David is back (he first appeared in Episode 22) to give us an update on how things are going since we last talked. He’s kept up writing, and has published a new book in his Project Adventure series, but hasn’t had the breakout success.
We discuss his new books and what he’s been doing to market his current books. While he’s had some success, he is still working to make writing a better career.
[00:00:51] Stephen: All right, David, welcome to have discovered wordsmith podcasts again, as good to see, actually see you this time. How have things been? Well, thank you,
[00:00:59] David: Stephen. I’m so glad to be here again, as you said, and that’s great to actually see you this time. Things have been missed as good as they could’ve been a crazy time.
[00:01:08] Stephen: Now, I believe last time we talked, your wife was commuting and you were living at the time. It was Madrid. Okay.
[00:01:18] David: Pretty much at the time, but now we’re actually, we’re back to Munich, which is where my, my boys were born. My boys close to seven in a couple of months. So they actually started school 10 days ago here.
[00:01:30] David: So that’s on top of everything that’s been going on lately. Uh, Yeah. Trying to figure out, figure it out a school in a foreign language and all that. So it’s so yes, but since then, of course, many things have happened. And the part of the reason why we’re back in back to Munich is because we don’t, she’s not, my wife is not commuting that much anymore.
[00:01:53] David: There’s no point. And then it just made more sense to be here because this is kind of know for many reasons that we consider those to be.
[00:02:04] Stephen: Nice. Okay. So when we talked, you had written a book, one of your project adventure series, and you’re working on book two. And in the last year, even with moving as your boys starting school, you’ve got four books out now.
[00:02:18] Stephen: So tell us what’s been going on in your writing to get four books in your series. The
[00:02:23] David: short answer is I’ve gotten better at it. And yeah, the book one was a great learning experience and, but there was a learning curve to everything and inviting is no different than. Book one when it was really finished and out there, it just took so much, uh, and learned so many things that I had no idea I would have to learn in order to create.
[00:02:47] David: So something as complex as a, as an actual book, as a self-published author, this is quite an undertaking. And, but then later on the actual, the act of creating books became super. All of a sudden creating books, writing and creating the covers and everything that goes into a book the front matter and matter, all of that stuff.
[00:03:09] David: Description, teasers, you name it, all that became because I’ve set it up with book number one, and then everything, you know, over the subsequent books were just so much easier to make to Purdue and not just write writing has become even more fun because. Again, I now know more how to actually write a book, how to create an outline, how to, how to use a single idea, a single image of a, of an interesting scene and basically build a book around.
[00:03:44] David: So it’s been really extremely interesting to see just how, when you start working on something and start creating how it all comes around and how it fits into. All the pieces that kind of stuck fitting in really interesting. And it just gets easier then on the other hand, and we can probably have this as a whole different topic is what became much more difficult, which is obviously marketing and sales and all that.
[00:04:18] Stephen: Okay. So let’s look at a couple of those. So yes, obviously you would hope the writing gets easier. Publishing gets a little easier. You learn it. Did you think about doing a different series of different Booker? Have you always just wanted to write this series and. Uh, you know, a whole bunch of books before even thinking of something
[00:04:36] David: else, this is this serious because I’m not, I’m not a schooled author.
[00:04:40] David: And I don’t know if there is such a thing that I’m not, this is, this was a hobby, an idea, a challenge, if you will, which turned into something more serious, more professional. That’s the story that happened with me. And of course, when I started writing book one and then book to book three before. When I realized that now, yeah.
[00:05:03] David: Now I can call myself an author because I know what I’m doing in that regard. Then I definitely started thinking about other projects that I would like to do. This series is still a very cool, the way it’s set up. It’s an episodic series. Basically. You can read no books in any order you want to, it really doesn’t.
[00:05:24] David: There might be, but I always am careful putting a few, you know, Information here and there to explain the series or the characters or the, and the world that I’ve created. But pretty much you can read any book as a standalone, almost in that regard. It’s very similar to, to Jack Reacher, for example, which is now what, 26 books or something like that.
