Tom is twelve and all he's ever known is a world with acid rain and constant cloud. His world is a place where people try to scratch out a living; surrounded by the wreckage of the past.
One hundred years ago a group of mysterious scientists took charge of the Earth's weather in order to control climate change. They burned the planet and in the ensuing chaos they disappeared.
When one of the "Changers" appears on Tom’s farm, his life changes and he is forced into an adventure where he must choose between his family and helping the Changers repair the damage they have done.
But can the Changers be trusted this time?
What made you decide to self-publish, and had you tried to traditionally publish (or been traditionally published) before going the self-publishing route?
I have been writing SF and Fantasy for a number of years (since 1998 in a serious attempt to be published). I have sold a number of short stories to anthologies and magazines but never managed to sell a novel despite having some interest from agents.
I run a small wargaming company (Black Hat Miniatures) and was also working one day a week as an IT consultant (which was my original career). When the IT Consultancy finished I looked around to see what else I could do to make some money and realized that it was now possible to self-publish on the Kindle. So my initial prompt into self-publishing was to explore the possibilities of making some extra income from writing.
As I had one completed novel which had been seen as a whole manuscript by a couple of agents, I decided to try self-publishing Changers’ Summer to see what happened.
There is a lot of talk about the publishing industry being in a state of change, did this influence your decision to self-publish in any way and what do you think the changes taking place in the publishing world mean for writers and for writing/literature per se?
It didn’t affect my decision to self-publish, but I do think that it has a lot of implications for writers. Those writers who want to succeed long term will have to do the same things successful writers have always done – write the best books they can; revise them until they are as close to perfect as they can be and use the services of editors and proofreaders.
I am slightly concerned by some indie writers who seem to revel in the fact that they can write a book in two weeks and put it out immediately. I don’t think this produces the best books or a long term career.
Is your book published as an e-book, Print on Demand, paper book, or all three?
It is an e-book and will very shortly be produced through Createspace as a POD.
The criticism of many self-published books is the lack of editing and proof reading. Did you use an editor to polish your book before self-publishing, and if so, how do you feel this helped?
I didn’t use an editor on Changers’ Summer – partly because this was an experiment in what it was possible to do to earn some money and I didn’t want to invest too much into the production of the book. However, Changers’ Summer has been through two writers’ groups, plus a number of beta-readers. The first draft was completed in 2001 and it has been rewritten through a number of drafts since then as well as having been commented on in detail by an agent.
I am looking into using an editor for The Rat King, book two of the Changers Trilogy/
Did you use a designer for create a book cover for you? If so, what difference do you feel this has made?
Yes I used a cover designer. I am not a graphic artist and feel you should stick to what you do best. It made a huge difference to the look of the book and a number of people have commented on how they like the cover.
How did you decide which self-publishing option to use? What were your reasons for your selection?
I started with Amazon and the KDP platform for the Kindle because that was the first option I found. After reading extensively on the web, I also went through Smashwords to get distribution into Apple, Sony, Kobo and B&N, etc
I have now produced a Createspace version as a paperback because it seems to me that the Young Adult market, particularly the “tween” younger YA readers are still very keen on physical books and have not yet moved to ebooks in large numbers.
How do you feel about the less than complementary remarks so often made about self-published books vs. traditionally published books – and do you think this perception is changing?
Doesn’t bother me. I think that there will always be slight perception of vanity publishing from traditionally published authors as the feeling is that the indie author hasn’t been “chosen” from the slushpile. They have just thrown their novel out there.
This will change as midlist authors start to self-publish their backlists as well as traditionally publishing their new books.
I am intending to self-publish my YA books because it is so hard to get a YA book accepted – especially a younger YA book. At one point a leading London agent wanted one sentence in a letter to pitch your children’s book!
I am working on a couple of SF/SF thrillers and I will be submitting these to traditional publishers/agents initially and may end up self-publishing them if nothing happens on these in a year or so.
With self-publishing, you carry all the risk – the onus is on you to create as “perfect” a book as possible and to market it. How have you found the process of being your own publisher, and what have you particularly learned?
Promoting your book is hard and it takes time away from writing. You have to be disciplined about the time you spend on the web doing promotion and not let that cut too heavily into your writing. There are a few indie authors I have seen who have published one novel over a year ago and still have not produced new work because they are spending all their time promoting (as they admit). I think the adage that the best promotion is a new book is very true.
What marketing platforms are you using to promote your book(s), and how much of your time does the marketing take?
I am on facebook and twitter but don’t excessively push my books. I also have a blog which I aim to update once a week.
It’s a personal question, but do you feel you’re making, or are able to make money by having self-published your book? Do you feel you are making more than you would be being traditionally published?
I am still very new at this having only published my first novel on June 3rd this year. But I think that at 70% royalty on my ebooks I will make more money than I could if traditionally published – if I could have ever managed to get a contract for Changers’ Summer anyway. In which case any money is more than I would have received.
Are you happy with the level of your sales? Do you think there is more you could do to improve your sales?
Again, only 6 weeks or so of sales to comment on. The sales for June were okay I thought for an unknown book but they have dropped dramatically in July. I have some advertising and blog appearances and reviews coming out in August and September so I hope that, coupled with the paperback, will push sales back up.
Will you continue to self-publish, or do you want to be traditionally published (and self-publish), and why?
I will continue to self-publish my YA books, as I have mentioned. This will include the other two books in the Changers trilogy (hoping for January and June 2012) and a stand-alone Victorian fantasy which is written but needs some heavy revising.
I am intending to still submit my adult SF work to traditional markets and my SF shorts to the likes of Asimov’s magazine, etc.
I would like to see my name on a book in a big booksellers which is something you don’t get through ebooks, etc.
Would you recommend self-publishing to other writers?
Yes, if you have the self-belief in our book to do the best job possible on it and to put it out there. You have to be willing to put up with the possible bad reviews and initial lack of sales but the good reviews will keep you going (as I am finding on Changers’ Summer as the reviews from review copies have started to hit Amazon.com).
What do you see as the pitfalls in self-publishing?
That people will publish too early, when a book isn’t ready. That your book can be brilliant but if it doesn’t get the breaks and people find out about it will sink without a trace into the other 1m self-published books out there.
Do you have any tips for writers thinking of self-publishing?
Read the Kindleboards.com forums, especially the Writers’ Cafe board – I have found it an invaluable source of knowledge and stories from people who have been self-publishing for a number of years.
Many thanks to Mike for participating in the series!
To find out more about Mike Lewis, visit his website.
You can follow Mike Lewis on Twitter, or on Facebook.
You can find Changer's Summer at Amazon.com,
or Barnes and Noble,