About a month ago, I surveyed my newsletter subscribers. I left a space at the bottom for questions…and I got some good ones!
Thing was, the survey was anonymous, so I couldn’t reply directly to the questions. Therefore, I’m going to answer them here. I hope you find them as interesting as I did.
1. Which is your favorite book you’ve written? Which is your favorite book you’ve read?
My favorite book I’ve written is Eggs for the Ageless, though that might be recency bias. Four years ago I would’ve said Monsters at Dusk, and a year before that I would’ve said Gerald Barkley Rocks (though at that point, GBR would’ve been my only book). I suspect the answer will be The Contents of This Book Are Flammable when it drops later this year. But we’ll go with Eggs for now.
My favorite book I’ve read is Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. His use of ancient belief to explain modern America (and it still feels modern) is masterful. Plus it’s just good fun.
2. What makes you like dystopian stories?
I actually find them oddly comforting. I’ve only written a couple (The Post-Apocalyptic Independent Author and a planned novel called Remembering the End), yet they always make me feel better about the present. People have problems, I think, but people with problems are better than no people at all.
3. What project are you most excited about at the moment?
Probably the aforementioned The Contents of This Book Are Flammable. I’m currently sprucing it up for my developmental editor, who’s going to ensure it’s readable.
Other than that, I’m jazzed about a short story I just finished. Its working title is “Leyton Family Group Chat,”and it’s told almost exclusively through text messages and phone screens. Oh, and also, I wrote a poem about taking my cats to the vet. I found it much funnier than they did.
4. When is your next book coming out?
Flammable arrives in late 2023, probably the fall. I don’t have an exact date just yet, but when I do, I’ll be sure to share it with you.
5. Could you share with me how to get my just-published fiction book (yes, by a “vanity press”) reviewed?
Congratulations on the new book! Everybody wants to write one, but few people put forth the effort to do it. Well done!
Depends on what sort of reviews you’re looking for. If you’d like reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and the like, I’d recommend Voracious Readers Only. It’s a service that connects writers and readers; the former sends review copies and the latter leaves honest reviews.
If you’re looking for reviews in big publications, that’s a tougher challenge. They’re usually reviewing stuff from major publishers, so unless you’re represented by an agent, you’re unlikely to be featured. Some notable places, such as Kirkus, offer an option for indies (I can personally attest to this since I did it for Eggs). Though it lends name-brand recognition to your book, the review is expensive, and of course, paying for the review doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a good one. If you want to know what they look like, here’s their review of Eggs.
Hope that helps!
6. What was your inspiration when you began writing?
Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
When I was a kid, I think these were the only movies I ever watched. When I woke up in the morning before school, I’d pop the extended editions into the DVD player and skip to the battle scenes. (I enjoyed the rest, too, but the battles were my favorite.) I was fascinated by the multiplicity of narrative, the detail of the worldbuilding, and the constant sense that I was not on Earth anymore. I strove to do the same.
Thing was, being a child in upstate New York, I didn’t have a cast, crew, production company, or visual effects team at my disposal. I figured writing was the next best thing.
7. Do you have any pets?
Oh yeah. Three of ’em. One’s a nice orange cat named Soley, one’s a sassy gray cat named Loon, and one’s a crazy Springer Spaniel named Osi. Fun fact: Osi celebrated her third birthday two days ago. Here’s a pic of the power trio:
8. Do you put the blurb in the metadata of your ePubs?
This is a pretty inside-baseball question, and one I have trouble answering. Metadata is digital book information visible to online searches. To my understanding, this task has become more or less fully automated by sites like Amazon. As long as you have a blurb, that blurb should appear in the book’s metadata.
To be honest, though, I get a little worried when writers ask questions like this, because metadata and optimized blurbs don’t sell books. Quality does. As a community, I think us indie authors spend too much time talking marketing and too little time talking craft. That’s not to say the former is unimportant—I’d be naive to suggest that. Yet still, the best form of marketing remains word-of-mouth, and you can only get that by writing a great book.
9. What is your writing/plotting schedule for ideas turned into novels?
To borrow a term from middle school math class, my approach to writing is guess and check. I guess about what would work, then I check to see if it does.
Usually it doesn’t, so I keep guessing until a get the right answer. Some might call this discovery writing, or pantsing (as in flying by the seat of one’s pants). Basically, I go in with a handful of ideas and see where they take me.
It’s a precarious process, because sometimes my guesses take me nowhere interesting. Or sometimes I realize I should shelve a project for later. Whatever the case may be, I’d rather not work from an outline—I’ve tried that before, and it always seems to squelch my enthusiasm.
That’s All for Now
Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions, I’m always available by email at email@example.com. Until next time…
Kyle A. Massa is a comic fantasy author living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His published works include three books and several short stories. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, running, and drinking coffee.
Originally published at https://kyleamassa.com on March 7, 2023.