Author Brock Deskins

Write and Author is interviewing Brock Deskins, author of Amelia: Battle for Ardentia.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in rural Oregon. I joined the army at age 20 and, during my 15 year career, was a tank crewman, oral surgeon assistant, and senior computer systems analyst. When my career and marriage came to an abrupt end, I fell into a deep depression, but being the resilient type, I chose not to languish in my misery and began putting the shattered pieces of my existence back together. Part of the new me was to do something worthwhile with my life, something that would, perhaps for the first time in my life, bring me real joy. To find that that purpose was writing came as a bit of a surprise. I had never written anything to speak of before then and had little in the way of literary and grammar education. I had been an avid reader for the past two decades, and so I looked at how others wrote, not just dialogue and narrative, but grammatical structure.
I went back to college to pursue my degree in network administration (I really did not think this writing thing would lead to anything beyond a hobby.) I took a few writing courses to fill in some of the many gaps in my knowledge, but mostly I did my own research online, looking up writing tips anytime something did not sound right in my head.
I had 5 books in draft when I discovered Amazon’s relatively new KDP service. I polished them as best I could (which, honestly, wasn’t that good) and uploaded them. To my pleasant surprise, my Sorcerer’s Path series had good sales. By time I released the sixth book in the series, each new addition skyrocketed me into the highest sales ranks of my genre. Despite my many technical flaws, I told a good story and people enjoyed my work. Today, I have 16 books out with number 17 in editing right now.
My most recent work is Amelia: Battle for Ardentia. The story came to me three years ago immediately after my sister was diagnosed with cancer. I put off writing it for other commitments and uncertainty. It was not until I knew my sister would not recover that I bent my will to the novella and completed it, although a few days too late for my sister to read it. Amelia is a story about fighting spirit, suitable to a wide audience regardless of age or genre preference. I wrote an article about it here if you would like to read it.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?

The advantages are that anyone can get their work into the hands of readers without winning the “publishing lottery.” The Disadvantage is that anyone can get their work into the hands of readers. This has created an industry flood of work, some good, a lot bad. Everyone with a story and a computer now pumps out work, adding to an ever-growing pile from which to choose. The odds of your book being selected is now very low.

Self-publishing means you have to do ALL of the work yourself or hire it out to others. The biggest issue now, much more so than five years ago, is publicity. It’s fairly easy to hire a cover artist and editor, but figuring out how to get your book seen takes near divine intervention, or so it seems. 
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

It does now. I tried to make my own covers in the beginning, which were awful. Just dreadful. But because I started pretty early in the game (2009-2010) I still did surprisingly well. Once I hired a fantastic cover artist (Jeanine Henning) my sales doubled immediately.
How did you find an editor?

I don’t really remember. I think someone I knew on Facebook or talked to on an author’s forum recommended her. This is something I tried to do on my own as well. Several books in my Sorcerer’s Path series (still the only one making real money) is on its 5th and 6th edition due to how many times I read and edited them, often after a negative review commenting on a questionable story element and/or editing quality. I was nearly done with the series when I finally relented and accepted that I could not use cost as the excuse for not hiring an editor. My books had made more than enough money to pay for the expense. It was a huge mistake on my part not investing in myself and my work by hiring a proper editor.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

When I was trying (and failing) to self-edit, I had come back a year later to edit once more. Now that I have hired a competent editor, I release it and am done with it. If I find something that needs fixed or reworked I will make a change later on. I want to create the best story for my readers as I am able.

How do you market yourself and/or your books?   

This is something new for me. In the beginning, I didn’t have to. My Sorcerer’s Path series sold itself. Every release of a new title in the series was a major windfall for me and kick-started the previous books in the series for a few months. Now, I am on Twitter, Niume, and have recently created a really nice website for myself where I am write stories in a blog for people to read. I am seeking out sites like this in hopes of getting my name and my books noticed. It’s not something I’m good at. If I knew of a marketing company that would do the work for me and get even a slight return on the cost I would do it in a heartbeat. I just want to write, but that’s not possible anymore.

