I've been writing “on purpose” for 17 years.
It seems you’ve written quite a bit during that time. What inspired you to write your first book?
Some great friends I met through Toastmasters noticed I was doing a lot of speeches that were motivational in nature. They liked the content and knew I wrote out my speeches to help me prepare my delivery, so they suggested I should write a book. It turned out they knew what they were talking about; I had enough material already written that it was just a matter of organizing it and editing it until I just couldn't do it anymore. In 1994, after a year of working on it, I published How To Get What You Want From Life. I netted $11,000 in the first year, selling locally. The book has continued to sell as a back listed item: total earnings to date are approximately $20,625, net.
Tell us a little about Chase Enterprises Publishing.
How did you get your start in publishing? When I was 18 or 20, I sent a poem to the “Fiddlehead,” a literary magazine on the East Coast of Canada. They returned a rejection slip with the following scrawled upon it: “Wonderful imagery, if a bit wordy.” I didn't like the way the whole rejection thing made me feel. Also, writing was so damned hard, I just stopped trying. But when the time came to publish my first book, some 16 years later, I remembered that feeling from so long ago. So, I took a bag full of skills I had garnered working in the newspaper industry, put together a camera ready book block and sent it to a printer (there was no POD back then, so you had to set up pages the way an offset press operated at that time: 1, 312, 2, 311, 3, 310, etc.—setting headers and page numbers was a complete nightmare. Anyway, I got it done and have been self-publishing ever since. My company, Chase Enterprises, created that same year, had and still has two main functions: first, it's an umbrella under which I have conducted several business concerns, including my new imprint, Chase Enterprises Publishing; second, the company name, derived from my firstborn's middle name, symbolizes all the dreams my clients and I pursue (chase) on this journey we call life.
It sounds like you are able to do things you are really passionate about through Chase Enterprises. Does that give you any time for leisure reading? What genres do you most enjoy reading these days? What makes a particular work stand out for you?
That's a hard question to answer. I'm Editor-in-Chief at The Deepening, with 6 blogs and an editorial column to oversee. Each blog requires reading in different genres or different styles/levels of reading. The most popular blog is Horror, consequently I read more horror than anything else. This is a nice fit as I enjoy horror a lot. But... since I don't get to choose what I read--most of the time, on those rare days when I can pick up one of “my own books,” I've found myself turning to a couple of authors who write fantastic historical novels, a genre I've barely touched. These authors are Jack Whyte, who has given us an Arthurian history so believable I have a hard time remembering it's just fiction; and Diana Gabaldon, who's writing is so captivating that her series about a Scottish warrior (1743) and a time traveling, modern-day woman (1946) is cherished the world 'round.
What, in your opinion as a reader, writer, and editor makes a work not only good, but great? What turns you off?
The deeper an author can pull you into the story, the more real the characters and the world they inhabit become, and (usually) the less apparent the author is to the reader, the better a book is.
A great book does all, or some, of these things but also reaches you on such an emotional level that it impacts your world, sometimes to the extent that it changes you. Well known, modern books that come to mind for me are Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull (it was a phenomenon in the '70s), Richard Bach's Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (affected me big time) and Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (Only due to the fact that the story of her hero, Howard Roark, has been burnt into the minds of so many individualists, myself included). But you can ask any avid reader, and you'll find that each has at least one book that has affected them on a deep emotional level; a great book will receive multiple mentions over the years I'm turned off when the author does something that suddenly kicks me out of the story, that disturbs the dream, that ruins the illusion...
Who do you consider to be your most notable writing influences?
Because I write (or will write—it's been my unspoken goal) in all the major genres, I have an eclectic group of writers who have influenced my writing: Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Frank Bettger, Og Mandino, Damon Knight, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Alistair MacLean, Hammond Innes, Louis L'Amour, John D. MacDonald, Robert Frost, Robert Burns, F. Scott Fizgerald, Alice Munro, Stephen King and Robert McCammon are the most notable to date.
Do you have anything special you do to put yourself in the writing/editing mood?
As I write in a conversational manner, and because it catches all sorts of errors, I always read aloud when editing. It also gets me going, keeps me going and helps to hold the outside world at bay.
