Indie-Pendence Blog Hop Day 1: Interview with Charles O’Keefe, author of The Newfoundland Vampire

Welcome to Shaggin the Muse’s first entry for the Indie-Pendence Blog Hop Week. Our goal this week is to not only raise awareness of indie authors but also discuss things like the state of our industry, how we got to where we are (no matter what part of the path we might be on), and just what “indie” is, anyway.

But that’s not all! We’re also going to be giving away copies of loads of books for free. I’ve started to take a general stance against gimmicky giveaways – though I know some guest posts recently have featured them. I think that indie authors need to get back to their roots and give away the things that matter most:Β books. That’s why I was thrilled to learn that we were expected to give away books.

That said, let’s see what you stand to win this week:

-eBooks of the Corridors of the Dead (limit 5)
-eBooks of the Kayson Cycle (limit 5)
-eBooks of the Station (limit 5)
-Advance eBook of Room 3 when it releases (limit 2)
-eBooks of the Newfoundland Vampire (limit 3)
-eBooks of Marie Loughin’s Valknut the Binding (limit 5)

That’s 25 free books ready for folks to win. And all you have to do is comment. Once you’ve commented, you’ll go into the drawing spreadsheet. On Friday, I’ll draw your number from the hat (a random number generator), and notify you of what you’ve won. Your odds are really, really good, and I know the involved authors would love your comments on our posts. I’m hoping this will be fun for everybody and spur some discussion.

So, my talk with Charles O’Keefe. If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you should know Charles as the promising author of The Newfoundland Vampire, which I reviewed a week ago (incidentally, you can purchase his book on Amazon, if you’re so inclined). After reading his book, I thought Charles would be a perfect fit for Indie-Pendence week. Let’s see what he had to say…

  • Β Where did you get the original idea for The Newfoundland Vampire?
I’ve always enjoyed vampire books, TV shows and movies. I think a friend said to me once (over 10 years ago) “you’d be a vampire if you could!”. He was kidding, but the idea was planted in my head: what if I was a vampire? What would it be like? What would I do? It was a fun exercise to imagine what my life would have been like at 23 if I had made different choices and if vampires were real (and I became one). I wrote a few pages, but then took a long time to get motivated and develop it further, as I’ll get to in my next answer.
  • Tell us a little about the writing process – how did you get started, and were there any stops?
I just mentioned how I got started (way back in 2002). I stopped after just a few pages for a long time, almost 10 years in fact. I just let it slip to the back of my mind and the rest of my life took over. I went back to university to get my Masters, got married, got a teaching job, moved away (came back), finished teaching and finally went back to work with my parents. My friend put out a book in 2006 (“The Dying Days” by Shannon Patrick Sullivan, which I’d recommend to any fantasy/horror fan), that got me thinking about my long neglected book but even then it took another 4 years before I got back to it. Finally in 2010 I got determined and felt I had lots of ideas and started writing in earnest. I’ll get to the next bit in the next answer.
  • You said that you went through 16 drafts. What did your process look like, for example, did you handle a draft, and then hand it off to editors? Did you have beta readers?

The first draft took me about 8 months (from early March to mid-November 2010). I then showed it to a few people, got some feedback, and wrote up the second one. I started submitting it late November. That was a mistake and it was crap, something I didn’t realize until months later. After getting rejected by all the local places I decided to hire a local editor and wrote two very different (and much improved) drafts. I submitted those again to an American publisher, Penumbra Publishing. So yes, I did have other readers who gave me great suggestions and comments (one friend in particular was brutally honest and told me several chapters were terrible, he was right). Once it was submitted to Penumbra, however, it was in Pat’s (my editor) capable hands and the many drafts commenced. Then it was a back and forth process with some drafts with major changes, some small, from July 2011 to April 2012 which totaled 12 more before my book was completed.

  • I noticed you’re with a publisher. At what point in the process did you sign on with them, and how did you end up with them?
I signed with Penumbra on September 15, 2011. I picked them from a list of places to submit to (who took un-solicited manuscripts and were legitimate). I had a good feeling right away as I was selected to be in their “Dust off challenge” which meant that I submitted a fairly good query letter and that it would be shown on the website with comments. That happened in July and I took Pat’s suggestions and made a new draft. I was persistent and just kept submitting drafts (after she had suggested changes) until they offered me a contract in September. Did I mention Pat rules? πŸ™‚
  • What does the future marketing for The Newfoundland Vampire look like?
I am all about marketing! =) Well I am hoping to do at least 2 more book signings (at a bar and a bookstore here in St. John’s, Newfoundland). I have a table at a Farmer’s Market (similar to a Flea Market) on Saturdays when I’m free. I am going to do a blog tour (and be a part of this one course). I also will be going to a convention in late September to sell my book and give a talk on vampire fiction (my second one this year). I may also look into paying for some advertising on websites/podcasts/newspapers and magazines. Of course I’m always up for interviews and I’m hoping for some more book reviews this summer/fall.
  • What’s your take – what makes a writer “indie”?Β 

I think an indie writer is someone who is self-published/vanity published or published by an independent publisher outside of “the big six” (HarperCollins, Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan). So I guess that means you’re a little outside of the mainstream, though as time goes by places like Amazon will completely change what it means to be mainstream at all. I think most people would joke an indie writer means you haven’t made a ton of money doing it, though I’m sure there are exceptions to that too. It’s like being an indie rocker or poet, you are doing it for the enjoyment and feedback, though you’d sell out in a minute for the money πŸ˜‰ Just kidding, maybe πŸ˜‰

If you’d like to buy my book (or just read about it) please go to my website:Β www.charlesokeefe.comΒ or go to my publishers atΒ www.penumbrapublishing.com

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So thanks to Charles for that one! Now for you, the reader. I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on what it means to be an indie writer, the drafting process, and the marketing grind. Or you can click on the image below to access the other blogs on our hop. I’ll see you folks tomorrow.

