On his profile, John shares that Shadesbreath is but the sarcastic alter ego of his fantasy and science fiction writing self. This sci-fi-fantasy writer has been quite busy as of late, and has just released his first novel, The Galactic Mage, a magical space epic.
To get a more thorough update on the project, as well as some tips for those on HubPages interested in executing a similar feat, we asked Shadesbreath for an interview to which he obligingly agreed. I hope the following exchange inspires you to develop additional writing ambitions of your own!
So, your novel is officially out! How do you feel at this point? Euphoric? Tired?
Yes. Euphoric and tired sums it up pretty nicely. It’s been a lot more work than I expected, especially this last week, tying up the loose ends, but the experience and learning is great. As far as the euphoria goes, it really is exciting. These characters have been in my head for so many years, like little people locked up in the pickled cells of my brain, but finally they are free. They get to go meet the rest of the world, make friends in a way, and take on an existence of their own. I hope people will love them as much as I do. It’s a little scary, honestly. But very cool.
For how long have you been working on The Galactic Mage?
I wrote it… the first time… eight or so years ago. I sent out queries to publishers until finally one publisher asked to see more. They even asked for the synopsis of the whole trilogy (which I had in great detail). Months later, they wrote back and told me “we love the story, but the writing isn’t what we’re looking for.” I heard that as, “You write like a two-year-old.” I’d already started back to school to get a degree in English and that letter cemented the deal. Rather than feel bad, I realized I had a good story, but I just didn’t know how to tell it well. When I finished my BA, I threw out the old manuscript and started over from scratch. I’ve been polishing it since.
Is this your first novel?
In print, yes.
The Galactic Mage will be published as a trade paperback and Kindle e-book on Amazon.com, and as a Nook e-book on Barnesandnoble.com. How did you choose your publishing formats, and was it much work to offer the book in so many forms?
I picked them based mainly on marketing factors. Amazon is the big dog in the universe, and success with Amazon comes with monster benefits. Cracking 1000 sales on Amazon is a threshold goal for me. From there, I believe the recommendations feature they have—you know, the thing that says, “people who bought this book also bought these others”— can really start generating unit sales. But, you have to get that first 1000 to really have statistical relevance for their system. I realize 1000 is a big number, but I’m aiming high and, well, we’ll see how it works long term. Uhh, by the way, how many copies can I put you and your family down for?
How have you been getting the word out about your work?
HubPages and Facebook are my main platforms. Facebook is fantastic for spikes of traffic and viral buzz. I’ve got a page set up just for the book, you can check it out (you’ll love the video. I’m very proud of the video trailer). Plus, Facebook ads are amazing, almost evil, in how narrow you can target niches. I’ll be working that pretty hard.
As far as HubPages goes, HP is just a rockin’ platform for me. I get about 40,000 page views a month, and while I know some of the hardcore folks like Patty Inglish or Habee would probably cut themselves if that’s all they got, I’m stoked to have access to that many pairs of eyes. My website and blog get consistent traffic from readers who find me through HubPages, and I’m counting on HP to keep delivering readers going forward. The three years I have spent here—even though I mostly write satire and pedantic sounding flatulence jokes—continue to be time extremely well spent for my writing career. And that’s not even counting the network of people I’ve met who help me constantly or any of the friends I’ve made.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I’m in final revisions of a novel titled A Fish Story, and I have a novelette called “Auction Yard” for which cover art is being finished as we speak. Probably out in February on that. Also come February, I’ll be writing book two in The Galactic Mage series, called Rift in the Races. With luck, I can have it out in time to sell for Christmas, but I at least want it out by this time next year.
Amongst all this novel writing you have been doing, what role does HubPages play?
Hubpages is my release valve. I know I’m supposed to write useful articles about stuff that is, uh, useful, but I don’t know anything useful. HubPages gives me an outlet for my writerly spasms, typically of the sort that look like grammatical outrage, social commentary, the aforementioned pedantic flatulence pieces, and whatever satirical something or other I can’t help but write. Amazingly, I get a check every month from you guys for that. I’m still not sure how that works, but I ain’t complainin’.
What advice would you give to other Hubbers who would like to publish books of their own?
Stop dreaming. So many people out there “dream” about being “a novelist someday.” Writing isn’t a dream. It’s a discipline. Make a plan and then do it.