Author Interview, Paul H. LeSage, Tales of Dorias
Like many authors, Paul H. LeSage has learned to steal writing time when he can get it while living life. His advice? Write with your heart, no matter your genre.
List the titles of your published books (include publisher and year published) plus your author website/Facebook page links.
Tales of Dorias Book 1: Kahlen's Burden Dorrance Publishing March 2017
When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from? Include the synopsis. I began writing the book back in November, 2014. I was desperate to find a way out of retail (still in it lol) and I originally was trying to write a comic but I found out that long form writing was really fun. Kahlen's Burden takes us to the continent of Dorias where we follow our earnest, would-be hero, Kahlen Bowsprit as he unwittingly fulfills his role in an ancient prophecy.
What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome? The hardest part of writing this book was not having the support of my then wife. Not having her support meant that I had to steal time to write in order to avoid constant bickering. That meant many late nights after she and our sons went to bed.
Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do? When I finished writing the book in January, 2016 I tried to find friends and family willing to read it. Unfortunately, there was so much going on in the lives closest to me that I had to bite the bullet and just send it out as it was to as many publishers as I could afford to make copies for.
What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience? I actually loved the editing process. It was the first time that I had honest feedback. Actually, it was the first feedback, period! The editor was able to identify where I misused tense and was able to help me understand the passages that confused the reader or was completely unnecessary.
Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing? The re-writes were a little more nerve wracking as I had real timelines and as a father of four boys and working 60+ hours per week caused quite a bit of stress. I didn't mind making the recommended changes from my editor because I wanted my readers to follow and enjoy the story first and foremost. As much as I loved my characters I wasn't afraid to cut out or change them to make the narrative work!
Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that? As I mentioned above, I didn't have anyone who could read it for feedback.
Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design? The cover art was assigned to an in house artist at Dorrance who used a two page description I submitted months earlier to create three cover variations. I chose the one that captured my description most closely. While not important, it was gratifying and it gave me hope that I was going to see my book published.
How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience? I chose Dorrance after engaging in discussions with seven potential publishers. I was pleased with their level of support and quite frankly, they offered the highest rate of return for print and ebooks. Don't get me wrong, I have no delusions regarding potential success but their offer included a full world wide release and that was truly exciting!
How have you marketed your first book? Dorrance put $3,000 into marketing the book including press releases to five hundred media outlets. Another thirty five bookstores in the state of Massachusetts received color leaflets to encourage the merchants to carry my book while fifty media/press/book review companies received print copies for review. Aside from that, I held two official signings at Barnes & Noble and I always have a box of twenty four books in my trunk in case an impromptu sales opportunity arises. (Late nights in local breweries tend to lead to sales...I wonder why? Lol)
How was the initial feedback from readers? The initial feedback was surprisingly positive. The first documented purchase was from Scandinavia and that was awesome. The only negative feedback was that at 268 pages it was a little shorter than expected. As the first book in a series (hopefully) I wanted to make sure that I set the foundation for everything to come without writing "filler".
How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books? Sales have been solid and truthfully, I don't expect to make much money but the fact that there have been international sales to go with domestic sales gives me the courage to write the second book. My official book signings at Barnes & Noble resulted in over one hundred books sold but the ability to order from Amazon Google, Apple as well as Dorrance bookstore.com has been the most effective way to reach my audience.
Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other? As for print vs ebooks; I make more money from print $6.40 vs $4.80 from ebooks for each unit sold but digital reaches a wider audience so that's the most important sales category.
Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them? The prices were agreed upon after the final editing process reduced my page total from 340 to 268. Since I wanted to avoid exorbitant hard cover pricing we agreed to move ahead with soft cover and digital only. There was discussion of pricing ranging as low as $14 up to $21 for print and we finally agreed to a $16.99 price point. Digital pricing is really at the control of the retailer so right now it sells for $11.99 through most sites.
What made you decide to write more books? How were those experiences (writing/editing) compared with your first book? Did you do anything differently? I am far more comfortable writing the second installment of the series but I face separate challenges now that I'm divorced and working a job that requires constant traveling. I am confident that I will complete this manuscript by early spring and this time I plan on delivering over 450 pages which is both exciting and daunting.
Anything different in the publishing process for your other books? As of yet, I haven't been able to identify if my original agreement truly paid off yet. Also, I have recently been contacted by two other publishers that are interested in my story so I may be in a position to have even more impact in the process!
When did you consider yourself a "writer"? I had two "eureka" moments that made me feel like a writer. The first event was when I was contacted by a retailer in Scandinavia that ordered a dozen copies of my book and it was really cool moment. The second time happened when I was working my primary job out of state and a customer was talking with me and recognized my name from my business card and told me that he ordered a book written by a Paul LeSage that Amazon recommended. That was a great moment!
When do you write? What motivates you to write? I like to write when I'm in a positive frame of mind because I enjoy using dry wit and playful sarcasm and if I'm having an off day I tend to write a little more darkly and with a little more cynicism which doesn't fit this series. When I'm in a funky mood I try to write a different story that I hope to turn into a graphic novel but that's a story for another time.
What do aspiring authors ask you? I have had two aspiring writers pick my brain in the last few months and the common thread is asking how I maintained continuity of story since I love using "flashbacks" and with this being the first in a series of intertwined books how do I remember who does what and when from chapter to chapter let alone from book to book. I told them both that what works for me is creating a physical map that I stick up right above my writing desk and I have separate "trees" that connect each character to one another for each timeline. I also use handwritten notes to create a skeleton for each chapter in advance.
What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing? First of all, to anyone who has a dream and a willingness to write and expose your thoughts for everyone to read I applaud you. I also would tell each author that you must write in a manner that brings self satisfaction. Regardless of genres, write from your heart and edit with your mind. Be willing to listen to others during the process and know the difference between constructive editing and creative difference. Don't be afraid to send out your manuscript to any and all publishers, just make sure to follow submission guidelines so that your time isn't wasted. Be ready to help drive your own sales with signings and readings because the person you reach today may be inspired to write tomorrow. Most importantly though, have fun and be proud of your accomplishment! Best of luck to you all!!