Thanks to Fred Limberg for this interview
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing pretty much full time for almost 6 years, since I sold my contracting business and set out to retire. Retire? Not hardly. And now with a self-published book out and two more waiting in the wings, it’s starting to be work!
Do you have a day job or do you write for a living?
I don’t write for a living because I’m not making much money at it yet, but that’s the goal.
What do you feel is the ideal recipe for a good novel/story?
There’s no recipe. You have to have imagination and a talent for storytelling.
What books have you written? Do you stick to one genre?
I have half a dozen books in ‘inventory’ at present. Currently, Ferris’ Bluff is available through all the usual suspects’ outlets and in the local indie bookstore. The Storm Glass, a thriller with a sci-fi twist, is in semi-final editing stages and I hope to have it out soon. Then I’m going to dust off my murder mystery set in St. Paul, First Murder, and get it out there. This year I tried my hand at writing a YA novel and came up with Dodge. I’m going to flog it to the mainstream agents first, but, with some success as an indie author, there’s not the pressure or potential disappointment looming over the query process. Both Storm Glass and First Murder have character sets that lend themselves to sequels and serialisation, so that’s the future for me… once I get another hundred things done.
How long did it take you to write your book/s?
It takes me anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months to produce a first draft. When I write that’s all I do, so I have to try to make life arrangements so that I’m not interrupted. I used to write upwards of 8 hours a day, but I’ve learned that limiting the sessions to 4 hours or so allow me time to think and do daily reviews. The output is of a higher quality.
How long did it take you to get published? Did you take the traditional route or DIY?
I had a lot of interest from agents regarding First Murder and Storm Glass (which was titled Big Muddy Mess at the time). I thought Ferris’ Bluff though was going to be the one. Then there was this little hiccup in the economy… you might remember that. Well, nobody wanted to look at nothin’ after that, friends of mine with fine mid-list careers were being orphaned left and right, and this summer I decided to go indie.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers/those just starting out?
Advice? Don’t even think about putting your work out there until it’s ready. You aren’t doing anyone a favour by clogging the booklists with inferior work. There are writer groups and forums all over the place to share your work on while you learn the craft, but when you put it out there for sale… well… crap doesn’t sell. I see all kinds of Facebook posts and Shelfari posts, and Goodreads stuff about how excited people are to be close to finishing their first book and can’t wait to upload it. I had no business trying to sell my first two books. I learned a lot from them, and may be able to salvage one with a massive rewrite/reimagining thing, but they were crap. The third book, which has become Storm Glass, is actually a sequel to the first book I ever wrote. Since I’ve written it, hired an editor to help me figure out why it wasn’t working in its original form, and subjected it to no less than ten harsh edits of my own, I think it’s finally ready to publish.
Do you have any works in progress?
Where and when do you write – do you have set times during which you write or is it just when the mood takes you?
I write in the mornings. I’m often up by 5 or 6, and after some coffee and a glance at the paper I sit down to write. Coffee. Cigs. Laptop. Let’s go!
Marketing – the bane of self-publishers – how do you find the experience? Do you have any marketing advice for other writers? Do you use a blog or twitter, etc?
Marketing is a pain in the ass, but I think any writer not on the bestseller list has to do an awful lot of it his or herself to give a book legs. With the explosion of e-books and e-readers, it seems the internet has become one huge audience for writers, but the key word is HUGE. It’s all chaos right now. I’m just trying to find readers, and let the book brand and my name brand build. I’m in the local bookstore. I’ve got a signing coming up and some magazine exposure coming in the next month. I do the Shelfari thing and the Goodreads thing, and am building some lists. I really don’t get the twitter thing, but I try. Advice? Spend a minimum of 2 hours a day exploring writer and reader sites, and try to get your name out there. I Googled Ferris’ Bluff the other day – 4 freaking pages! And mentions on the next 4 or more. I’m doing something right… maybe… ask me next year. I have no idea.
Which three authors (living or not) would you like to take to the pub?
To tell you the truth, I’d like to meet up with my British and Aussie writer friends in person some day. Max, Lilian, alias Ed Lane, Greta, Larry, and so many more… the whole lot of them. THAT would be fun! And mildly dangerous, I think.
What other hobbies/interests do you have or has writing taken over?
When I find time I love to work in my woodworking shop. My latest project was to build a rocking chair for my first grandchild. Caden Henry Browers (AKA Hank) has since arrived and I assume approves! I relate the project to writing in a blog post at http://fredlimbergscroixsidegazette.blogspot.com/
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
5 years? 5 more books? 10? Be making a little income from it? Something like that, I think. I would hope by then my list would have gained some momentum and the constant marketing bullsh!t would be over. And I’d like to be coaching Hank’s T-ball team in 5 years or so… or maybe just helping out and being a cool grandpa.
Thanks for having me on your blog and good luck with your own projects!