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Jim Beck (Black Rooster Creations) Interview

1. How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?

I came from the screenwriting world, and quite frankly, I was a bit fed up with all the blockades set up to stop talented people from succeeding.  I see it every day.  I had a stack of screenplays and outlines of stories that everyone seemed to enjoy, including managers and producers, but I wasn’t a schmoozer, which makes it harder to break in.  After several close calls with success, a friend suggested that I switch to writing novels.  I did some research and decided to self-publish because the idea of being in complete control of content, whether good or bad, was very attractive to me.  Plus, I can get my stuff out much faster.  I can publish at any time, instead of waiting months or longer for distribution.

2. What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?

I’m doing everything myself.  After taking a seminar (for graphic novels, of all things) given by Martin Shapiro, I took his advice and created a “presence” online.  I designed a company name, website, logo, etc.  So far, I’m happy with the service I’ve provided myself, except that I stay up too late some nights.

3. What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?

I’m new to all this, and I’m learning as I go.  I sent out a press release with some success and am now shopping around for reviews and interviews.

4. What drove you to write this particular book?

I had watched and read a lot of zombie stories and most seemed to jump right into the outbreak, with little to no explanation.  I wanted to switch that up a little and show how an outbreak might occur and then spread once the virus has mutated.  I also liked the idea of mixing in nanotechnology as a kind of cautionary tale, and telling the story from the point of view of the zombie virus gave me a unique way to convey what happens.

5. Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?

Patient Zero is in the zombie/horror genre.  I’ve watched horror movies since I was a kid and started enjoying zombies about ten years ago.

6. Who are your greatest writing influences?

I have a somewhat odd list.  Although I’ve read several well known authors that I’m sure are on the top of a lot of writers’ lists (King, Koontz, Spillane, Crichton, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mar Shelley, etc.), I’ve been mostly influenced by Kurt Vonnegut, Joss Whedon, Doulglas Adams, Brian Michael Bendis, Steven Gould, and Jack McKinney.  Each one for a different reason.  I’ll never match his brilliance, but my writing style is probably closest to Vonnegut, the way it seemed like he was standing in front of you telling the story, with casual structure and dialogue rather than describing the leaves of a tree for half a page.  I respect that and try to achieve simplicity whenever possible.  That’s why I’ll probably never write an 800 page tome.

7. What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?

Depending on the day, I’ll write anywhere from 500 words to 2500.  It depends on what I’m writing, how much dialogue there is, and the degree of research that needs to go into a particular passage.  Plus, how much help my son needs on his homework and whether my wife wants to catch up on It’s Always Sunny.

8. Would you self-publish again?

Definitely.  I have every intention of keeping this going.  In addition to two additional novels being released between now and March 2012, with a fourth coming a few months after that, I will be continuing my TV in Prose series with a new episode every 1-2 months.

9. Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?

Brand yourself.  Create a website.  Spend some time doing it and don’t skimp.  Hire an artist to create a logo and design a book cover.  The first time I called a company and “This is Jim” and the girl asked, “From Black Rooster Creations?,” I knew I had done the right thing.