The latest Author in the Zone is Australian based writer, Graham Storrs.
Graham is a science fiction writer based in Queensland, Australia. He is the author of the time travel thriller, TimeSplash, his debut novel.
When Graham is not writing he enjoys hanging out with his family and their Airedale terrier, Bertie, at their rural, bushland property. After a career in artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and multimedia, Graham has finally settled down to do what he really loves: writing science fiction.
Hi Graham, welcome to Authors In The Zone.
Hi Noel and thanks for having me over.
How long have you been writing?
As long as I can remember. I may have been the only Scout in the UK to earn his hobby badge by turning in a sheaf of sci-fi stories. I've always written fiction, but I've only been serious about having it published for just over two years now. Until then, I had not had a single piece of fiction published. Since then, I've published ten short stories and now my first novel is out.
Tell us a little about your book, TimeSplash?
TimeSplash is a science fiction adventure story about a young couple trying to hunt down and stop a time travelling terrorist who has damaged each of them in different ways. There is a quirky romance along the way, but this is a fast-paced thriller with the fate of a whole city hanging on their success.
How long did it take to write?
It took about nine months from idea to submission - which is very fast for me. After that, of course, there were still months of editing to do as I worked with the publisher to get it out.
Tell us about your route to publication? Who, if anyone, helped you along the way?
The publication of TimeSplash has been very complicated - perhaps a sign of how the market is changing at the moment. I thought I'd find an agent and they'd find me a publisher, but that didn't happen. Instead, just after I'd started querying agents, someone in my writing group mentioned a small press publisher in New York that was looking for manuscripts just like TimeSplash. So I sent it to them directly. That was Lyrical Press. They wanted it, but they only wanted to do an ebook version - which is their main market. I signed with them and the ebook came out in February 2010.
That left me with the print rights and the audio rights still to dispose of.A few months later, another writer, Emma Newman, wrote and said she'd like to record an audiobook version of TimeSplash that she and I could then jointly self-publish and market. Emma had already recorded and podcast her own novel and won a publishing contract on the strength of it - another unusual route to publication - so I agreed. It was almost complete when, in discussions with a publisher in Denmark - Greg McQueen of Big Bad Media - Emma told him about the recording she was making and let him listen. He asked for more, so I sent him the manuscript and he called me a day later to say he loved it and wanted to do the print and audio versions!That was just a few weeks ago and the audiobook is now complete and will shortly be released. The print edition is also in production and should be available before Christmas. It's very exciting.
And what it means is that TimeSplash now has two publishers, each in a different country from me, each licensing different bundles of rights, and not an agent in sight.I intend to find an agent for my next book (which I completed a short while ago) because this kind of direct selling, while thrilling and fascinating, is time-consuming and I find it quite nerve-wracking. It would be nice to have a professional looking after that side of things.
How do you market your book?
It's all done with wires. I've become a social networking expert since my book was launched. It's impossible to get big media outlets to review an ebook so I've had to learn how to use the Internet. I blog, TimeSplash has its own website (and its own blog), I've got pages on Facebook, Goodreads, Librarything, Amazon, and Myspace, and I Twitter.
If I'd known a year beforehand what I needed to do, I'd have built up big followings before the launch. As it is, publication took me somewhat by surprise and I was late getting started. My followings are only just now building up to respectable levels. I like to make myself available for interviews (and thank heavens for kind souls like yourself who give unknown authors like me a platform!) and I did a blog tour that lasted two months and took in about twenty sites. Trying to be creative, I did a round-the-world 24-hour Twitter tour, which was great fun and pretty effective, but very tiring!
What other works have you written?
I've got quite a few novels and short stories in my 'bottom drawer' including two fat space operas, another time travel novel, a sci-fi comedy and so on. I've just finished another near-future thriller. Like TimeSplash it is fast and furious, but this time involves Moon colonies and transhumans. I call it The Credulity Nexus - but you never know what it might end up being called after a publisher has finished with it. This is the one I've just started trying to find an agent for.
Tell us a little about your writing process?
When I was working, I used to write in my lunch breaks, in restaurants - it was the only time I seemed to have to myself. Since I moved out into the country, I have much more time for writing. I like to take my little netbook outside - even in freezing weather - and sit in the gazebo, surrounded by forest for an hour or two (sometimes more) each day. Sometimes I take the netbook and the dog and spend the time beside a nearby lake. It definitely beats city-centre restaurants.
Where do you see your writing in ten years?
Having a book published is a huge milestone, but it is far too easy for a writing career to end there. I don't suppose I'll feel like a real writer until I've pulled this off at least three times. Then I'll know it wasn't a fluke. A book a year on average would be good, and I know I'm quite capable of that. So, if in 2020 I'm not celebrating my tenth novel, I'll be asking myself some hard questions.
What advice do you have for new writers?
Take all the advice you can get about learning the craft of writing, persisting, networking with other writers, and so on. It's all worth doing. But also, take some time to understand this business you want to be in. Understand all the stages and roles in the publishing industry.
View it the way you'd view any other business you're involved in. Find out what each stage in the process needs from you - the agents, the editors, the publishers, publicists, booksellers, everyone - and make sure you are anticipating what each of them will need. It will help you in drafting query letters, negotiating contracts, and selling your book. It wasn't until this perspective finally clicked with me that I started selling my work.
Graham thanks very much for taking time-out to offer up your wisdom. Personally I found the way you handle your rights eye-opening, as I'm sure other writers having to consider such options will too. Thanks again.