There are a lot of paths for starting a writing career, and no single path is the “right one” or the “wrong one.” When fantasy author Christian A. Brown started his own writing journey, he learned how to navigate the waters of writing, editing, and marketing.[simplecast-embed error="src attribute needs to be set"]
Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. In this live-chat with Draft2Digital he discusses his career, and his best advice for authors who are just getting started.
Find Christian A. Brown online at www.christianadrianbrown.com
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Well, we are live. Thank you everyone for tuning into another Self-Publishing Insiders. Now, I’m talking to somebody I have talked to a number of times in the past now, we’re old friends now, going way back to his first appearance on the Wordslinger podcast. I’m talking to Christian A. Brown. I’m gonna read part of his bio here because I have to use this word publicly for the first time: quadragenarian, fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates. Now, of all those words, you would have thought that I’d get “author” right, but apparently that’s the one I stumbled on. So, Christian. Hey, thank you for joining us on Self-Publishing Insiders, man.
Christian A Brown00:47
Thank you for having me.
So, um, you and I go way back now. We’re old buddies. We’re old podcast buddies at this point.
Christian A Brown00:55
You went and looked it up, look at you.
Christian A Brown00:58
No, that’s when the book came out. And that’s when a lot of the blitz was going on.
That’s when you did the whole promotion and everything. And so that’s one of the things I was really interested in talking to you about, by the way, is that you kind of went a more traditional route than most of the authors that we have on the show. You’re still indie though, right?
Christian A Brown01:17
I’m 100% indie, I own everything. I did it, but my goal from the outset, like I had a bit of savings saved up, I was pretty successful in the health fitness industry. And so I had some money saved up, and I did that thing you’re not supposed to do, which is like, ever spend that money. But to me, it was like, I haven’t needed this money, you know, who knows if I’m going to live to be 60, and now there’s COVID and killer bees and whatever else so, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But it was like, ok, I’m gonna invest in myself and I’m gonna believe in myself. And so I took, I didn’t take much, because like I wasn’t, my mother raised a very frugal son. But I just researched what I had to do. I researched, you know, obviously getting an editor. And with a project this large, I needed someone really adept at especially fantasy and large sort of sweeping epics to tackle this thing. So I ended working with Barbara Burson, who used to work with Guy Gavriel Kay. I think I just butchered his name, but she used to work with like some really really big fantasy authors, and she was since retired—not retired, but she’d gone into, she’d been shunted off of the Penguin Random House, off of her position there. And so she was doing some freelance stuff. So I connected with her through just this very random series of events. I was kind of blessed, I guess, in a lot of the choices I made originally, or the things that happened. And connected with her, paid her for her services. So she was someone I invested in. And then after that, I went through the traditional route of three rounds of copy or stylistic editing, just to get this beast under control. I think I ended up writing about nine versions, nine drafts, like nine versions of the manuscript before you got to what you saw. And I wanted it, when it launched, to be indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. That was my goal. Because there is no reason why you can’t do this yourself, you know. There’s absolutely no reason, with enough time and smartly-placed resources, you know. So I wanted it to launch and I got it in Chapters/Indigo and I got it in all the brick and mortar stores, mostly because people just didn’t know. They just assumed, they didn’t know it was self-published, so I just sort of snuck it in there.
Well, let’s talk about that process, because that’s something that a lot of authors really want, is to get their books into places like Indigo and Barnes and Noble, you know, the traditional bricks and sticks. I think right now, it’s probably less of a …
Christian A Brown03:39
It’s not worth it anymore.
Yeah, it’s not such a big deal.
Christian A Brown03:43
Nobody really cares now, but …
We’re just gonna assume that all that will bounce back though. So what was your process for getting it into those stores?
Christian A Brown03:50
So, just working with all the connections I have. I think, one smart thing, as soon as you get … I did, okay, so I spent a tiny bit of money. And when I say a tiny bit, I didn’t spend like tens of thousands, I spent like a couple grand just on the initial setup of this book. And it was massive. And I spent it over a period of about … well, the book, the first manuscript took me about three years to write. Subsequent ones have been much, much faster. And I think we’ve talked about that before. But anyway, so I took that small investment, and then I did nothing until I started making money back. And then as soon as I started making money back off the books and off the promos and off just the shamelessly, you know, W-H-O-R-I-N-G yourself on Goodreads …
Thank you for helping us keep this family-friendly, by the way.
Christian A Brown04:34
You gotta beat that drum and just get out there. So after a couple years of actually, and a second book, I think I’d done by that point, and a second manuscript, I just started investing the money I made back into my business. And I treated it very much like a business too. And I still do, I think that’s important too, is like, we do think of ourselves as artists, which we fundamentally are, but you do need a certain sense of business savvy or you won’t be able to balance your own craft with, you know, where you want it to go. So I was treating it like a business, money in, money out. So the next thing I invested in, after I had done the edits and stuff for Book Two, I kind of took a little break because I knew it was going to take me a while to write that third manuscript, because they were kind of ballooning at that point, as fantasy novels tend to do. And so I invested in just a local Canadian, not some big New York one, but just like sort of a grassroots publicist. And she was fantastic. And she didn’t cost me a tremendous amount of money. Like I paid like, maybe a couple hundred bucks to her here and there, and it was very sporadic, but she got me on TV. She got me on radio, like I think one of the first things, back when … What was that horrible movie, based on that horrible book? The sex book.
