This week we’re interviewing author RLB Hartmann, who answers to a variety of names, but we know her as LuciBuck. She writes what sort of seem to be westerns, but I’ll let her explain. So…
LuciBuck, thank you for letting us interview you at “Write Well, Write To Sell.”
(1) Tell us a little about yourself.
My life is scattered in bits and pieces across the Internet, which is an apt way to describe it since I’ve been interested in many subjects and have pursued most of them. Being a novelist is closest to who I am, though painting, reading, and writing shorter things have occupied much of my time.
(2) You recently decided to self-publish your work. Tell us why you went that route.
The best reason I can point to is that it finally became possible. In 2005 I put two wildly diverse titles through Lulu.com. They are no longer available, as I deleted those files. What one sees at Lulu now are from 2008. With the more ambitious saga, it seemed prudent to use Amazon’s CreateSpace, and I haven’t been disappointed.
(3) You’re also an artist. Did you design all of your own covers? Do you have any advice for self-publishers who choose to design their own covers?
Before I began making the covers, I had quite different images in my head, some going back to the inception of the first book. I plan to post those gradually on my Facebook page for Tierra del Oro. Present covers involve the generosity of photographers, whose credits appear inside the books.
If one intends ever to go e-book, my advice is to make the cover simple and eye-catching. When Lulu offered to make an e-book of my historical novel, I Rode with Cullen Baker, it evidently was rejected because the thumbnail of that cover doesn’t pop.
(4) In recent years, westerns have been tough or impossible sells to publishers. When our mom passed a few years ago, my sister and I were left with the task of disposing of nearly 4000 books she had collected and read over the years. During the garage sales my wife and I set up, quite a number of customers asked if we had any Westerns (which was one of the few genres my mom didn’t read). Given the claims from publishers that the genre is all but dead, how has your experience been with sales?
Westerns have been out of vogue since the era that saw “Hud” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”; however, Louis L’Amour and other writers of mass-market paperbacks, and nonfiction writers whose interests lie in the American West, have kept at it. Your yard sale example proves that people still want to read even formula westerns.
I’ve never classified any of my novels as “western.” Admittedly, Forty is the one most nearly like a western of the series; but it’s a character-based plot that contains conflict, intrigue, murder, and adventure. Aside from the title, the motif of the Mexican Colt (a gun, not a horse), the introduction of a mysterious treasure, and the fact that some of the characters did ride horses, it’s not what most people think of as “a western.”
(5) If I’m right, you’ve so far published five novels, but I notice that you’ve only released them in paperback. Is there some reason you haven’t made them available in e-book format?
Five of the nine Tierra del Oro novels are currently available. The Lulu title is not a part of the saga, but it can be purchased. I like paperbacks because some readers still prefer them. Having a collection on the shelf appeals to those of us who value the physical object over whatever conveniences e-readers might offer. And it’s hard to break a printed book.
(6) Given the growing market for e-books, do you have plans to release them in that format? If not, do you feel you might be missing a significant market for your books?
Perhaps I’m missing some of the market, but at the moment I have no plans to release the Cordero saga in e-book form. The venue is still way too volatile for my taste.
(7) You used to run an independent bookstore, correct? How do you feel about the changes in the bookselling world in the past few years and how have they affected you?
Everything has changed. For most sellers of new and used books, it’s been a disaster. For writers, it’s been what we’ve yearned for and are finally seeing happen. For readers, it’s Utopia. I happen to wear all those hats, so addressing the causes and results of the changes would take a while.
(8) What are your future publishing plans?
Finish bringing out the rest of “Tierra del Oro” by December of 2012. After that, who knows? I’m hoping to find time to paint and read more.
(9) Any advice you’d like to give to aspiring authors?
Each case is different, depending on what the writer’s intentions, expertise, and pocketbook can bring to the effort. The main thing I would advise anyone considering this method is to check online and eliminate all scam artists who charge a fortune or expect you to pay for hundreds of books upfront. That is no longer necessary.
Thanks again for joining us. We wish you much luck in your future endeavors.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work.
Please visit LuciBuck’s site