 

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19 Comments

  1. I love vampire books, too! A question for Charles: Because your book was set aside and on the back-burner for so many years, I was wondering whether the end result was true to your original idea/vision for the book or if the book changed throughout the writing process?

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

    • Hi Darlene πŸ™‚

      Great question! =) I did imagine it as a journal of my life mixed in with a vampire fantasy set in 1999 (when I was 23) and while I think the main focus of the book is there a lot of other details did change (like it is now set in 2012). These were do with the fact that I wanted to be published rather than how my thoughts changed over 8 years when I wasn’t writing (plus it couldn’t be mainly a journal, I realized how boring a read that would be!). Have a great night and I hope you win a copy! πŸ™‚

  2. I am glad that someone finally explained to me what it means to be an Indie write. Now I can look at my book collection and know that I have some indie authors.
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

  3. Good interview. And he has a funny definition of being “indie” (the part about selling out in a minute. Just kidding. Maybe). I think we all want to make money off our craft, regardless of how passionate we are about it. I think it’s when money takes the front seat that writers run into difficulties.

    Congrats to Charles on signing with Penumbra. Best of luck with The Newfoundland Vampire and future projects.

    Paul D. Dail
    http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  4. Thank you for this giveaway..
    Thank you for explaining the difference for us…

    ronnkelly3@aol.com

    • Hi Kelly πŸ™‚

      You’re welcome, I’m not an expert by any means but that’s the idea as far as I know it =) I hope you win a copy, feel free to e-mail me anytime πŸ™‚

  5. The interview is inspiring. I’ve written a bit over the years, but never felt it was good enough to get noticed by the “mainstream” companies. How did you find your current publisher and how do you know when an independent publisher is legit?
    Thanks for the wonderful interview!!

    • Hi Lisa πŸ™‚

      You’re welcome, I quite enjoy giving interviews πŸ™‚ I’d forget about mainstream publishers. You need an agent to even have a chance with them and I wanted to concentrate on writing. Not spend a ton of time and money to find someone to help me get published. What a nice thing to say! Thank you, I am so happy to hear that I’m inspiring =) I try to do things by example whenever I can.

      Well a great friend of mine knew I was writing a book and he looked around the internet for legitimate indie publishers (meaning here outside the “big six” and those who took UN-solicited manuscripts.) I wish I still had the website but I don’t. Penumbra just sounded the best so I send it to them, the rest as they say is history πŸ™‚ Don’t give up on your dreams, it took me 8 years of thinking and 2 years of trying but I got published, I know you can do it too =)

  6. Great interview, always a treat to see what answers Charles will come up with! He is persistent – a quality all writers must have if they ever hope to finish a book and get it published.

    Pat

    • Hi Pat πŸ™‚ Thanks! I am an honest person (most of the time πŸ˜‰ and I do my best to give answers I hope people will enjoy reading and get some benefit from. I read somewhere that 80% of success is just showing up, so I’ve got that part covered =)

  7. I am always amazed at the perseverance that an Indie writer has to have in order to succeed. I never realized the amount of work that was involved post writing. As I read the different interviews I become more amazed. I find myself seeking out indie writers more because of it.
    Mel
    bournmelissa at hotmail dot com

    • As an indie writer, that makes me smile!

      I think that as far as writing goes, all writers who love and respect their craft put in enormous amounts of time and emotional energy. As you mention, the real difference is that indie writers also have to put in the money to start up a publishing business, learn how to market, figure out the advertising/social networking thing, hire cover artists, hire editors… It’s a lot of post-writing work, but we love our stories so much, we would rather work hard than have them languish in a drawer, unread.

      It’s nice to meet you, Mel & I thank you for supporting indie writers!

      -aniko

  8. Very nice interview. I think marketing at a Farmer’s Market is a unique and great idea.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

    • Hi there πŸ™‚ thanks! Well so far I’ve only sold 9 copies over 2 days there but I’m not giving up πŸ™‚ I have met some interesting people and next time I’ll be sharing a table with another author, so that should be fun =)

  9. Donna/BLHmistress

    When I started my blog, I had no idea what indie was or what they had to go through to get their books published. Now I have to say I admire all that it takes and gives me a new outlook when I am reading a book.

    vampiremistress2010(at)gmail(dot)com

    • Hi Donna πŸ™‚

      Very nice of you to say, thank you! I’m glad to hear I gave you a new appreciation for indie writers. I’m sure there are mainstream writers that work hard too, they’re just not as special πŸ˜‰

  10. Angel Jennifer

    Thanks for the commentary! I am looking forward to meeting new authors to read, such as your book; it looks great!

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