I first came upon author Don Smith from reading about him in my town. Then when I was being interviewed for a magazine article the interviewer and I ended up discussing him and I knew I wanted to interview him for my blog. Don is a freelance writer who has written for many web sites, two different comic book companies, and author of two books, Hawthorne from Arcadia Publishing and The Goffle Road Murders of Passaic County from History Press.
Thanks for joining me today, Don. You have quite a career in writing. Can you tell us when you started?
When I was growing up in school, to me writing was synonymous with school work and I hated it. But I realized as I continued on writing in school that I enjoyed the "story telling" exercises. I remember writing my own science fiction stories in third grade - one was the discovery of lasers and the other was about a mutated mosquito. But by the time I was in sixth grade, I was writing my own versions of "Encyclopedia Brown" and that was the first real time I remember writing a story. Ultimately, I realized that what I wanted to do was to tell stories about super heroes and this led to me going in the direction of writing. I wish I could say "On Jan. 15, 1984, the Almighty came as a fiery burning angel saying, 'Yea, verily! Don, thou shalt be a writer!'" But that did not happen. It was a gradual realization.
I know you have been published with two different houses with your books. Did you ever consider the ‘do it yourself’ route?
To me publishing is a varied as the subject matter of the book; ultimately, the publishing route dictates the product you have to offer. My biggest problem was I did not have a book to offer. Every time I would try to write a novel or work on a script, I would get bored with the novel writing route. I could only make it like 20,000 words in and realize I was bored with the story.
However, writing Hawthorne and The Goffle Road Murders of Passaic County made sense because they were shorter "tomes" and I had more patience with them. And fortunately, the publishers were available. I will say this; I have tried self-publishing with my newest venture "Ghost Adventures" #1. It is a comic book based on a story that appeared in my friends real life ghost hunting tales. I will let you know how it turns out.
How long have you had books out there for the public to read?
My first book Hawthorne from Arcadia Publishing came out in 2006 and my second one, The Goffle Road Murders of Passaic County just came out in August. I also contributed to two different books Ghost Investigator Volume 4: Ghosts of New York and New Jersey (2004 Spirited Books) Werewolves: Myth, Mystery and Magick which came out from Schiffer Publishing this year.
What has your experience been like on the publishing side of things?
For the most part, it has been interesting. I am simply amazed at how much I cannot make a living publishing. Honestly, unless you are the editors or the marketers, the writers themselves are unable to make a living doing it. Simply, most writers have to get a part time job or make another living doing something else until their books take off. But here's the thing, it is doable and every writer can carve their own path.
How important is social media to you as an author?
I live on Facebook. I am constantly sending messages, voicing my opinions and creating a niche and an identity for myself. Some of my marketing friends have a massive plan and move forward with certain efforts...to be honest, I am not that net savvy, but what I do is make the rounds on Blog Talk Radio and other podcasts. But again, it depends on the subject matter of the book.
You’ve been at this a few years now. Is there anything you look back on and wish you would have done differently?
At the risk of being evangelical...I would tell myself to remember two things, "Has it ever occurred to you, nothing occurs to God?" and "The older you get the more useless ego is."
I am sorry at the amount of times I wasted worrying and how it all worked out one way or the other. I have also learned the importance of having a relationship with a Higher Power or God. I prefer to come at it from a Born-Again Christian point of view and being reminded that something bigger is looking out for you and has it under control.
No risk of sounding evangelical on my blog! (Southern Baptist guy here living in Jersey.) Anything else you would like to share about your adventures of being a published author?
Basically, you can carve your own path. While it will have similarities between your career and others, it is still a very individual path and it is okay to do what is practical and what works. What works for you will not work for someone else and vice versa. Ultimately, the most important thing is acceptance of where your station is in life.