S. Boyack has a new book out called “The Cock of the South.” This is his first attempt at writing fantasy. It involves a group of conquered peoples banding together to ensure they have a place in the world. It is set in a Greco Roman environment, rife with everything fans of those stories might expect.
My choice to try independent publishing wasn’t an easy one. I collected an electronic file of rejection slips for several years. Oddly enough, this may have helped me in the long run.
After being rejected, I tried to make my stories better. In my mind, I did make them better. My subsequent projects are better every time out. I never got over the idea that stories would be resigned to some musty old corner of cyberspace and forgotten. Someone out there would enjoy these stories, but there had to be a way to distribute them.
I got lucky, in that I had some decent older stories when I finally decided to self publish. My 2014 goal was to put out one book per quarter, until I got caught up. All four of the older tales are on Amazon right now. I also have a new one finished, and another one half finished.
I thought the world would flock to my door, and admit to some naive thinking. My first book sold a few copies, then stagnated. I played with a giveaway and made it into the top twenty science fiction books for a nano second. Still, the reviews never came.
Being self published requires some effort. I needed to learn some things, and there is still much to learn. The most important thing is finding friends. Reviewers are out there, but an author has to find them. I’m like a creature of the night, you have to invite me inside. This is fatal thinking.
The Rave Reviews Book Club has been my most powerful move. This is a group of fellow authors who are all in the same boat. We all need and want the same things. There’s power in numbers, and we work together to promote each others’ books. Each member is required to read and review one member book per quarter. Some of my earliest reviews came from this group. They taught me about Twitter pushing, and how the power of re-tweets can place our product in over a million accounts.
Self publishing is a hard road. You’ll make your sales one at a time. I use my blog to build goodwill among my followers, and many of them have picked up one, or more, of my books. I’m a big believer that forever is a long time. My books are available for as long as I choose. It might take a year before one of them takes off. Readers are generally loyal people. If they like one, they are very likely to buy another. I expect to see growth in sales throughout 2015.
My biggest task is to keep writing. I still want to learn more about promotion and expanding my circle of friends. I’ll have less output in 2015, and this will allow me to work on marketing and expanding my influence. It’s going to take some work, but anything worthwhile does.
The Cock of the South is my first foray into epic fantasy. It involves fantastic creatures trying to find their way in a Greco Roman setting. I had a great time writing The Cock of the South, and hope you’ll enjoy reading it just as much.
How writers go about producing a story is always an interesting topic. I love reading about the process of others. Rather than just lurk, I decided to talk about my own machinations as I wrote The Cock of the South.
I keep quick notes in an app on my phone. These are just a line or two to remind me of stray thoughts. When I keep dwelling on an idea I take out a notebook and fountain pen and expand the idea a bit. If it really sticks with me I start a storyboard.
This is my first fantasy story. Being true to the genre was important to me. I actually did mountains of research into mythology to spark my imagination. I didn’t want to rewrite one of those tales, so I stole bits and pieces to weave into my stories. I made small piles of index cards. These didn’t all get used, but I like to have notes to refresh my imagination.
It was equally important to me that I was true to the setting. Ancient Rome and Greek mythology are something readers are used to, and I wanted to use this to ground the story. I find that building fences with plot and setting serve as a governor to my imagination. The imagination flows and focuses in a different direction. My storyboard was covered with sticky notes to include more marble columns and bath houses at one point.
When it comes to characters I try to be a bit different. Hercules might be the best hero, but what if someone less qualified had to solve all the problems? I found a lost member of the Southern Dwarves who was raised by humans. His dwarven heritage has been hidden from him, and he lives as a short broad human. Because of his physical makeup the people around him nicknamed him Cobby.
I also wanted the freedom to vary some of the historical parts of the story. I stewed on this for a long time, but in fantasy the world ought to be different. It was a delicate balance to preserve the setting and believably change some elements. I dug deep into mythology and decided that Remus killed Romulus. Rome never got built and the nation of Remus took its place. This allowed me to modify weapons, change trade routes, and still keep some familiarity in the story.
I always try to challenge myself to try something new with each story. This isn’t obvious to the reader, but it’s important for my growth. In The Cock of the South I wanted to use fairytale structure. This is a great way of telling a story, but casual readers might not pick up on everything.
Since this post is likely to be read by as many authors as readers here are some things I included. Cobby is the outsider of three brothers. Each brother represents one facet of the father. Cobby will have to master all three of these elements before he can succeed. There is a scene involving magical gifts from a friend. If you pay very careful attention, there are even seven dwarves together on one adventure. I included more elements, but this is a blog post and you’ll have to watch for others as you read the story.
I love this story, but readers will be the ultimate judge. I hope you’ll give The Cock of the South a chance. I had a great time writing it, and hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
You can follow Craig at the following places:
His blog, Entertaining Stories. http://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com
On Twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/Virgilante
You can pick up a copy of The Cock of the South at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P4H37WC
Thanks for reading about Craig Boyack’s new novel. This kind of author support is what we do with Rave Reviews Book Club so take a look at membership as a reader or an author. You can also connect with me over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email.