Fifty Shades of Grey.
Christian A Brown05:49
Thank you. Yes.
Ah, nailed it on the first try.
Christian A Brown05:52
That’s all you need, right? That’s all the descriptors you need. So yeah, back then, so that was kind of when the blitz started, and that was one of the first things she got me. She got me on AM 640, which is a huge Canadian local radio show, one of one of the big ones still, and got me an interview there to talk about, you know, because there’s a bit of romance in my book. Not particularly, it’s just sort of there as part of the agency for the characters. But yeah, so we were talking about romance and that book, and so yeah, she got me these really, really good opportunities. She was also the one that turned me on to Ingram Spark and helped me understand sort of how to get my book, to answer the question you asked before, into traditional channels. So Ingram Spark will actually manufacture and distribute, unlike Amazon, which doesn’t distribute to brick and mortar—unless, I think there’s a couple stores that Amazon does, but in general, like all of the large stores will purchase from Ingram Spark. They won’t purchase from Amazon. So she, yeah, she got me sort of down on that path. And I set up my first two books on there and started selling them through traditional channels as well. But yeah, the publicist was the next thing I invested in, and that was probably one of the smartest things I did in terms of just getting exposure, right?
Yeah. Is that measurable? Like the, you know, can you measure how much of the response you got, how many readers you got because of the publicist?
Christian A Brown07:17
You can’t directly attribute it. But I think, like, so there’s a couple things with that. So there’s a couple like, I think there’s like Smith Publicity, there’s a couple of big publicity houses. I would generally stay away from them, just because they’re gonna charge you thousands of dollars. And they’re gonna have all these numbers and stuff that they throw at you and all these very measurable metrics. And I don’t think most people actually achieve what they want. Not most people like starting where we would have started will achieve with those kinds of expenses. And there’s a lot of things like that when you’re starting out too, there’s a lot of ways as a new author that you can spend money. There’s very few ways you should spend money. The only ways you should spend money is predominantly on your craft. So if you’re gonna invest, invest in learning how to be a better writer. And I’m not talking about workshops necessarily, I’m talking about people that will actually sit down with your manuscript and just, you know, tear it down and help you build it back up. Honestly, like Barbara, for me, for a book of this size, I could not have made this book without her. She was, she’s my book mom, like I call her my book mom. And even though she actually went back into the literary field, and she does, I think, like female-focused publishing now, and like female fiction and stuff like that, and she’s doing very, very well. But you know, we’re still fast friends. And that was one of the, it was a business relationship, but it’s also one that’s become like a really true relationship. And yeah, so, invest in your craft. Invest in an editor if you need it. Obviously, invest in your product. Invest in like nice covers, you only get that one chance, that one chance to make a first impression. And if you have a horrible cover, most people aren’t even gonna look at the book, or they’re just going to wait till it’s on 99 cents, or they’re going to assume a whole bunch of things about it which are probably not true, you know? So yeah, invest in your craft and then maybe a publicist later on. Are these things measurable? I mean, every everything you do helps. Everything you do gets you a bit of exposure and a bit, as long as it’s a wise choice. It gets you a bit of exposure and a bit more out there and a bit more brand recognition and stuff like, you know, being on the radio, being on TV. Of course, that’s helped me because it’s helped me open up avenues to talk to people like you, or to talk to people like, you know, some of the other people that she connected me with, like LeBron Green, who was Oprah’s, he does like this crazy podcast as well too, and he’s like, some friend of Oprah’s. So like, it does set you up for further contacts and further exposure. It’s totally up to you as well too, though, how well you take advantage of that. So, you know, that’s kind of been my mindset going into this. With a lot of things in life, like I rarely say no to something, because you never know when going to get another opportunity, and it may just never come. So just take everything that comes your way.
How much of this strategy was informed by your health and fitness life?
Christian A Brown10:14
A lot of it. Yeah. Like I mean, honestly, and we’ve talked about that little bit before. And you’ve actually a really cool kind of turnaround recently in terms of health and wellness. But like, I think personally, that’s one of my beliefs, is just like the connection between body and mind, especially as a creative person, is so important. And yeah, so nurturing that, and having developed willpower through exercise and training and stuff like that, it really does help with a lot of things. It helps with everything from just doing the work. It helps with, you know, receiving criticism and punishment, because you’re gonna get a lot of it. It just helps with everything, with stress, with stress management, you know, yes, it’s definitely a kind of a pillar to my work and just to my life.
Yeah. I mean, did you find when you started dipping your toes into the world of fiction that people were trying to kind of nudge you into, like, if you want to write books, why don’t you write more health and fitness books? Did you run across that a lot?
