About EE Isherwood:
Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts. I’ve taken the long road to publish my first book. I have degrees in History and Geography, so naturally I went into the IT field for twenty years. In the summer of 2015 my job was phased out, which gave me lots of time to think of my next challenges. For most of my life I had been reading post-apocalyptic books about plagues, disasters, and zombies. I found that I really enjoyed writing about them too. So, over the next six months I worked literally night and day to prepare three novels for near-simultaneous publication on Amazon. It turned out I needed every minute of that six months too. Writing a book is easy compared to all the details that follow.
What inspires you to write?
The event that inspired me to write originally was the passing of my grandmother in 2014. She was 104! I started writing pretty much on the day of her funeral, and that first short story concerned a sweet 104-year-old lady who gets attacked by a zombie while enjoying a quiet morning of crochet. It’s kind of funny that I put her in that setting, but they say you have to write what inspires you, and I was inspired to help this woman escape from that zombie. After I wrote it I loved the character so much I did a follow-on book. Then I wrote two more books about her and her fifteen-year-old great grandson as they try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. The reviews have been very good and that is my inspiration to continue to explore the universe I’d created.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a big fan of chapters in my books. I enjoy naming them, thinking about their order, and I use them to give a little extra kick to the books. However, they also serve as a basic outline of my story. I’ve been plotting since I was a kid when I played Dungeons and Dragons so I do a lot of that on the fly. The chapter heading serve as plot anchors that I can use to make sure the main characters are going to be where I need them. I then create 5 or 6 sub-chapters per chapter to ensure everyone stays on the path. As a top-level view of the story this works very well. However, once I start writing I often find the characters will do what they want and I have to modify chapters and sub-chapters as they dictate. I guess this makes me more of a hybrid writer. A pantser-outliner, or poliner, as I believe we’re called.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to my characters, but I do listen to them. There have been several times I’ve been thinking about dialogue and I’ll hear my main characters say something that makes me laugh out loud. Then I scramble to write it down. I will also have revelations when I least expect it, when my characters tell me something even I didn’t know. For instance, something I wrote in book 1 seemed innocent at the time, but when I got to book 3 my characters were talking and revealed how that innocuous “thing” from book 1 was actually a key to the mystery. “So THAT’S why she made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without the jelly! It was a coded message from the future!” Note, that is not real dialogue from my book. But I do enjoy being silly.
What advice would you give other writers?
When I first started writing I was in my mid-40’s, working full time, and managing two young kids with my wife. I wasted a LOT of time playing video games, but I still found time to write. It took me about a year to write the first drafts of my three books. I did book 1 as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2014. I completed about 90,000 words in one month. The other two novels took the remaining ten months. The thought of making any money with my writing never occurred to me until weeks after I’d published my first novel. I just loved writing. I loved my characters. I loved the world I’d created. So, my advice is to enjoy the process of writing your book and don’t focus on whether your book is good or bad, or that some editor somewhere will hate it. Your book will suck on the first draft. It just will. Embrace it. You’ll get better the more you write. I think that is as close as you can get to a rock solid guarantee.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I went all self publishing for my first three books, until they showed signs of being successful. Then I invested the revenue back into my products. Initially I did it all on my own. I edited my own work. I designed my own covers. I experimented with formats for e-readers and print on demand. After all, I was unemployed and had nothing but time. For me the main reason to go that route was to learn how each part fit together. Editing for example. You may think you’re a great editor, and maybe you’re pretty good, but we are blind to our own work after spending so many months inside it. As one example, my wife helped me edit my books. We each read the manuscript four or five times end-to-end on printed paper. A professional editor looked it over once and found an error on page 3! I had inserted an extra word in the sentence, but it happened just after a line break. I showed the sentence to my wife and she read it three times before asking me what problem I was talking about. Then I had her read each word with a pause after it. She finally saw it! Our brains are wired to interpret data and filter the unnecessary stuff away. I bring this up in detail because I’ve become a believer in paying someone to at least proofread my books. I also now believe you have to pay someone to design your covers. No one is a bigger proponent of DIY than me, but I sleep better at night knowing my first book is well edited and has a cover I’d be proud to place inside any bookstore. Books 2 and 3 are being redone as we speak. I’m still writing book 4.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think the industry is going to shift to more of an author-centric structure. Self publishing is already at the vanguard of this of course, but as the market share of the large publishers continues to decline I feel like the opportunities are there for authors to become the CEOs of their own publishing houses. Print on demand will become cheap enough that bookstores will become printing presses. We’ll walk into a Barnes and Noble and all the physical books will be for display only. If you buy something they will print a fresh one for you on the spot. Maybe the new Amazon bookstores are already doing this. I saw something the other day that Amazon’s press can crank out a 700 page book in under a minute. Think what that means for the distribution system. It means the author is moving closer to the reader.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Science Fiction Post-Apocalyptic
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.