A month ago, on March 18, 2017, four authors met for the first time at Chicago Union station and boarded an Amtrak train for New Orleans. On the (bumpy, noisy, sleepless) journey south, we plotted a story, then wrote for a week in New Orleans while having some adventures in the area.
Today, the co-written book is out. American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice – available now! Here’s how we did it.
In the intro, I talk about how my writing process has changed since New Orleans, how the sweet romance is going, and the amazing launch bonuses available if you buy Sacrifice between 17 – 25 April.
Today’s show is sponsored by all the listeners who support the show through Patreon. Thank you SO much for your ongoing support. It means so much to me that you enjoy the show enough to contribute! If you’d like to become a Patreon supporter, you can support the show for as little as $2 per month and receive the extra Q&A show monthly. Click here to find out more.
Lindsay Buroker is the bestselling fantasy author of the Emperor’s Edge, Rust and Relics and Dragon’s Blood series as well as other fantasy books. Zach Bohannon is a bestselling horror writer, with a successful post-apocalyptic series, Empty Bodies. J. Thorn is a bestselling horror writer and podcaster. J is also my co-author for Risen Gods.
You can see all our pictures from Chicago, the train and New Orleans here on Flickr.
Limited Time Only: Amazing Launch Bonuses
If you buy American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice in launch week 17 – 25 April, you’ll get 4 more novels plus entry into a limited edition print book & picture draw, PLUS/ the latest edition of Co-Writing for Authors, PLUS/ entry into a draw to win 1 hour Skype consultation with the author of your choice, PLUS/ entry into a draw to win a slot on Lindsay’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast.
- The challenges and benefits of a four-author collaboration, and what the authors might do differently next time
- Maintaining individual author voices inside a collaborative work
- Lindsay’s tips for creating a financially successful indie author career
- Where the idea came from to do an author collaboration on a train
- J. Thorn’s experience with collaboration
- What to look for in a collaboration partner
- How a book title with more than one author might affect an individual author’s Amazon algorithms
- Thoughts on the next phase of the indie author movement
You can find the book at www.JFPenn.com/sacrifice
Transcript of Interview with Lindsay Buroker
Lindsay Buroker is the bestselling fantasy author of the Emperor’s Edge, Rust and Relics and Dragon’s Blood series as well as other fantasy books. You can find Lindsay at www.lindsayburoker.com and on Twitter @GoblinWriter.
Joanna: Who are you, and what do you write?
Lindsay: I’m Lindsay Buroker, and I write fantasy and science fiction, usually set in other worlds. I like to make up my own stuff, usually a little romance, a little adventure, but I think they’re fun books.
Joanna: Yeah, and a sense of humor.
Lindsay: Yes. I like to include that in everything, even dark fantasy.
Joanna: We’re here in New Orleans, and we’ve been writing a book this week.
What made you decide to join this mad collaboration in the first place?
Lindsay: I was actually sold on the idea of the trip probably more than the collaboration. I thought, “Well, I’ve never done it before so I’m pretty inexperienced with that.”
But J. Thorn, who I assume we already talked to or talking to soon, he emailed me and said, “Hey, we’re gonna fly to Chicago, take an overnight train to New Orleans, and then hang out there and write this novel,” which I think may be turning into a novella. But it’s a great city. We’ve been a little distracted.
So that was it for me. I thought it really sound like a fun adventure. These were things I hadn’t done before. And, also, another thing was that we weren’t going to be taking a month or two months to do the project. You know, if anybody has read my stuff, they see I publish fairly often, so I didn’t want a big time commitment. And the week thing sounded fun, almost like a vacation.
Joanna: What have been the bumps along the way? What have been the challenges of this collaboration?
Lindsay: Aside from the fact that there’s so much to see tourist-wise and I had a little struggle to keep up with my words, it’s been a lot of fun. But I think in the beginning, as you mentioned, Joanna, that you’re more of a discovery writer, and I was like, “What do you mean we’re not gonna have an outline?” And I think it was okay.
We talked about it in the beginning and I knew the first scene, I was going to write. But then I had to get to the point where everybody else had caught up so I could know what to write next.
And I think we were only about a day into the actual writing or so when I grabbed the guys and said, “Hey, Joanna, do you mind if we do an outline?” And you were cool.
And then you just said, “Yeah, I’m going to bed,” because Joanna is on the U.K. time, of course. And so we did an outline, and after that, I got a lot more relaxed and knew exactly what I had to write for my character for the rest of the story. It’s been good to learn how other people work.
And I think if I did another collaboration in the future, I’d probably try to steamroll over Joanna and say, “We need an outline from day one.” But you know what? I’m fine with outlines being flexible and people doing their own things, but I think when you’re doing this sort of thing, especially with four people, it’s super helpful if you know where your character needs to be at different points in the story. And then if you wanna sacrifice a small child randomly along the way…
Joanna: I can’t help it. These things just happen.
Lindsay: I understand that happens a lot in dark fantasy. But, you know, that was probably the hurdle for me. And once we did do that outline, I’ve been a lot more comfortable since then.
Joanna: And we should say that we recorded your podcast that night, and then you guys did that outline afterwards. So I feel like things have changed through the week.
I feel like the original starting off idea was mine, out of my research, with the skull and everything, and then you guys kind of took over a bit later on. Every day, things have changed. Maybe, if it was longer, you might have, like, settled into the process, because we’re pretty much done.
Have you sensed that over the week, things have changed in terms of how we’ve been working?
Lindsay: Now that we’re almost done, I’m pretty cool with everything. You had gone to that museum ahead of time and brought these ideas.
Maybe Zack mentioned it already, but we weren’t going to plan the story ahead of time. And I think that was fun. It led to some spontaneity. And then you showed up with this Peruvian skull that you had pictures of, and I liked it.
I thought it was going to be monsters or demons on the train, an overnight adventure all wrapped up in 24 hours, to begin with, which apparently, not everybody had that same idea, but that’s what I was imagining. So what you brought to it really fit with what I thought we would do.
You seemed to be more in charge in the beginning because you had your ideas, and then you were just like, “I know enough. I can write the story now,” and I wasn’t quite there yet. And then you seemed more almost done. I think you finished earlier, because you had these extra hours in the morning with your U.K. time zone. I went in reverse, so I lost hours. So every morning, I would wake up, I’m like, “Oh, man. They’ve already posted a bunch of stuff. I’m way behind.”
But, yeah, it has changed. I imagine if we did it again with the same group of people, it would be a lot smoother because now, we know what our preferences and needs are. But I think overall, I’m almost a little surprised. I think we’re going to end up with a cohesive story.
Joanna: You’re surprised?
