community you know and grow from there. I’m from a small town and I know the power of word-of-mouth. Your mom starts talking about your book to her friends and they start telling their friends and next thing you know, your cashier at the grocery store is surprised to see you shopping there because of you being an author. I think the local media is always looking for a poster child to say, “Look, this guy/girl is from here and is doing awesome things!” Plus, how cool would it be to see your name and your book in the newspaper?
What does your writing schedule look like? How do you balance work and writing?
My writing schedule has recently been shaken up. I just moved into an apartment with a couple of friends and because we see each other every day now and the summer is here, we're constantly making plans, which has severely cut into my writing time. Before, I used to write Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Now, I'm lucky if I can squeeze in an hour here or there. But I'm working on it. I try to allow myself at least two hours a day (on the weekend) to work on my book. That's not nearly enough time, but it's better than nothing. At least I can get something finished. It's a challenge because the weekdays are strictly my work days. I work two jobs, one right after the other. I'm lucky that my second job is flexible enough to allow me to have weekends free. My day job is at a local history magazine in Buffalo, NY. I'm the assistant editor in a two-person editorial department, so every aspect of the magazine has been under my eyes at some point. I write articles about the history of the place I live and edit articles that have been submitted. It helps keep my writing and editing skills sharp when I can't work on my own books.
On your blog, The Independent Author, you chronicle your journey from writer to self-published author. How did you come up with the idea of documenting your activity and what is the ultimate purpose of the blog? Is it meant to cover your road from unpublished to published or do you plan continue with it?
I discovered self-publishing in grad school, where I was studying publishing in NYC. I didn’t realize how big it was. Even then, I still didn’t have much of an idea of how to successfully self-publish. I found a few dead-end blogs before I discovered KBoards and my education really took off. So I wanted to create a space that educated other self-publishers through my story. I envision the blog continuing on as I self-publish, but you never know what the future is going to hold. I would eventually like to turn it into a non-fiction book for self-publishers in the vain of Joanna Penn and Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truent, but we’ll have to wait and see.
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