Updated: Mar 3
It's Indie Author Sunday! Every other Sunday, we're posting an interview with a different indie author along with posts about them on all our social media accounts. This week it's David H Reiss, the author of Fid's Crusade and Behind Distant Stars.
WW: Tell us about your experience with Indie publishing?
DHR: It has only been a few months since I first became involved in the world of self-publishing, and I'm learning new things every day! For the most part, my experiences have been positive: I'm happy with the quality of the work that I'm able to produce, I'm pleased with the community that I've discovered, and I'm overjoyed whenever I receive feedback from my readers. Publishing as an independent has opened the door for me to find my own audience, to be my own boss, and to progress at my own pace. On the down side...I've discovered that marketing and promotion are both difficult skills to master.
WW: Tell us about your book.
DHR: My book evolved from a desire to take a genre usually associated with a YA audience - superheroic prose - and to present it in a manner that appeals to an adult, highly literate audience. Hopefully, however, the characters and plotlines are sufficiently engaging that the novel will appeal to readers of all ages. :)
The novel follows the exploits of a veteran supervillain who sets out to investigate a crime and is, in the process, drawn into a whirlwind of conflict. In the end, the villain must stand alone against a conspiracy that threatens entire planets.
Fid's Crusade is a supervillainous tale of grief, rage, guilt and violence. Also, of humanity rediscovered.
WW: What made you want to write in the genre of your book?
DHR: I've been thoroughly enjoying the superheroic prose rennaissance that has been occuring over the last several years. I'd been a comic book geek as a child and stories about heroes and villains have always appealed. When I stumbled across novels like Casey Glanders' "Gailsone: Big in Japan" or Austin Grossman's "Soon I Will Be Invincible", I was hooked.
That having been said...the majority of my in-progress works can more easily be categorized as science fiction or fantasy; the leap into superheroic prose was originally intended as a diversion from other projects. I suppose that it could be said that I started this project on a lark but quickly fell in love with the world and characters that I'd created.
WW: What has been your favorite part of being an Indie Author?
DHR: Indie Authors enjoy a wonderful opportunity to explore genres that are underserved by the big-five publishing houses. Instead of chasing an existing market, I have the freedom to try and forge something new. Fid's Crusade is a weird, in-between piece of work: it's superheroic prose from the perspective of a villain, disconnected from any of the large studio properties, and not specifically aimed at a YA market. No publisher would touch it...but I believe in the story and (through independent publishing) have the opportunity to share it with the world.
Will this trilogy (Fid's Crusade was always intended to be the first of three novels, and the second is already nearly complete) become a breakout hit that propels me to stardom as a fulltime professional author? I don't know. But I'm having fun, am honing my craft, and am learning more every day.
WW: What do you wish you knew before going the indie-publish route?
DHR: I'd thought that simply writing an awesome novel meant that I was ready to publish. Boy was I wrong! I hadn't realized how important marketing would be. These days, most traditionally-published authors are expected to do their own promotion...but indie authors must do so without the benefit of an agent or industry contacts. It's hard and it's a completely different skill set than being a writer.
So...I wish that I'd known more about advertising, marketing and self-promotion. Mistakes were made! Many, many expensive mistakes. If I could go back in time, for example, I would have held off on releasing my first novel until the Chronicles of Fid trilogy was completed; the fast-release method would have been more appropriate for this particular series.
I'm learning, but I'm sure that I'll have made more expensive mistakes before this interview is published. :)
WW: What books or authors have inspired you?
DHR: Wow, that's a tough question. I'm a voracious speed-reader so that would be a looooong list.
Let's see...John Gardner's Grendel was one of the first that truly instilled within me a fascination for exploring the mindset and motivations of characters that would traditionally be considered villains. Lois McMaster Bujold for creating Miles Vokosigan (and thus demonstrating that intelligence, will, and forward momentum are far more interesting heroic traits than bulging muscles or posessing a magical weapon). Brandon Sanderson, whose vivid descriptions of extraordinarily powerful characters helped refine my vision of superheroic battles. Casey Glanders and Andrew Seiple, both indie superheroic prose authors who've created compelling, sympathetic and inspiring supervillains.
