May. 16, 2013 at 8:40am
With the release of a box set of the Beautyman Mysteries I ask local author, business owner at Side x Side, and Metro Parks board member Erik Hanberg about writing, publishing, and advice he has for Tacoma artists and authors.
How long have you considered yourself a writer?
I started writing novels in 7th grade. When I finished my first "novel" it was probably 80 pages long. I thought at the time, that it was what I wanted to do. Since then, I've written 12 books. So I would definitely say that I consider myself to be a writer, even as I've had my regular career going.
What prompted you to make the leap into publishing?
My first foray into publishing was in 2009 with a print-on-demand book, my fundraising guide for small nonprofits. I thought I had a lot to offer and that I could be helpful to small nonprofits. But also I thought that maybe I could just make a little money on the side. I got a lot more experience than I did money.
I started again in 2010, this time with fiction. I published my mystery novel The Saints Go Dying, and I would say that's really where I got the bug to keep publishing. For the first time, more than a handful of friends and family read my stuff. That was the most incredible part--seeing reader reviews on Amazon, getting emails from them, and hearing them ask for more.
How many novels and eBooks have you written to date?
I have 10 novels and 2 nonfiction books (the two nonprofit books). But a lot of those were written in high school and college and they will probably never see the light of day.
In terms of actually published books, I have three mysteries:
Those are the three books I just assembled into a single ebook download for readers who want to get them all at once.
What drafts of books/stories are you working on now?
I am very excited to say that I have a science fiction adventure novel I am really excited about. I expect to publish it in September. I know I'm biased, but I think it's pretty great.
Is there a story you've always wanted to write but haven't yet?
Always. It's never an issue of finding ideas, just getting them onto paper. I have an idea for a Christmas-themed play that I'd like to get to sometime. I have more mysteries in my series I'd like to get to, plus the next two science fiction novels.
What advice do you have for aspiring Tacoma artists and/or authors?
Finish it. No matter what, you have to finish your book before you can do anything with it. Don't overly worry about quality as you write. Don't go back and edit the first chapter. Do whatever you can to finish the book.
Self-publish. Pay an editor to copy edit your work, hire a cover designer, and get your book onto the Kindle. It can be as easy as uploading a file to a website (or much more complex if you want a all the features of an ebook). Publish it, email your friends, try some marketing ideas, and see what it's like to publish. Don't just wait for a publisher. If it's a great novel, you can always submit it later to Penguin or whoever. But in the meantime, getting real readers is going to make you want to write that much more.
Write the next book. I've sold more than 10,000 books between ebooks, print books, and audiobooks, but those have been split between a variety of books. When one of my books has a spike in sales from a marketing push, interested readers can find all my other books. Sales really took off once I had multiple books.
What's your favorite comment or review you've received on a site like Amazon or elsewhere?
This might be my favorite, from [local UWT professor and actor/singer] Andrew Fry's daughter Savannah on her book blog, when she reviewed The Marinara Murders:
"In my world, filled with mystery novels, I felt like I hadn't read this one before."
Thanks to Erik for his time -- now go buy his books!
Although I have another home on the web I thought it might be nice to lead by example a bit and put this blog system up to the test myself.
So far, so good... Funny how I build web tools for other people that are far better than the one's I have setup over on KFnet.
Hey Clear Channel, Clean Up Your Crap!