Will Kalif is a self-published author, and this is an interview I took with him in March. Be sure to read his book Fulcrum Shift
on his website http://www.stormthecastle.com/
or order on Amazon.com
1. How did you get into the writing and self-publishing business?
Will: I have always been interested in writing since I was a teenager and writing a book has always been on my list of things to do but I never seemed to find the time. There is a story as to what happened to make me finally write my first novel. (I am currently working on my third) My sister called me and said that her gas stove for cooking wasn’t working and maybe I could look at it. I went over her house and stuck my head inside the stove to see what the problem was. The pilot light was out so I got a match and lit it. While I was in there I was thinking to myself gee, this thing is brand new and already not working! What has happened to quality in the world? Anyway I thought to myself “Is this what I want to do? And the thought about writing a novel popped into my head. I hadn’t given it a thought in a long time but I decided right then and there, with my head in her oven, that I would sit down that night and start writing my novel. I ran to the drugstore and bought a spiral bound notebook and sat down and started the first paragraph. “The figure walked quietly down the cobblestone alley with purpose”. And that is how my first novel (Fulcrum Shift) was born. I wrote every night after work until it was done.
I wanted to get into self-publishing because it seemed easy. At that time (2002) It was easy to get a book published online without anybody editing or criticizing it. I always heard stories about sending your book off to a hundred publishers and them all saying no! So I figured I would publish it myself. At least this way it got done and I could say I did it!
2. What do you like about writing and self-publishing?
About Writing: I love, absolutely love creating new worlds and characters. This is a lot of fun for me. And I love exploring ideas about life, living and the world. It really gets me excited. It’s a wonderful feeling to think up new things and ideas then put them into a book or story. I like self publishing because it gives me total control over my book and I don’t have to get anyones approval. I can publish whatever I want! How I want.
3. What do you not like about writing and self-publishing?
There are a lot of grammatical rules in writing. And I don’t like rules. I like to do things my own way. But I have to be sensitive and learn these rules and how to use them because I am trying to communicate to other people clearly. I also don’t like the fact that writing well is hard! It really is and it takes a long time to get really good at it. But I can see improvement in my writing from novel to novel. I also don’t like how sometimes I just can’t write because the creativity is not flowing. Writing is part hard work to stick with it and part inspiration. So you need discipline and creativity.
What I don’t like about self publishing is the stigma that self published works are junk. While it is true that an awful lot of self published stuff really is junk not worth reading it doesn’t mean all of it is no good. I am striving to make my self published writing of the best quality I can.
4. What would you tell a person who is planning to write and self-publish?
Be persistent! Don’t give up. Keep writing no matter what. And the most important thing in my mind is to finish the story first. Write out the whole story from beginning to end and don’t worry about anything else, how it looks, how it sounds, grammar – none of that stuff is important at first. The important thing is that you sit down and write – and finish the story. After that you will be proud of what you have done then you can edit and re-write and make it better. Good self publishing advice is that you should shop around different companies and see who has what you are looking for. Some companies will charge you zero dollars but you have to do all the publicity. Other companies will do publicity work for you but you have to pay. Me, I pay zero and do my own publicity. And I recommend a company called CreateSpace. They have a good affiliation with amazon.com. I am publishing my next novel through them.
5. What skills could I work on right now to increase my chances and success in writing and self-publishing?
There are a lot of things you could do. First off I recommend you do a lot of reading, but now do your reading from a writers point of view. Notice how the writer handles things and how he or she describes things. How does he handle sentences, paragrahs, events, characters etc. Read like a writer. You will learn a lot. I recommend also that you write every day if you can. But just write and not worry about it. Set things aside and let them cool off then return to them a month or more later so you can see things with a new eye. Just keep writing, thats the most important thing. If you define success in writing as making a living or money with writing through traditional means then you definitely have to include writing in your school curriculum. Take all the english and writing classes you can. In self publishing success is very largely dependent upon marketing. So you have to also learn how to market your novel, online, offline, to bookstores, to other people, write press releases etc. You have to be a writer, promoter, and marketer if you want to succeed in self publishing.
6. How do you promote the books you write in your community?
Within my community I do very little book promotion. I feel that I am not ready to do heavy promotion of my work because the quality is not yet where I want it to be. My next novel (The Left Handed Sword) is coming along nice though and I may heavily promote this book with book signings etc. Up until now I have been promoting my books through online channels and my websites. And I always donate signed books to charitable events. I get lots of requests for this kind of thing. It’s a novelty to have a signed book from a local author.