I met Daniel Otallini when he joined Heart Ally Books’ author list. I was immediately impressed and he was gracious enough to do an interview with me, but my publisher made me wait until she posted her interview first. And then she waited to post hers until his latest novella was finished and in full distribution. WHEW! So — at long last, the extremely overdue interview…with Daniel Ottalini.
Deleyna: What made you decide to go indie?
Daniel: I’m an impatient person! Honestly, I wanted to be done when I was done, not wait around for submission letters to be reviewed. Also, with all the new ebook technology, I figured I should give it a try. I had heard horror stories about traditional publishers, but I also liked having the control that being an indie provides.
Deleyna: Were there some hurdles that you struggled with?
Daniel: Price – when you’re an indie, the price can be a big challenge. Also, some review places won’t review a book if it is self-published. I tried my best, but the majority of my reviews came from people who bought the book on a whim or who I met by happenstance. Places like Goodreads can be a fantastic resource if you can use it wisely. I found my best beta-reader there after he gave me a three star review for my first novel. His critique was amazing, so I went back, and even he thinks that Copper Centurion is better!
Deleyna: What are your thoughts about print verses epub? I notice that you produce both. Do you find print has more challenges? Tell us about your choices regarding print — how do you make it affordable?
Daniel: Print has its challenges only because I have to pay additional in order to get the pdf formatted properly for print. That, plus the cover and back art, lead to a moderate increase in price. For Brass Legionnaire, I had the price set pretty low. Amazon lowered it a bit more, but my ‘cut’ through Createspace didn’t change much. When I put out Copper Centurion, the Price was initially five bucks higher, but someone lowballed it on B&N and knocked the price down to the point that, technically, I shouldn’t be receiving royalties from Createspace. That is the crux of the matter. I control the ebook copy entirely, whereas a print version can be available through different distributors, some of whom can drop the price in an attempt to price war with amazon.
Deleyna: You’ve been working through Kickstarter, something that has interested me for a while. Any words of wisdom after you’ve now launched two successful campaigns?
Daniel: Set your sights low, make rewards people want, and use your first kickstarter to help the second. Also, I would say it is easier (and better) to write a novel and publish it yourself, get some fans, then do a kickstarter for the second one. You’ll have a natural group of people willing to support you, especially if you point out that, with their help, the next one will be bigger and better. That’s how I worded mine. So far, each kickstarter has helped me pay roughly 2/3 to 1/2 of the costs of each book, depending on illustrations.
Deleyna: How long did it take before you felt like you’d “made it” as a “real” author?
Daniel: I think it will be more real to me when I start getting reviews from other websites, and not just on Amazon, Goodreads, and B&N. I just got my first review the other day (http://gnostalgia.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/review-copper-centurion/) and it blew me away that someone actually thought my book was good enough to review. Personally, I think I’ll have ‘made it’ when I can live on my self-published income alone, but until then I’m a work in progress!
Deleyna: Aren’t we all? What is your editing process?Daniel: I’m one of those people who likes to use pen and paper to outline the novel, then I’ll type it up. Generally after I finish up a novel, I’ll send it to two or three beta readers after going over it once or twice myself. I’m constantly rereading the entire novel while I type it up. After that, I send it to my editor, who is pricy, but well-worth it as she does both content and copyright editing (she also loves the book and storyline, so she has an almost better vision of the story than I do!)
I give it a few more passes once she’s done, then send it off to the formatter.
Deleyna: What words of advice do you have to encourage my readers?
Daniel: Take a chance! Even if it is just one indie or self-published or small published book a month, take a chance on something new. Resources like EPIC tend to find some diamonds in the rough, so to speak, so use them to help find books you may enjoy. Oh, and if you like it, leave a review! Nothing makes an author’s day like a good review of a book, even if it is just a few words of enjoyment and thanks for a good book.
Deleyna: If you could go back in time to the moment you first thought of self-publishing, and offer a word of advice to yourself (and others like you) what would it be?
Daniel: Find more beta readers and save some more money! I probably should have saved up more before publishing BL and had CC closer to being done so I didn’t go a year between releases. As it is, this year I aim to finish two short stories and Iron Tribune, Steam Empire Chronicles book #3, so I’ve got a tad bit on my plate (one already down though!)
Deleyna: Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks so much for having me, and keep an eye out for Antioch Burns, my new novella set in the world of the Steam Empire Chronicles.