This post kicks off a series of profiles featuring currently unpublished and self-published authors. I've come to understand that there are (at least) three areas where both those writers who are looking to find success in traditional publishing and those who are taking the self-publishing path must build muscle: pitching their work, pitching themselves, and creating quality, well-edited work. There are a zillion and a half places where published and already well-known self-published authors are sharing their insights into these areas, but I thought it might be both helpful and fun for those who are newer to the business--and it is a business--to have a chance to chime in, too. None of what is shared in these posts is intended to be prescriptive. Also, a profile is not to be viewed as an endorsement of the author or her/his work. If you'd like to be featured, email your responses to the following prompts to JackDouglasHorn@gmail.com. And now over to Ryan.
Unpublished/Self-Published Author Profile:
Ryan Colvert was raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, with one grandmother who was devoutly religious and named Mother of the Year for the entire state and another grandmother who played the banjo, smoked a pipe and scared him to death with ghost stories. He loved them both, but you can guess which one he takes after. He lives in the Atlanta area with his husband of nearly 25 years.
http://ryancolvert.com Twitter: @RyanColvert
100 words or fewer, describe your book or story. This is your pitch. Make it enticing!
A Moroccan fire-spirit trapped centuries ago is free and burning alive every descendant of the one who trapped it.
Jamal Williams is just trying to make ends meet in Savannah, Georgia when he is attacked for the actions of an ancestor he knows nothing about. With no knowledge of the supernatural, he must find a way to save both himself and his unborn child from the spirit—and he has to do it in the middle of the worst hurricane to hit Savannah in a century.
Describe your editing (not writing) process. What steps have you taken to polish your story?
My first step was to identify and fix as many story-level issues as possible by myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find everything, but I didn’t want to put it in front of beta readers only to have them point out problems that I already knew about. When I did give it to beta readers, they were a mix of family and friends, readers and published authors. They gave me diverse and valuable insights—for example, the readers tended to focus on how they received certain characters or situations, while the published authors would discuss those things plus structural elements.
(For example,one published author pointed out that there was a weak spot at the end of first 50 pages—an especially bad place for a weakness because most agents ask for the first 50 pages as a partial.)
As a third step I’ve hired a professional developmental editor. In addition to helping me make direct improvements to the current project, this is teaching me things that will also benefit future projects.
What steps have you taken/are you considering taking to build a social platform to promote your work?
The first thing I did was choose a pen name. That was an exercise in itself, but the reason I chose a pen name was that I wanted a name that was easy to spell, that wasn’t already taken on Twitter and Facebook, and for which I could get the URL. As soon as I chose the name, I created the accounts and purchased the URL to “reserve” them.
Since then, I’ve been blogging (occasionally) and building a Twitter following (still quite small, but taking off lately). At the beginning I blogged about the craft of writing, but then I decided that there are plenty of authors already doing that. Now I focus on things that I think will be interesting to the broader community of readers, like vignettes, short stories and book recommendations.