Sunday, October 16, 2011

Author Spotlight: David Corbet


David Corbet (1972-present) was born in Idaho but raised in Northern California. He graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion in 1996 and from George Fox University in 2001 with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. He returned to Idaho in 2004 when he began writing and painting as modes to express his interior life. His first book of poems "A Year in the Mountains" reflects his emotional state as he transitions from a city life to a mountain life. His second book is an action novel titled “Memoirs of a Super Criminal.” He currently resides in a mid-sized city in Southeastern Idaho.  

David – welcome to my blog! Tell me when you started your career as a writer?
The first novel I finished was in 2002 or 2003. I had written a few short stories and non-fiction pieces but nothing published. I returned to writing as a serious pursuit in 2010. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy so I tend to place my stories in that genre. I have been playing around with the idea of writing something outside of my normal bounds but so far have not carried the idea very far.

What different routes did you try as far as publishing?
I tried getting my first novel published. I did not work all that hard at it though. Life takes its own course and at that time I did not have a lot of emotional energy to invest in “putting myself out there.” After a few rejection notices I just let it slide away. Not that I gave up, just tabled it for a while until I could find the place and time to return to it.

When did your first book come out? How many do you have out there? Are your books in print, eBook or both?
I have two books that I have self published through various e-book providers. My first book, One Year in the Mountains, came out in July 2011. It is a collection of poems that I had written and edited ready for publication. It was just sitting on my hard drive doing nothing. When I decided to self publish as an e-publisher/author I wanted to do a test run of the e-publishing systems, so I used my book of poems. Poems are not that hot of a seller so I did not have many expectations I just wanted to familiarize myself with the whole publishing and promotion aspects so when my novel was ready I could be more efficient. To my surprise my book of poems has sold better than my novel.

Wow! That is really amazing to hear how well the poetry did! What about your second book?
Memoirs of a Super Criminal came out in September 2011. I learned a lot when I published my poems. The second time through was much smoother. Each system has different formatting and stylistic requirements. That takes some practice perfecting. The learning curve on e-publishing is just as hard as anything else. It is not just a click of a button and you are done.

What has your experience been like on the publishing side of things?
E-publishing is very different from traditional publishing. Traditional publishing you send out manuscript after manuscript hoping it will get read and then liked and then responded to favorably. With e-publishing it is just a grueling task of formatting and reformatting your book to be accepted by the e-book providers. There is a lot less anxiety but a lot more frustration with e-book publishing. Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Smashwords all require different formatting (although Smashwords is the worst and Amazon the easiest. If you have it Smashwords ready then you are ready for anything). Of course publishing a book of poems that requires special formatting because of the verses set up instead of prose did not help my first venture. I learned a lot and that made the second time through all that much easier.

How important is social media to your marketing process?
For me, social media has been my only tool for promotion. That is probably not the best route to take, but it is the one I am on. When you self publish all promo and marketing is up to you. If I had hardcopies of my book I would be out pounding the pavement trying to get book signing and bookstores to carry my title. But with e-books it is very different. Word of mouth goes a lot further. And social media is all about spreading the word of mouth. I twitter, facebook, Google +, run two blogs and do as much online networking as I can. But I also work a day job so I am limited to how much I can do. And there is a fine line between spamming and self promotion. Certainly my facebook friends want to hear more about my life than where to buy my book.
And there is something safe about social media promotion and marketing. I happened into a bookstore last month when an author was sitting at a table doing a book signing. No one was there to buy her book or ask her questions. Those kinds of events can ruin you (finally feeling bad for her I bought a book and asked some questions). But on the computer you are protected, sheltered through the screen. You don’t see all the people trying hard to ignore you as they walk by the table.

That is a really interesting way to see it. (We’ve all noticed those authors waiting at the table with pen in hand.) Having spent time at it now, is there anything you would have done different? Something you would warn someone starting out now to stay clear of?
The only thing I would have done different is to not have taken a seven-year hiatus from writing. Write because you love to write. Publish because you need to make money. If you are going the traditional route, edit and polish your book everyday. Read it out loud to yourself every week. And don’t let rejection notices knock you down. Don’t even take them seriously until you have at least a hundred. If you are going to self publish in hardback or e-book get ready to self promote. Start now building your network, it takes time and there is much to learn about all the available social media sites. Get to know them and learn how to use them. One warning: Don’t pay anyone anything unless they are giving you valid service. Research the company or individual before giving them a dime. Desperate authors make for easy targets.

Good advice! So many authors are so eager – money gets spent quickly. Anything else you would like to share?
Have fun and don’t think you are going to get rich over night. Self promotion is not like signing with a publishing house with their sign on bonuses and royalty checks. Self promotion and e-publishing means selling a few books a week until you have a big enough following that others catch on, that can take years. Have thick skin, confidence in you ability and your book, and most of all have fun telling good stories. 

More information about David can be found at: http://daav-aotm.blogspot.com/ or https://dlcorb.wordpress.com/

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