Fantasy and mystery author A.J. Walker joins us today at Writers in Business. He is a new voice in genre fiction. An archaeologist and medievalist by trade, his first fantasy novel, Roots Run Deep, was recently released by Double Dragon. LL-Publications will release his mystery novella, Murder at McMurdo, in June. You can check him out at his blog, where he writes his popular Medieval Mondays posts.
Welcome! Tell us a bit about your latest book, Roots Run Deep.
It’s heroic fantasy with a new twist. The tale follows the adventures of Kip Itxaron, a goblin living in a human-dominated kingdom that treats her people as second-class citizens. Kip isn’t very heroic: she’s a semi-reformed thief, an unlucky gambler, and a mediocre sorceress. Unlike a lot of heroic fantasy, her quest doesn’t magically transform her into some superhuman (or should I say supergoblin). It makes her deal with her limitations and try to work beyond them. There’s a romantic element too. As the blurb says:
She fought her way up from a shanty town to a palace in order to change the world, but her hardest challenge was to change herself.
When a small-time goblin gambler falls in love with a deposed human king, the least of her worries is his vengeful usurper. Kip Itxaron has to follow religious visions despite having lost her faith, unite her squabbling people, find the fabled Lost Tribe of Goblinkin, overcome her fear of battle, and somehow be a leader to a people who have never had one.
But that’s nothing compared with loving someone who reminds her of every man she’s ever hated. Human men can barely be called male. Pasty skin, weak bodies. . .they don’t even have tusks! Not to mention that when he was in power he treated her people just as badly as the rest of them. Kip can see he’s changed, but has he changed enough? Can she change enough?
I've been contemplating the ebook format for several of my books. Has it been a positive experience for you?
It’s been a crazy ride. Double Dragon is a great publisher to work with. They’re very professional and helpful during every stage of the editing and publishing process. They made it easy.
The hard part comes now, when I have to promote the book. In these days of the Great Recession nobody is going to promote your book for you. Writers need to interact with their potential readership and earn name recognition. I chose the word “earn” on purpose. Simply spraying the Internet with promotional blather isn’t going to sell any books. You need to entertain and inform people for free before they’ll give you money to do the same. This is why I started the Medieval Mondays series. It’s taken off, getting lots of hits and tweets. Hopefully that will encourage readers to take a chance on my book.
This is my first virtual book tour and it’s a steep learning curve. Any free advice will be highly appreciated!
What have you learned about the business side of writing?
I’m a newcomer in the writing world so I’m not the best person to ask. I think the best advice I can give is to keep your day job. Your first epublished novel is not going to buy you beachfront property in the south of France. What it will do, assuming you promote it enough, is give you a foothold in the publishing world.
I’m amazed by people who write for a living. Sean McLachlan over at Mid-List Writer has his tenth book coming out in October and is a professional blogger as well. He works 50-hour weeks and has to hustle constantly to get contracts. Famous horror writer Brian Keene has published more than 25 novels. He took a hit last year when his regular publisher Dorchester nearly collapsed, but he recovered quickly because he’s become such a name that other publishers scrambled to sign him up. Looking at his hectic tour schedule you can see that this leading writer knows the value of self-promotion and meeting his audience.
The best business strategy for a new writer, or even an experienced one like these guys, is to keep working at your craft and your public profile constantly. It never ends!
Thank you for being with us today. Where can we find your book and how can we learn more about your writing?
Roots Run Deep is available direct from Double Dragon, from the Kindle Store, and from many other outlets that sell ebooks. You can visit me online at AuthorsDen and GenreAuthor.Blogspot.com.