Today on my blog I am joined by debut fantasy author K.R.R. Lockhaven.
K.R.R. (Kyle Robert Redundant) Lockhaven used to love writing as a kid. Starting at about ten years old, he wrote about anything from dragons to sentient jellybeans. Somewhere along the line, he lost that love. But now as a firefighter, husband, and father of two sons, he found it again. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find the really good stuff from back then. So this adult-written shit will have to do.
Kyle is a huge proponent of summer camps for burn survivor kids. One dollar from every book he ever sells will go to the Washington State Council of Firefighters Burn Foundation, sponsors of Camp Eyabsut. For more info, or to donate money or time, go to www.campeyabsut.org
Hi Kyle, welcome to my blog. What made you decide to publish your book independently?
I decided to publish my book independently because it didn’t fit into any preconceived notions of what was deemed “publishable” by traditional publishers. When your book is a humorous fantasy, with a relatively small target audience, you don’t exactly have agents knocking down your door. I know–well, I feel in my heart, anyway–that there is an audience out there for my book. I think that certain people are going to love it, and the early reviews are bearing that out. But finding that somewhat niche audience and getting my book into their hands is not something that interests traditional publishers.
What do you see as are the main benefits of being an indie author?
I think the biggest benefit of publishing independently is the freedom you have. For instance, I got to find an artist that I loved and have a cover of my book made exactly how I wanted it. A traditional publisher may not have gone for a cover with a dragon and a taco truck on top of the Space Needle, but I love it. I also commissioned some propaganda-type posters for the inside of the book, which turned out great. In those processes, I got to be like a director, shaping everything about the book into a finished product that I feel great about. It’s entirely probable that someone directing those things at a traditional publishing house would create something that would generate more sales, but there’s a warm sense of ownership (for whatever that’s worth) in the way I was able to do it.
It is a great cover, I’m glad you stuck to your guns with it! What challenges do indie authors face?
Publishing independently is also very challenging. The toughest part, for me, is finding that audience I know is out there. Marketing and building an online presence are not things that I am very good at, try as I might. Shameless self-promotion does not come natural to me, even though I know it is so important for someone publishing independently. There is a Catch-22 aspect to finding an audience, too. It’s hard to build an audience without having a well-known book, but it’s hard to have a well-known book without having an audience. I know that many independent authors have found many creative ways around this, and I’m hoping that I can find mine.
The other challenging aspect is the money involved. I was lucky with the publishing of my book, as my wife (an absolute saint) and I were able to make my dream become a reality through some creative financial gymnastics. But unfortunately, not everyone is able to do that. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on this project. When you have editing, cover art, printing, marketing, reviews, audiobook creation, and all the little unexpected costs, it can add up fast! I know I’ll likely never recover that money through my book sales, but you never know… Hope springs eternal in my naive heart.
That is certainly something to bear in mind for aspiring authors – I hope you find your audience and recoup as much money as possible! What advice would you give to aspiring indie authors?
I don’t think I’m in much of a position to give advice just yet, as I’m still in the early phases of this journey. I’ve basically just assembled my eclectic mix of traveling companions (an elf, a dwarf or two, maybe a Smurf?). We’re about to set off on a perilous journey, in which success is far from guaranteed. If I make it back alive, I’d love to offer my hard-won wisdom to anyone willing to hear it. Until then, I can only offer regards and well wishes to everyone out there undertaking similar quests.
Fair enough, I understand Smurfs make great traveling companions! What have you learned so far from being an indie author?
I have learned a lot through this process. The first thing that comes to mind is that I learned about the existence of the writing community. There are a ton of great authors, reviewers, bloggers, podcasters, and all kinds of bookish people out there in the world, and most of them are truly interested in lifting each other up, which is so nice to see. It’s great to interact with people who love books as much as I do, too. After interacting through Twitter, my book made its podcast debut on the Fiction Fans Podcast, who were nice enough to take a chance on an aspiring author.
I’ve also learned that reviews seem to be everything, more or less. Finding people to review your book should be one of the top priorities for any aspiring author. I used a site called BookSirens to try and find ARC readers, with very limited success. But I know that things like that have worked well for other authors. I was able to pay for a Kirkus review, and, even though it still doesn’t seem quite real to me, my book earned a starred review. I don’t yet know what that’s going to mean as far as book sales, though. I’m trying to get the word out as much as I can, even managing to shamelessly work it into an answer on this very interview 🙂
What can we look forward to seeing from in 2021?
My book, The Conjuring of Zoth-Avarex: The Self-Proclaimed Greatest Dragon in the Multiverse, made its debut on April 1st, 2021! It is now available on all of the major online retailers in paperback, ebook, and even audiobook form (the audiobook was so fun to make! The narrator, Jay Spaulding did a fantastic job bringing my story to life!).
Thank you for joining me today, Kyle, and I wish you lots of luck with The Conjuring of Zoth-Averex: The Self-Proclaimed Greatest Dragon in the Multiverse and any future projects you may have!
The Conjuring of Zoth-Avarex
Kept hidden by the United States government for decades, the Site is a place where magic is real. But that doesn’t mean that everything happening there is sparkly. Soul-sucking policies and layers of stifling bureaucracy threaten to take all the fun out of magic.
Harris, a newbie Conjurer, starts his first day of work at the Site bursting with excitement: he’s been brought on for an extremely big project happening the very next day. In a triumph over its habitual inefficiency, the Site manages to carry out its plan and conjure an actual dragon to be used by the military.
The dragon (Zoth-Avarex, the self-proclaimed greatest dragon in the multiverse) immediately eats the person next to him, snatches a “princess” from the ranks of the Conjuring Department, and flies away to the Space Needle. There he manipulates the media, outwits the Site’s bumbling management, demands sixty-three billion dollars’ worth of treasure (because Smaug was said to have had sixty-two billion in his hoard), threatens to destroy the city–and installs a couple of food trucks.
While this book skewers the same fantasy genre it gleefully inhabits, it also pokes fun at corporate culture, today’s obsession with wealth and celebrity, and our denial that life is anything more than meets the eye. Hapless Harris, believing in magic all along, learns to apply what he’s picked up between the pages of fantasy literature.
Buy The Conjuring of Zoth-Avarex here:
Who’s next on Indie Spotlight?
Lyra Wolf is a Swiss-American author of fantasy and expert character tormentor.
Originally from Indiana, home to a billion corn mazes, she now lives in Central Florida, home to a billion mosquitoes. She loves Mozart, traveling, theme parks, and raising procrastination to a fine art.
When Lyra isn’t fulfilling the wishes of her overly demanding Chihuahua, you can find her writing about other worlds and the complicated people who live there.
Lyra has earned a B.A. in History and M.A. in English.