Here is our first interview:
Please introduce yourself.
A: Hello, I'm R.F.G. Cameron. I tend to use my initials as most people mangle my name, and it's also easier than a generic "Hey You".
How long have you been publishing?
A: I released my first two novels in June, 2013, so not quite two years.
Tell us about your latest book.
A: Well, depending upon how you define my latest book, the answer gets complicated and would be 1) it's a Work In Progress, or 2) it's awaiting editing, or 3) they're on sale. My first two releases were ready to go back in June, 2013, and both books are set in a world similar to our own in certain aspects, but robotics and AI is a bit further along (answer 3). My current WIP (answer 1) is also set in a world related to ours, only corporatocracy and profit rule while genetic sciences are further along than ours, at least ostensibly. My latest work, ready except for editing (answer 2), is set in an analogue to our world as well as an alternate reality where the K-T Boundary (Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction Event) and a few other events that led to our reality didn't occur; egg-laying mammals rule in that world.
Who are your major influences?
A: This is a tough question as there are many writers who have shaped my work. The easiest answer would be Andre Norton, Zeena Henderson, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Alistair MacLean, Ian Fleming, Dante, Homer, and many others.
Is writing your full time career?
A: Actually, the answer is no. I'm a stay-at-home parent now and as such I can't devote the time to writing to make it a full-time career.
Do you see writing as a hobby or career?
A: In a sense I see my writing as a devoted-hobby or part-time career. Writing is something I do, but it's not all I do.
What made you decide to become a self published author?
A: I went the self-published route after too many replies that my work wasn't 'commercially viable'. As far as I'm concerned, 'commercially viable' in today's markets often does not correspond with 'highest quality' or 'most original'.
Do you feel that your material is different than traditionally published authors?
A: I prefer to think of my work as being analogous to the kind of speculative fiction I grew up with, while not always the latest thing it was fiction that made you think while it entertained.
Do you deal with issues that traditional publishers don't normally touch?
A: In some ways I believe I do deal with issues enough Trad Publishers won't. By that I mean when a writer takes a serious look at our world and creates a work that encourages the reader to take a long hard look at his or her paradigm, it can and should make the reader question whether or not this is the best of all possible worlds.
Who edits your work?
A; Currently it looks like I'll be editing my work for the time being. The person who edited my first two novels has since retired.
Who does the covers to your books?
What are you willing to spend money on, as a writer? What aren't you?
A: Currently I'll spend money on cover art, copyright registration, and proof copies. Should enough people take an interest in my work, I'll delegate the editing, copy-editing, and proof reading to someone else. I won't spend money on vanity publishing or getting agents / editors drunk in order to get Trad Published.
What is your favorite part of being self published?
A: Artistic control would be my favorite part, as in not having to work against someone else's vision of what my story line should be -- I like to write what the characters tell me.
What is your least favorite?
A: My least favorite part would be editing and editing.
Do you do your own promotion, or hire someone?
A: I write my own blurbs, but for now I don't really promote. I need to get a few more novels finished, edited, and out there and after that I'll think more about promotion.
What has been the most productive tool for promoting your book?
A: So far the most productive tool I've had for promotion (apart from the blurb and the cover art) would be the actual stories I've written.
Do you have Facebook/Twitter? How effective are they as promotional tools?
A: I have a Twitter account @SphingeCameron but so far it's not a promotional tool for me.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give someone just starting out in self publishing?
A: Apart from registering your copyright, I think the best advice for anyone new to self-publishing is edit your work as well as possible, get a good cover from a good cover artist, and be patient. It takes time to gain an audience and nothing is going to happen overnight, even if you mark it as free.
If a publisher came knocking, would you make the switch? Why or why not?
A: If a publisher came knocking I wouldn't switch at this point. Too often beginning authors have stars in their eyes and let themselves get locked into a contract that predominately benefits the publisher with very little long-term benefit to the author.
What other creative outlets do you have? Music, film, etc?
A: My other outlets involve metal and wood work. I craft furniture, edged weapons, and handles for weapons as I can. If cookery is an art that's another outlet.
What does your family think of your writing career?
A: My Wife enjoys my work while my tiny daughter feels writing is time not spent with her. Two of my siblings know I write, haven't said much about it, and the rest of my kin likely don't know I can read much less write.
