Thanks for agreeing to interview with me, Jacob. Tell us about yourself.
Professionally, I'm an accountant, although writing is my passion. I live just outside of Toronto with my wife and two older kids. I'm pretty easy going and tend to laugh a lot. To date, I have self published two novels (one dystopian and one sci-fi/fantasy), and a collection of short horror stories. I've always loved writing, but my real drive to create something for others to read started about two year ago, after my kids were older, and I had some time.
That actually leads right into our next question. When did your writing journey begin and what inspired you to start writing?
Throughout high school and university I always took creative writing classes as my electives. I feel like I was born to write but common sense pushed me to become an accountant. It was definitely the sensible choice. About five years ago, I wrote the first two chapters to The Community then set it aside. I showed it to my wife two years ago, and she loved it so I decided to spend some serious time on it. Since then, writing has become something of an obsession, and I published The Community last year.
Congratulations on your achievement. Can you tell me more about your published works?
The Community is a dystopian novel set in a complex cave system. It seems to be a utopia, but a dark secret is withheld by the leaders.
Sun Giver is my most recent novel which is about a society where individuals are valued based on their ability to absorb the sun, which can then be used to power their tech. A gifted person (a seemingly powerless grey) emerges from Twilight and wants to make the world a better place.
Crooked Souls is my collection of horror stories wherein most of them do not end well for the protagonist. In Crooked Souls, I focus on entertaining stories that are horrifying without crossing that line of being extremely gory or graphic.
Congratulations! That's quite an impressive two years. What did the writing/editing process look like for your novels?
My favorite method is to write a chapter/story then do an edit. Then I do another edit before moving to the next chapter and repeating. After the book is done I will do a supposedly final edit...but it's not. I will then set it aside for at least three months. Then I do another edit after three months. There's always lots of changes. And then I will do one final edit after I've had a couple of beta reads. Usually my wife and/or one of my kids are my guinea pigs.
Why three months specifically?
It seems to me that this is an appropriate amount of time to get the novel out of my head so that I can look at it with fresh eyes. It's just a general guideline. My short stories are usually less than three months, though the novels can be longer. I actually did this process twice with Sun Giver. The first draft was completed more than a year before I published it.
What made you decide to go the route of independent publishing vs. self-publishing?
Honestly, I tried to go the traditional route at first, and my novels weren't connecting with agents. I was reading about self publishing and Hugh Howey, who is an advocate for it. I decided to give it a shot. I enjoyed the process so much with The Community that I just kept going. I love the writing community on Twitter and I enjoy devoting my full time to writing rather than querying.
There are lots of different companies out there that offer self-publishing. What company did you go with and why did you decide on that particular one?
I used Draft to Digital as it has a lot of positive reviews and is considered easy to use. The good thing is that my books are up with many distributors in one shot. It definitely is easy to use. However, most of my sales are with Amazon so I'm not sure if the better route would have been Amazon Prime. It's very easy to second guess yourself. I just focus on creating the best possible product I can.
What did the publishing process look like?
It's quite simple with Draft2digital. I just needed a well formatted word file and my cover and bibliography. The program formats the file for Apple, Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. and sends it to them when you hit the publish button after confirming that it looks good. I have not tried any more significant inserts like maps so I'm not sure how well it would work for that kind of stuff.
Did you hire a professional editor? Why or why not?
I did not. For me, I felt that I would not get much of a return on the cost of a good editor. I could be wrong. Who knows. As I mentioned, it's very easy to second guess your decisions during the process of self-publishing.
There are a lot of choices to be made. Since you didn't use an editor, what did you do to ensure your manuscript was proofread and ready for publication?
My personal editing process is quite thorough, and I have a lot of trust that my wife would tell me if I was writing an incomprehensible mess.
Your book covers are beautiful. What was the process of having them made?
Thank you. That's so nice. All three of them were purchased from http://selfpubbookcovers.com for around $100. It's a very user friendly site though for more money I'm pretty sure I could find a designer that would make even better covers.
Let's talk a little bit about marketing/sells. What have you done and what do you hope to do?
Marketing. The bane of my existence. Honestly, the only thing I've done is selling via Twitter connections. My hope is that publishing quality work over time will develop a base of fans. We'll see
As much as I don't want to ask about money, I think it's important for readers considering self-publishing to have a glimpse of what it really looks like. Has self-publishing been profitable for you?
Not yet, but I will have made a tiny bit soon as Sun Giver is doing better than my first two. Note that I haven't spent much. To be honest, if you think about how much time it takes to write a book then it's probably the lowest paying job you can do. It's truly a labor of love, and there's nothing more I enjoy seeing is a review where someone liked one of my books.
I couldn't agree more that love of writing should be the strongest driving factor, and I'm glad you are finding rewards for all your hard work, even if it's not tangible. There are more important things. What's next for you on your writer's journey?
Let's see, I have a completed MG (Middle Grade) Fantasy that I could release at any time, but I've been sitting on it for awhile. I have the first draft of a sci-fi detective novel that I completed in December, and I've done a couple of short stories on the way for Crooked Souls 2. I'd expect the sci-fi detective novel to be the next thing on my list probably. In April, I'll probably start looking at it again.
To finish off, what is one random fact about you you want readers to know?
Ha ha. I don't know. How about that I'm a huge Survivor fan. I've seen every episode since the show started.
And last but not least, if you could give one piece of advice to other writers - particularly if they are interested in self publishing - what would it be?
The piece of advice that has been most important for me is setting aside my novel after I think I'm done. However, I'm a big believer that every writer is different so you need to figure out what works best for you.
For those interested in self-publishing, I would say temper your expectations and have fun. You'll enjoy your successes so much more.
Thank you so much to Jacob Klop for taking the time to interview with me today. You gave us a glimpse into t