Today I am pleased and honored to bring to you my first ever author interview! After picking William Bryan Miller’s Kyrathaba Rising up a couple of weeks ago and interacting on social media with the author, I realized that I wanted to add an interview component to my blog and that he would be a great person to start with.
The book, a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy, is well-written, unique and populated with unusual characters. From Amazon – “170 years from now, aliens decimate Earth. A relative handful of humans survive, hidden in deep subterranean enclaves that offer some protection from surface radiation. Although the main attack is now seven years in the past, one alien ship remains in orbit, and the conquerors are not content merely to let humanity lick its wounds…”
So, without further ado, here is the interview!
MILLER – Only six hours. I couldn’t sleep one night, so I stay up typing…
No, seriously: it took me about 6-7 weeks of disciplined writing. I should point out that I was on administrative leave from work during that time. Had I been working full-time, it’d have probably taken two to three times that long.
ME – Did you self-publish the book or was it through an indie publisher/small press and what was your biggest challenge with doing it the way you did?
MILLER – I self-published through Smashwords.com. A few days later, I began adding it elsewhere (Amazon, Payhip, Lulu, etc.) The software I used to write the book in called Jutoh (www.jutoh.com), and it has the ability to save your work in what it calls “Smashwords Open Document Format”, which is simply the .ODT format of Open/Libre-Office, finessed/tweaked for acceptability by Smashwords’ “Meatgrinder” (their term for the server-side software that converts your book into multiple different ebook formats.
Once I got the book written and spent almost that long again going over it twice with a pair of proofreaders, I exported it to “Smashwords Open Document Format”, then opened that file in LibreOffice, then saved it as a Word97 .doc (not .docx) document, and uploaded it to Smashwords. It converted without a hiccup, and was live on the site within about five days. First-time Smashwords publishers should expect several days delay while the Smashwords crew peruses their work.
The only change required before publishing to Amazon.com was to remove “Smashwords Version” from the Title/Copyright page’s information. Amazon swallowed the same .doc document without complaint.
The biggest challenge for me was finding a really outstanding cover for the book. I’m not a graphic artist. I can do Kindegarten-looking 2-D pictures in Windows’ Paint program, and that’s the extent of my ability. Fortunately, for several years I’ve belonged to a web forum called DonationCoder (www.donationcoder.com), which has hundreds of active members who tend to be skilled in things like graphics, computer programming, web programming, etc.). A good friend of mine there became interested in my book-writing adventure because I pretty much blogged about it on one of the site’s threads throughout the entire experience: interested people can read the unfolding saga of my adventure into self-publishing by going here:
My friend Perry created a simply gorgeous cover using The Gimp, a freeware but sophisticated graphics program that some of your readers have heard of, most certainly. The cavern pictured on the cover image is taken from a camera shot he and his wife took while touring the Jenolan Cave in Australia. I also got Perry’s help in laying out the front/spine/back when I decided to produce paperbacks of the book, through Createspace.com
ME – I’ve read that you’ve begun work on the second book in the series. Is the experience similar to writing the first book or have you found that being published has changed the way you work?
MILLER – To be precise, I should say that I have barely begun work on the second book. I’m a licensed psychotherapist, and my next few weeks will be spent earning some annually required continuing-education units, plus continuing to promote my book (there’s an Audible.com audiobook version in the works, possibly in time for Christmas shoppers). I expect the sequel will come out in the first quarter (certainly the first half) of 2014.
ME – There is an awesome combination of sci-fi and fantasy elements in the book. Who were some of your writing influences?
MILLER – Well, Tad Williams several years ago wrote a quadrilogy which involved both sci-fi and fantasy elements. That influenced me. I’ve also been influenced by the late Ian Banks’ novels about the Culture, and of course by the works of Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov.
Back a couple years ago I’d plan to run a play-by-web roleplaying campaign (on either myth-weavers.com or rpol.net) in which the setting would be several decades in the future, and people would get trapped in a VR game, where the “game” turned out to be deadly serious. That never materialized, but the ideas kept on percolating in the back of my mind, I suppose, and when I finally found myself with several months’ of free time (i.e., off work temporarily), I just decided: I’m going to write a book. For years I’ve said that my dream occupation would be to make a very comfortable living churning out 3-6 novels annually. I would write them in my robe and fuzzy slippers, a cup of cocoa next to my mouse.
ME – The science plays a big role in the book and spans from computer programming to earth science. Do you have a background in the sciences or did you have to do a lot of research to write the book?
MILLER – Honestly? Neither. I’m a hobbyist computer programmer. You can view and download-for-free any of my programs here:
So I’m somewhat more knowledgeable about general computing and computer programming than the average person. No particular background in earth sciences, but I’m widely-read. That’s so important as a foundation for the aspiring author: you need to be widely-read. I’ve literally read several thousand books since about age 11 or 12, so I have that foundation to draw upon. Because many of the books I have read over the years had research underlying the fiction, I learned/absorbed a great deal. For this book, virtually no research.
The most I did was about twenty minutes of Googling a little info about geothermal heating.
ME – Any final thoughts?
MILLER – The novel, Kyrathaba Rising, has been out (in e-book format, at least, since about July 26. In the month since then, my total profit on the book has amounted to around $96.00, mostly from sale of autographed paperback copies. I’ve only sold a handful of e-copies, on both Amazon and Smashwords. But it takes time to establish a fan-base. This was my debut novel. I got my fourth 5-star review on the 25th. As I continue to accrue those, continue to both follow and be followed by other indie authors, and continue to build my authorship platform, I hope to see sales gradually improve.
I’ll put a plug in here for the IAN, the Independent Author Network.
For a one-time-only fee of $25.00, you get lifetime basic membership (you can opt for higher levels of membership). The basic membership entitles you to host up to six books on their site (which gets around 3,000 hits per month). #IAN has quite dramatically retweeted many of my tweets about my book, and I do the same for fellow authors who are members.
So, IAN is one leg of my author platform, my blog is another, and Goodreads is an increasingly important part of my platform. Recently, I’m getting multiple friend requests there daily. By the way, speaking of Goodreads, there are forty-five days remaining in a Giveaway of two free copies of the paperback of my book. Anyone who reads this who hasn’t signed up can do so by going here and entering to win:
I want to thank William Bryan Miller for taking the time to answer my questions and letting my readers in on his self-publishing journey! It has been a pleasure and I wish him the best of luck and success with his first book, Kyrathaba Rising.
You can read more about William Bryan Miller and his latest book, Kyrathaba Rising at williambryanmiller.com