[00:05:51] David: Yeah, exactly. And it’s, there’s a few nuggets of information about his background and all this. But there’s these books even grow the jump in time. They go 30 years forward, 20 years back, it doesn’t matter. So in that regard, this series, project adventure series that I’ve created is something that could go on.
[00:06:11] David: Technically it could run on forever, but it’s probably not going to. And I had ideas of starting something a bit more serious. Maybe it’s still in the middle great genre, but a bit more. Cirrus, maybe like a standalone level, which especially when you’re a self-published author, you have to think about the marketing and the financial aspect, if you will, which is proving to be the most difficult thing in all of this.
[00:06:37] David: And then series, actually, they at least have potential. So then you can start working on a standalone novel, and then think about later on, maybe how to turn that into a seat. But I didn’t want to start working on a new series from scratch. I want it to get, I want it to focus on creating what I said earlier and something a little bit more serious, more depth of character, just a longer book because my books, these books are, they’re not short, but they’re relatively short because they’re just, they don’t, they’re just action.
[00:07:12] David: Adventure. There’s no big ideas behind, except your friendship and loyalty adventure brings to brings it to learning new skills and stuff. These are the very general ideas, the project
[00:07:26] Stephen: typical,
[00:07:27] David: typical. Exactly. It’s not, but as opposed to many other books, I’ve actually read my competitors. If you want to hear honest, if you want to call them that there’s always this tragical aspect of the protagonist and there’s always a.
[00:07:46] David: That’s in the family. There’s always health issues. There’s a deep internal pre of the lesson. The protagonists are basically fighting themselves or they have these huge dramas basically going on in their heads. I don’t do that. I’m not this particular series is not that, but this is something that I would like to tackle a little bit more in the future.
[00:08:12] David: Again, as a part of the learning curve is part of the journey to learn how to create an even more compelling characters or how to create an even an, even more of how to put more depth into the plot, more layers and things like that. Definitely I’m thinking about stuff like that.
[00:08:36] Stephen: And you mentioned some things have gotten harder.
[00:08:39] Stephen: So what’s gotten harder,
[00:08:40] David: definitely marketing part because I was this naive fool thinking that if you write more books and you put them up and the algorithm is going to recognize it and something’s going to happen, and maybe somebody is going to. Books, they’re going to find their own audience and all that.
[00:08:57] David: And it’s just not for me anyway. So I’m trying to, I’m actually not working with some, with a professional, a marketing and public relations company, which I took trying to really like the biggest step forward in, in my marketing and public relations efforts in order to improve sales, because. Honestly, it’s really tough.
[00:09:22] David: Like you, you can imagine creating, producing for, even though they’re not very expensive books, but they’re still well books and you invest so much time and energy and whatever you do, you have to pay for it. And then there’s no, there’s no income on your books or it’s, it’s not significant. And it’s bad for morale.
[00:09:44] David: I would say that’s very bad for morale.
[00:09:49] Stephen: And I definitely can understand that cause everyone has that kind of thought in their head, oh, I’m going to put this up and people go love it. It’s going to be all over. Yeah. It takes a lot of, there’s a lot of authors and books out there that they’ve written one book and then that’s it.
[00:10:05] Stephen: You don’t hear anymore. And sometimes it even says book one or something and they stopped because. Yeah. The fact that you’ve continued and you’re making strives. So you’re not only getting better as you said, but I’m sure you’re learning things. And each time you do something, you’ve gotten a little better to do it for the next time.
[00:10:26] David: Absolutely. But that is one of the things that is really pushing me forward and the knowledge that every book that I do is that little bit better. And honestly, I hear that from this. Small audience that I do have, they really love it. And, and my editors, I know the progression and maybe they were, they were really happy or there were, they enjoyed the stories, but there was always little, lots to do in, in book one or two, not so much, but by the time I got to book four, like the first sentence of my editor was like, you really have destroyed with this book like this already.
