When I first decided to do a blog my original idea was inspired by well known artists who had gone outside of the usual channels of their respective fields, and tried to bring out pieces in collaboration directly with the audience that was consuming it.
Comedians, Writers, Musicians and Film Makers all of them looking to talk directly to their audience and skip the establishment. Each had their own reasons and methods to accomplish their ends, but all were blazing their own trail.
I then realized that this was only a small amount of information to be putting in a blog that was going to be going out on a regular basis. what else could I write about, well the only other thing I have to talk about is myself. And only my readers can be a judge of whether I am of any interest. So I set out to contact several named creators in order to get them to agree to work with me on this project. To say the least I have not received a huge swelling of support. Being an unknown blogger and indie author does not put you high on many a publicist list of important people. I don’t blame them, however I was thrilled to have one of my personal heroes, James A Owen agree to give me an interview in regards to his experiences.
I first encountered James Owen’s work back in the early nineties when he was doing his Starchild series, His work was one of the things that challenged me to expand my writing beyond the boundaries I had placed on myself. He followed up his comics with some short prose work with the limited edition Tales from the Two Penny Inn collections of short stories.
After being out of the Storytelling business for several years he seized on an opportunity to work with a German publisher on a series that they were embarking upon. So he branched out into full length novels with the Mythworld series which were released primarily in Germany. In 2006 he released his first novel in the US through Simon & Schuster, his YA book ‘Here there be Dragons’. He has since released five additional books in his Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series, with the Seventh book due next year. In 2011 he release the first book from his meditations series. Based on the motivational presentation that he gives to schools and libraries. It was released as a self published eBook through the same imprint that had originally used for his Starchild comics, Coppervale Press. The book was called ‘Drawing out the Dragons’ he has since done a kickstarter project to finance the hardcover edition of ‘Drawing out the Dragons’ and released a follow up ‘The Barbizon Diaries’ and he will soon release the third book in the series ‘The Grand Design’.
What made you decide to self-publish your meditation books?
Initially, it was because we’d just pulled out of a possible deal with a potential producer on the HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS movie project.
She tried to pull some pretty hardball stuff at the last minute, and I simply walked away from the table. BUT… we’d been counting on that deal going through, so money was tight. I’d been doing the DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS presentation for a couple of years, and there was a good recording of one of them. I thought if it was transcribed and cleaned up a bit, it would make a fine eBook. I was right. The requests for print editions followed, and so we did the Kickstarter which worked REALLY well. Then I followed up with the eBook for THE BARBIZON DIARIES, and both books have gotten such glowing reviews that I’m now being offered all kinds of deals from publishers. We’ll see what happens.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced and what was the most unexpected reward?
Biggest hurdle? Hmm… that HAD to be the car accident (editors note: for the full story of the accident see Owen’s ‘Drawing out the Dragons’) – because I didn’t even have a name, then. No track record. And to seemingly lose my ability to draw, too, meant that almost NO ONE believed I could build a career. The most unexpected reward was discovering how many comics greats like Will Eisner and Colleen Doran and Craig Russell believed enough in me to help me get on my feet again.
With your prior experience self-publishing the Starchild Comics what was the biggest difference with producing the meditation books?
The availability of Kickstarter to finance the publication, and the fact it was reader-funded. If we had had a mechanism like that in the 90’s, Jeff Smith, Colleen and I would own Mars by now.
You used Kickstarter to finance the hard-copies of the Drawing out the Dragon do you see this as a valid avenue for less known creative types.
Not really, not at first – because it’s not just the cool factor of the project that draws support and money, as much as it is pitching something to the Tribe you already have. If you haven’t already started to build a name and a reputation, then Kickstarter will be harder. But even if you start small, you can build up to it – and it could be part of the expansion plan farther down the road.
What advise would you give to someone who was just starting out as a self-publisher?
Get the book done. Then do another. Then another. Do prints. Do postcards. Create your identity, so that you can start to build your Tribe.
Do you think that the advent of eBooks will make a change in the way books get published?
Absolutely. It let me test DotD for basically no cost – and then start getting income again at no cost. It let me build up a market and interest for the book before I had to risk a penny on print. Basically, with webcomics and eBooks, you can start building an audience with a fraction of the expense that it used to take. And you can find out faster if a project has legs, or is simply going to just sit there. And I think a LOT more changes are coming.