Lindsay: Early on, I was like, “Oh, this is just not going to work.”
Joanna: It definitely did feel like, at times, there was this kind of like, “Oh, you know, this is going to be a train wreck.”
Lindsay: Yeah. We were talking about a train wreck for the story and then a train wreck of the story. There were multiple meanings of the train wreck.
Joanna: Yeah, and whether it would work. You haven’t collaborated before, right?
Joanna: What are the positives that you’ve found from doing it this week?
Lindsay: Look at all the cool people and things I’ve done in New Orleans. I feel like it’s sort of like you have a career and you always have to continue to try to grow as a writer, maybe even though you have a lot of books out and you’ve been doing pretty well.
It’s good to keep pushing myself and try different things. And as a natural introvert, to do something with other people has been interesting and a learning experience, as cheesy as that sounds.
I know other people don’t write the same way I do, and I’ve always known that, but it’s been kind of, I guess, a growth experience to just try to work with others with different styles and really write in different genres and try to bring it all together.
I think this will be something I’ll remember always even though I have a horrible memory, which I’ve admitted. But we’ve done enough unique things, and the whole experience has been very unique. It was a challenging first collaboration but probably a lot more fun than just uploading documents into Dropbox from across the world with another author.
Joanna: We had a bonding experience yesterday, didn’t we? We went to the Museum of Death. How was that for you?
Lindsay: Oh, I was fine with it. Everything but the movies that were playing with the brains being…whatever they were doing.
Lindsay: Yeah. Pictures, I’m not too weirded out by. I mean, I probably don’t study them too closely. But it was a lot of photographs of crime scenes.
Joanna: Crime scenes and serial killers.
Lindsay: Mauled serial killer victims. So that’s what you get in America if you go to a death museum. It was all right. I probably wouldn’t go again.
Joanna: New Orleans has been really interesting. And like you, this was the reason I came; to hang out. In fact, I was saying to my husband, “For a load of introverts, we’ve managed to do quite a few sort of sociable things together,” which has been a surprise for me because it’s not something I actually do back in my home country.
Lindsay: I’ve mentioned to you that two other writers that we came up to the same workshop together, and every year, we get together and do a trip. But it’s not really a trip. It’s like we go to a cabin in the woods, or we went to Sedona, and we’re mostly just writing.
We tend to do, depending on what we’re each working on, 5,000 to 10,000 words a day. And we’re not collaborating. We’re just hanging out together and, you know, chatting with each other and going out to dinner. But this has been much more of an adventure with all the touring we’ve done. And we’re going on a bayou tour later this afternoon.
Joanna: On our boat.
Lindsay: Yes. Someone might get eaten by an alligator, but we’ve already got the contracts signed, I think.
Joanna: No, we haven’t. Not quite yet.
Lindsay: Oh, no. We better get that done before 2:45.
Joanna: That is true.
Is there anything you would do differently? Like you said, if you were running your own collaboration, you would have an outline. One of the challenges I found as well was the maintenance of our own voices because, like, we noted you and I have very different voices. Zack and J. have quite similar voices in a way.
How have you felt about maintaining your own voice in this type of collaboration?
Lindsay: I feel like it’s working pretty well the way we set it up, because we have four different point of view characters, and so we’re each able to write our character through that character’s eyes. And then it actually makes a lot of sense that they would have very different voices as different people.
It’s a little challenging. Something we’re going to have to address in the edits is when our characters interact with each other. You look at the dialogue other people wrote for you and like, “Oh, please. What is that?” So we’ll have to change that. I think we’re all being flexible about that. Nobody is saying like “Oh, no. You can’t touch my work or change what my character said.”
I haven’t seen that too much of a challenge because of the way we set it up. I think it would actually be harder. You mentioned that you’d worked with J. in the past and tried to blend it to be a cohesive style so people reading can’t necessarily tell which person had been writing it. I’m sure on this one, they will be able to tell, but I think it works with the project so I think it’s okay.
Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so I wanted to ask you. You’re well-known in the author community for being a fast writer and putting out a lot of books. And last year, you did very well with your books.
What would you recommend if people want the kind of financial success and sales success? What are your tips for getting that?
Lindsay: It’s kind of a tough time right now. I actually did a blog post I mentioned off the air. If you read the indie community on KBoards and stuff, there’s a lot of doom and gloom. And I’m pessimistic, too. I always think this could go away anytime, but there are still people succeeding that are just getting started. Like this last year, we’ve seen some people that go from nothing to well into six figures.
The common theme with those people was that they were writing and publishing really quickly.
Not everybody is going to be able to do that. I understand. I always tell people it took me seven years to finish my first novel. There were some World of Warcraft interruptions and gaming addictions during that time.
But the first few novels especially are really just a learning experience. I think you need to take more time and maybe do a little workshop or just find some trusted fellow authors that are maybe in a similar position to you or a little bit ahead of you that can offer feedback. Or if you like to take classes or go to conferences, there’s always stuff at the different cons.
And then once you’ve written a few novels, you get more of a feel. I’ve definitely listened to your podcast, and it seemed like it took a long time early on, and now you’re getting more novels out more quickly. It becomes more of a process, and you find out what works for you.
I did not outline in the beginning. I just was like, “Oh. If I knew how it ended, I could get them there.” But I started outlining, and that really helped me not have to delete scenes and rewrite each thing. It just became a faster process.
But for those who are starting now that are not huge fast writers or slender fast writers, whatever, you know, I think it’s good to get involved with the community. There are some conferences now that indie authors are putting on, or organizations for indie authors. You can go, too, and meet some other writers, get to know people that are writing in the same genre as you.
You often find that if you can put together a group of people, like some of the people we were chatting with in New Orleans, they’ve got this group of people that I think it’s going to be really great for their career. They’re all starting out or just a little past that. And then you grow together, and you can help each other promote your stuff. It makes sense to do that.
It is hard for me to say that networking is important. I actually didn’t do any in the first few years. I mean, I feel like you can still make it if you’re just solo and consistently put out books. They don’t have to be every month. I think I maybe did three the first year I published. And I’d say, too, pay attention to all the podcasts and maybe KBoards, too.
I’m not a big fan of forums as far as posting there. I think I’ve been lurking on KBoards for 6 years, and I’ve got like 200 posts in that time. But it’s good to know what’s going on, especially with the marketing, because it changes, what’s working with Amazon. There have been several gimmicks that people have exploited over the years.
I remember it used to be like if you had a book free, if you were in KDP Select and then it came back from a day free, it would still be selling as if all those downloads had been sales. So that was one thing. That’s gone, but it went on for years. But there had been things like that.
