Since I self-published “My Temporary Life”, and bought a Kindle, I’ve been finding tons of great books through Amazon, published by independent, or indie, authors. Scott Bury is an award-winning journalist, but he chose to self-publish his novel The Bones of the Earth. http://www.amazon.com/The-Bones-Earth-Dark-ebook/dp/B006PI0NRG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC
I spoke to Scott recently.
Scott, I don’t read fantasy but “Bones” keeps drawing me in. I’m currently reading it and one of the things that I’m finding impressive is the amount of detail in the story. I’m assuming that your reporting background helped with this? Can you tell us a bit about your book and what prompted you to write it?
My experience as a journalist helped with research. Research was a big part of this book. Learning about all the history of the era was very rewarding.
I remember learning in high school that there was not much information to be found about the “dark ages”—supposedly, learning was extinguished in western Europe after the “fall” of the Roman Empire in the West.
The truth is that there’s lots of information easily available about the period from 476 to 800 CE. You just have to look for it. One of the most valuable sources was a book—an honest-to-God, physical paper book—A Short History of Byzantium, by John Julius Norwich.
My novel was prompted by several things that came together. First, I wanted to give my two sons a story about a young man and a dragon, and couldn’t find anything at the book store that satisfied me. Both my boys liked the stories of Beowulf and King Arthur. A few years ago, I read somewhere that someone had worked out that, if they had really lived, Beowulf and Arthur probably died the same year: 535 CE. About the same time, I read a Catastrophe by David Keys, where he linked a huge volcanic eruption in 535 with a series of famines and other disasters that hurt civilizations around the world and started the Bubonic Plague, which killed Roman Emperor Justinian. Somehow, all these ideas combined into the novel that became The Bones of the Earth.
I know that for me, although it is fantastic to be able to sell books to lots of folks, the real blessing has been the reaction that I’ve gotten from people who have read my work. There are readers who have left some really strong reviews on your Amazon book page. People really like this book. It must feel great to get those kinds of reactions.
I’m amazed and gratified by the very positive reviews the book has received. It’s most gratifying when a reviewer actually “gets it.” I don’t think books should have hidden meanings, but I put a lot of clues about things that would be nice little extras for an attentive reader. I love it when a reviewer picks up on that—like the way you mentioned the historic detail.
By the way, congratulations on having a fantastic book title, and cover. As self-published, jack of all trade authors, I know it’s important to take care of all the little details that will help people find your book. What have you done, or what are you doing, to get the word out there about your book, Scott?
I love the cover, and can’t say enough about the designer, Lisa Damerst. I also have to give credit to my two editors, Will Granger and my wife, Roxanne Bury.
As for publicity, I’ve set up an Author page on Facebook, although I probably don’t use it as much or as well as I should. I’m still learning my way around Facebook. But I have been doing a lot of blogging since I released the book: lots of writing on my blog, and guest pieces for other blogs, too. And then there’s Twitter. I now have close to 2,000 Followers. I think it’s a lot of people, even though I know it’s a small number compared to the followers that some people have.
I hope to do more interviews like this one, and I’d love to do one of those Internet radio interviews.
I’m also willing to visit and speak with book clubs and anyone else who’s willing to listen to me.
When is the next book in the series out?
Writing this book took a long time, and I promised my wife and myself that the next book I publish will be the story of her father, a man drafted into the Soviet Red Army in World War 2 and then escaped a German POW camp.
I have worked out the story arc for the Dark Age trilogy, but it will take a lot more research. I plan to send Javor farther east, and I have to learn a lot about central Asia in the 6th and 7th centuries.
So, it’ll be a couple of years, at least, before I can bring out the next novel in the Dark Age trilogy.
I think this series is going to take off. There is a buzz out there about it, and you are working hard to get the message to potential readers too. Now that you are starting to see some success as an indie author, if a traditional publisher comes knocking are you interested? Would you like to work with a publisher or an agent?
Thanks for the encouragement! I’ve never been very good at detecting “buzz,” so it’s great to hear there is some out there.
I would now prefer to work with a traditional commercial publisher as an equal partner. The traditional model, where the publishing company gets all the rights to the creative work and pays the author five to ten percent of the selling price, doesn’t make sense in the e-pub age. That old model assumed the publisher paying high costs for paper, printing and distribution, and now that’s gone with e-publication.
Where I would welcome some help, and would be willing to pay a royalty on sales, would be the services that a publisher could, arguably, still provide better than any single author: publicity, marketing and sales. But as far as formatting a book, I think I know how to do that. So I think the relationship between authors and publishers has to be a lot more even now than it was before.
Scott Bury’s novel, The Bones of the Earth, is available from Amazon. I highly recommend it. http://www.amazon.com/The-Bones-Earth-Dark-ebook/dp/B006PI0NRG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC