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Southern Scotch
After the Fall 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Round Table Joust: Part 2


Dedicated to: Pam Stack


Welcome back.

Four knights. One theme, of interest to writers and readers alike: the pros and cons of ebook and traditional publishing. The four knights, in alphabetical order:


Claude Bouchard
CB officially leaped into the writing world in 2009 and his Vigilante Series now boasts a dozen installments with more to come. In addition, he has penned Nasty in Nice, as part of the JET Kindle World, and ASYLUM, a standalone novel .

Leverett Butts
The author of Emily's Stitches: The Confessions of Thomas Calloway and Other Stories, and of Guns of the Waste Land, a series of novellas retelling the King Arthur legends as an American Western.  He lives in Temple, Georgia, with his wife and son.

Bill Kirton
Ex actor, director, voice-over artist, playwright, teacher, university lecturer. Now wood carver and writer of crime, historical, romance, satire, humour, non-fiction books for students. Also a gardener and lover of sport, sailing, good food and better wines.

David North-Martino
The author of Wolves of Vengeance and an ardent martial artist. His short stories have appeared in numerous fiction venues including: Epitaphs: The Journal of the New England Horror Writers, Wicked Tales: TJOTNEHW Vol.2 and Dark Recesses Press. 


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6) Can you envision a scenario in which a traditional publisher handles some of your books which are easier to sell--while you write the books you choose to writes and publish some independently--as both ebooks and indie print editions?

BOUCHARD
Sure, why not? There have already been indie authors who have gone trad with the print versions of their work while retaining digital writes as well as trad authors who have decided to self-pub some of their works. Anything is possible if involved parties agree.

BUTTS
I think this situation would be ideal. If done well, both the traditionally and independently published books would feed off each other’s audience. It seems like a win-win for me.

KIRTON
Yes, the present context gives us that sort of freedom. On the other hand, I don’t go along with the assumption implicit in the question. When I write, I try to follow specific criteria. I want it to be a high quality, mistake-free product which entertains, absorbs, holds readers’ attention, makes them laugh and/or think and/or believe in my characters. If I succeed, all the books should be equally easy to sell. The element that brings quality and profit together is luck.

NORTH-MARTINO
Absolutely. I consider myself a hybrid writer. I’ve self-published a short supernatural thriller in ebook form, and sent a 90k crime thriller to a contest at Minotaur books. I’m also writing a military horror thriller for a small press publisher on spec, and a sword and sorcery novella on spec for a Big 5 publisher. Hopefully I can finish these manuscripts before the open calls end. If not, self-publishing is always available, and I would never take it off the table. Also, I’m exploring the possibility of having a small press take over my self-published ebook and selling them the print rights. Probably a long shot, but worth checking into.

For those not in the know, the small press is a middle ground between indie and the Big 5. All publishing is fraught with peril, and you can get burned just as easily in the small press where there’s not much in the way of an advance, and the publisher is running on a shoestring budget. I’ve heard horror stories of writers getting their rights tied up in bankruptcy proceedings, but on the positive side, small press publishers handle editing, covers, assist with reviews, and there are some that have decent distribution to bookstores and libraries. There’s probably more opportunity in science fiction and horror, but it’s something to consider if you’d like to have a publisher invest in your novel but can’t land a Big 5 deal, want a lower bar for entry, or just more creative control.


7) Do you see ebook publishing as a stepping stone toward the Yellow Brick Road (superstar agent, humongous advances, etc.)...or, getting back to our first question, do you value things about it you'd reluctant to lose completely? E.g.: the power and the freedom of running your own business...the power that enables Russell (Titan) Blake to produce numerous best-selling thrillers a year?

BOUCHARD
I do see the possibility of indie publishing being a stepping stone to bigger things though it is not my specific goal. If approached with a lucrative deal, I would certainly consider it and, if it was viable, I would have no problem letting go some control. To illustrate, consider the following completely fictitious scenario:
 
Big Honcho Publishing House: Mr. Bouchard, we’re offering you twenty million dollars per title you have written plus a thirty percent royalty on all subsequent sales plus fifty percent of any revenues subsequently generated by television and/or film production.

BUTTS
Why not both? I do hope that my sales of indie-published books will one day open doors for me in the larger houses, but even if they don’t, I am happy with what success I have had so far. I certainly like having the freedom to try new forms such as the multiple narrators and points of view in Guns of the Waste Land and the interconnected stories making a single novel in the first part of Emily’s Stitches. I don’t think a traditional publisher would be comfortable with those experiments without proof they’d sell.

KIRTON
Stepping stone to fame?. No. Except insofar as, if any of my books is going to get me the goodies you brandish, it’ll probably be ‘discovered’ in ebook form, so they can clearly contribute. I hate ‘running my own business’, which I guess is what I’m doing, and I’d gladly hand all that over to someone who knows how to do it. Because I don’t.

NORTH-MARTINO
I love the freedom that indie publishing provides, at least I like the idea of the freedom that it provides. I’m a very independent person, but I don’t enjoy going it alone when it comes to publishing. I would rather have a publisher, small or large, handle my work, buying it because they believe in it, instead of trying to do this all on my own. That’s something I wouldn’t have learned about myself if I hadn’t initially gone the independent route.