Right now, as we’re recording in 2017, just launching in the KDP Select and being Kindle Unlimited can help a lot, you know, as of this month. Who knows what it will be next month? All those borrows count as good as sales, as far as the algorithms or figuring the sales ranking and whether you’re gonna be in the top 100 for your category.
I would say that if you’re doing your first book, it wouldn’t hurt to hold back and have a couple of things ready that you can launch right now at the same time.
Joanna: Everyone hates that piece of advice.
Lindsay: I know. They’re like, “I wrote a prequel, and it’s 10,000 words or so.” It’s just someone on KBoards. “And I’m working on Book One. What should I do right now?” I’m like, “Well, finish Book One, and then use your prequel as a giveaway to get people to sign up for your mailing list.” And it is tough, I know.
I think in series, so I would have been okay with that advice. But it did take a long time for those first couple of novels. I do understand why people are like, “Oh, my gosh. I don’t want to wait to publish.”
Even if you don’t write quickly, by holding back, maybe waiting till you have two novels and a prequel, or three novels, and…they don’t have to be long, giant novels unless you’re epic fantasy person. And then you’re just out of luck. You made that choice. I understand. I was telling the guys I’ve done 200,000-word novels.
Joanna: Which is pretty amazing.
Is the secret that there really is no secret?
Lindsay: I honestly just think the biggest secret is to be consistent. We were talking about how James Patterson, and Stephen King, and these guys are such household names now, but they started writing in like the ’70s and ’80s and have consistently been putting out books every year. Some of these guys have started more recently with traditional publishing, too.
In fantasy, we have Kevin Hearne. He came out of nowhere, but he had written like five books, I think, in advance when he sold them. Either that or he was just writing them really quickly. And so “The Iron Druid” books took off really quickly for him. And I feel like if you can publish quickly now, it’s definitely an advantage. What was the question?
Joanna: I think the secret is there is no secret.
Joanna: Yeah, consistency.
Lindsay: That was my answer.
Joanna: And also publishing often.
You put out 12 novels last year?
Lindsay: Between my pen name and my regular name, yeah. But I don’t think you have to publish that often. But if you publish two a year, you know, put it out in whatever your day, May and November, or whatever, you’re gonna launch, and people come to expect it. And it’s just that it’s gonna take longer if you don’t publish this quickly. It’s not that you can’t still get there.
Lindsay: We’ve seen people who’ve taken 30 years to build up their career, and now, they’re New York Times Best Sellers, and now, their books sell really well. But they wrote a lot of books before they’ve gathered their fan base. So it’s like you can do it. You can fast-track it if you write really quickly. But just because you don’t doesn’t mean you can’t get there. But you can’t be just thinking, “Oh, I have one novel. This is the one that’s gonna make me rich.”
Maybe that’ll happen. Every now and then, lightning strikes. But if you just go toward it like, “I’m gonna have to gradually, each book I publish, I’m gonna hopefully get a few more readers on my mailing list, a few more people who are excited to read my books,” and if you don’t have these unrealistic expectations, then everything is like a win.
In the beginning, I remember I just wanted to sell a few books. I did have the goal of, “Maybe this could be the day job,” because I’d read J. A. Konrath’s post about, “Oh, I made $100,000 this month for these books,” and it’s like, “Well, maybe if I just wrote some of that number of books, I could have that.”
Maybe I wasn’t even thinking that successful at that point, but now, I know it’s very possible, especially in KU. A lot of people are just killing it right now with the way things are today, in April 2017, as we record this. Who knows what it will be later?
Joanna: I think that’s really important. Still, for some reason, people have this issue with if you write fast, it’s a crappier book. Did you have to go through that psychological shift at some point?
It took you seven years to do the first one. How did you get from that to one in a month?
Lindsay: Yeah. I think it was actually the opposite from the beginning. I just thought, because I knew when it took so long, I’d have to go back and reread everything I’d written before, and it was just a very slow process. And I remember rewriting the ending because I hated the ending.
And it’s like the more time you have to tinker with stuff, you know, there’s that advice, “Oh, you should put it in your nightstand for, you know, six months before you go back and edit it.”
But for me, I feel like if I write quickly, the story is just playing in my head like a movie. I haven’t forgotten what happened. I don’t have to go back and read what happened in the first few chapters when I get to the end. And it’s so much more efficient. I just love it.
Now, even if I slow down my production schedule, which maybe someday I will, I would probably still write a first draft in two or three weeks and then edit it almost right away while I’m still thinking, remembering what I wanted to change. And then maybe I’d take some time off and travel between the book launches or something.
I love writing fast, and I don’t believe that at all, just from my own experience. I believe it’s much better when you get it down quickly and everything is in your head. And the longer it takes, the more times you go over it.
I found with my own stuff that my voice is most natural and fluid when I’m just writing straight through. When I go back and edit it…you know how it is. Sometimes, no matter how well you outline, you might have to insert a few things here or there. And it just seems like you’re kind of jackhammering it in from the side, you know.
Hopefully, I’m the only one that thinks, “Oh, that section wasn’t as smooth.” But I think the closest I can get to just writing it in one…not one sitting. I’m not that guy that does 50K in 24 hours. But the faster I can get it out, the smoother it’s gonna be, the more true to my voice.
Joanna: It’s really interesting hearing you talk about coming from where you were and where you are now.
Looking forward, what are you excited about in terms of the indie community and where we’re going?
Lindsay: I think it’s exciting that we’re starting to get a little more street cred. You’re seeing some really talented books come out of indie publishing. Of course, there’s still the books that people did not edit and just put out there. And back in 2010, when you had your Kindle, there was a lot of that with really horrible covers. But even then, they sold, because people were just hungry for something for their Kindles.
Now, we have to be better. Most traditional publishers are even getting their older backlists out on eBooks. So there’s more competition out there, and it’s forced us to raise our game, especially those who are really serious about it and want to make a career of it. I’m super excited that so many people now are able to make a living as indie authors.
Joanna: That no one’s heard of really.
Lindsay: Yeah. At conferences I run into people who were making six figures, and I’m like, “I’ve never heard of them.” I know the people in my genre because I look at the lists and see which books and authors are doing well.
But outside of that, it’s amazing how many people can have that kind of success in little niches, too, in niches that traditional publishing doesn’t touch because they don’t think they’re going to sell enough books to make a profit, which is true because the way they do it.
For us, if you sell 10,000 books, that’s pretty good. You know, if you’re selling for $4 or $5, that’s $25,000 in your pocket or something. And maybe that’s excellent for a book.
But for traditional publishing, it’s like anything under $100,000, “Oh, that’s a failure. That author is probably not gonna…we’re not even gonna sign them for any more books.”
