Fletcher Best is an American author of humorous fiction and science fiction. He is the author of the Stranded In Time series of science fiction novels, including Pirates of the Storm, The Corpornation, and the upcoming third installment, Timeless. His humorous works include Sniffing Out Stink Ape, The Great Chupacabra Kerfuffle, and The Eight Fingered Fiend of Lake Porker.
In addition to his novels, Fletcher Best also writes short stories that are published exclusively for the enjoyment of visitors to his website, FletcherBest.com. These include the popular, Manatee Vengeance - Blood at the Boat Launch, Alien Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse, Operation Black Friday, and A Fabulous Business Opportunity.
Born in Miami, Florida, Fletcher has lived in Texas since 1988. He (or more correctly, his real-life alter-ego George Best) attended Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas before beginning a chiropractic practice in San Antonio in 1992. He has resided in San Antonio ever since and now lives in sin with his girlfriend and their 4 cats (the sin being strictly with the girlfriend, not the cats).
Readers are invited to connect with Fletcher through his website at http://www.FletcherBest.com.
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Fletcher: I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, but I never thought of publishing anything in those days. I only started publishing a few years ago, and my first endeavor was in non-fiction. In addition to being an author, I’m a chiropractor and going along with that area of expertise, I self-published a book about home treatment for sciatica. After that initial experience with self-publishing being fairly positive, it re-ignited my interest in writing fiction. Call me crazy, but it seemed like indulging my imagination might be more fun than advising people about their crippling pain – not that dealing with crippling pain isn’t fun!
With regards to The Eight Fingered Fiend of Lake Porker, I got the initial idea from a combination of seeing an episode about Tokyo of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown that discussed tentacle porn, and shortly thereafter reading about reports of freshwater octopuses being seen in some lakes in Oklahoma. I decided that an oversexed lake octopus in Texas would be good fodder for my warped sense of humor.
Is this your first book?
Fletcher: No, in addition to the book about sciatica that I just mentioned, I have also published a couple of books in a science fiction series called Stranded In Time. I have a third book in that series in the works and I expect to publish that later this year.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Fletcher: I have been an indie publisher for my other books and so I just went that way by default with this book. I started out self-publishing for a couple of reasons. From what I’ve read, in today’s publishing world it is difficult at best for a new author to get a publishing contract unless they have some sort of following to begin with. Publishing a book the traditional way is an expensive undertaking and publishers hedge their bets by sticking with authors who have some type of established sales potential. Since I was a complete unknown, I figured that self-publishing would give me the best chance to get my work out there and begin to build an audience. In addition to that, self-publishing allowed me to test the waters and see how my work was received by “real people” and not just friends and family who might not be completely honest about my writing. I wanted to find out from neutral sources if it was worth pursuing my writing career. Based on the reviews I’ve had so far, it would appear that it is.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Fletcher: The thing I like the most about indie publishing is that I can put the work out and let the reading public decide if it’s any good. With any book, there will be people who like it and people who don’t, and so the test is what the majority of people think. Self-publishing allows me to put it out there and find out for sure whether most people like it, rather than relying on a guess by one person or a few people at a publishing house.
The biggest downside of self-publishing is that you have to do everything yourself. Not only do you have to do, or arrange for, all of the book formatting, proofreading, editing, cover design, and everything else that goes into producing the book, you also have to do all the marketing and promotion. Before I started publishing, I already knew a lot about creating websites and marketing online, and that knowledge has come in handy. But even when you know what to do, there’s the issue of finding time to do it all. I’m still trying to sort out how to best allocate my time between writing and book production, maintaining my blog, doing marketing and promotion, and having a life outside of writing and publishing.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Fletcher: The biggest lesson has been that having a career as an author is a marathon and not a sprint. There may be a few who are successful right out of the gate, but it is a long, work-intensive process in most cases. It comes down to persistence and continually producing good work that people enjoy reading.
The other thing I’ve found is that things are constantly changing in publishing, especially in the area of marketing and promotion. Things that worked well less than a year ago may not work anymore, and some might actually hurt your book sales now. For long-term success, you have to focus on the few things that remain constant. From what I’ve seen, the only constants are that there’s always a market for good content and the better engagement you have with your readers, the more they will want to tell others about you and buy your books.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Fletcher: It depends on the personality and skill set of the person. Like I said, self-publishing requires you to do everything, or at least manage everything yourself. If a given author only wants to write, self-publishing is probably not going to work for them. On the other hand, for authors who are willing to learn what to do outside of just writing their books and willing to work hard getting everything done, self-publishing presents opportunities that are probably as good if not better than what is available with traditional publishing or small publishing houses.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Fletcher: The advice I have is quite simple: produce the best work you can and be willing to interact with your readers on an ongoing basis. That advice is so simple, I will now elaborate on it unnecessarily:
I think producing the best work you can is pretty self-explanatory, but as a participant on some author’s forums, I’ve been a bit surprised at how cavalier some aspiring authors are about even basic things like spelling and grammar. “It’s good enough,” is a sentiment I’ve seen expressed more than once by authors who acknowledge that they have numerous writing and typographical errors in their books. While I agree that at some point you have to be willing to let go of trying to achieve absolute perfection and go forward with publishing, I think you have to have some dedication to quality.
With regards to ongoing interaction with your readers, what I mean is to maintain a line of communiction and to give back to them. There are a lot of ways to do this and you have to pick and choose the things that are aligned with your personality. In my case, I maintain a blog on which I post short stories and other things I think my readers will enjoy. I also personally respond to comments on my blog, on my Facebook page, on my Twitter feed, and that I receive via email. I don’t think being the storied “reclusive author” is going to work very well these days. You need to be a person (or at least the character you have established under your pen name), not just the name on your book cover and the information on your “About the Author” page.