Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mark Young: Off The Grid

In March of last year, fellow author Mark Young visited here to tell us why he e-published. Now he's back to tell us about his experiences, and give us a preview of his next e-book, Off The Grid.

 RM: Mark, it’s been almost a year now since you decided to launch out with an e-published book, Revenge. At the time, there seemed to be a bit of prejudice in the writing community against authors who were short-cutting the traditional process and going directly to electronic publishing. Do you think that’s changed now?

MY: First, thanks for having me back to your blog, Richard. I know it is a risk rubbing shoulders with indie authors like myself since I hear we might be considers usurpers by the publishing industry. Seriously, though, it is always a pleasure to meet and interact with your readers.

Regarding your question about prejudice and “short-cutting the traditional process,” I think there will always be a certain amount of prejudice lurking out there in the writing community. But I believe attitudes are changing, among many readers and authors—if not from traditional publishers. However, with this freedom of indie publishing comes a responsibility to make the novel as professional as any of those released by major publishers. Authors need to be prepared to pay the cost for solid editing services, as well as formatting and design expenses, while continuing to push themselves to develop their writing craft.

(Note: Mark provided a lengthy explanation of his views on the subject. I'll have it as a separate guest post on Friday. Stay tuned. RLM)

 RM: Is your novel only available in e-Book format?

MY:  Actually, my novels are published in both digital and print formats. Since my primary market is eBook sales, I have reversed the publishing order by releasing eBooks before the print books. I hope to have this publishing process fine tuned someday where I simultaneously release eBook, print books, and possibly other formats. Revenge, my first novel, is available in both digital and print format. Off the Grid, released last December 20th in digital format, will be in print version in about a month. A majority of my readers are acclimated to the eReader, with only a few waiting until the print comes out.

RM: You admitted in that previous post that you had a lot to learn about e-publishing. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned and the things you wish you had done differently?

MY: The eBook publishing industry is constantly changing. I’ve learned that a writer must constantly change with it, particularly those of us who have chosen to follow an indie publishing path.  Authors who have had the opportunity to follow a traditional publishing path can rely on in-house sources for marketing, pricing, advertising and sales distribution. Indies must do it all, or pay someone to provide these services. In that vein, I’ve made a few mistakes along the way. For example, getting a completed eBook into the hands of reviewers before the release date has been challenging. I am still working on this process, though I feel at this point it is more important to get my next novel finished and available to readers as quickly as possible, and then work on getting reviewers interested in reading and commenting on this work as time allows.

RM: You worked with an independent editor on this book. How do you think that influenced you as a writer of fiction? What would you tell other writers who are considering using an editor?

MY: My opinion is that working with a good editor makes all the difference in the world. Editors are able to take an objective view of your work, suggest ways to make the novel cleaner and crisper, and catch things that may have slipped your attention. I had the privilege of working with freelance editor Julee Schwarzburg on my latest novel. It was a real delight to have someone of her caliber work alongside me to raise my novel to the next level.

RM: Tell us a bit about Off the Grid.

MY: Murders, bombings and a cryptic message force police detective Gerrit O’Rourke to live Off the Grid for his own survival. At stake—the security of the United States.

Gerrit joined the Seattle police department seven years ago after his parents were killed in a car bomb in that city. The case is still open. The killers still at large. Mysteriously recruited to retrieve information vital to the U.S. interests, Gerrit discovers the murdered body of a scientist in a Vienna, Austria apartment. This discovery—coupled with an intercepted message about a mysterious operation called Project Megiddo—hurls Gerrit into an international conspiracy that forever changes his world.

Facing overwhelming odds, Gerrit and his small band of fighters move within the shadows of a global conflict in which trust becomes a matter of life and death for his team. Gerrit’s past as a former combat U.S. Marine and his special scientific skills are matched up against opponents whose resources seem unlimited. Advanced technologies are the tools; global supremacy the goal. Gerrit must learn to fight and survive in an Orwellian future that begins today.

RM: I notice a change in your blog title and format. Can you explain that to my readers?

MY: I lost my mind and created two blogs.  My first blog, titled Hook’em& Book’em “where mystery readers, writers and law enforcement connect” began two years ago, will continue to be a place where readers can interact with mystery writers, cops and those in the publishing industry. Last month, I began a new blog titled “Mark Young:Arresting fiction…one character at a time.” This new blog will be written in a more personal, intimate manner for those who enjoy my novels. For example, my first article last month was titled “What A U.S. Marine Taught My Daughter About Life,” concerning an encounter we had at a local fair, and how it dovetailed with my new novel Off the Grid.

I changed the look of Hook’em & Book’em and updated the design template. The Mark Young: Arresting fiction…is fresh out of the box.

RM: And what’s next for Mark Young?

MY: Once my computer gets back from a repair shop hidden somewhere in New Jersey, I’ll begin firming up the OTG sequel, The Daemon Files, which is scheduled for release later this year. The technology war waged in OTG continues in this sequel as Gerrit and his team try to stay alive long enough to identity the enemy as they watch the future of mankind unfold. After that, I plan on releasing the first of a new series, titled Broken Allegiance: A Tom Kagan Novel, about a California homicide detective thrown into the middle of gang war. It is loosely based upon my experiences working with other cops as we investigated criminal street gangs and prison gangs throughout the U.S.

 Mark, thanks for being with us. We'll be watching closely as you continue your journey into the world of e-publishing. 


Carol J. Garvin said...

It's nice to see Mark here again. Thanks for sharing this part of his publishing story with us. I'm looking forward to Friday's edition, too, as I think one of the biggest hurdles indie publishers face is producing a truly professional-looking product. The e-publishing phenomenon seems to encourage writers to get more stories out, more frequently, so maintaining quality writing and presentation has to be a challenge.

Unknown said...

Carol: Thanks for your kind words.

You've raises good points. Lack of quality has been the bane of indie publishing. My hope is that as more authors turn to indie publishing, that they take the time and expense to put out competetive products for the readers. Everyone wins in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting interview! As a hopeful author I really appreciate any advice that those who have already published can share with others. Thank you for your insight into the process! : )

Deb said...

I do hope the perception that self-e-publishing = bad, traditional print publishing = good will go away one of these days. Let's face it, none of us knows how the market is going to shake out in the next year, much less further out than that. I feel as though it behooves us to be a bit more inclusive in C-fic than we've been up till now.

Richard Mabry said...

Deb, Authors who self-publish bear a significant responsibility to produce the best possible work, including the use of a professional editor and professional cover artwork. They are their own "gatekeeper," without the intervention of agents or pub houses, and without their scrupulous attention to this detail, they're going to give a bad name to self-pubbed work in general--and that's no more right than saying that books coming out of conventional pub houses are universally great.

Deb said...

Well said, Rick, but that doesn't mean we can't edge toward a bit more inclusive a mindset in the near term.