[From an interview with David Allen Binder, 2012 or thereabouts.]
What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
To write every day. Even if it’s only a sentence a day, that is one more sentence than you had the day before. By the end of the month you might have a chapter and by the end of the year a book, but the only way you’ll have either is to write every day.
Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
E-books are where the money is, unless you’re a perennial blockbuster who hits the list every time. They can live on their advances. Those authors a rung down like myself can’t, and so more of us are turning to self-publishing. It’s an economic decision, nothing more. Unless and until publishers see their way clear to sharing the wealth more equitably, the migration of midlisters from traditional publishing to self publishing will continue.
Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
There is no magic button or secret handshake. Write a good book. A good book will get published, and more importantly a good book will sell more books by that author. Mickey Spillane said, “The first line sells the rest of the book. The last line sells the next book.” What he said.
How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
If you traditionally publish, you definitely need an agent. Find one at writers conferences or here, http://aaronline.org/. Do. not. EVER. agree to pay a fee upfront. Agents earn their commission on the money you make, that’s when they get paid.
If you self-publish, you don’t need an agent, you need an editor. Go to writers conferences, as they always import agents and editors to be on panels. Join a writers organization (I recommend SinC and the Authors Guild) and talk to other indie writers for recommendations. Many editors at traditional houses are so underpaid they edit freelance.
Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers?
Finish your book. The last time I saw one of the best writers I ever met he was still rewriting his first four chapters. You can always rewrite, and you definitely should, but first you have to finish.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
How insane the business model is. When I saw my first royalty statement it showed only 80+ books sold out of every hundred printed. I called my editor in a panic and she told me that was an excellent sell-through percentage, that they would have been happy with a 50 percent sell-through, as in 50 books sold for every 100 printed. I had to have her explain it to me a second time before I really believed it. All I can say is that when I worked for BP on Alaska’s North Slope, we never ever pumped 100 barrels of oil in anticipation of selling only 50. When I worked for Whitney-Fidalgo Seafoods to put myself through college, we never ever canned 100,000 cases of salmon in anticipation of selling only 50,000. This is just nuts, and comes from an archaic business model in serious need of revision to more sensibly reflect modern realities, not least of which is the consumption of trees.
Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer?
Rewrite. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Rewriting is your friend.
Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Follow the news. Fact provides better plot twists than fiction any day.
What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Social media, as in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the Danamaniacs, but mostly through a newsletter, the Roadhouse Report. It is by far and away the best means of getting the news of a new book out there.
What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I wouldn’t have killed off Abel at the end of the first Kate Shugak novel if I’d known there were going to be 21 of them, that’s for sure. I had to write in a new character, Old Sam, to take up that Alaska old fart slack.
What saying or mantra do you live by?
Tend to your loved ones first, even when you’re on deadline. There will always be another book. (Learned that one the hard way.)
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.