Nathan Van Coops is the author of the time travel adventure epics In Times Like These and The Chronothon. This week I sit down with Nathan to talk about our shared fascination of time travel tales, complex plots that defy space and time, and why authors should be on Goodreads.
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“Time is your minion. You do what you want with it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Nathan has been a fan of time travel and adventures stories since he was a kid hiding up in trees with a book. He started writing his first book In Times Like These, in 2008-2009, developing the story over a couple of years. Six months after he and a few friends started a writer’s group, he finished the book.
The second book, The Chronothon, took him only 20 months to complete.
It’s been a gradual process learning how to write such a big and complicated story. “I think that the key to your first book has to be the idea, has to be the great idea that will keep you thinking about it,” he says. Otherwise, it won’t be enough to sustain you through to the end of the long process of writing a book, which is why he so enjoys writing time travel adventures. “Time travel is one of those amazing genres in that it is a door-opening story….I definitely am a big fan of imaginations and making sure that your idea is going to keep opening up doors in your mind and making you want to write more.”
Nathan learned everything he needed to know to launch a writing/publishing career on goodreads. “There was so many different connections I met on there that made my next book so much more than the first one just because of the quality of people I was associating with,” he says. “I was rubbing elbows with people who know what they’re doing.”
Through goodreads, Nathan says, he found beta readers and colleagues, he met authors in his genre, and eventually became one of the moderators of a time travel book club.
He recommends authors join book clubs on goodreads and participate in the book-of-the-month reads and write reviews. “I think one of the most essential tools to any author is to stay up on your reading of other books in your genre,” he says. Reading books and then writing critically about them is also a great way to develop your own sense of story as a writer.
Goodreads also offers giveaway programs that authors can use to promote their book by giving away free print copies. Nathan points out that giving away one print copy will attract the same number of readers on goodreads as giving away 10 copies…and you will save yourself a ton on postage.
Nathan has produced his second title The Chronothon in audio format through ACX. He used the guidance of Simon’s book Audiobooks for Indies to find a great narrator (Neil Hellegers), and says the whole process was relatively painless. He chose to not produce the first title in audible format because of the length/cost, the type of story it was (as compared to the second title), and the fact that a digital version of the first copy is available to readers to download for free.
The Next Big Thing
Nathan is currently working on his third book to wrap up the series, which he expects to publish Spring 2016. He’s also started work on a new series idea for this year’s NaNoWriMo festivities. Since his books are very long, he hopes to get into a production/publishing schedule that sees him releasing a new book at the beginning of each year.
- Sign up for goodreads. Don’t let the rumors and warnings scare you off. It’s not such a scary place, and as long as you know not to be that guy, spamming and shouting and not so subtly connecting every exchange or comment to your book that you just happen to have a link for…you’ll be okay. Your people are there on goodreads. Go find them.
- Join reading groups…and participate. Not only was Nathan able to find a group of rabid time travel fans on goodreads, he joined in the discussions and read the books everyone was reading. Eventually, his book was selected as the book-of-the-month read, which resulted in increased and varied also-boughts on Amazon when the reading group members all bought a copy.
- Write reviews. Not only is it important to be reading what your audience is reading, it’s also important to read critically. Writing reviews is a great way to analyze and internalize great storytelling technique, as well as learn the conventions and the landscape of your genre. Plus, on goodreads, you can build a following based on your well-written and thoughtful reviews…a win-win.
- Giveaway a print copy. Nathan says that the good readers of goodreads enjoy giveaways and many folks will sign up for your giveaways as a given, which gets your book on their to-be-read list usually, and increases your general visibility. An added tip: If the print copy you’re giving away is available in digital format for free (permafree loss leader), make sure to mention in your giveaway blurb, “Enter to win a free print copy…but if you’re in a hurry, you can download the free digital version now…” and include the link, of course.
For the authors who are active on goodreads, what are your best tips for cultivating connections with readers and other writers?
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