My guest this week is Arshad Ahsanuddin, author of the indie vampire fantasy series Pact Arcanum, who was gracious enough to answer some questions about his self-publishing journey.
JWG: What first motivated you to become an indie author?
AA: I wrote a novel, kind of accidentally, and posted it online. One of my readers kept pushing me to try and publish it, so I showed it to a couple of agents, who basically laughed in my face. Then I did some research and discovered substantive editing, so I sent my book to an editor, who really gave me some positive feedback and helpful advice on things to improve. Then I did more research and discovered that traditional publishing is a huge game of beg-and-wait, with years of crushed dreams in my future. So I decided it wasn’t for me, and decided to self publish. I didn’t know it was going to become a second profession.
JWG: What has been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to self-publishing?
AA: The writing, definitely. Good marketing skills will get you in the door, but if you don’t have a good product, then no one will be interested in what you’re selling. Learning the skills to be a better writer and not to rely on an editor to fix my shortcomings was a long, drawn-out, and difficult road, which I have not yet completed. I am improving, however, though I don’t think anyone ever feels they are as good as they could be.
JWG: Has any aspect turned out to be easier than you expected?
AA: At first, I was terrified of ebook formatting and cover art design, but as I saw the difference between what I initially paid people to do and what I eventually learned to do myself, there really isn’t any question that having the skills to DIY is the way to go.
JWG: Do you take a strictly DIY approach, or do you hire help with things like editing, cover art, etc.
AA: I hired people to do the illustrations, cover art, back cover copy. Afterwards, I took an active role in modifying their designs/text to be more in line with my own vision. Again, it’s a learning process, and advertising copy and marketing are probably the hardest things for me to get a handle on.
JWG: How has the decision to go indie turned out for you? Overall, are you happy with the choice?
AA: The fact that people are reading my books now, rather than waiting two years for traditional publishing and biting my nails the whole time (assuming I ever got a book deal in the first place), means that I have succeeded in my goal. I’ve put a lot of effort into this, and if people enjoy what I have written, then it was all worth it.
JWG: Are there any stand-out lessons you’ve learned about self-publishing that you’d like to share with my readers?
AA: You need at least three levels of editing to make a book ready for market: Substantive editing (themes, overall structure), line editing (word choice, language refinement), and copy editing (spelling and grammar correction). Skimp on any of those, and your actual subject matter will take a back seat to the fact that your book is unreadable. Whether you find one person to do this task, or many people, you must take the time to edit your work, or no one will give it a chance.
Bio: I am Canadian-born, but lived in the United States for most of my life. I moved back to Canada for work a few years ago. I am a hematopathologist, a physician who specializes in using biopsies and laboratory data to diagnose diseases of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Yeah, I’m a blood doctor writing about vampires. The humor is not lost on me.
The first book of the gay vampire saga Pact Arcanum, Sunset tracks the Daywalker Nicholas Jameson as he fights for peace among the Human, Sentinel, Nightwalker, and Daywalker races.
Sunset: Pact Arcanum: Book One is available on Smashwords. Get a 100% promotional discount for the month of July! Just enter coupon code SSWSF at checkout. Feel free to leave a review.