Friday, July 5, 2013

Robert Davis: about writing, publishing, and demons

This is a first for Choices - a guest post by an author of a book of horror stories. However, the writing life of author, Robert Davis, is something all authors can resonate with. And maybe it's time for us all to wander around some other genres. Who knows? We might end up liking them. 

Please welcome Robert with a hearty congratulations on the launch (TODAY!) of his book.

Writing, Publishing, and Demons
by Robert Davis

Hmmmm, writing a guest blog…For a week of firsts, I have one more to add!  First of all I would like to thank Madeline Sharples for allowing me to blog today. It is great to see how many people support independent authors.  My first book Rakasha: Legend of the Hindi Tiger Demon has been released on Amazon today, July 5, 2013, in both Ebook and POD.

I have written for years and years and years, since the fifth grade. While I chose not to think back to how long ago that really was, it was a while back.

For all this time I have written, edited, and deleted a thousand stories. But last year in November, I started what would be my thousand and one story. Unlike other times, this time the story didn’t get destroyed when it was done. I thought I would see if maybe, just maybe I could do something with this.

I took my work to a local writers critique group. I went to a couple of meetings, to get a feel for what how they worked and for what to expect. The group was very interesting.  Some of the pieces were average, some were not so lucky, and others were very good to excellent.  The group was honest and as kind as you can be when your tearing a piece of someone soul.  After three meetings, I put my work into the pot, the question being simple: can I really write, or just put words on my computer semi-cohesively.

To my good fortune, my works were accepted, and praised for its originality and is style.  At the time I started I had one novel done, and a dozen short stories from it.  The novel has been written in third person focused on the heroine, a deaf girl that encounters (and becomes possessed by a demon).

I plotted out my path to glory, and started to look around for publisher. It was a few days later I found ‘Publish America’   To my good fortune, I crossed checked my new found house, and didn’t like ANYTHING that I read. One voice that was vehemently warning authors about them was Judith Briles, the founder of a group Author U.  It took one meeting with her to realize that 1) I almost fell into the trap, one of several "predator publishers" and 2) that while this person couldn’t get me a million dollar a year deal, she could help me get my work published.

I also had a series of short stories, based around a single villain called a Rakasha.  This Hindi Tiger Demon is one that most people have never heard of. When I was reading about them it was the part about the addictive bite that fascinated me the most.

So armed with stories that I felt would be challenged to succeed in the traditional world and a need to learn the publishing business. I made a book. Rakasha: The Legend of the Hindi Tiger Demon.  The work is short, about 13K words. The story telling was compact, clean and concise. It also was written without a filter, so when the antagonist needed to swear or worse, there was no restriction, I was not worried about trying to write it to fit into the Jr High catalogs, or make the YA qualification. I wrote it to be real.  Once it was done, I took it to my groups, then to some friends, both ones I have known for years, and some that I had made on line, each reading it and all praising it, and suggesting small edits.
My plan for this book release was September, a good time for releases, everyone is coming back from summer vacation, back from school and life ‘normalizes’ as people get ready to lock themselves in for the winter.

Robert and his mom, Helen Hemry
Sadly, one of my main proponents (my 76-year-old mother) had a health turn, so I made the decision to publish early, very early, as in months early. In spite of knowing that July is the WORST possible time to drop a title, knowing that the sales will be poor, if they happen at all, I decided that before my mother faced her greatest challenge (a surgery with poor odds) I was going to show her that her son was published, and had pursued his dreams, and caught them.

I didn’t just put out some low quality piece of work; the Rakasha book is a solid piece of work.  It is a horror piece and rated Adult (another potential hit to its sales) because of Drug and Sexual references, Gore, Mature Situations and Immature Humor. In other words it’s not a good book to read to your toddlers before they go to bed unless you want to have them sleep with you and ask a lot of questions! 

Today I am still exploring the world of publishing, still learning the business of the game.  I know that before I release my ‘master piece’ I need to do more publishing, to see how ebook and print on demand (POD) and all of the twists on it work.

While self-publishing is a chore, and a task, and takes resources, it’s not a sign of failure; to me it’s the first step of success.  

I would caution anyone thinking “hey, I can publish on Amazon, use their free tools and publish to my heart content.” Don’t!  Publishing is like anything, you can do it easy, or you can do it right.  While I consider myself a talented word smith, I know my artistic talents are far more limited. I also know me editing is at best subpar. It’s hard to be objective on your own work.  Get help, do it right or the only corners you are going to end up cutting will be those on your own book.

Synopsis of Rakasha:
In the ancient jungles of the east stalks a creature – an ancient Hindi Demon with a powerfully addictive bite. Dressed in the skins of breathtaking beauty, this man eater seeks more than the lives of its victims, as its bite claims their flesh and their soul. Now the creature has slipped from the jungle and walks amongst us.

Join Robert Davis in this collection of short stories as he explores the Rakasha

WARNING - This is a collection of horror stories. They are gory, gross, have drug and sexual references, mature situations and immature humor. If you are easily offended, this is not your book!

So after that synopsis, some people may think “I don’t like horror, why on earth would I do anything other than burn this book.” The answer, in my opinion, is because the nature of the horror in this book is unique.  The elements of classic horror (decapitations, dark places, severed limbs, etc.) are there, but not dwelled upon. The true horror is not that the victims are being eaten alive; it’s that they want to be. The effect of the addiction from this demon and the actions that it inspires – are where the true horror lies.

Has Robert convinced you to read his horror stories? Please let us know.

Robert's links:
Writing Blog:
Author Web Page:


Lynne Spreen said...

You can do it easy or you can do it right. Love that! And I never knew that about July. Here I was feeling all sentimental that I self-pubbed my debut novel on July 17 last year, the date that would have been my mom and dad's 65th anniversary.
Best wishes! Love the cover art.

Anonymous said...

I'm echoing Lynne's comment. Love those words "You can do it easy or you can do it right."

Robert, you've opened this yet-to-be-published writer's eyes to many things, and I thank you for that. Whether or not you've won me over to horror stories remains to be seen, but you've got me thinking! My prayers are with you and your mother.

Madeline, thanks for inviting Robert to blog on Choices. I agree we all need to stretch ourselves and investigate new genres.

madeline40 said...

Thanks Lynne and Sherrey,

I also resonated with those words. So many of us want to rush through our work without doing it write.

So no matter what the genre we still have to do all the hard work to get it right. I thank Robert for sharing his wisdom.

Also, we must all have personal reasons for picking our publishing dates - mine was to release on Mother's Day since mine was a mother's memoir. I wonder if in the long run it will make a difference in sales that Robert and Lynne picked July.

Unknown said...

I did a ton of research and found that book sales in July and August are at their lowest point. The very first part of June there is a surge, mostly from Grad’s getting Kindle and filling them & people getting their summer reads together. . The next huge surge will be in November (late November) when we go into Christmas shopping mode. For a first release, I wanted to hit some time around them, to snag whatever new readers I could.
I know when I do more creature features, (more short Horror books) They won’t launch anytime near July… no regrets on this release, but I hope this is my last summer release.

cassandra austin said...

Madeline (and Robert) Thank you so much for this. I really enjoyed the way you decided to edit the book, not worrying about what group would buy it, but whether it held to your truth. I'm on the squeamish side, and I wouldn't be surprised if your demon isn't wandering around someplace in my brain. Thanks again Robert and Madeline. Sarah Mac Donald