Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Publishing Secrets with Terry Jackman, Author of 'Ashamet, Desert-Born'

Genre: Fantasy Adventure
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?
Terry: Deciding to write wasn’t a conscious decision; I needed to write, though for a long time I let other things get in the way. Eventually I took the leap – and took a writing course, the idea being to find out if I could write anything actually worth reading. I recall being disappointed when it began with articles rather than fiction, but hey, I followed instructions and wrote three articles – and promptly sold them all. So I became a writer almost despite myself.
I didn’t really ‘decide’ to become an author either. I got trapped into writing articles for another ten years. When I did turn to fiction I soon realized SF and fantasy were where I felt at home, but Ashamet himself stepped into my head, fully formed, when I was feeling cross about a writer who made powerful characters idiots, to make a poor plot work.
Ashamet made it clear from day one; whatever else he might turn out to be, it wouldn’t be stupid.
Is this your first book?
Terry: My debut, yes. It’s very exciting, and very scary waiting to hear how readers react. Especially now we’re being told, so loudly, that we females shouldn’t dare write SF or fantasy at all. While as for muscular warrior heroes who are attracted to… other males? I suspect I’m being modelled in wax somewhere out there J
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Terry: Ashamet is published by an up and coming American publisher specialising in original fantasy. Perfect. I wouldn’t have self-published, not from any elitist attitude but because for me finding out if someone out there loves it enough to bet on it is part of the validation process. Just as being paid for my articles was my proof they were good enough.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Terry: The first publisher I talked to held onto the script for a year. The second said it was “too difficult to market”. Ouch. I knew it wasn’t a familiar concept, but I’d stupidly thought that might be a good thing.
Happily the third was Dragonwell Publishing, who heard about it from a third party and asked to see it and after that it was a ball. I’d heard some harrowing stories about editors and publishers but mine were involved and helpful, and my editor makes me laugh! So far I couldn’t have had more fun.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Terry: Comparing my experience with others, I’ve learned finding the right editor or publisher is very important, sometimes worth thinking twice before signing. Although I think most are genuine. Certainly, judging by the British Scifi community there are a lot of friendly people out there, from publishers to readers. If I don’t know more of them it’s more my fault than theirs; my own diffidence is the biggest barrier. But I have stopped being quite such a coward. If people speak to me I can speak back now.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Terry: I’d say yes, go for it, as long as you find a home for your book that’s as comfortable as mine?
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Terry: obvious bits of commonsense, really. Don’t even think about trying to get published until you’ve:
1: finished the book
2: got informed feedback on it from a pro editor or a suitable critique group. (General fiction groups don’t count for genre. Family and friends don’t count, full stop)
3: done some serious reassessing and rewriting.
Still, while you’re busy with all that at least you can get to know your genre. Read, a lot. Attend conventions, listen to panels, join in. Research how and where you should best submit your script and choose only those who are likely to be interested in exactly what you’ve written. And always, always, follow the guidelines.
I wish anyone setting off down that road luck, because they will need it. And just think, if they are lucky they too could end up shaking in their shoes as they wait to see if people like what they’ve written!

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