My name is Charles D. Blanchard. My debut novel, Mourning Doves After The Fire, was published last fall by Xlibris: www.mourningdovesafterthefire.com.
Here are my interview responses.
1. How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally? I did not seek traditional publishing as this is my first published work and the idea of attempting to seek an agent who would genuinely represent a first time novelist and attempt to convince a publishing house to “take a chance” on me, was too daunting a task to even contemplate.
2. What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service? I knew of the POD company, Xlibris, from correspondence over the years and I did some research on their current mode of operation. When they sent me an email offering half off their publishing packages, I thought $1500 for a premium package was doable so I went with it. I must say that the final product (hardcover and softcover) was well done, nice cloth binding , etc. Xlibris is rather unusual in the sense that when you call them, you will reach their customer service, located in the Philippines. The executives who run Xlibris do not have any contact information at all, so you are essentially at the mercy, if you will, of an overworked CS rep in a distant country who has to listen to complaints all day. And given the delay in the telephone from when you speak to when they actually hear you can give the feeling of someone talking while you are talking. To make something clear is a challenge when communicating over the phone.
3. What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage? I have sent the book and press release to many newspapers and magazines mostly in the US, a couple in Canada and one in the UK. I always locate the reviewers name to make sure it gets to the correct person and enclose a postage paid envelope for their convenience. I have received two notices so far, both positive. I have also contacted many independent bookstores throughout the US to send them a small batch of postcards, which display the front cover of the book on the front and details on where to purchase a copy on the back of the card. Also press releases have been sent and in some cases a copy of the book in an effort to at the very least let their customers know that the book exists. When doing this type of marketing, I had to take into account the expense and I was not in a financial position to buy 1000 copies from the publisher, although I am certain Xlibris would have no problem with that. The marketing of a self published work of fiction has proven challenging since some of the review media clearly indicate they do not review self published works when they have so much to read and not enough time to do it all. But one must press on. You never know who will wind up with a copy and praise it or not.
4. What drove you to write this particular book? I have always enjoyed fiction as it frees the imagination and one is not bogged down with dates and a need to be accurate with every single word written. I came across some old photographs which I purchased on Ebay and one of the pictures was of a young sickly woman whose hair ran all the way down to her ankles. I thought she was fascinating. She kept a diary which I also purchased and in the diary it is revealed she has strong feelings for the doctor who is treating her illness. It is not made clear what her illness is, specifically, but it was enough for me to research the types of illnesses that were prevalent in the 1900s, the time in which the novel takes place. In my research I came across a doctor who treated cancer patients by injecting bacteria into their tumors. The idea was that the antibodies would attack not only the injected bacteria BUT also the cancerous tumor itself, thereby hopefully destroying not only the bacteria but the tumor or reduce the size of it. I though that would make an interesting story and I began to write and research a lot.
5. Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you? I would place the genre of my novel as literary fiction.
6. Who are your greatest writing influences? There are so many writers both past and present in whose company I have derived so much pleasure. I just can’t name anyone person or persons.
7. What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused? I write whenever I am in the mood. Of course, I do not mean to say that each day, I am overjoyed to sit at a regular place and at a regular time and scream, “Yes!” as if the writing process is something to look forward to with great enthusiasm. There are many days when it’s just the opposite. I try to remain focused by not having anyone around to bother me and maybe playing some light classical music on the radio so I am not too distracted but the music will filter through and maybe even inspire.
8. Would you self-publish again? Yes, but I will seek another POD company. I have spoken with authors who have used Mill City Press. So I might try that company in the future.
9. Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish? Don’t expect to make millions with a self published book. The marketing takes a tremendous effort and the expectations should be realistic. At the very least, the book is yours and you have control over every aspect of it from the editing to the design of the cover. You have to continue your passion and begin another book as you can build a nice resume of work that will live longer than the author. Who knows, maybe one day the effort will be truly appreciated, but don’t get depressed if you don’t get a call from one of Oprah’s people begging you to be on their show.