I hope it stays that way, then more people are able to continue to, if they want to, make a living as a writer. It’s really cool. How many artists get to…you know, the struggling artist thing is not a myth.
Joanna: We are able to bust out of that. And like you said, there are so many people who are making decent money. And decent money might be $50,000. It doesn’t need to be six figures like for many people.
But what’s interesting, I think, in terms of people not hearing about them, like you have a podcast, I have a podcast, J. has a podcast, so people have heard our names in other contexts, right? But you don’t need a podcast. Like you didn’t start your podcast and say, “Hey, I’ve gotta sell more books through that way.”
Tell people a little bit about your podcast, why you started it, and who it’s useful for.
Lindsay: All right. We’ve got the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. We deliberately went very niche because by that time, there was the self-publishing podcast and several just kind of broad and I had zero interest in teaching writing. But I am interested in interviewing people who are doing interesting things with the marketing so that’s why I picked it and found the guys and steamrolled them in. “Okay, you’re gonna be the tech guy, and then we’ll just have people on.”
It’s been great because some people I know but some people I don’t know, and some listeners will recommend, “Hey, check out this guy.” And there’s so many you’ve never heard of that’s probably doing $10,000 a month or $5,000 a month. And like you said, depending on where you live, you may not need a lot. I think there was just somebody on KBoards who was saying, “I just need $5,000 a year to supplement my income, and I can live.”
I love that we’ve had a mix of people. We’ve had some super successful people. And with the theme of our podcast, we don’t have to stick to indie. We’ve had some traditionally published authors, and some of those people are now going hybrid and doing some novellas on the side.
I think word has gotten out that you can make a lot more. That’s like the best career ever, I think, is to have had traditional publishing help build your name. And then if your contract works, then you can slide a few novellas or novels in on the side. That’s a great deal for them.
It has been nice that we don’t have to just stick to indie publishing because I think it’s useful to learn, too, because some of those traditional published authors, we interviewed them, and it sounds like they got lucky, you know, or they’ve done things like a few book signings. And I know that’s not selling any books, but others of them are really into it, and have a mailing list, and are doing everything they can to make sure they’re successful. They’re not just relying on the traditional publishers.
Joanna: Cool. So where can people find you, and your books, and also the podcast online?
Lindsay: All right. I’m at lindsayburoker.com. And if you get even close to spelling that, you’ll probably find my page. I think I’m the only one out there. And then we have the marketingsff.com is the URL for the podcast, which I did not choose. And the person who chose it only stayed for the first five shows, so you’ve got to fight for your URLs.
And you can find me on Amazon. I’m also on the other stores. My sci-fi stuff is just on Amazon. I’m experimenting with Kindle, and then we did for the reasons we’ve talked about. But I do have stuff in Kobo, and Google Play, and Barnes & Noble. They’re still around, I believe.
Joanna: As of April 2017.
Lindsay: I still sell books there. I have met people, so that’s great. So find me anywhere if you wanna check me out.
Joanna: Fantastic. Thanks for your time, Lindsay.
Lindsay: All right. Thanks for having me.
Transcript of Interview with J Thorn
Joanna: Who are you, and what do you write?
J.: I am J. Thorn. I write horror, dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic genre fiction.
Joanna: And what is this crazy thing we’ve been doing this week?
J.: We’ve been doing a four-author collaboration in my “American Demon Hunters” world in New Orleans in five days. It’s a little crazy.
Joanna: Where did you get the idea for this? And why did you wanna do this in the first place?
J.: Honestly, the idea came as a bit of a joke. I was on an Amtrak trip, and I was doing a lot of writing, and I was tweeting about it. And I think Lindsay may have responded. And I made a joke and said, “Oh, well, you know, we should write something together.” And that’s honestly where the idea came from.
I collaborate a lot. And I’m always looking for new and different ways, because I like a challenge. So I do some things the same way, but I like to try and up my game to, so speak, and just try something different and really push myself.
Joanna: How has this week pushed you then? How has this week taken your collaboration experience forward?
J.: It’s been the most invigorating and yet challenging collaboration I’ve ever done. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I think what’s really challenging for me personally is that it takes place in one of the worlds I’ve created. I’m sort of like the kid who invites everyone over for a playdate, and I know what game I want to play, but I can’t force it upon people because they’re my guests.
I’ve been trying to walk a fine line between giving input but not bowling people over with what I think it should be because it’s my world. So that’s personally been a challenge for me.
And I think just the compressed timeframe and the logistical pieces of it and the time element, I mean, I don’t think we’ve talked too much about this, but we’ve been working a lot on this this week. Between the reading and the writing and the story meetings, it hasn’t just been a vacation.
Joanna: I think I’ve had more of a vacation than you have. I’ve been going around doing a lot of stuff.
Why did you pick New Orleans? Because, we ended up doing the story on the train, right?
J.: That’s correct. There’s something magical about train travel. I really believe that. It’s romantic.
Joanna: Those sleeper cars are not romantic, J.
J.: No. Romantic in the sense of the history of travel, not in, like, lovey romantic or… And maybe it’s an American thing, but we have this fascination with, you know, the West, and the west was rail travel. And there’s something to that, I think.
And being on a train, there isn’t much else you can do. I’ve written on a train before. I’ve taken trips from Chicago to California and back multiple times. And for this one, I thought that the destination really mattered.
I had been to New Orleans a few times. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. And it just seemed like a good match. And we hadn’t decided whether the story was going to be placed or set on the train or in a city, but having that as a destination seemed like a really cool thing to do.
Joanna: Maybe just elaborate more on some of the bumps in the road as such that we’ve had and how they’ve been overcome, because I think it’s changed during the week.
There were challenges at the beginning, and then there have been different challenges later on in the week.
J.: There’s four of us, so we’re all going to have our own perspectives on it. The challenges I think we’ve faced were ones that we had to. If there wasn’t creative tension, then I don’t think we’d be doing it properly. There were questions around the cover. And we had to go for a second look at the cover. That was one.
Joanna: It’s a great cover now.
J.: It is. It’s great. But we weren’t quite sure what we wanted on the first pass. So it wasn’t anything that the cover designer did or didn’t do. It was just the creative process. And it’s messy. And there are moments where it’s really smooth and moments where it’s hard.
I know, personally, for me, one of my challenges is the time element. And so I don’t always read as carefully as I should because I’m worried about getting the words in. That caused me to write a few things that wound up getting cut, and that’s okay.
And I think too there’s a human element to it. I felt like Tuesday night was sort of the low point and that we were all exhausted, and it was late. And I think that was the moment where the end seemed so far away. You have the excitement in the beginning, and then you hit that middle point where it just feels hard. And then we kind of got past that.
