(Shadows of the Sentinel. Just published today. Check it out on Amazon!)
Martin Wilsey is living the dream. He is a self-published author who was able to sell enough of his books to quit his day job and focus exclusively on writing. But I will warn people that this path isn’t easy. Not everyone who throws a kindle book on Amazon can make a living off of it. Most won’t. The average self-published book sells under 250 copies and 25% of all authors surveyed earned $0 in book-related income. (Medium)
So how to make it work? I decided to find that out by interviewing Martin Wilsey himself.
JBJ: How did you get into writing science fiction?
MW: It is an odd path. I always loved reading SciFi and Fantasy. I read about a hundred books a year and always wanted to write one myself. Over the decades, starting in the early 80s, I tried several times. I was not trained in writing. I took a couple of creative writing courses from teachers that hated SciFi. I always sucked at spelling and grammar, so in the early days, I was discouraged at every turn. I sucked at spelling, but was I was great at computers.
I started blogging in 1994. That got me writing every day. I was enjoying it. And as computers got smarter, tools for spelling and grammar got better. I got better. I still didn’t know what I was doing yet. I’d start one thing and get distracted by another idea and never finished anything. I was in a classic cycle of writer self-sabotage.
They out of the blue, my brother suddenly died at age 52.
There were six siblings in my family, and my brother Eric was 4 of 6. I was 5 of 6. It was a complete kick in the gut. He was the first of us. It really made me assess my entire life. It made me realize that I could go at any time. It made me look at what I wanted to get done before I shed my mortal coil.
The same month Eric died, I managed to get a severe spine injury. It left me unable to do much of anything. I went through Prime and Netflix faster than I thought possible, and to stay sane, I started writing every day.
I was lucky that I had gotten to know a couple of authors that gave me excellent advice. Next thing I knew, I had a novel. STILL FALLING. To my great surprise, it hit number 1 in the Hard Science Fiction category.
I never stopped writing. I have published projects about every six months since then.
JBJ: Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
MW: My decision to go the self-publishing route was easy. I submitted my novel to several agents, and their suggestions for changes were horrible. Deals offered were worse. I wanted to retain full rights to my stories. Createspace was already running, and it looked like a far better option for me. 70% royalty sounded way better than the 13% offered by traditional routes. I also had the power of not caring about the money. I had a great career and an even better salary as a research scientist. So on March 31, 2015, I self-published STILL FALLING.
Less than three years later, I was able to quit my day job and write full time. I got to retire eight years ahead of schedule at 57 years old.
JBJ: What is the most difficult thing about self-publishing?
MW: As an Indie-Author, it’s all on you. There are hundreds of things to learn that have nothing to do with writing. It’s a lot of work. All the jobs are your job. I think the hardest job, the farthest from writing, is Marketing. The Marketing aspect still evades me. It turns out the best marketing is to keep writing.
JBJ: What is the best thing about self-publishing?
MW: You are the Boss. Everyone works for you. You get to decide EVERYTHING. This is awesome if you are a control freak like me.
There are lots of people that work for me now: Accounts, Lawyers, Editors, Illustrators, Cover Designers, Web Designers, PR People, Audio Producers, Narrators, Interns, Translators, Beta Readers, and more.
Managing it all is a lot of work, but I love it. I get to keep my Intellectual Property, and I receive the maximum percentage of the royalties.
JBJ: What is your advice for other authors who want to self-publish?
MW: Finish things. Don’t work on more than one thing at a time. Finish all the way before moving to the next project. Otherwise, you will never finish anything. It’s the most common sort of self-sabotage.
Pay for an Editor. It’s an investment, not an expense. The best story in the world will not sell and get bad reviews if the editing is not up to par.
Pay for a great cover. People DO judge books by their cover. A cover must be professional, genre-appropriate, and easy to read as a thumbnail in Amazon.
JBJ: What books have been the most inspirational to you in your work?
MW: I have been profoundly inspired by Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Simon Hawke, JRR Tolkien, and other classic SciFi.
The books I like the most about the craft are ON WRITING by Stephen King and SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL by Jessica Brody.
JBJ: Would you like to share anything about your most recently published work, Shadows of the Sentinel?
MW: SHADOWS OF THE SENTINEL is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the Solstice 31 universe. It’s a companion book to VIRTUES OF THE VICIOUS. The novel is available now in Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and on October 1, the Audio edition is scheduled for release. For more information, check out the links below.
JBJ: By the way, how is your cat?
MW: Great! Excellent!
SHADOWS OF THE SENTINEL
However did it come to this? Cobb wanted a simple life. He wanted excellent steaks, great coffee, friends, and a quiet place to restore his favorite ship. Working for a recovery operation turned out to be the best place to find parts cheap. She had other plans for him. He wanted the staff of the deep space salvage ship, OXCART, to treat him just like another member of the crew. Not the man he really was. Light-years from Earth, he thought his secrets, his past, wouldn’t matter. Especially not to her. When that past leads them to the SENTINEL, like it or not, the biggest single salvage of all time will change everything. Some secrets are so big, they can start a war. Or stop one. Or remain too big to explain when the timing could not be worse. And it was all the damn cat’s fault.
Buy it off Amazon.
MARTIN WILSEY’S LINKS
Martin Wilsey Official Website
Free Short Story on Audio