Dean Wesley Smith has been writing for four decades, has 17 million novels in print, and puts out a monthly magazine containing around 80,000 words of new content just from him. He’s run two publishing companies, runs workshops, and has fully embraced indie publishing. Quite simply, this is not an interview you want to miss.
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Dean sold his first short stories in 1974 and current has 17 million books in print. He has a long background in traditional, and has written many books for comic and television series. He has written nearly 200 books, and that only counts novels, he has also written a lot of non-fiction.
He got into writing after a career in professional sports (skiing then golfing), then a career in architecture. He started writing and didn’t sell anything, and it wasn’t until he started focusing on it full time and just doing part time work that it really took off. Dean also spent three years in law school, had time as a professional poker player… He admits he is afflicted by “shiny object syndrome.”
After a few years in traditional he decided to start a small press with his wife. The publishing company became large, publishing 10 novels a month. They never intended it to become so large, but things just happened to go well! He spent a few years working at this, but wanted to get back into writing, rather than just running a business.
Dean had a talent for mimicking other authors styles after reading just a bit of their work. That lead him to start ghost writing, and he has written several NYT bestsellers for notable authors who were unable to make the deadlines themselves for various reasons. Of course, we’ll have to keep wondering what those books are! Eventually he had had enough of this, he just felt that the respect wasn’t there anymore for established authors.
Joining the Indie Revolution
Not wanting to ghost write anymore, Dean and his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch, decided to get into indie publishing. Dean started writing “Smith’s Monthly” which is a monthly magazine that goes out and just contains writings from Dean – about 80,000 words, this is usually a novel and some short stories. He sells it direct, as well as through Amazon and other outlets. Most of this is brand new content, but he is also trying to get some of his older work into it, but a lot of that is written under pen names so he can’t use it. It is deliverable via digital through his website, and he also puts it through Createspace as print on demand.
In many ways Dean sees himself as a new indie author. Because of his background he has a lot of books out there that he doesn’t control, and he doesn’t have the sort of huge fan base that someone with so many books out would normally have.
Dean has a publishing company that he owns, but does not run. They do the editing for his work, he sends the words to them and they work on it. He does the formatting on it himself because he enjoys doing it. After the proofing, everything is done by him, except for the conversion to digital which is handled by his publishing company.
Dean does some workshops online that he runs, that takes about 9 hours of his time at the moment. You can check these out on his website. These cover everything from craft to covers. He has an enormous amount of experience and brings it to bear in these workshops and lectures. These are all for self-published authors. Dean is now 100% indie, he says that he couldn’t recommend someone to go with a New York contract these days as the contracts are just so draconian.
“If you just do it every day you will end up with an enormous number of words … just be consistent.” You can see exactly how productive Dean is because he does his “Writing in Public” project, where he writes down everything that he is doing online.
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