Joanna: And I went to bed and left you guys to it.
J.: And that was totally fine. And that was a moment where I felt like “Okay, I need to write something down because I can’t keep this all in my head,” and I don’t want to make that mistake again. So, again, it all had to happen. I think that was just part of the process.
Joanna: And how does this compare to other collaborations that you’ve done? You’ve done a whole lot now.
J.: Definitely, the most challenging but also the most rewarding, because this is happening in real time. I mean, there’s always deadlines, but in this circumstance, we knew going in we have these many days, and we have these many minutes together. So there’s certain things that we have to do.
Whereas, if you’re doing a collaboration asynchronously and you don’t have a definitive deadline, you have the luxury of stretching things out, rethinking them. This one’s intense. And we designed it that way, and we wanted it that way. But I also recognize that it’s intense.
Joanna: For me, the accountability of having only a limited time…we’re recording this on the Friday. You guys are leaving tomorrow, on the Saturday. I am staying till Monday. But we’re pretty much done now. So we have this hard deadline of you guys leaving.
And that accountability of getting words done and what’s so funny is I was really worried coming into this, because especially with Lindsay, I know, who writes so many words. I was so paranoid that I would be behind this week. Whereas, actually, I’ve ended up being ahead most of the week because I got up earlier.
What fears did you bring into this that may have turned out unfounded?
J.: Oh, that’s a great question. I knew all of you. I don’t know Lindsay as well as I know you and Zach. But we’ve known each other for years. You and I have worked together. We wrote a novel together.
Joanna: “Risen Gods”.
J.: Ding, ding. And Zach and I have worked together on a few things as well. Maybe I was being naive, but I was not fearful that it would fall apart. I knew there would be moments where we would be tired or moments where would have creative differences. I never thought like “Wow, we could come home and have nothing.” Like, that just wasn’t even part of it for me.
Joanna: Good. I never had that fear too. We’re all professionals. Even if we were to manage a short story or four short stories in one thing, we would’ve delivered something.
Joanna: I agree with you on that. It is an interesting sort of thing. Let’s just assume you’re now going to do another four-person collaboration, not with the same people.
What would you do differently? How would you make it easier next time?
J.: I’ve been thinking about that all week, and I’ve been writing down notes, because when you’re in the experience, that’s the best time to be reflective for whatever anyone’s doing, any sort of creative work. And so I’ve been taking some notes, and I was looking through them this morning.
There were two things that stuck out for me. The first one is, doing this again, I would probably give it a genre theme. I think if we were very specific on what the genre was and all those writers were already writing in it and they knew the conventions, I feel like it would be a much more streamlined process.
The second thing I would do is I would do more groundwork beforehand. And, again, we made the decision not to. Like, we explicitly said, “We’re not even going to talk about this till we get on the train.” And that was great, and I think that was exciting, and that put a pressure on us that I think was good.
But doing it again, I would probably do more upfront work so that whenever we arrived or whenever it was time to do the first writing session, we could sort of hit the ground running.
Joanna: I was uncomfortable with that so much so that I went and did research and brought an idea to the table. And then we did get going quicker.
What was funny is we recorded Lindsay’s podcast earlier in the week, and I was the bossy one up to that point, but then what was so funny is that, in that very night, I went, “Okay, you guys do the rest.” So we did throw the ball around in terms of the ideas. You know, the skull from the museum was just the first idea. But I think those are two good things.
For people listening interested in collaboration what are your recommendations if you’re choosing people to be in a collaboration with?
What is your checklist for the people that you want to work with? And what are the red flags for “definitely not”?
J.: First and foremost, the most important thing is that you must have a prior relationship with someone. It doesn’t have to be an in-person one, or it doesn’t have to be extensive or long. Writing cold, I’ve had at least 10 failed collaborations. And all of those failed because those were people who were acquaintances or sort of cold-emailed me, and I didn’t really have a relationship with them.
So I think that in itself is the single most important element. And then if that element is satisfied, if you have someone who you know and you trust and you’re friends with, I think then sort of setting up a project that’s small-scale, that is manageable…like, I probably wouldn’t start out the gate with a full novel. Maybe I would start with a short story or a novella and get the process down.
Joanna: Yeah, that works. With this “American Demon Hunters” series, you’ve worked with a whole load of different people and ended up with a whole load of different voices.
What possessed you to do that approach with your own world? And how have you felt, like, it’s gone?
J.: I was originally just going to say, “Well, demons possessed me to…” But I was like “No.” And then I just said it anyways.
I think I have to remind myself that this series isn’t even six months old. Or it might be six months old. It’s still an experiment. I decided I wanted to incorporate other voices. And I couldn’t map it out to the finest details. So, now, I’m in the second phase of it where I’m getting some feedback, some great feedback that you gave me about ways that I can smooth the edges a little bit. Part of it is it’s not coming from the same head, so, yes, the novellas are going to have variations in them.
And I try to structure the story beats in a way that at least the format would be consistent like a television show. If you watch the “X Files,” every episode might be written by 10 people or 10 different people, but the pace and the storyline of each episode is pretty consistent. So that’s what I was striving for.
I’m still really early, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly where I want to take this and what I want to do with it. But the reason for it was, again, to stretch myself a little bit and push past the comfort zone and try something different.
Joanna: And how are your own writing projects done just as your pure voice working while you’re doing all these collaborations?
Are you maintaining your own voice? Are you being influenced by other voices? And how do you even balance your time?
J.: I hear voices all the time, so that works out well. I think it improves my writing. I really do. Every time I collaborate with someone, I learn a ton of stuff, and then I get to incorporate that into my own style.
I think we all have our own voice, which is distinctly our own, and it’s something that comes from within. But there’s the mechanics, the language, and the craft part of it that I learned so much from other people.
And as far as the balance goes, my work style is one where it’s hard for me to do short, intense bursts. Like, this is really a challenge for me this week. What I like to do is do little pieces over a longer period of time, and then I stack those up so that I’m sort of changing what I’m working on throughout the day.
Zach and I, for example, are very different in this way. He likes to work on one project at a time, finish it, move on to the next one.
Joanna: Me too.
J.: Yeah. I like to have…and not a lot, but I would say two to four at the most. And they don’t all have to be writing projects. Like, they could be writing songs for my band, or they could be working on a video project or a writing project. But if I have two to four of those going, I feel like I don’t ever get bogged down by any one. So for me, it kind of helps to have some variation.
Joanna: What are your plans for collaborations, in a business sense, because you have worked with so many different people now? Are you turning into James Patterson with all his collaborations?
