End your week on a scary note. Illustrious Peep Craig DiLouie!
Craig, you’re one of Permuted Press’ best-selling talents. How did you get here?
The best thing writers can do to become successful is work hard, develop their talent, promote their product, and pray for luck. I was particularly lucky to catch the zombie fiction trend as it was just getting hot, and the Kindle market was getting rolling.
I see you’ve written some sci-fi as well as spine-chilling horror. Do you write what you love to read, or are you just multi-talented?
I would be happy to write any type of fiction, but science fiction/fantasy and horror offer the greatest opportunities for creativity. You can really push boundaries. As a writer, and often as a reader, I love stories about ordinary people thrown into extraordinary situations. In the case of horror, you can really hit the reader where they live. You can actually give people nightmares. Man, that’s just magical. That you can write a story that can actually freak people out.
In growing your readership, what have you done that has served you well? How do you self-promote?
I do everything I can that I have time for. I run a blog at www.craigdilouie.com, where I review apocalyptic media, and use social media sites like Facebook for networking. I produce book trailers, make sure my fiction is reviewed by bloggers and magazines, and promote other authors. I also attend horror conventions, which are a real blast.
As a writer, do you find that you start the ball rolling and the characters themselves takeover? Or are you more likely to plan a project from the first word to the last?
I tend to write after I accomplish two things. First, I need a beginning, middle (climax) and end that I think are compelling. Second, I spend a lot of time researching and thinking about my novel to map out the basic story and who the characters are as people. I don’t see writing as just typing; it’s dreaming, thinking, conceptualizing. Once I’m ready to start typing, the basic process is organic. The characters, the plot development and the research often push me in directions I hadn’t anticipated. While I enjoy that approach, I’ve been experimenting with tighter plotting as a way to more carefully control character arcs and reveals–what the reader knows and when they know it–so as to achieve better tension building.
Has success in publishing changed you at all?
It’s made me much more confident in my writing ability. It’s also put me on a clock, with tighter deadlines and bigger responsibilities. There’s a lot more satisfaction but also a lot more pressure and worry. In all, I’d say the biggest change was to turn me from a hobbyist into a professional.
How does it feel that your next effort is going to be produced by one of the big 6 (Simon & Schuster)?
It’s a dream come true! Scary, humbling, gratifying. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to expand my readership by getting into bookstores, and of course access the awesome S&S/Gallery brand. But while it’s a higher level for my career as a novelist, I have to say I’m already living the dream getting published by small presses. Just getting my work out there and seeing it read and enjoyed by a lot of people. The digital revolution has really democratized, and self publishing, small press and big press are all equally viable in terms of engaging readers. Each is a great path, and each has its tradeoffs.
I’m a firm believer in paying things back (and forward). What advice would you give to new writers that might not be found in all the helpful books on the shelves?
First, read! Every time you read a book, you learn something about craft.
Second, write! Every time you complete a work, you get better at it.
Third, write well! Always look for ways to get better at what you do.
Fourth, network! Get to know people in social media, writers groups and conferences who may be able to help you.
Fifth, communicate! Find that perfect short, compelling pitch for your story that will entice whoever you’re selling it to.
Sixth, promote! When you get published, you’ll be more successful if you can help the publisher generate sales.
I have to add one frivolous question. Enrique Iglesias gets cake from his fans. Laurell K. Hamilton gets stuffed penguins. What would you like your fans to give you?
Good Amazon reviews. Seriously! If you like an author, any author, the best thing you can do as a reader is review their work on Amazon and other sites, and recommend it to your friends. A good review is worth a thousand cakes. And if I can’t get good reviews, send me anything with chocolate in it, and I’ll be your best friend.
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