[00:11:04] David: You know how to do this now. Okay. There’s no deep developmental editing going on. I send the manuscript over to the editor and she comes back already doing copy, edit, then just, you know, fixing grammar and stuff in the typos. So there’s, I really, it makes me a little bit proud of course. And on the one hand, on the other hand, it does, it does give you optimism to move forward.
[00:11:30] David: And as you said, So many authors and books out there, it’s incredibly tough to get your books a large audience quickly. But now, as I said, I’m trying to work on that’s actually the reason why I’m now at only four books, because at my pace I would have been no, you know, starting books seven or something, but it’s over the last couple of months and one, a couple of maybe six, seven months, I’ve been really trying to.
[00:12:02] David: So I had to focus on some other things and it’s. It’s taking away a little bit. So I can’t wait for all this to be settled again, organize, put into play. So I can actually continue with just the dividing part because that’s the most fun
[00:12:17] Stephen: part. Everybody wishes they could just write. Well, the good thing is you’ve gotten a series and you’ve got four books out.
[00:12:24] Stephen: So everybody says, once you have several books out, you have more. Uh, things you can do more marketing avenues open to you and it helps. So when you came out with books two and then three, did you see the sales from your previous books? Go up a little bit like a spike to go along with the release? No,
[00:12:45] David: no, to be perfectly honest, actually from the beginning, even like book one, you know, it was brought up by my friends, my relatives.
[00:12:54] David: It was the best sold. Okay. And every next book is, was sold in two, your numbers. To the board where now it’s really, my sales are really not, not significant at all.
[00:13:08] Stephen: Okay. I’m curious to see with this marketing company and with coming out with like book five or something to see what that affects. So I’d love to hear more later
[00:13:18] David: how things are I would love to, I would love to, yeah.
[00:13:21] David: To get back to you on that and have some
[00:13:23] Stephen: good news for you. I know these are in English. Are you releasing them in other languages and other countries?
[00:13:29] David: No in other countries. Yes. So through Amazon worldwide, this official now with this, with the new company that I’m working with, I will soon be using Ingram sparks and other, uh, how do you call those?
[00:13:45] David: Like, are you book outfits or
[00:13:48] Stephen: platforms, aggregators and
[00:13:51] David: distributors call them. So I am hoping. To, to reach a wider audience with that. But the book has been, or books have been sold in, I dunno, at least the six, seven different countries, as far as I know what I could see on my reports, the face, the Kindle platform, but otherwise, no, I’m not thinking about translating books, just the.
[00:14:22] David: I would love to get to that. Exactly. This is also, it’s also a matter of cost that I could get this books translated tomorrow. I’ve asked around. They know what that would mean, but it’s just not feasible right now. It’s just that. All right.
[00:14:38] Stephen: So living outside of the U S is it difficult giddy handling the whole business aspect of it for the U S.
[00:14:46] Stephen: Uh, cause Amazon, so that’s the biggest book market isn’t I
[00:14:51] David: would say yes. I would say yes. I’m not entirely sure. I don’t have the experience in market in the inside of the industry knowledge to be able to discuss this. But I just, my feeling is that yes, because for example, I don’t have the opportunity to just go down.
[00:15:10] David: Talk to teachers or librarians or, I mean, I could, but again, it’s difficult for me to plan such as I should’ve been all that. Whereas if you’re local, at least you can locally start doing that in your own town. And that is, or you could be lucky enough that one of those people that you can easily meet in your own neighborhood or your new environment, somebody that knows somebody and maybe that kind of rolls their, the whole story, the whole thing.
[00:15:38] David: And. Because it is a bit more difficult, but that’s why I’m using these guys. So trying to get through to these very specific target audiences, because it’s not right for kids, but your buyers are grownups. Mostly. That’s really important. The specific of those Charlotte of this age group, and then the targeting the market.
