Book Publishing Secrets: A Conversation with Roland Allnach

We’re talking to authors from all walks of life about their experiences in publishing their book.  Some have smooth paths, some rocky, but they all share a common goal – to see their name on the cover of their creation.  It’s interesting to read what path they decided to take to get there and my guest today is here to tell everyone what he did in order to make it all happen so that other writers will learn a little something from the experience.

Today we are talking to Roland Allnach, author of the Paranormal/Horror/Supernatural anthology, Oddities & Entities.

Roland Allnach has been writing since his early teens, first as a hobby, but as the years passed, more as a serious creative pursuit. He is an avid reader, with his main interests residing in history, mythology, and literary classics, along with some fantasy and science fiction in his earlier years. Although his college years were focused on a technical education, he always fostered his interest in literature, and has sought to fill every gap on his bookshelves.

By nature a do-it-yourself type of personality, his creative inclinations started with art and evolved to the written word. The process of creativity is a source of fascination for him, and the notion of bringing something to being that would not exist without personal effort and commitment serves not only as inspiration but as fulfillment as well. So whether it is writing, woodwork, or landscaping, his hands and mind are not often at rest.

Over the years he accumulated a dust laden catalog of his written works, with his reading audience limited to family and friends. After deciding to approach his writing as a profession, and not a hobby, the first glimmers of success came along. Since making the decision to move forward, he has secured publication for a number of short stories, has received a nomination for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology, built his own website, and in November 2010 realized publication for an anthology of three novellas, titled Remnant, from All Things That Matter Press. Remnant has gone on to favorable critical review and placed as Finalist/Sci-fi, 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards; Bronze Medalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; and Award Winner-Finalist, Sci-Fi, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards. Roland’s second publication, Oddities & Entities, also from All Things That Matter Press, followed in March 2012. It, too, has received favorable critical review, and is the recipient of four awards: Bronze Medalist, Horror, and Finalist, Paranormal, 2012 Readers Favorite Book of the Year Awards; Award Winner-Finalist, Fiction/Horror and Fiction/Anthologies, 2012 USA Book News Best Book Awards.

His writing can best be described as depicting strange people involved in perhaps stranger situations. He is not devoted to any one genre of writing. Instead, he prefers to let his stories follow their own path. Classification can follow after the fact, but if one is looking for labels, one would find his stories in several categories. Sometimes speculative, other times supernatural, at times horror, with journeys into mainstream fiction, and even some humor- or perhaps the bizarre. Despite the category, he aims to depict characters as real on the page as they are in his head, with prose of literary quality. His literary inspirations are as eclectic as his written works- from Poe to Kate Chopin, from Homer to Tolkien, from Flaubert to William Gibson, from Shakespeare to Tolstoy, as long as a piece is true to itself, he is willing to go along for the ride. He hopes to bring the same to his own fiction.

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Thank you for your time in answering our questions, Roland.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to write a book?

I’ve always had a creative bug in me, something I first realized through art while growing up.  When I was sixteen I wrote my first short story, and the dream to be an author erupted in my head when I put the final period on that story.  As much as I loved expressing myself through art, I found the latitude of creativity afforded by writing offered me greater possibilities.  From that young age I started writing stories of increasing complexity and length, working my way up through novellas and novels, then back and forth through different genres, trying to learn my mechanics and find my narrative voice along the way.

Is this your first book?

Actually, Oddities & Entities is my second published book.  My first book, Remnant, is also an anthology of novellas.  Unlike Oddities & Entities, which straddles the horror/paranormal/supernatural/speculative genres, Remnant wove between the speculative/science fiction genres.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?

In a word, long.  That’s more a result of poor discipline on my part, rather than anything else.  I arrived to the publishing world from about as far outside as I can think, considering that I went to school for a technical education and for many years considered writing as a hobby, a personal diversion, even as I dreamed of publication.  It wasn’t until I told myself to be disciplined enough to approach that pursuit as a job, thickened my skin to accept the inevitable criticism and rejection that was sure to come, and developed a plan to establish myself through short story publication credits, that I started to see some success.  Once that foundation was in place I felt confident enough to consider a book publication, and established myself on the Internet by building my own website.  Fortunately, those efforts coincided within a few months of each other, and things have been on the rise since.

What lessons do you feel you learned about the publishing industry?

Aside from the persistence required to reach publication, I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it takes even more persistence to give a book exposure.  I had the rather ignorant misconception that any book would have a default sales figure, only to learn that figure is a big zero.  After my first book came out I went out to the LA Times Book Festival to do a book signing, and I was floored by the sheer number of authors, books, publishers, and book sellers.  It was a harsh lesson in just how small an entity I was, and illuminated the challenge ahead of me to try to set myself, my writing, and my books apart from the crowd.  I look at it as a three part puzzle:  write the best material you can, get reputable reviews and perhaps a few rewards, and then do everything in your power to use those accolades to publicize yourself and your book.

If you had the chance to change something regarding how you got published, what would you change?

On a personal note, it would be to satisfy my perfectionist impulse by doing a better proofing of my writing before submission.  When I look back at some of the editorial errors and oversights I made with my first book I want to cringe, but learning how to self-edit is a never-ending process.

Did you credit any person or organization with helping you get published?

With my first book, Remnant, I thanked my family and friends for their support.  I spent many years writing and doing very little to seek publication, yet I always had support and encouragement from those two crucial circles of my life.  Without that initial boost to my confidence, I don’t know if I would be where I am now.

What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?

I always say there is one thing underlying anyone’s pursuit in the publication world, and that is persistence.  It can be an arduous process seeing a work through to publication, and at times it can even seem to be an insurmountable ordeal, but I think the industry has evolved partly to separate the committed from the casual.  Those who take the craft of writing seriously and approach it as a profession, rather than a fanciful foray, will earn the fortitude of patience fostered by persistence.  Yes, there are many opportunities in today’s publishing world, but they are only open doors, and it is up to the individual author to step through.  One just has to be true to one’s individual voice, and those doors of opportunity will come.  As a final note, remember that readers are similar to the followers of any other creative form of expression, in that they are eager to embrace the next new voice.  The audience is waiting, so it’s up to an author to do everything possible to reach that audience.

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