IN-JOKES & BACKGROUND
Some questions seem to come up again and again when I speak with people. Here are some of the most frequently asked ones, and their responses. These are not the only questions and answers I hear, only ones I tend to hear more than once. I will update this periodically when the need arises.
I am planning for the series to take about 10 - 15 books in order to tell all the stories I intend to tell with these characters. It wasn't necessarily deliberate to select such numbers; it just seems like it will end up that way with the whole story arc I have planned for these characters.
I plan to write all of the books myself. It may take a while, though....
How many books will come out per year?
Because writing is my "second job" right now -- I teach high school full time -- it's quite difficult for me to get more than one new book out every two years. I wasn't entirely sure, in the beginning, how long it would take for me to do one whole novel from the outline stage to publication, while working full time, but after the last couple years, I'm discovering that my estimation of one new book every other year is pretty dead on. Generally, it takes me a year to write out the first draft, and another year doing rewrites and revisions, soliciting feedback and getting it ready for publication.
If I was to write full time, it's possible this timeline could be cut down a bit, but I'm not sure if one new book/year is very feasible. These stories take a lot of time to research and polish, and I'd much rather have one book every two years that is tight, and that I can be proud of, than ones that are sloppy and poorly written.
How long does it take you to write the books?
Right now, I've got a good system down where I can knock one book out every other year. However, this was not the case with PIT1 and PIT2.
I started writing PIT1 when I was a 15-year-old freshman in high school, in the spring of 1994, I believe. There were a lot of things going on in my life then, so the project was picked up, fussed with, and set down again, on and off, for years. It was not until I was 21 and a junior in college that I decided to sit down, outline the rest of the plot, and go from there. It took me six months, then, to finish the book. So, PIT1's rough draft took me 6 years to do...and that isn't even the final draft that wound up being published, which took another two years!
PIT2 was outlined sometime in the spring of 2001 and I started it on Halloween 2001. Once again, there was a lot of big things happening in my life then, so it was not until June 2003 that I had a first draft completed...and then it took me another year to get the wrinkles worked out in that story before it was publishable. So, PIT2 took about 3 years.
Now, however, I have a system down and am not so much at the whim of college classes or quarter-life crisises or the other things that are crazy about your late teens and early twenties. So I pretty much can do a book from start to finish in 2 years, as was the case with subsequent PIT books. Hopefully that will continue.
How long does it take from starting a book to the time it's published?
I wrote this out for an unrelated reason (some of my Creative Writing curriculum for the class I teach), but it should give you a fair idea on that process.
How many books have you sold?
More than anything, I loath the business side of writing. If I could have my wish, I would write by myself in a little room (or, more precise, in a coffee shop's corner!) and have someone else handle the business end of things. Maybe someday. In the meantime, it's all me.
So, what does this mean? It means that because I'm a kind of shy, busy (during the school year) person, I don't do much in the way of promotional things. (Talking to bookstore managers and "pimping my books" is not one of my strong points.) Therefore, most of my sales therefore come from word of mouth and the Internet. Based on the numbers, I've sold a couple hundred of PIT1 (which seems to sell consistently every month) and not quite as many with the subsequent books as they haven't been out as long. My father once commended me on the brilliance of writing a series (as opposed to stand alone novels) because of the fact that subsequent books would gain new fans, who would want to read the prior editions, which means more sales, etc. I just looked at him when he said this and went, "Yeah, Dad, that was exactly my motivation for writing a series...totally had nothing to do with my creative vision." Ah, parents. :-)
How much money do you make?
Not enough to quit my day job! ;-)
Why can't I find your book on the shelf of a bookstore?
You're probably at the wrong bookstore.... :-) Actually, most of the larger chains simply won't carry Print on Demand books, because they cannot return them to the publisher. Independent bookstores are more open to this.
Although many stores are reluctant to have physical copies in their inventories, most are perfectly happy to order you a copy of the book, which will allow you to skip having to pay for postage and pay with cash if you are uncomfortable or unable to use a credit or debit card online.
If I send you the book, will you sign it for me?
Sure! E-mail me and ask, and I'll give you an address that you can mail it out to me. Be sure you include an SASE so I can mail the book back, as well as to whom you want the book made out to.
Who does the artwork for the books and website?
The cover art of PIT1 and PIT2, as well as the website illustrations, were doen for me by a talented friend by the name of Nicholas Murchison, who is equally modest; he turned down my offer of giving him some space for an "about the illustrator" thing. He hopes to have a professional-type website up... someday... and if that ever happens, there will be a link to it from here.
For PIT3 and PIT4, I turned to another old friend of mine (whom I have known since high school) named Izzy Medrano. He works as a professional artist in L.A. and his portfolio and website can be viewed at Merciless Design.
With PIT5, Izzy was swamped and recommended artist Kate Laird to do the cover art. She also works as a professional artist in L.A. and can be found online at Drawing with Kate Laird.
Regarding why I have had people I know do the art so far (and not someone the publisher picks and pays for me)? It's simply a personal decision. These books are like my children, and it seems much more personal to me to have a trusted friend do the art, as well as give them a chance to display their talents to a wide audiance.
Do you do interviews or speak to schools?
I am very willing to do that, provided I can work it into my schedule. All one has to do is contact me and ask.