How important are reviews to making sales?
A: As far as I can tell reviews neither make nor break sales.
How do you deal with bad reviews?
A: I deal with bad reviews the way I deal with everything else, it is what it is. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and if you try to please everyone you'll wind up pleasing nobody.
Do you also review other writers?
A: I rarely review other writers, mainly because what interests me in a book probably won't please most other readers. If a book honestly grabs my attention and keeps it, I'll give my take on it even if my reading has numerous interruptions.
How do you give a bad review?
A: If I were to give a bad review it would be a simple statement of what didn't work for me. As a rule I haven't given a bad review simply because I rarely review.
What changes would you like to see in the self publishing industry?
A: I'd definitely like to see some would-be authors lose the 'I just wanna make some money too' attitude. There are just enough hopefuls who think wealth is just around the corner to make it that much harder for the rest of us.
Do you participate in Amazon's KDP Select program? Why or Why not?
A: I don't participate in KDP Select, mainly due to the fact it would limit the venues my work can be found on.
What would you like average readers to know about self publishing?
A: I'd like the average readers to know that self-publishing is actually harder than Trad Publishing. The self-publisher has to make certain the editing, copy-editing, proof reading, cover art, marketing and promotion all get done right if they intend to compete.
What's the biggest frustration with being a self published writer?
A: The biggest frustration I have with being self-published at present is finding the time to do everything.
Do you write to music? If so, what kind?
A: Sometimes I write to music, though it can be anything from the 60s to the 90s, Celtic, or Spanish rock.
Could any of your books be made into films?
A: I feel certain my first two novels could make the transition to the silver screen.
What actors would play your characters?
A: I really have no idea who would play my characters as I haven't kept up with acting that much.
Do you go to writing conventions? Why or why not?
A: I don't go to writing conventions, in part due to lack of time and in part due to the fact my young daughter would likely hunt other writers down so she could cute them into submission.
Do you blog? Why or Why not?
A: I blog from time to time on GoodReads, but I tend to be busy enough it isn't a regularly scheduled thing.
Do you have any certain ideas or ideals that you try to instill in your work?
A: I do try to instill a sense of people being responsible for their own actions, and that it's up to each of us to make the world better even when others work against us.
Why do you write?
A: I write because it's the only way to get most of my characters to shut up and let me get on to another story.
If you had to stop writing tomorrow, what would you do?
A: If I had to stop writing tomorrow I'd likely get on my Wife's nerves more while taking baby girl out to get into more mischief.
Does self publishing carry a stigma?
A: Self-publishing does carry a stigma, though it's fading. Back in the day the idea was put forth by Trad Publishing that it was a gate keeper and only people lacking talent didn't have their work Trad Published but went the Self-published route instead. Readers are beginning to see that the old stigma hasn't necessarily been true for quite some now.
What would you like readers to know about you from your work?
A: If there is one thing I'd like readers to know, it's that we need to expand our legal definition of 'human' to include the secondary dictionary definition: 'of or having the nature of people'. As things stand now if a representative of a non-Terrestrial intelligent species landed tomorrow, he / she / it could be hunted and killed with tragic consequence to all of humanity simply because our legal definitions of what 'human' means is very narrowly defined, and often enough allows members of our own species to be hunted like beasts.
If you could talk shop with any other author, who would it be?
A: My guess would be anyone who'd actually come over to have a beer and help watch the kid while I fire up the grill would be a good candidate to talk shop with.
What have you learned from reading other people's work?
A: The one thing I've learned from other people's work is to not take myself seriously.
Do you read more ebooks or physical copies?
A: Up until the last year or two I've read mostly hard copies, but I am adapting to new technologies.
Do you think the traditional publishing format is an endangered species?
A: I believe Trad Publishing as it has been in the past is an endangered species, primarily due to the fact that it has refused to adapt to changing technologies and a changing readership. Simply put Trad Publishing has attempted to retain a business model first envisioned before telephones and automobiles were commonplace.
What would the consequences be of the demise of the traditional bookstore?
A: The demise of the traditional bookstore would mean future generations wouldn't have a firm grasp of what it was like to go into a place devoted to books and reading. Personally I hope at least some bookstores find ways to adapt to a world too focused on instant gratification.
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