I could go on forever. Every book and every author in my library has likely inspired me in one way or another.
WW: Are you working on anything now?
DHR: I'm finishing up the sequel to Fid's Crusade, and when that's done I will immediately dive into the third book. Once that's completed...well...I have a about a dozen other sci-fi and fantasy projects half-completed that I have to choose from. I'll probably eventually return to Doctor Fid and superheroic prose...but there are so many other stories I want to tell!
WW: What does your writing space look like?
DHR: I have a long height-adjustable desk with a monitor on a swingarm. My keyboard and mouse are both wireless so I can shift my entire work area from the right side of the desk to the left side of the desk in only a few seconds.
On the right side, I have my 'normal' work area where I sit and create. I have a series of carpeted cat-shelves on the wall next to me so that my precious princess was able to climb up high and look down on me as I wrote. Sadly, she recently passed away. I still often reflexively pause in my typing to occasionally pat at the air where there should be a purring kitty. :(
On the left, I have a treadmill. I can't jog and write at the same time, but I can plod slowly! I just raise the desk to standing height, shift the monitor, keyboard and mouse over, and then start walking.
WW: What is your writing process like?
DHR: I'm still learning and my process evolves accordingly. The way that I wrote a year ago is very different from the way I write today! As I'm fond of saying: it took me four decades to finish my first novel, but the second will take less than six months. That having been said, there are some things that have always been true: I prefer writing late at night when everyone in the house is asleep and there are few distractions. While I'm not a meticulous plotter, I do create somewhat amorphous outlines and I compose a brief one-or-two sentence description as to what each individual scene is intended to accomplish before I start writing that sequence.
As for the writing itself...that has fundamentally changed in the last few weeks. For more than thirteen years, my cat Freya was my constant writing companion. My muse! I'd never typed a single word of fiction without her within arm's reach and begging for attention. She wasn't a distraction; she was a constant, comforting presence. I had evolved a complicated body language, rituals intended to appease her and keep myself focused.
All of that's gone now and I'm still seeking a new normal. I still have stories to tell and Freya left me a better writer--a better person!--than I was before. I'll find my new process and refine it and continue to grow.
So, ask me again in another year! I'm sure that my process will be different then.
WW: What advice would you give writers looking at indie publishing?
DHR: First: Hone your craft.
Second: Being an awesome writer isn't enough. Spend time REALLY studying the methods of other successful self-published authors before you hit 'publish'. No matter how incredible your story is, no matter how engaging your characters are, or how vivid and lyrical is your prose...simply throwing your completed novel into the world will not yield success. You need to know how to find your audience and how to get your work into your audience's hands. You need a plan; not just a plan for one book, but a plan for a career.
I didn't. Don't be like me! Be smarter!
Third: Even if you follow the first and second pieces of advice...you'll make mistakes. Don't be discouraged! Keep learning, keep growing, and keep writing.
WW: How connected are you to the indie publishing community? What is that experience like?
DHR: I'm slowly making connections. It's hard for me but its also rewarding. I feel like I'm locating my tribe: people who share my interests, who've lived similar experiences and want the same things. It's a very supportive group and there's a lot of great advice floating around!
I'm a shy introvert by nature, but I am genuinely hopeful that I will eventually find a comfortable place (and a useful role) within the community.
WW: What platforms do you use to promote your work?
DHR: Amazon and Facebook ads, as well as other advertising groups such as BookBub, the Fussy Librarian, Bargain Booksy, etc. I've also begun participating in writing-related Facebook groups, on Goodreads forums, etc.
Also...I go to sci-fi and comic-book conventions and do my best to connect with people who have similar interests.
I am genuinely awful at promoting my work....but I'm getting better every day.
David H. Reiss can be found on his website. You can find his book, Fid's Crusade at Amazon. You can also pre-order his new novel, Behind Distant Stars.