Do you see your niche as a publisher being a collaboration guru machine?
J.: I hadn’t planned that. I’m very impulsive. I have ADD. I just jump into things without thinking too much about them. And my plan was not to become a collaborator. I’m an INTJ, like the 2% of population in that regards on the personality spectrum, which basically means I’m a super lone wolf, and I don’t like working with other people at all. And people go, “But you’re the guy doing all these collaborations.”
It’s evolved from that, and I think it’s sort of given me a path now that I hadn’t anticipated. And people started calling me the collaborator before I was. And I was like “Okay, you know, maybe there’s something there.”
That’s kind of where I’m headed. And the start of that is gonna be Molten Universe Media, which is the small press that Zach and I are starting. And I think that’s kind of putting me into phase two of my indie author career. And with author earnings report coming out and what you’ve been talking about on your podcast, I think there are a whole crop of indie authors who got into the game, you know, around the beginning, the ’09, ‘010, 2011, that are now sort of hitting that second phase. And I kind of feel like I’m on the cusp of that.
Joanna: Oh, it’s interesting you say that because I feel that too. The movement is maturing. I don’t know what order we’re gonna play this in, but, you know, Lindsay and Zach, we’ve been talking about the people that you’ve never heard of who were doing really well and the number of authors who were making a living, you know, on the fringe of what publishing would be.
What are you excited about in terms of this next phase of the indie author movement?
J.: I think what I’m really excited about is that I think…and, of course, predictions are always the worst thing to do, but I think it’s gonna fall in the same path that it’s done in the other mediums. I’m a big music fan. So independent music, independent film don’t have a stigma. In fact, people rally around that. They love the indie movement in music and in film.
I think we’re sort of flipping that paradigm now for publishing. So, for me, it’s really exciting to see people realize that they don’t need someone to tell them what’s good. They can decide for themselves.
And that’s what the indie mindset’s all about. You don’t need a gatekeeper. You don’t need someone to tell you this is what you should be reading because someone in a high-rise has said that this is what you should be reading.
Joanna: And like you said about music, we’re all writing this thing together, but last night, you and Zach went to a metal concert. And me and Lindsay were like “Yeah, we might skip that.” And that’s the thing. I think it’s really important. And like you said, it’s been accepted in music. It’s been accepted in film. And maybe that is the next stage.
I think the other shift is, like you said, you guys are starting a small press. I’ve started a small press. I think you’re going to publish other people because you collaborate more. Whereas, I’m not really intending to do that.
But that’s the next question, because there’s a lot of backend pain with working with people in terms of the money and all of that type of thing.
Have you had to develop business systems, become more organized, all of that type of thing?
J.: I’m naturally a fairly organized person. I’m really good with time management. I’m really good with project management. So those systems are easy enough. You can take them from your personal life. You can take them from your business life and sort of apply them.
I think the legal aspects around this is where I really need to be cautious and informed. And so I’ve hired a tax person. I’m getting more into sort of more formal contracts. Any time there’s a sharing of the IP, that’s where it gets more complicated.
I don’t know exactly what James Patterson’s model is, but I’m guessing many of his writers are work-for-hire, in which case it’s a simple transaction. It’s like a newspaper journalist. You pay someone to write whatever piece that they’re writing, and then you as the author-publisher have 100% of the IP. So it really depends on where that is, but I’m sort of poised to step into that in a more formal way as we move forward.
Joanna: The more people you work with, the more complicated it can potentially get.
J.: That’s correct.
Joanna: You’re a pretty laid back guy, which is great. I don’t think I would ever be in charge of a collaboration, like, in terms of I couldn’t do this and try and edit everyone and that type of thing.
How do you handle retaining someone’s unique voice while trying to present a quality product that everyone can enjoy?
J.: I honestly don’t know. That’s the key to it all, isn’t it?
When you’re talking about a running collaboration, the ability to preserve what’s unique about your voice but also at the same time create a cohesive experience for the reader, that’s what we’re all chasing.
I just do my best, and I learn every time. And especially with doing the “American Demon Hunters” novellas…and we talked a little bit about doing small-scale projects…has given me the opportunity to practice some of this without a major commitment.
If we’re talking a 10,000 or 15,000-word story, and I do that with four or five or six different people, every time I get better at that.
It doesn’t mean that there aren’t conflicts, and there aren’t some hurt feelings. And there were hurt feelings in some of the novellas, and there were some things I did that I know that the writers weren’t too crazy about. But I’m pretty responsive too, and I listen to people. And if it makes sense, I change it.
But at the same time I’m the publisher of record, and so I will have the last say. But I’d like to think I’m fairly reasonable if it comes down to the different elements of the writing that gets changed or revised.
Joanna: And what’s the best personality mix do you think with a group of collaborators?
J.: You can’t have too many alpha dogs. I will go on a limb, and without any scientific evidence, I would say it’s probably more personality-based than work style-based. I think knowing who the people are and what they bring as people will trump sort of the work style.
You don’t necessarily want all of the same type of people who work all the same way. But you don’t want them to be radically different either. Or else, you won’t get anything done. It’s a balance.
And I think a lot of that, you know, comes through in the relationship piece. I am generally pretty laidback. And then there are times where I’m like “No, this is just how it’s gonna be.” And I can do that.
And so maybe if you are the person who is thinking of organizing this, maybe that’s one way you could approach it is to be very flexible but also know that there are moments where you are just going to have to say, “This is how it’s gonna be.” And everyone has to be okay with that.
Joanna: Fair enough. And then just on the book marketing: one of the things that’s been talked about a lot right now with Chris Fox’s book on the six-figure author and the Amazon algorithms, and we’ve talked about this book, “American Demon Hunters: Sacrifice” and the how, between the four of us, the algorithms for our books could be quite messed up.
Lindsay, particularly, doesn’t write demon stuff usually. She has some other things.
How does the marketing work for all the co-writing stuff in terms of making the algorithms happy? And how have you done all the different marketing with different people?
J.: I feel like I’m in a transitional moment. And I will credit Chris Fox for that, for better or worse. I would say, even as late as last year or the year before, the general mindset was you had a book launch and you went far and wide with the message. You just blasted.
Joanna: You just told everyone.
J.: You told everyone, and you played the percentages, and that was sort of the game. Reading Chris Fox’s stuff and understanding that the way the Amazon algorithm works, that hurts you.
I started my list in 2009 or 2010. And like you, I know I have this wide range of readers, people who are into horror, dark fantasy, other authors. And so blasting out to my list a new book is going to hurt me in a way.
I’m in this transitional moment now where I’m putting a lot of time into my list, down to individual people, asking them for their favorite genres, ranking their genres.
