Monday, April 20, 2009

GUEST AUTHOR: Darrell Bain

A little over ten years ago I very nearly gave up writing. I had spent about five years turning out book after book and sending them to my "agent". I was (and am) very naïve and trusting and tend to believe what anyone tells me. In this case I believed this "agent" when I was told "co-publishing" contracts were the way to go and also believed my books were being sent to publishers. It both cases it was a scam, of course, and I wound up wasting eight or nine thousand dollars before the FBI busted up that gang of crooks and sent them to prison. Knowing they were sitting in federal prison was about my only consolation. That, and having a half dozen completed manuscripts sitting on my desk I didn't know what to do with. I just about lost faith in agents and when I did send manuscripts to legitimate publishers they came back. It wasn't long after that it seemed all the real agents were too busy to bother with unpublished writers. With the advent of cheap computers, the supply of writers outstripped demand even more than was already the case.

As I said I was on the verge of giving up. Then one day while I was idly surfing the web I ran across a site called Rose Dog that offered to post manuscripts for prospective publishers to read. Having nothing left to lose I did post a couple. A few days later I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email message from an e-book publisher who wanted one of my manuscripts. Heck, I didn't even know what an "e-book" was until they told me. I was a little dubious but figured being published with an e-book company was better than nothing and at least they weren't asking me for money.

Over the next couple of weeks all the manuscripts I posted were taken and sure 'nuff, they were published—on CDs or as downloads. Still better than nothing, but no great shakes because my first royalty checks were for less than ten dollars per book. However, I liked to write and kept at it and eventually a couple of my books caught on. I won't go over the whole story here, including a number of setbacks with companies going bust, non-payment of royalties and so forth but there is something to be said for persistence. I kept writing and from e-books ventured into POD (print on demand) book publishers. Few of them even offered editing at the time and a couple of those unedited books are still around but as before I eventually found some legitimate publishers.

There were more trials and tribulations, all of which make up a latter part of my published autobiography, Darrell Bain's World of Books. Eventually I settled on two promising e-book publishers which also did trade paperback books simultaneously. I can't help it. I'm old fashioned, or was. I still like print books but I may change my mind. I recently bought a Kindle and am pretty well pleased with it.

As I sit here today writing this, I'm wondering what it is about my writing that made me fairly popular with those who read e-books, enough that I've earned about $40,000.00 from them over the last six or seven years. My first books contained a fair amount of sex, so maybe that's part of it but my latter ones don't include very much and they still sell so that can't be all of it. My wife says my writing is "spare" but she tells me I write a good story. I personally think it's that I try to write unusual stories. It's hard to come up with a completely new plot in any genre, and especially in science fiction but I do try to put new and unusual twists into my novels. And I never string them out with unnecessary detail just to get a page count. I guess that helps, but still…I have to say it. I believe a lot of success in writing depends on luck and sometimes who you know (although you have to have a minimal amount of talent no matter how lucky you are or what personages you're acquainted with). If that's true, perhaps I had all my bad luck to begin with and enough good luck with the e-book market to stay popular, even though it gets harder and harder these days for a writer to stay separated from the pack.

Here's a good example of what I mean by staying separated from the pack. At the ebook stores such as fictionwise and Sony where I first became a popular writer, my books still regularly appear on the best seller lists. Not so with Kindle. Kindle readers are not only a new breed of ebook readers for the most part, but Kindle emphasizes the print best sellers that are also available as e-books with Kindle. I'm not a best selling author at the Kindle store because for the most part those readers have never heard of me and they are going to buy books by authors they know. And how would they find one of my books out of 250,000 others except by accident if they don't know me? See? The only solution for that is either luck or promotion or being a genius of a writer and I'm not a great promoter nor am I as able as some of those great writers I admire.

Or perhaps I am, or at least a few people believe I am according to some fan mail I get. If you'd like to decide for yourself try my next book. It's called Quanty and is about a quantum computer that wakes up and decides its prime mission in life is to protect its creators—even if they don't want protection! It will be published by Double Dragon Books the latter part of April and should be in the ebook stores a couple of weeks after that and in print a month or so later.

Oh, yes. I've had one hard cover published. And who knows? Maybe I'll get lucky again with the Kindle readers!

Darrell Bain

A starship on a circuit to service earth's colonies is sabotaged and winds up irrevocably lost in space. The only option is to find a habitable planet to live on. Aboard the ship is a contingent of convicts bound for a prison planet, an army company rotating to one of the colony worlds, government officials and scientists going or coming from the colonies, a contingent of prospective colonists going out to pioneer and a miscellany of other passengers. A crew of two hundred fifty is now responsible for a thousand people after they finally find a new world to settle on. Add in a mad captain, combative convicts and some unworldly aliens and it becomes all that acting Captain Travis Callahan can handle-and then some!


Shelley Munro said...

Hi Darrell - I think it's great that you didn't give up, especially after your initial setback. I love the sound of your book. There's lots of potential for drama there!

Kimber Chin said...

Wow, you certainly are dedicated! Very impressive!