Kage Alan was of the first authors I found on twitter and I bought up (and read) his very funny book “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Sexual Orientation.” I was happy he agreed to be on my blog today.
In his words: Very few people have mastered the fine art of making fun of others. Comediennes have, but they're too easy to find because they make public appearances. Irritating someone and making them laugh while you're doing it requires a more advanced intellect, a delicate touch and, of course, being a writer. I've gone to great lengths in learning how to make fun of myself before turning my pen...or keyboard...towards those around me. It's how my comedies have been born. Further mirth and mayhem can be found at my site, KageAlan.com, and in my blog posts. Enjoy!
So Kage (love that name!) when did you start writing?
So Kage (love that name!) when did you start writing?
I started writing puppet plays in 2nd grade, which turned into short stories in Jr. High and then longer pieces in college. It never occurred to me to think of it as “serious” because writing has always been serious. It was a fight, though. My teachers tried to steer me into writing a very, very specific way; their way. Were you ever taught how to write a paragraph? A main topic sentence, three subtopic sentences and blah blah blah? Yeah, nobody writes that way and you sure as heck don’t write a novel that way. And when I pointed that out to one teacher in particular, she labeled me as a troublemaker. Little did she know I took it as a compliment.
Very funny! What genre do you write in?
The genre I write in, when asked…as I have been, is comedy. Dig a little deeper and one might discover that I write comedy featuring characters in the lead who happen to be gay. Dig a little deeper than that and it’s entirely possible one might find that I tend to add a multi-cultural element to each comedic tale. Why? Because my partner is half Chinese and it tickles me to write things about him that he doesn’t realize I am.
How long did you search for a publisher before you started with your current one?
It took well over 3 years before I found my first publisher and they were definitely the bottom rung on the ladder. When somebody’s printing books in their garage and the ink on the covers run, you don’t go much lower. And, once they went out of business, it took yet another year before finding my current publisher. I only recently threw out the stack of rejection letters that had accumulated. I did keep a couple of them only because they make me giggle. One potential publisher suggested I rewrite my first novel in third person, then they’d “consider” looking at it again. Uh, no. Another asked what I had against people named Richard since I took a shot at one in the story. Had he read further, he’d see I’m an equal opportunity annoyer.
Tell us a little about your collection that is out there in the public.
The first version of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To My Sexual Orientation came out in 2003. It was followed by Andy Stevenson Vs. the Lord of the Loins and (from last year) Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell. The books are in print and e-book. Ironically, I’m not a huge fan of e-books, but I can’t deny that the majority of my sales are from e-books. I just happen to be from a generation that enjoys flipping through pages and feeling the weight of a book in my hand. Okay, you can also sign a book. You can’t sign an e-book.
Did your publisher handle everything like one of the big publishers or is there something more you feel you have to do with marketing/promoting/social media?
My publisher published the book. Beyond that, they look for a very strong commitment from their authors. I do all of my own social media (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google+, Reddit, etc), book my own signings, seek out reviewers to read my book and find recognizable names to give me blurbs for my back covers. They’re difficult lessons to learn, but it’s something every author should go through. The good news is that misery loves company and there are plenty of us out there swimming the social media streams while bitching about it.
It’s been a few years now since your first book came out. In hindsight, any changes you would have made or done different?
I can’t say that I would have done things different. There were many fellow authors out there who offered advice and helped guide me through the process. One thing I’m extremely grateful for is their insistence that I have a lawyer look over every contract from a publisher before I sign it. A publisher is looking after their interests. Nobody will do that for you, so if you hire a lawyer, it’s the only peace of mind you’re likely to get. Other folks will insist on trying to land an agent. Don’t waste your time, at least in the beginning. I had one. Go out and prove you can get a book published first, learn the ins and out of promoting your work and then maybe start to look for an agent later if you still feel the urge.
Anything else you would like to share about your foray into being a published author?
Sure. If you’re a straight male, being an author is a total chick magnet! If you’re a gay male, it’s a total guy magnet! I’m assuming it’s the same for the opposite sex, too. Either way, publishing can be a wonderful addition to your love life opportunities! Okay, and those rare e-mails from folks who liked what you wrote make it worthwhile, too. The signings are a definite perk…lunch with Nathan Fillion every couple of months is fun…wearing shirts that say “Careful or you’ll wind up in my novel” raises a few eyebrows and… Well, you’ll just have to discover the rest for yourself.