[00:16:05] David: Twofold you have for your readers and you have your buyers and the owner, you need to find basically people who connect these two separate groups basically. And these people are teachers, libraries, mostly people who can recommend folks to both parents and the kids. And I don’t have a clear, clean access to these people.
[00:16:27] David: And that’s fine. One of the reasons why I’m using now, I will have a working relationship
[00:16:32] Stephen: with this. Yeah. Mark marketing books to kids is definitely a unique challenge and a unique beast compared to just writing a thriller for the 45 year old market. Definitely a different thing you’ve got to think about.
[00:16:45] Stephen: So you said you’ve got book four out and you worked on book five and I know this is an adventure series. What is what takes place in book four? And what are you writing about in book five? Cause I know they go all over the place here.
[00:17:00] David: And I will show you the cover. And this might give you a little bit of an idea. It’s my favorite cover and it’s my favorite books and it’s actually, so yeah, it’s set in a winter time and basically, obviously there’s this frozen rivers. I sheets and scrap yards and stuff like that. Um, yeah, but it also touches a little bit on the environment and environmental issues, but there is a, there is a homemade electric car in a vehicle that is a couple of things that I’ve just did a little bit of fun, fun with, but it’s yeah, it does.
[00:17:36] David: I can’t say that it tackles all environmental issues, but it mentions, so yeah, this is both for, and. Sorry, excuse me. Book five is just developing the store now and be outlined, but this is going to have a little bit of art in it is going to be some, you know, master people who are trying to steal some beautiful art and so on and so forth.
[00:18:02] David: So, um, we’ll
[00:18:03] Stephen: see. So you’re definitely living up to the name, the project adventure. And I think the book cover looks spot on for a middle grade
[00:18:12] David: book. Yeah, it is. It is. Yeah, it is the I’ve actually had one of the colder, like the design critics or something like that. And my book one cover the heart of the island.
[00:18:27] David: Was actually chosen to be discussed and analyzed in one like online events. And I have, this is the book and it was a good, it was really praised. I love this for the genre. It’s, that’s what it is because it’s not a serious cover, but for the genre for a nine or 10 year old kid that picks it up, it tells them the cover tells them a little bit of what they can expect in the.
[00:18:53] David: There’s always this mystery. There’s always these shadows lurking in the back in the background. Yeah. I was very happy with how my covers it looked like. So I think that’s a, in all honesty, this is thought of the whole process of part of the job. I didn’t want to just let some books and then you put them in a cheap cover.
[00:19:13] David: It needs to be a whole product. Look good. You know, do not disappoint when they actually read it. And I also, I can show you now, if you have just a little bit of. This was my personal, this is my own Monash to basketball and my sport,
[00:19:35] Stephen: the same thing. I’ve got the cartoonist that lives in the local area that I employed to create a cover.
[00:19:44] Stephen: And I think they came out really nice and I found, and this is one of the things I’ve learned that the guy who does the drawing for the cover, if you get one customer. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same person that puts all the lettering and stuff on. Cause I talked to him and he was like, I have no clue.
[00:20:01] Stephen: I can make whatever picture you want me to do. So that’s when I realized, oh, that makes sense. Cause you don’t have to. And if you go to a book designer, a cover designer, I should say, they’ll say, what picture do you want? And you choose picture. And a lot of times. Combine a couple of them manipulate them, but the cover designer, isn’t the one making the pictures and just in my head, it took me a minute.
[00:20:22] Stephen: So that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned. You can get the best of both worlds that way then.
[00:20:28] David: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because it exactly, this is how I learned that as well. With my first book, I was like looking for a cover designer and she was like, oh no, but art director, you know, I’m not an industry.
[00:20:41] David: I was like, okay, hold up. So wait dude telling me that I need an illustrator as well. So that was like, okay, then let’s just try to figure this out. So I had an art director that the design of the cover and everything, and basically through, I would give her the idea of what the cover should be. Generally.
[00:21:06] David: Every cover is basically. A scene or a mix of a couple of important scenes for the feel of the book. And then from there, she will then create like very rudimentary crude drawings, just, just to put things in perspective and then just literally just drawings. And then from there, then we will develop that.