And then what I’m starting to do now is tailor the broadcast to those specific people. And I haven’t seen this firsthand yet, but I trust Chris knows what he’s talking about. You don’t need a ton of those on a launch. Maybe it’s as few as a 100.
If you have a 100 hardcore post-apoc readers and you send them to your book launch on day one, that alone might be enough to really set the algorithm going in the right direction.
Joanna: It’s almost like you want to do it secretly and then tell your list later, because, of course, you want to tell the wider list, but maybe you want to do that a bit later, which is a different thing, like you said, than what we’ve been talking about. And it’s very hard with an established name. So that is interesting.
You also have a new podcast, “The Petal to the Metal,” which is an awesome name for a podcast. You have a number of podcasts. For people listening, what are your different shows, and where can they find them?
J.: The two that are running right now are “The Intronaut” at theintronaut.com, which is a podcast for introverts, which is more self-reflective. It’s just me. Sometimes, I have an occasional guest. And it’s short form, just about my experiences as an introvert.
And then the new one that you mentioned, which started in January of 2017, with Rachael Herron, my good buddy in Oakland, not in San Francisco. She’s a romance writer. And “The Petal to the Metal,” which is at thepetaltothemetal.com, is a podcast about transitioning from day job to dream job. And we’re both writers, so we talk about writing as a fulltime author, but really would apply to any creatives who wanna make that transition.
Joanna: And then where can people find you and all your fiction and also if people are interested in co-writing?
J.: Yeah, all the fiction is at jthorn.net, and that’ll take you to anything you need. And if you go to jthorn.net/cowriting, there’s gonna be information there if you’re interested in possibly a co-writing experience. And I’m gonna be developing out some face-to-face writer retreat type of programs. And so if you wanna be notified and know how that’s developing, just head there, and I’ll contact you.
Joanna: Fantastic, because, yeah, I think that’s becoming much bigger in the author niche, so it’s great that you’re leading that charge, because I’m certainly not gonna do it.
J.: Well, I have the battle scars, and I know what to avoid. So if I can help other people out, then that’ll be great.
Joanna: That’s awesome. Well, thanks for your time, J.
J.: Thank you.
Transcript of Interview with Zach Bohannon
Zach Bohannon is an Amazon Top 100 Horror Author. He also co-wrote another American Demon Hunters novella with J.
Joanna: Who are you? What do you write?
Zach: I’m Zach Bohannon from Nashville, Tennessee, and I write horror and post-apocalyptic horror science fiction, and I also write fantasy, but that’s under an undisclosed pen name.
Zach: For now.
Joanna: So we’re here in New Orleans.
What made you decide to do this collaboration in the first place?
Zach: When J. brought this idea to me I didn’t have to think about it too long. It just seemed like too good of an opportunity, to be able to travel with three other writers and have this joint experience together, was just something I couldn’t turn down.
And for me, as cool as it is that at the end of this week that we know we’re gonna have a book, we’re gonna publish stuff, like that’s really neat. For me, it’s been more about like the friendships I’ve built with you guys over this week and just learning from each other and all that. I just think it’s so unique and it’s so cool, and I didn’t want to miss out on that.
Joanna: How does this compare to the previous co-writing projects you’ve done?
Zach: It’s very different. You know, just the way we naturally did this, and I love how we did it. We’re gonna come in and we’re going to write a book in a week.
But it’s definitely different. Working with four people, as opposed to two, you’re obviously going to hit some bumps and stuff, but I think we’ve all been really professional, and there haven’t been that many bumps. It’s been probably less than I thought there was gonna be, honestly.
But, yeah, just the time frame that we have has kinda been what’s really made it crazy morning thing so it doesn’t really compare to any other collaborations I’ve done for sure.
Joanna: Be more specific about some of the bumps. What have been the challenges for you personally?
Zach: I think just from the story aspect. I go on to write a scene and I have to know where all the other characters are in the train and stuff, and so that’s been a little bit of a challenge. And then, you make sure that none of you guys have written my character somewhere else.
I mean, obviously, it’s all stuff that can be edited out later, but I don’t really like wasting words. So I want to be prepared going in, and that’s been a little difficult at times. But, again, we’ve made it all work, and it’s gone really well.
Joanna: What would you do differently next time if you were to do another four-person collaboration? How would you do it differently?
Zach: I think the big thing I would do different is I think that maybe I would go in a little more with some kind of a loose outline or something.
We already had the wall build and stuff, and we wanted the outline implying to be…that was part of the experience, and I like that we did that. But I think next time, I would maybe go in with at least a little more. I know we talked about doing this but…and I guess we did do this. We had our characters built and stuff.
We really talked about that, had a meeting. We had a meeting beforehand, you know, where we talked about our characters and kind of their arc and stuff. I think that those types of things would help a little bit but…yeah, that would be pretty much it, honestly.
Joanna: And so those are some of the challenges.
What are the positives that you see with co-writing? How has it helped you on this project and your previous projects in terms of your writing career?
Zach: As far as this project; we write a book in a week. That’s pretty fast to get a product, a book done, and it wouldn’t impossible by myself, but it kinda would be.
I don’t think I can write this much in a week. And then as far as this project, there’s that and then there’s the other thing outside the book I mentioned about just being here.
But as far as other co-writing projects, what I really like about them, so I use my stuff with J. as an example because that’s who I coauthor with the most, is, you know, we have opposite strengths and weaknesses and opposite likes and dislikes, what we like to do in the process of writing a book.
For example, J. loves doing revisions, but he doesn’t really like first drafting. I’m the opposite. I love first drafting, but if I get too bogged down doing revisions over a long period of time, I don’t like doing that.
He also is a better preplanner. I love outlining and stuff and word building, but he’s better at it than I am, and so that helps, too. He will plan the book. I write the book. I’ll usually do like a real quick glance over just to give him a little less work, and then he likes getting bogged down and coming in fresh and then doing the revisions from there.
So that really works for us, and that way, especially once we really get our process going, it’s going to make the whole process of writing a series of books so much easier because he can have the outline done so I can go straight into the next book while he’s doing revisions on the other one. So those are some definite advantages.
If you can find a partner like that, who has opposite strengths to your weaknesses, I think that that’s a huge advantage to co-writing.
Joanna: Although I’ve noticed, like your voice and J.’s voice are pretty similar. My voice is very different to you guys, and Lindsay’s voice is completely different again. I think that’s quite a difficult thing. I can see how you and J. could write one book together more easily.
How have you felt about the differences between everybody’s voice in terms of making a coherent story?
