Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick Six PRO with Rob Preece

And now for something completely different...

Today we're interviewing publisher Rob Preece of Books for a Buck. Sit up straight, eyes forward, because it's time for this week's insightful Quick Six PRO!

Quick Six PRO Interview with Rob Preece

Q: What's hot on the market these days?
Rob Preece: Vampires and futuristic stories are always hot. Mysteries have been slow for me for a long time but seem to be picking up.

Q: What's the most time-consuming part of a writer's life?
Rob Preece: Writing. Writers write. It's easy to get obsessed with marketing, with research, with social networking. To a certain extent, all of these are valid and even essential. Ultimately, however, writers have to write. If you don't write the best book you can, with a message that's essential to you, you're wasting your time and the readers' time.

Q: On the topic of ebook piracy, hunter or head in the sand?
Rob Preece: This is a tough one. Spending a lot of time hunting for pirates has minimal payoff. On the other hand, those who argue that pirates aren't a problem or, worse, claim that pirates are doing us a favor by giving our books "exposure" are deluding themselves or worse. I think setting up a google alert for your book titles and watching this is essential. Getting more active is great, but there are fast-diminishing returns for your effort.

Q: What should a writer's priority be?
Rob Preece: Learning to become a better writer. Writing is hard. Too many writers think that they're perfect and that their errors are simply their "style." Sure, James Joyce wrote everlasting sentences and mangled English, but he's James Joyce and the number of people sitting down to read Finigan's Wake for beach reading is pretty small.

Q: How do you handle a bad review?
Rob Preece: Look at a bad review as an opportunity to improve your writing. Did they spot things you'd considered rewriting but decided it wasn't worth it? Then put it behind you--everyone is entitled to an opinion but if you're writing the best book you can, you're doing your job.

Q: Have you ever encountered any unprofessional behaviours from editors, publishers or other writers, that they might not even realize are damaging?
Rob Preece: I'm okay with multiple submissions but I feel cheated when I read an author's complete manuscript, only to learn that he/she contracted with another publisher. If you sell elsewhere, withdraw your submission.

Q: What do you look for in a publisher?
Rob Preece: One critical thing is to find a publisher who loves what you're doing. Being at the bottom of a major publisher's list is worse than being near the top of a much smaller publisher's. Obviously, look for reasonable contract terms, a clear way of reclaiming rights, royalty payments on a good schedule, and access to various channels.

Q: What makes an editor great or...not so great?
Rob Preece: A great editor takes your book and makes it more your book. He/she will find those passages you decided were good enough and ask you to fix them. He'll challenge your character motivation and make you clarify your character arcs. She'll spot those words you fall in love with and repeat, and repeat, and repeat. He'll help you cut the fluff so what's left is the polished diamond.

Q: Do you have a preference for short stories of longer works?
Rob Preece: I prefer novel-length fiction. I rarely purchase novel-length collections of related stories.

Q: If you've ventured into self-publishing, what are the pros and cons?
Rob Preece: Self-publishing offers a shortcut to publishing and lets the self-publisher have control over everything. Unfortunately, many self-published works lack professional editing--which is critical to making your book excellent.

Q: Do you find yourself writing for the market and not for YOU, or self-censoring in any way?
Rob Preece: This is one of the biggest mistakes an author can make. Even if you sell a book that you wrote 'to market,' you won't love it and you'll feel yourself trapped in writing more. Obviously, some restraint is appropriate (if you're writing inspirational fiction, for example, cursing is frowned on and few publishers are looking for illegal sexual activities), but you've got to love your basic theme or you're wasting your life.

Q: How have the people in your life reacted to your career as a writer?
Rob Preece: Writers need support groups. I'm lucky enough to be married to another writer, which means she understands my struggles. I doubt I would have been able to stay the course in my writing career without being involved with writer groups, attending occasional writer conferences, and hearing from fans who love what I do.

Q: Any promo tips for fellow authors?
Rob Preece: Write the best book you can. Ask your author friends who'd be willing to review it. Support other authors if you expect them to support you. Mix your promotion with information (e.g., review other books, give writing tips, give back) if you want people to subscribe to your twitter or facebook pages.

Rob Preece

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