[00:21:30] David: And then we would go to illustrator that he would then put it all together in a proper illustrator. Colorism, but this was, it’s a process,
[00:21:42] Stephen: especially for middle cause you got to hit that just right. A middle grade. Does it usually have the same type of covers that young adult have, even though there’s only a year or two difference sometimes between the readers. And so it’s definitely something different in that. That’s I, again, one of the things I learned.
[00:22:01] David: Yeah, I think kids are this age. They do judge the book by its cover to a much, much higher presenters or extent than grownups with,
[00:22:13] Stephen: you know, I look back at the Hardy boys books that I used to read and always had Frank and Joe like some action scene in this that looks cool. I want to read what that one is.
[00:22:24] David: Exactly. And I I’ve been told many times that my books are reminiscent of the Hardy boys. That’s exactly what they’re there. They’re obviously there’s a million other auto supports like that. So you can’t really do something extremely new and. Right.
[00:22:43] Stephen: Yeah. But again, they’re usually pretty voracious readers.
[00:22:47] Stephen: So if party boys, they will read the whole series in a week or two, and then they want more, just some adults do. And that’s the one good thing about middle grade. Once you hook some readers, if you’ve got the books, they’ll get them. They’ll read it. Look at the goosebumps books from 20, 30 years ago, he wrote one a month for six, seven years.
[00:23:06] David: Yeah. Yeah. That is a familiar, it’s a high bar.
[00:23:11] Stephen: Definitely. All right, David, I appreciate you taking some time and talking to us, giving us an update on what’s going on in your writing. Do you have any advice for authors now that you’ve been doing this for longer? You’ve gotten more books. Do you have any advice you would give some of the authors listening?
[00:23:31] David: What to say, if you asked her this question. I think again, I think you asked me this question before. Maybe. I dunno, maybe somebody else that I think persistency, you just have to, you have to stick it out. Have to be persistent, just get better, which should do if you’re working on it, if you’re writing and if you’re doing all this other stuff, mind you, we’re talking about self published authors.
[00:23:55] David: I cannot say I’ve ever been published by a publishing house. So, I, I don’t know what that’s like. You’ll be able to find out someday,
[00:24:07] Stephen: maybe a marketing company will help you get your books, so you won’t have to worry about it.
[00:24:12] David: Who knows? Yeah. That doesn’t, that’s not the answer to,
[00:24:17] Stephen: I don’t know, persistence, like I said, I know some authors that will spend four or five years.
[00:24:24] Stephen: On a first book, they’ll put it out and then they sell 10 and they’re like, that was a waste. They get disappointed and they quit persistence. So you’re an example right there. You’re working on your fifth book right now. I can
[00:24:37] David: tell you that sales have been nothing but a huge support for me. Absolutely.
[00:24:41] David: Here’s this appointment so far, but I’m still, I’m still working on it. I’m not going to let her go. Now I have everything covered. I know everything about there is to know, but I know so much now that it’s like, there’s just, there’s still, there’s still excuse for me. I cannot stop that to the point where I know how to write books.
[00:25:07] David: I know that the books are good because kids have been telling me, grabbing kids from all over the. Some kids that are not my friends or my friends’ kids have bought these books and they bought all of them and they sell these books. So there’s something there’s gotta be. You just need to stick it out.
[00:25:26] David: You just need to
[00:25:28] Stephen: persistence and keep
[00:25:30] David: going. And yes, it’s frustrating. And yes, uh, this part, I don’t really enjoy doing the it’s great, these interviews and chat to people and that’s fine. That’s. But when you have to go like on Instagram and figure out how to post something, that’s very cool. That’s not who I am.
[00:25:49] David: That’s what I do. It’s very difficult for me to do that stuff for some people that is, it comes naturally to them like to play on Instagram for an hour. I can’t do that. I mean, Better things to do with my life. Then Instagram I’ll tell them to my target audience because they’re on.
