Thursday, October 6, 2011

Author Spotlight: David K. Hulegaard

Today’s author is David K. Hulegaard: an author and student of film and music. With an established professional background in the real world of category management, consultation and marketing, he felt unable to quench the thirst for creativity he’d been harboring for years. David currently lives in the postcard-perfect Pacific Northwest with his fiancé, where there is never a shortage of inspiration. Citing a variety of influences, he loves to dabble within many different genres and settings to tell a story. 

One of the reasons I love twitter is getting to meet new people like you, David. Thanks for joining us today. Tell us when you knew you wanted to write.
As far back as I can remember into my childhood, I've always written in some capacity. Of course, that was back in the '80s, so most of my ideas were unabashed rip-offs of ALF. :) I continued to write as I got older, including a two-year stint as a reviewer for a video game magazine, but it wasn't until the last couple of years that I started to get serious about exploring my ideas as actual books. My stories can be hard to classify, but if I had to pick a genre, I'd say I'm closer to science-fiction than anything else. I also have ideas for future stories that couldn't be any further from Sci-Fi. My brain is driving this car; I just go where it takes me.

How did you go about getting published?
I knew when I started that going the traditional route was probably never going to happen for me. Even if it did, it could still take years to get a manuscript published. I'd say it's a good route to go if your dream includes becoming famous, but if you just love to write and don't need all the bells and whistles, the self-publishing route is very rewarding. I looked into print-on-demand companies before I started and found them to offer exactly what I was looking for. They have all the business experience and I have the content. I focus on writing the books, and then they publish as needed. It's all really no fuss, no muss. That's not to say that it doesn't have its pitfalls as well.

What books do you have out?
I published my first book, Noble, on October 16th, 2010. My second book, The Jumper, was just published on August 9th, 2011. I am happy to say that they are both available in print and eBook!

Can you share a little on your experience with print-on-demand?
Print-on-demand is a very helpful service for indie authors. All I do is write and they take care of the publishing and distribution. It's very flexible too. I set the prices, take home a generous portion of the split, and I can even use my own cover artist and editor. Also, through the POD's network of partners, the eBook versions of my books wind up in dozens of locations across the net, so my exposure is pretty good. That said, there is a downside. They are completely hands-off once the book is published. It's entirely up to me to market my books and work to take advantage of all that exposure. That's the biggest drawback to self-publishing versus going the traditional route. The marketing support of a big company would be an immense help, but I'm not losing any sleep over it.

Since you mention marketing, can you tell us some about how you market your books?
I think just about any indie author would tell you that social media is the lifeblood of marketing and promotion. Specifically, Twitter. Finding an audience on Twitter is a necessity in today's book market. It's not easy by any stretch, but think about it like this: You find one person who likes your book. They share their thoughts with hundreds of followers. Some of them then check out your book and the cycle starts over, each time giving you more impressions than the time before. If social media has taught us anything, it's that people love to share their opinions about things. It's a double-edged sword, however. If people love your book, their review gets broadcast to hundreds of potential readers. Unfortunately, the same is true if they hate your book. Make sure you've got a good product before you invest in your career. It only takes one bad outing for word of mouth to squash your dreams before you've even had a chance to get them off the ground.

You're at your year anniversary this month with publication of your first book: is there advice you have for those starting now?
Yes. First of all, self-publishing a book is expensive and many different types of businesses are going to be gunning for your hard earned money. BE SELECTIVE. Don't give your money to PR companies that promise to bring you hundreds of book bloggers and exposure. It's not happening. There are two things you MUST have to successfully launch a book: 1. A professional editor. Yes, they are expensive, but an absolute necessity. Nothing will kill your book faster than typos and grammatical errors. You'll never see all the errors in your book. They will. If you find an editor that can bring you to tears with their harsh reality, then you've found yourself a good one. 2. A professional cover. Even if you have some PhotoShop skills, don't try to get by with an inferior looking cover. Remember, your cover is the first impression you get with a potential reader. People may say "don't judge a book by its cover," but that's not the reality we live in. Make sure you've got something intriguing; something that will pop even amongst the thousands upon thousands of other self-published books each month.

I’m really getting a great cross-section of authors in this series and I thank you for sharing your own story. Anything else you would like to share?
Just remember that this isn't easy. If it was, everyone would be millionaires. Don't rush to publish your book. It's exciting and it can be hard to be patient, but you have to look before you leap. I have made plenty of mistakes since I started, but I have been very fortunate to be taken under the wing of experienced authors that try to help me. It's not competitive. We're all united under a common goal and we will get further by helping each other out. The things I have learned in just under a year have allowed me to look back on my first book and realize that I could've done better. So, I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I hired a professional editor to clean up my first book and I am happy to report that a revised and expanded second edition will be out just in time for the holidays. 

Learn more about David at his website.

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