While I do look at indie publishing as a stepping-stone to bigger things, I also see it as a complement to a larger career. I’m very open to being a hybrid. I have no problem selling some books to the big 5, some to the small press, while putting out others independently. Let’s not forget that breakout books not only happen to the traditionally published, but also to independent authors. Just look at Andy Weir’s The Martian as an example.


8) Aside from your writing/editing/proofreading skills, what other skills do you regard as absolutely essential? And: are these skill sets really completely different from those required of traditionally published authors? (The days, for instance, are long past when any author can say, as one actually did: 'The hell with editing and proofing--that crap's for my agent and editor!')

BOUCHARD
A number of the skills which follow could be purchased from suppliers though it never hurts to have some understanding and knowledge in these areas even if contracting out. Formatting skills in order to transform a manuscript into both a print and digital final product; Artistic/graphic skills in terms of envisioning and/or creating appealing book covers; Social and communication skills to exchange with one’s potential and established audience; Marketing skills to let the masses know one’s work is available. Based on hearsay, I understand many trad authors must now put in more effort with the social/communication/marketing aspects than in the past.

BUTTS
Since self-publishing (and to a lesser degree small press publishing) requires you to wear many hats, you also need skills in self-promotion to help advertise and promote your work. A working knowledge of image editing software is not a bad idea, too, to help you design your covers. This last, if done well, can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in design fees since you won’t have to commission a cover designer.

KIRTON
The basic essentials – writing, editing, proofing – are skills which are very distinct from one another, but nonetheless in the same ball park, depending on sensitivity to language, rhythm, etc. Promoting and marketing, on the other hand, call for a totally different mindset.

NORTH-MARTINO
You have to be able to manage a project with multiple contractors in your employ. You might have to have formatting skills in multiple formats unless you’re going to hire someone to do it. You might need to have the ability to create your own covers, unless you want to pay to have them commissioned. You’re going to have to have confidence to reach out to other writers and reviewers without having a publishing house behind you. You might not get much in the way of publicity from a traditional publisher, depending on how much for resources they’ve devoted to you, but as an indie you have to either be your own publicist, and do everything yourself, or hire one.



9) Whatever your long-term goals, what are the greatest kicks you get from producing both ebook and print editions?

BOUCHARD
The beauty of the ebook is its immediacy and range of distribution.. Anyone, almost anywhere on the planet can download it and boom, it’s there waiting to be read. As an author, holding an actual print copy, flipping through the pages and knowing I produced it, is pretty cool. As mentioned earlier, the effort required to create a print version is so minimal that it would be silly to not do so, even if it’s to satisfy a small number of readers. True story, a fan who only reads print recently inquired about the next installment in my series, mentioning she had already reserved a spot in her display case. That’s a kick.

BUTTS
The flexibility of having a choice. I find myself preferring to read hard copy at home and electronic versions on the road. I assume most people who are open to e-books feel the same.

KIRTON
Feeling, every time I receive a proof copy of a paperback, as if the nurse has just handed me my beautiful new baby. That’s a sensation ebooks can’t replicate. There’s also the basic satisfaction of having overcome my laziness again and actually finished a book.

NORTH-MARTINO
I haven’t produced a print edition of my novel, but I did enjoy managing the ebook to completion. I’m just not sure I’d want to do it again.


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10) Rogue Question: What have I missed that's important to you?

BOUCHARD
You didn’t ask, “Boxers or briefs?”...and now you’ll never know.*
(Editor's note: Under serious pressure, Claude Bouchard agreed reluctantly to give an appropriate answer to the eternal question. You'll find it at the * below.)

BUTTS
What's the biggest draw to writing? 
For me it's the same thing that drew me to the craft in the first place: I generally write stories that I cannot find elsewhere, and I love being able to tell myself a story. I never cease finding it odd that even as the author, I’m never sure where the story is going, so it’s almost like I’m reading a new novel every time I write. Like the novel is there in the ether fully formed and waiting for someone (in this case, me) to catch and trap it on paper.

KIRTON
What's the letter or email I'd love most to get?
‘I’m thinking of investing several thousand dollars in promoting a friend’s books in the UK, USA, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and parts of Africa and Asia. Would you like to be that friend?’

NORTH-MARTINO
What are the best and worst things when it comes to self-pubbing ebooks?
The worst thing about self-publishing ebooks is that your work gets lost in the vast sea that is Amazon. You have the best distribution on the planet, and yet, it can be very challenging to find an audience. Then again, the best thing: it will never go out of print and has an unlimited amount of time to find an audience.


                                                           
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*As promised, here's the answer Slyboots tried to keep from you. Really, was it too much to hope that Claude Bouchard might confess if he wears briefs or boxers?





Well, we're happy to give you the answer today from Claude Bouchard himself:

"If your readers have to know, the answer is simple enough:

I wear b----s."

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To learn more about these four authors and their books, just click on the following links: 

Claude Bouchard
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Claude-Bouchard/e/B002BLL3RK
Website: http://www.claudebouchardbooks.com       
Vigilante Series Box set - Books 1 to 6http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EPE926Y

Leverett Butts
Grand Central Review: http://www.grandcentralreview.com/
Author Facebook Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/LeverettButts/?fref=ts
My Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/leverettbutts


Bill Kirton 
Amazon Author Page
US: https://www.amazon.com/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY
Website/blog: www.billkirton.com
Best intro to his work:  https://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Jack-Carston-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B008X8ZM8G

David North-Martino
Amazon Author Page:  http://amzn.to/1Ir7PWP
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/dnorthmartino


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