Episode #92 – Thinking Long-Term with Zach Bohannon

In Uncategorized by Angela McConnell12 Comments

zachcovernewZach Bohannon was not expecting to find success with his first books. He decided to keep his focus on long-term goals, committing to developing his skill as a storyteller and building up a brand and a catalog of titles, with the hopes that by his 5th, 8th, or 10th book, things would start to take off. Less than four months after publishing his first fiction title, he is now in the Top 100 of Horror Authors in Kindle. This week I talk to Zach about his long-term strategies as a writer and how he manages it all.


Links:

Zach Bohannon

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Mentions:

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Thinking Long-Term as A Writer

I Once Was Fat But Now I See

Chris Brogan

On Writing by Stephen King

Johnny Digges / Digges Creative

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

J. Thorn

oDesk

Dan Padavona

The Self-Publishing Podcast

The Creative Penn

Ereader News Today

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Bobby Adair

T.W. Piperbrook

Audiobooks for Indies: The One-Stop Guide for Authors Looking to Make More Money Selling Audiobooks by Simon Whistler

Show notes:

Background:

In January of 2012, Zach Bohannon started a blog called, I Once Was Fat But Now I See… and began documenting his weight loss journey. By the end of the year, he had dropped 95 pounds… a total of 115 in 15 months… and published a book documenting his process. He attributes his success to focusing on developing good habits and long-term behaviors that would keep him healthy for a lifetime.

After successfully losing the weight with this approach, he decided to get serious about his fiction writing using the same long-term thinking and strategies to develop his skills as a writer. He set out to write in obscurity, with no expectations for financial success anytime soon, intent on becoming a better writer and building a brand that had a back catalog for readers to discover later on down the line. His philosophy and strategy is simple: “Write and keep writing.  Over time, you will gain sustainability with discipline.”

In Bohannon’s case, “over time” turned out to mean just short of four months. Check out his publishing timeline that boosted him from zero to Top 100 Horror Authors in the Kindle Store:

12/9/14 – Dark Reveries – Short Story Collection

1/27/15 – Empty Bodies: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale of Dystopian Survival (Volume 1) (novel)

2/20/15 – Heritage: A Haunting Short Story

3/5/15 – Inked: A Supernatural Short Story

3/6/15 – The Witness (stand-alone horror novel)

Getting it All Done

The astute reader will note that there are two novels on the above timeline. It took Zach 60 days to write, edit, and publish Empty Bodies, and he wrote the first draft of The Witness simultaneously. How is he getting it done?

Zach typically writes about three hours a day: a half-hour to an hour before he heads off to his job as a logistics manager for a major music instrument distributor; an hour during his lunch break; and another hour after his (very adorable) baby daughter goes to bed. He keeps his focus during these times strictly on writing or editing. Promotion, social media, everything else he just fits in when he can.

Production Process

Zach works with developmental editor/copy editor Jennifer Collins, who he found through oDesk. Typically, his process involves him writing a first draft, doing an editing pass on his own, making corrections, then reading through it again on Kindle, a step he highly recommends.

At that point, the manuscript goes to his editor, who makes her edits, sends them back to him for corrections. He sends it back to her for another pass, makes the corrections, and then does a final pass himself on Kindle once more.

Beta Readers

There is a healthy community of horror readers on Instagram, which Zach discovered by simply searching through various hashtags. He started liking and making friends, and has found some of his best beta readers and encouragement through this platform.

On Instagram, he posts things about writing and books, maybe quotes from his favorite writers, pictures of his cute baby daughter, book covers, and the like…but he says it’s not so important what he posts, but what other people post and him getting involved by commenting, liking, and being…well, social.

Promotion/Pricing Strategy

Bohannon has priced all of his titles at $.99 with the exception of his stand-alone novel The Witness, which is priced at $2.99. His focus is on the long-term, working on building up his email list and building up his catalog and visibility and building up his readership. He plans on launching future books in his serial at $.99 for the time being and see how it goes.

In the meantime, he’s run a few promos with Ereader News Today, and he’s focused on getting more titles out.

