Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors #1 - Mark Edward Hall

Hi everyone - hope you are all well and enjoying life as much as possible. For those of you readers who sometimes wonder what all the hullabaloo is about self-publishing vs traditional publishing, this is the first in a series of exclusive interviews with best-selling self-published authors. The interviews will pretty much reveal all you need to know (plus more!) about why some authors choose to publish their work independently (as opposed to traditionally). For authors (and prospective authors) thinking of self-publishing, or wondering similar questions, I hope that this series of interviews will offer you some valuable tips and advice from these best-selling self-published authors, that you can use to navigate and hone your own adventures in today's exciting digital publishing world. Without further ado, let's kick it all off with this fantastic interview with best-selling author Mark Edward Hall.




Where do you get your inspiration from for your writing and for the way you brand yourself as an author?

As a writer my inspiration comes from the world around me. I’m a news junkie and I like to use current events as inspiration. I’ve also done a lot of reading in my life and use historical events in the mix. My unique author branding comes from a mix of genres. For the most part my novels are hard to categorize. They’re a mix of crime, scifi, horror, fantasy and apocalyptic. Some say this is the kiss of death but it’s been very successful for me. There’s always a little romance (and sex) in there as well, because to me it can’t be real without the tensions of love, the single most important driving force in human history. You have to remember that love and sex were here long before money and greed. I do write some straight horror, and I love it, but the supernatural thriller is where I’m most at home.



Did you try to get publishing contracts for your books early on with traditional book publishers? If so, did you have any success there or if not what was it that made you decide to self-publish the majority of your work?
My first novel, The Lost Village, was completed in the late nineties. At the time the Scott Meredith agency in New York had something called the Discovery Program. You send them four hundred bucks and they promised to put your book at the top of the slush pile and get back to you within a few months. They were a major agency with a great reputation, so I said, why the hell not and sent it along. They were true to their word. Within sixty days I heard from a kind editor who told me the book was amazing, that I had a promising future as a writer, but The Lost Village was too long and therefore unpublishable. He said there wasn’t a publisher on the planet who would publish a 258,000 word novel from an unknown. He said if I was King or Patterson, no problem. But I wasn’t King or Patterson. Please send something else along that’s at a more appropriate length, say 90 to 110 thousand words. This was in 2002 and I said screw it and published it myself. Back then, there weren’t any kindles or nooks so I went with one of those vanity presses. The book came out quite well. It was in hardcover and paperback and I was happy with it. I joined the New England Horror writers, did some group signings and actually sold quite a lot of books.  To the chagrin of some of the other members who were all traditionally published authors.
     I was the only outlier. I did a tremendous amount of self- promo and soon I was receiving fan mail, some from as far away as Australia and the UK. By 2004 I had written two more books, The Haunting of Sam Cabot and The Holocaust Opera, both horror stories. I self-published them both. In 2009 I got an email from a new small press publisher called Damnation Books who wanted to publish my work. They subsequently republished all three of my novels. I signed away my rights for five years. I wish I never had. The royalty rate was a little higher than most traditional publishers but still terrible. That was about the time kindle exploded on the scene. Damnation did very little for me other than put my books out there and let them go stagnant. I was sorry I’d given my rights away.
    In the meantime, I wrote three more novels and several novellas. These I self-published. No way was I ever going to let another publisher have my books. Apocalypse Island came out in 2012 and has done amazingly well. Soul Thief, its sequel, came out the following year and is doing very well also. I’m publishing the third in the series (Song of Ariel) as a serial novel simply because my readers are demanding more now.
    I know this is a long answer to your short question. The simple answer is, this is my publishing history. I never sent out queries to hundreds of publishers like so many other writers did. I’m independent and love going it alone. Damnation Books was my one fall down and I’ll never let that happen again. By the way, I received the rights back to The Haunting of Sam Cabot last September, and have sold more copies in five months than I did in five years with a publisher. I get the other two books back this year. That’s it, unless I am offered millions of dollars from a major publisher, I will never ever consider signing with one again. And I will never sign away my digital rights for any price. This is the future and any author who doesn’t retain his or her digital rights is a fool.

For more of this fascinating interview, please visit Self-Publishing Successfully for full transcript.

 





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Mark Edward Hall, Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors, Self-Publishing, #selfpub, Writing, Amazon Best-sellers, Selfpublishing vs traditional publishing, Mark Edward Hall, William Cook, Joe Konrath, Hugh Howey, David Gaughran

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