Monday, January 21, 2013

Bob Brady on Getting Published in 2013

I met Bob through the Yahoo Fantasy Writing group and was intrigued by his choice to move from independent publishing to traditional publishing.  He graciously accepted my request for an interview.

You set out to write a series. Did you seek agency representation or traditional publishing at first, or did you intend to self-publish all along?

At first I did. My first rejection letter was in 1983 from Tor Publishing, where the reviewer actually told me that I was a terrible writer, that I'd never make it and strongly advised me to stick to reading. He was right in that I was terrible at the time. I'd been over-influenced by my professors in college and needed to refocus and relearn.

Right now, it's exceptionally difficult to get picked up as a new author by a publisher. The new idea is to prove yourself on the independent market, and THEN when you can show a following, a publisher will look at you and make a decision as to whether you're marketable or a fluke.

The only alternative to this is to go the awards route. There a such things as Nebula Awards which, if you win them, you're much more likely to get picked up. As far as I'm concerned, though, independent is the way to start.

Can you tell us about circumstances of your initial correspondence with Sky Warrior? Did they approach you or were you continuing to seek traditional publishing?

Robert W. Brady, Jr.
One thing you can rely on is that a good publisher is NEVER going to contact you. If someone comes to you and says, "We think you're our guy," your scam alarm should ring loudly in your head.

When I started to become more popular on Kindle, I started to notice whose books were bought alongside mine (this is a feature in Amazon). What I wanted to do was to go to these authors and offer to review each others' books to cross-increase our popularity. This, by the way, is a VERY viable way to make yourself more popular.

What I noticed was that a lot of these were Sky Warrior published. That's when I went to them and made my case.

Has “signing the contract” changed your self-perception at all?

Yeah - you can barely talk to me now! Just kidding - you have to remember that The Fovean Chronicles is a project I began in 1982, in my first year in college. I've picked it up and put it down a lot. Finally getting representation by someone as qualified as Sky Warrior legitimizes the effort.

What have you found to be the most difficult or challenging aspect of going independent with the books?

There's a belief by more old-school authors that, once you go independent, other publishers won't touch you. That's pretty much untrue. The problem with independent publishing is you're one in a crowd of around 10,000,000. Most of that 10,000,000 is crap and most people know it. You're going to REALLY have to get out there and make your case, get the word out, give people a reason to read you.

Which aspect of self-publishing have you enjoyed the most?

The control. I'm the master of my own fate. If I make a mistake, it's my mistake. If I have successes, those are mine as well.

Did you seek an agent or lawyer to aid in your negotiations?

Most agents aren't interested in you until it's clear you have something they can market to a publisher. They're inundated with manuscripts and authors pleading, "Give mine a chance."

Most lawyers don't know anything about a literary contract, and they'll want to charge you. I'd say go with the lawyer because you won't be able to get the agent, and if you go to an agent contract-in-hand all he/she is really going to do for you is get you to give them around 15% of your profit, which doesn't really help you.

A lawyer is going to be able to tell you about common contract scams that you may not realize. It will likely cost you about $250, which is money well spent.

The Banner on Bob's Website for the Series.

Since your books were already selling, was Sky Warrior more amenable to contract negotiation or was their offer still “industry standard” and rigid?

Sky Warrior was pretty cut and dry, and exceptionally fair, so I was happy to go with what they offered me. I imagine if I wanted to press for more control on cover art, I could have gotten it.

What pushed you over the edge to sign with Sky Warrior?

I was getting ready to drop a lot of money on publicity. What it would cost me to break in has already been achieved by Sky Warrior, so it made monetary sense. They'll take me places that I'd have to spend a lot of money to go, and get me there faster.

Will Sky Warrior be publishing all of your existing books? Any guarantees or special considerations for you future books?

I have a deal with them for the whole Fovean Chronicles series, about 1/2 of which is in rewrite now. When they take over in January, I'll have four books done, two in rewrite and two unwritten. I'll deliver on the unwritten this year or this and next.

I'm already laying out another series which isn't covered by Sky Warrior, but I'll be giving them first crack at it.

What has been your biggest surprise since the day you decided to publish?

I think I'm surprised at how popular the series is becoming, all on its own. Word actually did get around about it. I'm waiting to see what happens when someone who knows what they're doing takes the reins.

What recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

I think most people know by now that if any deal sounds too good, it is. Also, I think that the word is out that no one legitimate wants your money in this industry. An agent or a publisher who "needs you to participate" monetarily will never get you off the ground. They'll just take as much of your money as they can get, and you'll never get anywhere.

You want to be careful signing a contract. A lot of people are "willing to take a chance" with a smaller publisher. Smaller publishers fail right alongside of new writers and for the same reasons, however when your signature is on their contract and they owe money to the world, your work is their asset and you can end up unable to do anything with your own writing for years.

On the other hand, one person who did this was JK Rowling, and that turned out pretty good for her.