Zach: It’s definitely a little bit of a challenge, but that’s part of what makes this project unique. I think J. and I are definitely the closest in voice for sure, but the uniqueness of everyone’s voice is part of what makes this project so cool to me, you know. And I think we kinda knew that going in and stuff.
It’s been a little difficult, and it may be a little weird during the editing process, but I think, for the most part I think it adds character to the book personally.
Joanna: Yeah. Character for sure.
Zach: For sure.
Joanna: And in terms of personality of the writer, what type of personality do you think co-writing works for the best?
Are there certain types of people that co-writing regularly works for?
Zach: I got you. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know necessarily. Like, I mean, I really think this is something anyone can do. I mean, you know, it’s a relationship just like you would have with, you know, a significant other, a spouse, or a friend, or whatever, or a business partner. It’s just a relationship, and I do think it’s important to find someone or some people that you mesh with. Like going back to J., like J. and I, you know, we’re good friends. We have a lot in common, you know, so we read the same stuff, we listen to the same music. So there’s a lot of similarities there. And you know, I think that, you know, again, it’s just like any other relationship. You know, you don’t force yourself to find the right person. Just, it’ll happen organically the more you network with other authors and stuff. And, you know, eventually, if you’re interested in coauthoring, I’m sure you’ll come across somebody eventually, you know. But it just has to happen organically and just be someone that you mesh with so…
Joanna: Because in terms of your copyright and your relationship basically goes on after death.
Zach: Absolutely, yeah.
Joanna: It’s more serious than a marriage.
Zach: Yeah. Yeah, I think that I was gonna say you always say that. For sure, yeah.
Joanna: Which is hardcore. Okay, so just tell us about your bestselling series, you know, under your own name and what’s working for marketing that right now.
Zach: Yeah, so my bestselling series is a post-apocalyptic zombie series called “Empty Bodies.” I was one of the fortunate people that I had a first book take off and do really well. I guess it’s fortunate. At the same time, it has its hindrances, but it stuck with the algorithms really well. So I’m in a little bit different position with that series now because that series is done. So that series is a six-book series which puts me in a really good position where I have an entire series to market.
So, you know, I use a combination of box sets. It’s been my main thing. I have the series split into two box sets. I’m getting the last three books done on audio right now, and so I already have an audio book for the first three books bundled up. I’m gonna do it with the second three. The audio box, that does great.
But, yeah, like Amazon ads have worked really well for me as far as marketing. Since they offered it to everybody and took it out of just KE, it’s gotten a little bit more difficult. I mean, it’s a little easier to get good cost per click when it was just KDP in there, but those still work really well. You know, Facebook ads obviously work really well. You know, I use Facebook ads to push people through. That first book, I offered it for free. Get them on my mailing list, you know, a lot of the tried and true stuff. You know, it’s been working really well for me, but it’s really nice to be in that position to have a finished series. And then, you know, having a new series coming out soon that’s in a similar genre, it’s gonna be nice to see if that, you know, kinda gives my old series a boost as well so…
Joanna: And then looking back, I mean, like you say, we’ve made “some mistakes” this week. You know, I’ve been working out a new process. What are the mistakes that you’ve learned from in your indie career, you know, as you look back and go, “Yeah, that was an interesting one”? Like to me, it would’ve been doing my own covers right at the beginning. I mean, that was just like, “Don’t do that.” Is there any big lessons you’ve learned that has helped you?
Zach: I think as far as stuff like that goes, like I’ve definitely done…I’ve had a couple of mistakes that were just like dumb things. But like as far as stuff that’s like maybe more of like a strategic mistake, I think the biggest one was I got really…and this kinda goes back to a hindrance of my first book taking off, is that I don’t think I really understood how well my book was doing. Like I don’t think…and when those ranks started to slip after a few months, I got a little bit greedy, and I was like, “Oh, man. My rank is slipping,” like, you know.
And I think the biggest mistake I did, I had three books out in that series, and I decided to take the first book perma free when the first book still had a good sales ranking, had really good also-boughts. I took it perma free. I left the other books in KU, which is something I don’t think you should do when you’re in KU. You should keep your whole…either be all in or be out. Don’t do the first book perma free and have your other books in KU because KU readers aren’t looking for perma free books. They’re looking for KU books.
So I took it out, and then my book, you know, it did really well free, but I lost a bunch of also-boughts. I messed up the algorithms. And then when I realized that, it was too late. And when I went back in and made it on sale again, I mean, my rank never got back up. I mean, I was like, you know, top 2,000 after months, you know, which is pretty good sales rank, you know. Especially for a first book, you know, to hang around that 1,200 to 2,000 range is really good. That’s moving a lot of books.
And so, yeah, that would definitely be my biggest mistake. So just, like, you know, think through things. Don’t get overwhelmed when you listen to podcasts and you hear a strategy work for other people, and then you feel like you have to chase rabbits and do all those things. Just think about it, be strategic. And you’re gonna mess up along the way. I mean, you’re going to, and that’s part of the process and that’s part of learning to be an authorpreneur and run this business so…
Joanna: Yeah, fantastic. And, you know, what excites you most about the indie author movement as I now think it really is?
Zach: Yeah, I think what most excites me, honestly…so I spent the majority of my 20s playing in heavy metal bands and trying to…you know, I didn’t go to college. Instead of going to college, I went on tour. My parents didn’t like it, but that’s what I wanted to do, so.
And at the time, you know, this whole idea of being an independent artist was extremely young. I mean, like it was amazing for us to be able to put our music on MySpace and have people come to it, you know. So this was like 2000. I mean, this was 2004, 2005, 2006, around that time. And at the time, all that stuff was still young that we still needed to chase after trying to get signed a record label. And the reason for that, yeah, you know, we could go and spend a bunch of money and get our CDs made, and we…but, you know, we needed a label to help us with like booking tours, to get on decent tours so we didn’t have to book tours ourselves and that we have some financial support. All that’s gone now. Because of where the digital distribution has gone, being an independent artist, it’s an achievable dream now. And the fact that I don’t have to worry about having a publisher, and I can just put my books up, and I can make a living, and I can support my family, that’s pretty amazing.
And to me, it’s only going up from here. And, you know, independent artists are getting smarter, and everything just keeps innovating. And, you know, I see a really bright future for this space, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon so…
Joanna: Fantastic. So where can people find you and your books online?
Zach: Yeah, so, I mean, everything kinda falls through my main website, which is just zachbohannon.com, and you’ll find my social media and everything there. I’m usually most active on Facebook, and I do some blats over in Instagram, too, but mainly Facebook. So, yeah, zachbohannon.com, you can find everything on there.
Joanna: That’s so much, Zach.
Zach: Awesome. Thank you, Joanna. I appreciate it.