Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interview with Author Blake Crouch

I was fortunate enough to score an advanced copy of Run by Blake Crouch. It's a fantastic book, and I highly suggest you read it.

Basically, it's a post-disaster thriller about a family and how they deal with the crazy situation they (and the country) find themselves in. It has action, thrills, chills and some really good moments with the main character and his family. At $2.99, it's a steal.

So go out and buy it. Now. You won't be sorry. And just to further entice you, continue reading for a Q&A with Blake Crouch, the author. He's got some good information about writing the book and self-publishing.

Take it away, Blake.

1. I really loved Run. Post-disaster thrillers are among my favorite books, and this one was great. Can you share what sparked the idea?

It was just a coincidence...I was between books, and watching a documentary on the Rwandan genocide, and a little thought popped into my head...what would that look like if it happened in America?

2. I’m trying not to give away too many spoilers, but I have to ask. You left the nature of the lights in the sky unresolved. I think it was a good choice, but I’m wondering what your thinking was?

To be honest, it didn’t matter to me. Without giving too much away, I wanted some impetus behind the genocide that wasn’t rooted in political, religious, or other familiar ideological motivations. I also liked the idea that the killers were seeking out and trying to destroy those who hadn’t “seen the lights.”

3. I loved the family interaction in the book. One of my favorite scenes was Cole wanting comfort after a bad dream and being afraid his dad would turn him away because he looked when he wasn’t supposed to. When Jack hugged him anyway, I was so glad. I’m guessing you drew from your own kids to create Cole, Naomi and their interactions with their mom and dad?

Very much so. I have a five year old son and a two year old daughter, and being a parent was crucial to being able to write this book. I don’t think I would’ve had the right perspective prior to having my kids.

4. Why did you choose the self-publish this book? (I read your answer on Joe’s blog, but if you don’t mind answering it again here, I’d appreciate it.)

I’m going to reprint the applicable portion of that blog entry, since it sums it up best...

1. RUN is my best book. A lot of my work has a horror bent, and this certainly does, but it’s far and away the most commercial thing I’ve written. It has the most potential to earn me new fans, and now I have a substantial backlist for them to dive into if they dig it.
2. As I’ve blogged about before, I need more novels. My novels far outsell my short story collections, single stories, and novellas. This was an opportunity to add a fourth novel to my catalog.
3. For the first time in my writing career, I can support myself solely through writing. Releasing RUN has the potential to launch me to the next level, and the window for doing that is open and here.
4. Numerous ebooks, already released, have been picked up after the fact by publishers. See
Michael J. Sullivan, H.P. Mallory, the Encore crowd, etc. If numbers are strong, it can help an agent make an argument for the sale and negotiate a better advance.
5. Ebook royalty rate: 25%. This royalty rate is so completely biased in favor of publishers, it’s not even funny. The ebook rights to my catalog are far and away the most valuable thing I own.  To give a publisher the exclusive license to my e-rights when I have no control over pricing, and in light of that 25% royalty rate, is a terrifying proposition. This all adds up to my suspicion that, even if an offer were to come, I would have a very difficult time parting with those rights if the offer wasn’t stellar and life-changing money.
6. No one knows yet what the selling trajectory of an ebook is, although we do know that it doesn’t follow the traditional arc of sliding into coop and needing to sell huge in those first 6 weeks to stay alive. Konrath is a prime example. All of his titles have been his greatest sellers at different points in time, and at different price points. But if a book is never available, you can never find that sweet spot where it works for you. Your old books sell your new books, and vice-versa, and the more books you have available, the more you will sell, and the more you sell, the more you sell.

7. I don’t know what the future of RUN will be. Will I always control the e-rights? Will I ultimately sell them? Hard to say. But I know that having it available right now is a great weight lifted off my shoulders, because there is no longer any benefit to sitting on good work, and waiting for a “Yes.”

5. Any thoughts on a movie? You’ve definitely written it cinematically. I think it would translate well to the big screen. Or as an Internet release.

No thoughts yet. I’m just happy that people can finally read this.

6. Anything else you’d like to say about the book or self-publishing?

The limits on creativity and reaching readers are coming down all around us. This is an exciting time to be alive as a writer.

So there you have it, from a writer who's been both traditionally published and now self-published. He thinks it's a good time. What are you waiting for?

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