Interview with Phil McLimon

This interview was originally published on this website back in 2013. 

Why did you decide to write an eBook?

My path to indie publishing and ebooks was a winding one. I started out four years ago writing screenplays. I have a sometime writing partner and together we wrote several original scripts. Like getting a book traditionally published, in the movie industry there are as many, if not more, gatekeepers between the writer and production/publication. In the movie industry no one will ever say “no”. You will never hear from them again, or they will dash your hopes with encouragement and kindness, but hardly ever say “no”. I did this for about four years and became increasingly frustrated at not being able to get my stories out there in the public eye. Even when I started hearing about the “ebook revolution” I was set on getting a script to production. One can only bang one’s head against the wall for so long before it feels so good to stop, so that’s what I did. I stopped and wrote a novel. I learned all I could about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and then, on April 22, 2013 I self published H.E.L.L. Nicole’s Odyssey.

What is/was your first ebook about, and why did you pick that
topic?

My first ebook is a tale of the Zombie Apocalypse. Here is the blurb off of Amazon:

A young woman struggles to reunite with her estranged father. The only problem? She has to get through the zombie apocalypse to do it. A Colonel in the U.S. Army, Steven Bennett represents the last best hope for his daughter, Nicole, but they don’t speak to each other much, and when they do, feelings get hurt. When the dead started rising and eating the living, her father called from his secure military compound buried deep in a mountain in
Colorado and urged her to come to him. Now Nicole Bennett must try to remember some of the things her father taught her if she is to make it. Though not her first choice, along the way she gathers a rag-tag group of survivors and together they battle across the Deadlands, formally known as the United States of America.

I picked this topic because I love Zombies. I love stories  set in the Zombie Apocalypse. I figured with ebooks and zero gatekeepers, I could write and do anything I wanted. I didn’t
have to worry about what genres were hot (turns out zombies are hot right now, so luck was on my side with that), or would the story be too big, or did it run too long. I could do anything I wanted so I said to myself, “I want to do zombies”.

If you’ve already published your first ebook, without giving
any figures, how well did your first ebook sell?

Well, this is what blew me away and convinced me that I was where I needed to be. My original goal was a single tank of gas. That is how much I hoped to make on my first release. I figured if I could fill up my gas tank one time with the money I made off of
my first ebook, that would be really something. I drive a Honda Civic so you can see that my goal was a meager one. Sales remain steady, but have dropped off considerably after the first two months. My book was at number one, or two in the Hot New Release list for Dark Fantasy/Horror on Amazon for two of the four weeks it was considered a new release. I made it to number seven on the Dark Fantasy/Horror list and something like in the top twenty for Science Fiction/Dystopian in those first couple of months. I
sold a ton more books than I ever thought I would…ever. It was really an amazing two months.

If you could do one thing differently, what would it be?

Start writing ebooks in 2009 instead of 2013. Hey, all I need is a time machine, right? I could not afford an editor, could not afford a cover designer, could not afford to pay for advertising, so I guess if I had a disposable income I might consider doing some of those things, except I like my cover, even with paying big bucks for an editor there WILL STILL BE mistakes. I understand pacing, characterization, and structure pretty well, so an editor might tell me something different but perhaps not better. I might someday pay for advertising but that is doubtful or at least I will be highly selective. So, yeah, the only thing
I wish I had done differently is to have stopped beating my head against the wall sooner and started writing ebooks quicker.

Did you outsource any of the work on your ebook, such as the
editing or cover design? If so, what?

I outsourced nothing. I could not afford it. Can’t afford it now as all the money I made on my first book has gone either back into savings or into a bill collector’s hands. I scrubbed the manuscript the best I could, had beta readers do the same. I watched reviews very carefully and corrected any mistakes that some of the better reviewers caught. I downloaded a 3D graphic arts program called DAZ 3D. They give you the software for free
then sell you the graphic modules. I think my cover cost me fifty bucks to put together. I love DAZ because you can create stunning images totally customized. I am only limited in that regard by the memory capacity of my aging laptop. A new computer is on the wishlist and with that my covers hopefully will get better and better.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to someone
who wants to write an eBook?

DO IT! DO IT TODAY! DO IT NOW!

Beyond that, be patient. Be very patient. Even with my explosive sales the first two months, things have dropped off considerably. I expect them to pick up again when I write more books in the series, but guess what – writing takes time. DON’T RUSH IT! Enjoy the ride and the process. Enjoy your stories and characters and make sure you are writing the best stuff you can and when you have, make it better. Not to brag, but even with some typos, I got a pass from reviewers because they said they loved the story and the characters. Now, I have fixed those typos, but if you can create a compelling story with interesting characters the reader can care about and love, you will be fine.

Don’t shirk the mechanics of story. Know three act structure and where the catalyst should be. Know what it means to set up the character’s ordinary world before you rock that  world with the catalyst. Understand why the character should be brought low at
the end of the second act and why, when he or she does rise to the challenges of the third act the audience should be cheering. I could go on and on but those are the biggest things that helped me and the things I think can help others.

On a personal note, I would like to thank you, Erica for this opportunity. It was a lot of fun. I wish you great success in all that you do.

 

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