For years, I have said that The Last Hunter is my favorite series. I have fond memories of writing the novel, still miss the characters years later, and when it comes to adaptations (comic books or movie) am very protective of the story. But I can no longer say The Last Hunter is my favorite book. Favorite series, sure, but The Distance is now my favorite novel (of mine). Keep reading to find out why!
The Distance’s path to publication has been tumultuous, not because no one wanted it, but because I didn’t have faith in publishers to do it right. When the book was written, it was under contract with a “big five” publisher imprint. But after novels published under my own imprint, Breakneck Media, started selling better than those published by the big publisher, I returned the advance and got the rights back. After that, another big five publisher offered to take the book, and tried to woo me with bestselling sales projections, but their covers were abysmal and I wasn’t convinced they could do a better job than I could…which is really what a writer should expect from a publisher.
So, in the end, two years after the book was completed, I decided to go it alone, which is a little nerve-wracking for me because it’s my wife’s first novel, and I turned down a big five publisher…twice. What does this mean for the book? In terms of production quality, nothing. I was hired to do the cover for the original publisher, so the packaging would be the same. As for the interior design, we’re creating a premium experience, both for the print book and the e-book, which is priced $6 LESS than either publisher had planned.
In the past six months I have received an increasing number of e-mails and Facebook messages from fans-turned-writers, friends of friends (or family of friends…sometimes friends of family), total strangers (who have never read my books), and people from my distant past. Generally, I try my best to respond to each and every e-mail I get, but the number of people looking for in-depth advice on getting published, or asking me to read their novel, has reached numbers I can’t possibly reply to (in a meaningful way) while still writing and publishing the amount of books I do. So, I decided to put my advice in a quick blog post to which I can refer advice seekers.
Be forewarned, my advice is generally no-holds-barred, blunt truth, and most new writers aren’t going to want to hear it, and most probably won’t listen if they do. See, I’m being blunt already.
Reading a novel is, for many (myself included), a personal experience.
We get lost in a story, experience pain, loss, anger and victory along with characters that we (hopefully) come to care about, as though they were real. And when that experience ends, we miss our new friends and want their fictional lives to continue. Like, now. With the characters and plot still fresh in our minds we *might* tell a friend about it. You know the one. That rare breed who reads novels as voraciously as you do. And then…
The subject might come up again six months later, when your reader friend finally gets around to reading the novel, but your excitement is waning because you’re still waiting for a sequel that may or may not be on the way. A year passes. Then two. What is taking the author so frikkin’ long to write the next book?! It was amazing. How could there not already be a sequel?
Eventually you decide to take matters into your own hands and e-mail that author. He/she probably won’t reply (I will), but maybe your e-mail will spur them into action.
I get these e-mails. A lot. For Jane Harper. For Refuge. For Flood Rising. I even get them for books that were never meant to have sequels. And my response is always something like this: (Insert book title) needs to sell better before I spend a LOT of time and money writing and publishing a sequel. The best way you can make that happen is to post a review on Amazon.
I’m going to be working on a crossover short story to be included in Jonathan Maberry’s upcoming Joe Ledger anthology. Rather than leaping right in, I thought it would be fun to get reader feedback first. Which character would you most like to see meet, and kick ass with, Joe Ledger? Where will the story take place? What will the tone be like? This is your chance to weigh in and help shape the story. Here’s a link to the short survey: http://goo.gl/forms/DRdWwRKT0Z