What’s the Next Big Thing for Zach?

Bohannon’s sticking to his long-term vision and remains focused on the writing. He is currently working on the sequel to Empty Bodies, which should come out in May 2015, with plans to follow up immediately with the third book in the series. He is also in the process of getting an audiobook produced for Empty Bodies through ACX.

Quotes

“To me, if something is important and I want to do it, then, you know, I’ll never not have the time. Like, I’ll find a way to make it happen, so….”

“I think that audiobooks are really just at the very beginning of how popular they’re going to be.”

From Zach’s Blog Post on Long-Term Thinking: “Write and keep writing.  Over time, you will gain sustainability with discipline.”

Action Steps:

  • Plan for a long-term career. Ask yourself what kind of habits you need to develop in order to become a working, sustainable, professional author. Are you writing every day? How much time are you putting towards your writing goals? Are you finishing what you start? Are you editing what you finish? Are you shipping?
  • Execute for a long-term career. Pick an essential writing habit — like writing every day — and put, say, a half-hour into it minimum, every day, until it becomes a habit. Then move on to the next habit and repeat…
  • Be patient. It takes time and diligent practice to get good at anything. If you’re just starting out with your writing career, keep your eye on the page and focus on making a good story. If you keep at it, you might get lucky and have instant success — but if you don’t, then you’ll have eventual success. Either way, you win. :)

 Simon Asks:

What are your long-term goals as an author?

What is the most important thing writers can do to build sustainability as an indie author?

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Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Angela McConnellEpisode #92 – Thinking Long-Term with Zach Bohannon
  • Loved hearing Zach’s story. It’s the kind of story that inspires others to sit at their computer and write. Zach’s an awesome writer

    • SimonRSP

      Yeah, these inspirational ones are some of my favourite interviews :).

  • mtr amg

    Truly inspiring Zach!
    I snorted when Simon asked what horror writers shared on instagram! Head full of images… eeek
    The Witness is in double digits on Amazon as I write and his author rank is 74 so he has really come out of the starting gates running.
    I will add oDesk to my saved sites list…
    thanks, guys!

    • Thanks! Kealan Patrick Burke is probably the most successful horror author I follow on there, and he posts some pretty funny stuff. But a lot of the horror fans I follow and connect with post some pretty brutal things! Haha.

      The Witness has picked up a little momentum which makes me happy. I was a little nervous to take it to $2.99, but it’s been a good decision and I’ve had a good mix of the people who read my zombie stuff crossing over to it and it also grabbing new readers and e-mail subscribers.

      Thanks for listening! And yeah, I HIGHLY recommend oDesk. One tip on it…when I first signed up, I was really disappointed because I thought it was going to e-mail me when someone messaged me about my job. So, I went to login and I was going to raise my asking price, and I saw that I had 35 applicants, haha. So, you have to login and check the website to see if you’ve gotten any applicants! There may be a way to setup e-mail notifications, but I haven’t hired anyone else on there for that.

      • SimonRSP

        Yeah, notifications on Odesk… Not brilliant 😉

    • SimonRSP

      oDesk is epic. Well worth getting onto the platform, I’ve had some amazing hires through it!

  • Awesome podcast, I really enjoyed listening to it.

    One question, does Jennifer Collins have her own site, or will I have to use oDesk to find her?

    • SimonRSP

      I’m not sure, but I know Zach has been active in these comments so hopefully he will chime in 🙂

    • Sorry, I am just now seeing this. Were you able to find her?

      • Nope, not yet. Would it be more efficient for me to post a job on Odesk and hope she contacts me?

        • I would suggest, regardless, that you post a job on oDesk. Sort through the applicants that seem like they may be someone you would want to work with and ask 5 of them to edit a chapter of your work. Then, you can decide who works best for you. Jennifer was the right editor for me, but may not be for you. That being said, she is awesome and you should also contact her and request that she give you a sample. Then, weigh your options. But give yourself options. If you e-mail me at info@zachbohannon.com then I can give you her contact info.

          • Sorry, I didn’t check the replies! Thank you so much for the detailed advice, it was really helpful!