[00:26:10] Stephen: Yeah, no, the kids moved to different social media, like every other week.
[00:26:14] Stephen: So who knows
[00:26:15] David: parents, but parents are parents, young mothers or fathers who are the books they’re on Instagram.
[00:26:25] Stephen: Oh, I’ve got a Instagram for the same reason. I’m like, oh, a lot of parents are on there. So after this episode, it’s probably going to be a little bit, a couple of weeks, but I’ll put a clip up on my Instagram and I’ll share it to you so together. Maybe we could pass it off a little bit to some new people.
[00:26:43] David: Oh yeah, absolutely. Because now I know where these guys are. They’re doing some stuff with my, my Facebook page as well on Instagram. They’re posting. So I’m getting a little bit more of traffic. Definitely. I’m happy to help in any way. And so we’re all in this together. There’s no real competition here, books and everything here.
[00:27:06] David: There’s just the common goal for all of us is to get more. In our case, more kids to read. There are new kids coming in every day, more and more this more and more people, this planet. So. It’s not like we’re losing, but the audience or the reader sentence.
[00:27:26] Stephen: I definitely appreciate talking with you and you say it’s not going as great because part of the goal of the podcast is to actually help and inspire other writers.
[00:27:37] Stephen: Because for me, when I was on some of these Facebook groups and they’re like, yeah, I made $45,000 this month. I’m like, my God, I can’t even get one book. And they made it seem like all this is easy. Everybody should make tons of money and then I’m not doing it. And I felt I’m a failure, but I’m not. And I, I, and I wish you the best.
[00:27:56] Stephen: I do wish things for you to go better, but it’s, I think it’s also good for others to hear. Not everybody just snaps her fingers and the books take off there’s work. As you said, persistence, and you got to keep doing it. If that’s what
[00:28:10] David: you love, Erica, I would just have to say again that it’s just a keep doing it.
[00:28:16] David: If you like doing it, keep doing it because I’m only doing it for a year or two years, maybe. Yeah. Maybe two years now. Since I actually started thinking about writing and not knowing position where I have four books and I’m like mad at myself for not having more because I’ve been lazy and doing other stuff so serious.
[00:28:36] David: It is. So you can do it. And then hope for the best and keep working. Keep giving you a blessed, you can’t tell what tomorrow’s going to bring you just a little, for example, people like Stephen King or John Chris, Stephen King. Wasn’t the best. At the beginning, John Grisham, he was selling, he would use a photocopier office and then sold his books out of his trunk of his car.
[00:29:00] David: He was trying to sell. I don’t know the trunk of his car. These guys have fostered their rear ends to get to the point where they are today. I’m not saying that I want to meet that. We’re having a satisfactory writers. Cohere might be a goal worth fighting for because it’s, it’s a great job.
[00:29:20] Stephen: I agree.
[00:29:25] Stephen: Absolutely apart from your wife, we’ve got wives. That’s all the box, David. Hey is great. Catching up with you. We’ll keep in touch and maybe we’ll hear back from you in a year or so, and see how things are going better for
[00:29:38] David: you. Absolutely. And just to let you know, I am planning on recording. Perfect.
[00:29:45] David: Actually marked couple of these with UNO and stuff cards. So I’ve definitely, as soon as I get settled out in the, in the new office, kind of a place I’m going to make a recording for you. I can even use this right.
[00:30:00] Stephen: Yeah. If, if you want to drop me an email, we’ll set something up. We can get right on here, just like we’re doing now.
[00:30:07] Stephen: And you can read and we can record.
[00:30:09] David: I would just do a recorded and send you the file if that’s whatever, I just have to figure out what’s the best way to do it, but no worries. It’s not going to be long. And in the chalk chapters are not that long. Yeah. Perfect. All right. Thank you so much.
[00:30:23] Stephen: Thank you. And you have a great week.
[00:30:25] Stephen: Great company. Whatever. Good luck.
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