I use Amazon’s exclusive service to discount or give away free copies for a day or two. If a book is part of a series, that will usually result in increased sales and hopefully reviews.
What do you do to get book reviews?

That’s another one I haven’t figured out. I have joined some clubs that will read my books and post a review. I also have a couple of people I send advance copies to for beta reading and review, but only one or two. Reviews are harder to get now than sales are. It’s mathematical unless you know a good method, which I don’t. Maybe one out of a hundred readers will post a review, and that’s usually from people who bought the book and not those who got it for free through a promo. I use the free promo days in hopes of garnering reviews. I just ran a promo for Blood Conspiracy which resulted in 500 free downloads and 30-40 sales of the first book in the series. Hopefully, that will generate some reviews.

It’s frustrating. I write because I love to write, but everyone wants to be acknowledged at some point. I also need to make a living, and there is nothing better and more fulfilling than being able to live by doing what you love.
Why do you write?

I write because I love to read the types of books I write. I enjoy getting transported to another world and be another person for a while, and being able to create something that does that for others is a real joy. This is not something I had planned on doing. It just sort of happened. Even when I started writing The Sorcerer’s Path, it was just for something to do, but then I found I truly enjoyed it and had a talent for weaving an enjoyable story.

How often do you write and what is your process?

I write almost daily. I watch the morning news, eat breakfast, and start writing. If I don’t write first thing in the morning, odds are I won’t for the rest of the day. In the evening, I like to read through what I wrote. It helps me create a cleaner draft for my editor and put me more in touch with my story. I’m a discovery writer. I start with very little in mind and let the story unfold naturally. I’ve tried creating an outline, but it isn’t for me. I would not recommend this approach for most people. I’m writing the third book in my Empire of Masks series and cannot even give it a title because I have no idea if I will get to the title scene in this volume.

What writing advice can you give?

Don’t write because you think it’s a way to make quick, easy money. There may have been some truth to that a few years ago, but not anymore. If you haven’t written before, get people, ones who will give you an honest review, to read it. Find out if you are able to write not just a compelling story, but possess the technical skills to at least come off as a competent writer. I do not have much of a literary education, but I do have a good ear. I can “hear” what I sound like when I write. I have read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy and know what a good story sounds like. I did a lot of technical research, educating myself on grammar and sentence structure, looking at how other authors wrote. The web is a powerful tool and teacher, but you have to put in the work.

If you decide that you are capable of writing a good story that readers will enjoy, then you have to invest in yourself. Most people forgave me for my amateur work when I started. They won’t do that anymore. There’s no more grace period for anyone. Hire a cover artist. Hire an editor. No, your friend who likes to read is not an editor (unless they are an editor.) Yes, editors are expensive, but the cost of not hiring one is even greater. Just make sure you vet them as best you can. Fivrr isn’t the place to hire an editor. Find one with a proper website with testimonials. Send them a short piece and see what kind of work they do.

You are going to get bad reviews. I don’t care who you are or how good your book is. Don’t let it discourage you. I’m sensitive. It hurts when you pour your heart out on a page and someone tells you it’s crap. Look at what they are saying and decide if their critique has merit. If so, use that to improve. If they’re just a troll, then move on.

If you don’t love to write, then don’t do it. It is not a job, it is a calling.
Can you create a short writing prompt?

She looked over her shoulder, wishing she could leave the memories behind as easily as she did that accursed house. The tears she held back felt as heavy as the gun weighing down her backpack.

Amelia_KINDLEAmelia: Battle for Ardentia
by Brock Deskins

Amelia is a precocious, ten-year-old girl with a powerful imagination. In her alter-ego guise of a demi-goddess warrior princess, Amelia fights against a powerful demonic sorcerer named Romut and his horde of monsters in a never ending series of battles to protect the people of her imaginary world. However, the true battle strikes home when Amelia is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Now Amelia must fight not just the evil living in her imagination, but for her very life.

Where Brock’s book is sold

Brock Deskins
Amazon Author Page