A “real” author

I just signed a contract with Castalia House, a recently started Finland-based publisher, to be the official publisher of The Stars Came Back. By some combination of luck, skill, happenstance in a changing marketplace, and doing enough things right to compensate for what I didn’t, I managed to move more than 2700 copies of the book world-wide between 13Jan2014 and 18Mar2014. Not bad for a total noob, and quite above expectations, if not as many as one may absurdly hope. So why would I cut my profits by sticking a middle-man in the mix? Because the book is already selling and done, the change to my bottom line for this book is very minimal, we have a good deal to come out with a conventional prose format version of the story, one where I won’t have to worry about upfront costs for editing and new cover art. (He says my old cover fairly screamed “self published,” and was quite surprised that it was selling as well as it was).

He’ll also handle translation into at least two other languages, possible audible books, and taking it to ink-on-paper (something I’d been only slowly making progress on), meaning I’ll get a fair percentage of markets I’d get zero from otherwise. It also opens the door wide for sequels and offshoots and other projects I’ve been mentally kicking around but didn’t have the resources to go after.

The funny thing is, I didn’t really intend to submit the story in an attempt to get a publisher. I had tried to post a question in a previous thread in which Vox compared indie publishing and working with a publisher, but the blog kept eating my post, so I just emailed the question to him. Basically I was asking “how does all this affect someone like me, a self-published author that is doing OK, but is a total no-name noob at it all?” He asked me to send in a copy for him to take a look at. I did, more thinking I might get some professional feedback, or maybe a plug on a blog read by people that might like the story. Shortly thereafter, it seemed like we were both a little surprised how things worked out. But as he said, “who am I to argue with the market?”

It’s been an interesting ride. Guess I can add “Raconteur” to my biz card.

23 thoughts on “A “real” author

  1. Very nice.

    I saw the comment about the cover. Not sure why the comment, but I have to admit that the modified version that shows up now looks nice.

  2. This is so cool! I had a blast seeing the story come together here, and then re-reading it this week and learning how it ended. I like your style, and I will definitely read whatever you write next.

  3. That is awesome man! Congratulations!

    Coffee is on me, anytime you want.

  4. This is great news! Did you get a good advance to cover the time it will take to create the prose version?

    I’ll likely buy a copy once you finish that. I thought the screenplay format was hard to read (as in, not pleasurable) but the story was a good one.

    Which POV are you planning to use? Third person?

    • POV and all still being thought about. 3rd-person ignorant (as in “can’t really read minds very well, just best guess based on action”) is most likely. No advance, but earning royalties starting on sale number one. Considering a fast ghost-writer to crank it out in trade-off for lower royalty rate. Not sure about that yet, though. It would give me more time to work on a sequel, though. Also considering the possibility of splitting it (prose format) into two shorter/cheaper books. Debating sequel vs prequel as well, and keeping this format vs traditional prose format. Lots of ideas being kicked around at the moment. Much to think about, none of which pay tomorrows bills, only next year’s.
      In the meantime, it’s back up into the charts, with 68 reviews now.

          • Will the publishing house help you? I agree with Paul — you should be the one to write this. Ghostwriters are usually expensive if they are any good.

          • I have a simpler view: if ghostwriters were any good they’d be real writers.
            Yes, Rolf, I believe you know how to get it right. More importantly, you know how to tell whether you did, or whether you’re at “close but not quite there yet”.

          • Good ghostwriters ARE real writers. They are basically freelance writers. They can be paid quite handsomely if they get a gig like penning Hillary Clinton’s autobiography. They have to be paid well enough to put aside whatever they are working on to concentrate on someone else’s project, so… They get big bucks.

            I think Rolf can do this too. The only problem is that this is where the hard work of being a writer comes in. It takes patience, tenacity, and a good thesaurus to get to the end. The reward potential, however, is HUGE!

  5. But also: all that other stuff they’re going to do is nice, yes, real nice, but what about the only Very Important question? How are they at getting movie deals? This really really REALLY needs to be seen on the Big Screen!

    • I retain all film and TV rights. But they know people. If it becomes popular enough that Hollyweird comes knocking at my door, I can figure it out then, but in the end it’s just me that has the power to sign on the dotted line. I’d love for that to happen. But it’s not a very PC movie, so I have no idea what the odds are.

        • Yes, indeed. It was good, though it didn’t totally line up with Firefly. Note that Firefly lasted only a half-season.

  6. Cool news, Rolf! Will you preview the novelization of your novel-ish screenplay? I’m really, really curious about the compression ratio between the formats.

    • Not planning on it. Just aiming at making as straightforward a translation as I can. The “series of scenes/shots” are going to be the hardest. It’s funny, but I’ve read a lot of books where to get from one place to another to check the action they simply leave a blank line or two, or some sort of symbol like *** or +-+-+ to indicate a transition. I’m pretty much doing the same, which is visually less intrusive than “CUT TO,” but it does the same thing. Should not be a huge difference, I don’t think, but it will be interesting to see what others think about it.

  7. Congrats! When I came across an entry on /r/scifi about the book getting picked up, it reminded me that I hadn’t read your book yet. I went to my Kindle to start reading it, only to discover that I had not purchased it!?!? I could’ve sworn…anyway, I rectified that. There was quite a bit of positivity in the /r/scifi entry. I think you’re on to something!

    • Thanks for the pointer. Not enough time to cruise reddit. If you want to drop a link there to my website at http://www.thestarscameback.com , or tell them it’s not really a proper screenplay format, only a bastardized one that most people can adapt to easily, and I’m editing madly away on a “traditional prose format” version which will be 90%+ the same, just more normal looking for those that are afraid of changes that threaten their conventionality 🙂 Any questions of comments they can ask there or here, be happy to answer them.

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