Interview by Edie Melson
Today I'm excited to turn the tables on my good friend, Alton Gansky as I interview him about his latest publishing venture. I know you're all as familiar with his books as I am, but today we're going to hear about an opportunity to revisit some of our favorites!
EM: For those who don’t know you, give us a little of your publishing background.
AG: My first book came out in 1996 and I’ve been publishing ever since. Since I got a late start, I’ve been trying to make up time. I’ve written over 40 books, mostly novels, but also a fair number of nonfiction. In addition to titles under my name, I’ve also done collaborative work in which I served as the principle writer, work-for-hire projects, and other variations. Most of my novels are some form of suspense (supernatural suspense, crime thrillers, suspense/mystery) or action/adventure. My nonfiction deals with biblical matters.
EM: I’ve been noticing that a lot of established authors are re-releasing some of their previous books in eBook format. You’ve done that for some of the ones I love the most, the Perry Sachs books. What made you decide to go that route?
AG: No author likes to see his or her work fade away, but older titles go out of print sooner or later. With the advent of digital publishing, I found a means of introducing new readers to my earlier work. It’s one way to keep my characters alive. My plan is to make as many of these out of print titles available as I can and perhaps do original work as well.
EM: Well I'm excited to be able to add them to my E-reader. Where can we get these and how much are they?
AG: Thanks for asking. I’ve made the books available through as many digital book distributers as possible. They can be found in most digital book retailers: Amazon.com, iBooks, Barnes and Noble’s Nook. They can also be found at Smashwords. com and Kobobooks.com. Just visit your favorite site and search for “Alton Gansky.” You will see the e-books as well as my print work.
PLOT LINE is a novel the cost $2.99. The three Perry Sachs, A TREASURE DEEP, BENEATH THE ICE, and SUBMERGED, books each sell for $4.99.
EM: I know you did the formatting yourself, was it difficult? How much of a learning curve is there?
AG: It’s not as difficult as it might seem but there is a learning curve. The companies that carry the books do all the conversion for you. There are a few formatting tricks to learn, and not every distributer re-formats the same way. That’s why the text looks a little different between the Amazon version and the Nook. Most companies allow you to upload a Word file.
Creating covers can be tricky and some authors hire cover artists to do that for them. New services have popped up online to do cover art for self-published authors.
EM: Would you recommend this to other authors?
AG: I would. E-book reading continues to grow at a remarkable rate. E-books outsell hardback versions--probably because the latter is pretty expensive.
This is not to say that we should turn out back on traditional publishing. I have novel coming out this May and the publisher will release it as a physical and digital book. I’m still a big believer in traditional publishing.
EM: What about new authors? Do you think putting up e-books is the way to go?
AG: This is one of those questions that can only be answered with, “That depends.” Self-publishing has several advantages: the author makes more per each sale; complete creative control; and a shorter road from writer to reader. Traditional publishing moves at glacial speeds. E-publishing also allows an author to reach small, specialized audiences that is too tiny to make business sense to a traditional publisher.
BUT, traditional publishing also has advantages: an advance; professional guidance; top notch editing; salespeople in the filed; catalog; professional cover design; and a marketing team (although much of this has been pushed off on the author).
In either case, the author will need to do some marketing. With self-publishing, the author does all the marketing.
There remains a stigma surrounding self-publishing. While the process has grown in respectability, it is still viewed as a last ditch effort. Of course, that’s not usually the case. Some people choose to self-publish, not because they can’t get on with a traditional publisher, but because they have times sensitive material, or they just want to make more per unit and get paid monthly (in most cases) and not every six months.
EM: What picture do you see e-books playing in the future of publishing? Have we reached the pinnacle yet?
AG: Pinnacle? No, we’ve just begun. Although we’ve already seen some of this, I believe we will see more and more multi-media integration. For example, with an e-book, a writer can insert short videos.
Some traditional publishers are test-driving a new idea: publishing a book first in digital form, then (if the book gets traction) moving onto printing a physical book. I’m not sure that’s wise and I’m interested to see how that experiment works out.
EM: Do you read much on an ereader? Which one do you prefer?
AG: I love physical books. I’m surrounded by about 2000 of them, not counting what’s boxed up in the garage, but I must confess that most of my reading is done on a digital device. I have a Kindle Fire (and an original Kindle), an iPad, and an iPhone. I read on all of them. I read magazines, “newspapers,” and news aggregators (and the occasional comic book) on my iPad. I read books on the Kindle.
Here’s the beautiful thing: All these devices sync. So, if I’ve been reading on my Kindle then find myself out and about without it, I can pick up on the same “page” in my iPhone. It’s like paying one reduced price for three or four copies of the same book.
EM: Can you give us a glimpse of what books you have coming out next?
AG: My next print books is WOUNDS, a thriller published by Broadman Holman. I just finished the page proofs and came away thinking this might be some of my best work. I’m usually too self-critical to make such statements, but not with this book.
My next self-pubbed digital book is going to be BY MY HANDS, the first book I wrote, originally published by Victor Books (later Cook). I’m reworking it. I’ve learned a couple of things since I wrote that novel back in the mid 90s. In many ways, it will be “brand new again.” I’ll probably follow that with a book on creativity, a compilation (and rewrite) of shorts about the creative life. Of course, that’s all subject to change.
EM: I can hardly wait for those! And I think you direct this little conference in NC somewhere. Can you give us a peek at what’s in store for those attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian WritersConference in May?
AG: We have a stellar faculty again this year including professors from Harvard, Taylor University, Azusa Pacific University. We have top notch agents and editors as well established authors who work in everything from children’s books, to scripts, multi media, fiction, nonfiction, freelance writing, social media, and much more. There’s always room for more conferees. www.brmcwc.com
EM: I know you have a heart to help other writers get started on the right track, and you do a lot of that on this blog. Do you have other sites as well?
AG: I’m reactivating my www.altongansky.com site. I let it go idle for awhile. I was a tad caught up in other projects. Of course people can follow me on Twitter (@altongansky), on Facebook, and on Google+.
EM: Can you leave us with a bit of that writing wisdom you're so known for? What’s one tip you’d like to share with our readers today?
Al’s Axion #22: Writing is putting words on the page; good writing is taking words off the page. Also . . .
Al’s Axiom #1: No one ever hit a home run from the dugout.