If you're not getting picked up by someone who's been around a while, have a serious discussion with them about why they're going to make it, and why you're going to get onboard with them. Getting you off of the ground is at least a $30,000 investment - are they borrowing this, did they hit the Lotto or are they already representing a few gold-mine authors who are bringing in the revenue to cover you? Or are they going to do a lot of stuff you could do yourself, but then take 2/3 of the money they make?

If you don't get the answers you like, don't sign, no matter how badly you want to.

Tell us about the books themselves.

Your Introduction to Fovea
The Fovean Chronicles are the story of a man from our world, cultivated by the dying shards of the god Anubis to be the instrument of a god named War, in another reality where magic is real and has supplanted technology. The main character is Randy Morden, a dishonorably discharged Navy Nuclear propulsion technician who always loved history. He's big, he's mean and he's got a bad temper that tends to get him into trouble.

As the instrument of the god War in a strange land, he can speak to his god. He has no faith, he has proof - this changes how he deals with the world around him, and what he'll do to succeed in War's plans for him. He doesn't live in a world of 'what if?', he lives in a world of 'or else.'

I didn't want to create a superhero or an anti-hero, I wanted to create a man, give him a couple advantages and a lot of disadvantages, and cut him loose on Fovea.

The first two books are from Randy's perspective, the second two are from the perspective of everyone else who has to deal with him. Then there is 'The Intermission,' which is three short books which occur at the same time, and then there will be a final book which ties the whole thing up.

Can we still get them? Where? For how long? Etc.

You can still buy the books on Amazon and Kindle. The website for the series is http://www.swordsandsorcery.net . By the way, it doesn't hurt me AT ALL that I was able to buy that site a few years ago.

28 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jeff, for a wonderful interview with Bob. It's always exciting to me to read the process of breaking in the biz.

    I'm thrilled for Bob and love the horse!

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  2. Very interesting interview and helpful for that thinking process. :)

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  3. Bob has some solid advice/cautions on contracts and a path toward writing success. Good interview.

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  4. Its great to meet Robert. Thanks for the tips and insights. I would rather self publish than go with a small publisher mainly because most want three to five year contracts. No thanks! I'll keep the control of my books myself.

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  5. An eye-opening interview. Thanks.

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  6. Great interview! I think Mr. Brady has a good grasp of the vibe of the industry today. I think he's right that we're moving more toward writers having to prove themselves on their own before being picked up by a publisher.

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  7. Fantastic interview! I really liked reading the advice that he had to share. Reaching out to other authors whom others have bought books from on Amazon is something that never would have crossed my mind!

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  8. Great post. I love this especially: "One thing you can rely on is that a good publisher is NEVER going to contact you." I know of someone who was approached by a publisher. Like this comment, I fear it was a con job.

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  9. Sometimes I read all this advice, the options, the cautions and I almost get overwhelmed. I wonder how so many books manage to even get published at all! Then I remember, they DO manage to get published. In a way, it's almost like I have to be aware of the industry but keep blinders on when I write so I can focus on what I love, rather than all the obstacles I might face. Thanks for the advice and best of luck to you on the book-- it looks fantastic.

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  10. Hmm. Very interesting! It's always good to hear success storiea from self published authors. I agree with him, that its the way to go in order to catch the eyes of the traditional publishing companies!

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  11. I think whatever route a writer picks to make his/her dreams come true is perfect. Best of luck Robert!

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  12. Congratulations, Bob! That is persistence with that first manuscript. Shame same genre authors aren't allowed to review each others' books on Amazon anymore.

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  13. I've been trying this route myself. Best of luck to Bob, and thanks for an insightful interview, Jeff.

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  14. Excellent interview and thank you Mr. Brady for sharing your experiences and advice. As in aspiring author, this has helped me put a few things into perspective, and I wish you the very best in your writing career.

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  15. Very interesting interview. :) The books sound great, too. Good luck with the new direction you're going. :)

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  16. Congrats on all your success, Bob. It's wonderful reading success stories. I wish you and your books the best!

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  17. Cool interview, you really need to shake it to make it!

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  18. Great great interview! To go from self to big time, what a feat! Thanks for jeff for giving us this opportunity to see success at its best!

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  19. Congrats on the series gaining popularity! Word of mouth makes such an incredible difference!

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  20. Great interview. I really enjoyed reading this. :)

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  21. Loved this interview. What a fabulous journey! Congrats !

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  22. Congrats Bob! That is quite the epic publishing journey.

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  23. Great interview. Thanks for the awesome advice and good luck with the series.

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  24. What a rough response from TOR! I sent them my first book in 97. Maybe they switched to form rejection letters by that time, but I know now that that book was horrid at the time. Glad you never gave up, Bob! :)

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  25. Enlightening interview Bob. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

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  26. Thanks for a great interview, and thanks to your wonderful fans for all of the support.

    This looks like a blog that I REALLY need to be following

    Bob Brady

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    1. Well I'd have to agree with that, Bob! ;-) And my thanks to you for providing such great answers and enlightening us. Hope your success grows even more!

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  27. Great interview, Jeff. Thanks, Bob, for sharing your experience. I love sword and sorcery. The Fovean Chronicles looks right up my alley.

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