How long does it take you to write/edit a story from first sentence to ready for submission?
I have only recently begun to work the short story field, so I really can't say. As for book length works? It varies a lot, but out of the 9 books I've written one year has repeatedly shown up as the period required. 9 months to write, 3 months to edit; 3 months to write, 9 months to edit; 2 weeks to write; a year to edit; and one month installments, sold as a one year subscription, edited as I went and sold as a book when done; the former example occurred twice (different projects).
And then comes the fun part—selling your work. What tools/social media do you use to market your books?
I subscribe to the Ninja way of marketing: when you find something that works, take it, make it your own and practice it until you become proficient in its use. For me, the list I have used effectively, now and/or in the past, is as follows: in person, in bookstores where the owner gives me a prominent position and also talks up the book, in person at public events, by telephone, by mail, by email, through distributors, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linked-in, MySpace (although I've pretty much dropped it, as the company has made it user unfriendly), my own website, my virtual store, targeted advertising (radio, newspaper, flyers, sponsored blog ads, submitting my main website to hundreds of search engines repeatedly at six month intervals), spreading my name across the internet in any business-like way I can, building a name as a reviewer who now attracts submissions from small to large publishers, teaching at high schools and colleges, holding seminars and utilizing back-of-the-room selling, recommendations, testimonials, Authonomy participation and the collection of all comments made about specific books, reviews of my books, radio interviews, newspaper interviews, internet interviews (mostly on blogs), submitting short stories and poems to magazines—online and offline, I was asked to submit my fantasy novel, The Sorcerer's Key, for consideration as a movie, the result of networking, providing local students with my book, How To Get What You Want For Life, as they entered middle school, the same book is used as a course outline in one of our local high schools. I'm getting a headache, so I'll stop now. I'm sure your readers will have gotten the point.
Tell us a little about Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road.
Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road is the first book I have published for someone else. It's actually a marketing project thought up by Sassy Brit, the owner of the promotional website, Alternative-Read.com (AR). Sassy has a core group of “affiliate authors” who are mainstream users of, and/or contributors to, her website, and she wanted to do something special for them. She tossed out the idea of an Anthology featuring “affiliate authors” to the bunch of us one day, just as I had been thinking of when I was going to make the jump from writer and editor to publisher. I put up my hand, so to speak, and the pair of us dove in. We didn't get all of our affiliates, so I brought in some authors with looser association to AR. I think they rounded out the group nicely. Sassy and I decided to give our authors a challenge to come up with something that would give the reader a different kind of experience than what they're getting now. An Alternative Read, if you stop to think about it. Then we tossed ideas around a lot until we came up with a title, subtitle and back cover headline. Here's all three in sentence form... Introducing: Writers on the wrong side of the road. These are the most dangerous rule-wreckers from Alternative-Read.com. So, we decided to take away the rules and let them write whatever they liked. Read the book to find out what we got.
No doubt the result is a broad and interesting array of stories. What would you say are the biggest challenges in working with such an eclectic group of authors?
The authors involved in the AR project are all professionals. There were no challenges at all until we came to the final proof—a printed copy of the book. And the challenge was actually with me. After the author's submitted the final copy of their story and I had paid them the contractual amount, I was done with them, so to speak. Well, it seems that traditional publishers allow the authors a look at the finished product, before it goes to print. When they realized this wasn't going to happen, I had a mutiny on my hands. So, in the end, I allowed a final proofread by the authors, then resubmitted the manuscript. I wish all projects went so smoothly.
Bonus question: If your writing/publishing were to take off and overnight you found yourself filthy rich, what charity would you consider most befitting of your donations, and why?
1 in 3 people will get cancer; the statistic for death from a heart attack or stroke is about 1 in 4; and worldwide there are more than 30 million people infected with HIV and AIDS. I could go on and on. There are countless charities and research projects that need money. But my approach to charity has always been to help people in my own community who, through no fault of their own, need financial help and who aren't receiving it elsewhere. I don't see why this would change if I became “filthy rich.”
Thanks so much for stopping by today, and the best of luck with your upcoming anthology, Mr. Bye!
See my review for Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road. Click here for more about Clayton Bye’s books.