This week’s guest is Percival Constantine, superhero superfan and author of the superhero adventure series Vanguard. This week I chat with Perry about his journey to self-publishing, how publishing’s changed since 2008, and his upcoming crime fiction series set in Japan.
The Vanguard series is Percival Constantine’s love letter to superhero comics.
Since junior high school, Perry has been a huge fan of X-Men and other classic superheroes. Before long before he was writing fan fiction, eventually moving on to original fiction.
In 2008, Perry published his first novel through Lulu using print-on-demand.
It was also in 2008 when Perry moved to Japan for work. A dream locale; unfortunately, being on the other side of the world meant that he missed out on news about Amazon Kindle. As a result, his focus over the next few years was on the print-on-demand format, which he found difficult to sell, and digital books, which were sold in PDF format direct from his site.
Then in 2013, he discovered “the SPP guys,” Sean, Johnny, and Dave…and rest of the indie publishing world, and began learning everything he could about indie publishing and ebooks.
By mid-2015, Perry started to put systems in place, scheduling his projects in advance, writing every day, hitting daily word counts, building necessary habits, and essentially turning pro.
He also learned about branding and the importance of book covers matching readers’ expectations and desires. Although his superhero fiction had great covers drawn up by Mat Nastos, the covers were leaving his readers confused. Comic book readers were picking up his books and coming away disappointed that they weren’t comic books, and prose readers were ignoring his books thinking that they were comic books.
So Perry started gathering feedback from fellow writers, tweaking his covers to make them more appealing to the reader he was trying to reach, and even learning Daz 3D in order to render the various characters on some of his covers.
He’s also trying his hand at writing to market (thanks to Chris Fox!) with an upcoming new mystery series that he hopes will hit all the right notes with readers.
The Next Big Thing
Perry is just finishing up the fifth season of his superhero Vanguard series, and is now turning his attention to a new mystery series featuring a female Japanese detective living in Osaka, Japan. He plans to release the first book in January of 2017.
He also has an eye on developing a series of Japanese folk tales retellings, inspired by KM Shea’s fairy tale retellings.
Advice to New Authors
Make sure you research the industry, Perry advises. He feels he missed a lot of opportunities by discovering ebook publishing “late in the game.” There are a lot of different approaches authors can take these days, he says, but some choices can offset your career in ways you might not realize yet — so do your research!
- Join a writer’s group or forum with supportive writers from your genre. They can be great places to get feedback on covers, advice on marketing, and general all-around support. Perry himself was able to refine some of his book covers thanks to feedback from his own group.
- Write every day. Perry notes that before he read Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour, writing was something that happened whenever he had time; once he moved to writing every day, his output increased dramatically.
- Finish what you start. Writers are notorious for getting distracted by new and shiny ideas, but if you keep moving on to the next new shiny thing, nothing will ever get finished. Although it’s tough to table exciting new ideas in favor of finishing the current WIP, Perry is wrapping up his current story arc for the Vanguard series before he lets himself dig into his exciting new mystery series project.
How much has Chris Fox’s Write to Market and the notable success of many indie authors following his advice affected your own approach to planning future book projects?
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