Christian A Brown11:16
Yeah, that’s the thing. Because I mean, like when my family kind of found out I wrote a book they were like, oh, is it like a workout program? Because my background’s in kinesiology. And so I’m like, no, it’s epic fiction, epic fiction fantasy, kind of like Game of Thrones but nicer. And they’re like, oh, okay … They’re very supportive now, like now that I’ve had …
Well yeah, everyone supports you once you’re successful.
Christian A Brown11:37
That’s the thing. Everybody’s your friend, you know?
I was with you the whole time.
Christian A Brown11:42
[inaudible] originally, you know, they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s interesting. Well, at least you still have your personal training and …”
Something to fall back on.
Christian A Brown11:50
Yeah, something to fall back on. But yeah, there was a lot of skeptics, I think, at the start.
What do you say to people when they, because they’re well-meaning when they say things like, you know, “at least you have something to fall back on.” People get told this sort of thing about writing fiction, though. So what advice would you give to people when they’re told, well-meaning or not, they’re told, don’t quit your day job.
Christian A Brown12:15
I think it’s just, opinions in general. So there’s the non-family friendly version: opinions are like you-know-what, everyone has one and most of them stink, and that’s kind of negative. But I mean, I think you have to look at who’s giving you the feedback. So if your family is giving you the feedback, it’s mostly because, ideally, I’m assuming, it’s because they love you, and they want the best for you, and they’re worried that this may not be a path that brings success. I know in my family specifically, and I’ve always tried to do this, I’ve always tried to look at, who is the person that’s saying this? And this is obviously very important when it comes to reviews, especially bad ones. Who is the person that’s saying this? Why are they saying this? And where is it coming from? And so with my family, I have a lot of artists in my family who kind of started stuff in like their teens or early adulthood and never followed through or were never successful, or just never sort of pushed themselves far enough to be successful. So I knew a lot of it came from that. I’m not gonna like, you know, name out family members and shame them. But yeah, there’s a couple family members where it was like, I knew that they had artistic endeavors that they tried, but they haven’t been successful. So I understood that that’s where it was coming from. It was a genuine concern that, you’re going to feel this pain that I felt and this disappointment, and you’re not going to be able to follow through with this. And so yeah, don’t take it personally. Like I think that the best advice you can … There’s two pieces of advice that I’ve always fallen back on. Terry Pratchett: “It’s not worth doing unless someone, somewhere, would rather you weren’t.” And that’s just a universal truth.
Heck, that means most of what I do is worth doing.
Christian A Brown13:52
Yeah. You’re always gonna offend someone. And if you’re not offending someone, then you’re probably not doing art that has any kind of impact or substance. So yeah, that’s fine I guess, but I don’t want to do stuff like that. I kind of want to offend some people. Like, I write very visceral, like some of the reviews and things that people say are like, you know, you have beautiful prose and poetry, but then you have these very visceral, guttural, disgusting moments. And that’s what I want, because that’s life. Like, I’ve seen some really horrific stuff. And I’ve seen some amazing and transcendental experiences. And so for me, that’s what I know. And that’s what a lot of us will eventually know, at different points in our life. So yeah, you have to just, that’s the first piece of advice is just, you know, you’re going to offend people and deal with it. And the second thing is just do your work. Just focus on your work, you know, there’s so many things in life to distract you, there’s so much negativity, so much that can just pull you off the track. And I guess that’s where the exercise thing helps again, too, is just sort of barreling through it and just putting your head down and getting the work done. But you know, you only have so much time in this in this life, and make the most of it, you know?
Yeah, exactly. Okay. So this is probably the most important question I’m going to ask you the entire interview. Are you ready?
Christian A Brown15:16
When will we see the Feast of Fates cookbook and exercise guide?
Christian A Brown15:26
Right after the plushies and the Netflix series.
Get it going. Now didn’t you, speaking of a Netflix series, didn’t you have someone courting you from Netflix or something, if I remember correctly?
Christian A Brown15:37
We’re currently working on a pitch. So we’re working on a couple pitches for the series. The next big moves for the series, the audiobooks are coming out. So the first one is going to be out, just finished recording. It’s recorded by David Pickering, who’s like a famous kind of BBC Radio and film actor. Amazing range. Fantastic voice. I don’t know how I snagged him, but I did. But he really likes the series, he was really kind of enchanted by it, we’ve got a good working rapport as well, too. So that’s the next thing. There’s gonna be an omnibus coming out next year, some new sizzle trailers, some additional materials. I don’t want to go into too many of them, but one is going to be a sort of an atlas with some collections of poems from one of the bards of the world. And some really, really gorgeous artwork. So we’re gonna do that one, that’s going to be printed in full color as well, too. It’s going to be coffee table size, a little bit pricier, but it’s going to be worth it because it’s beautiful.
Wow, you are really taking merch to a whole new level with your stuff. That’s very impressive.
Christian A Brown16:47
Well I’ve worked with all of these artists, right? Like, I’ve worked with these beautiful artists, and I want their work to be seen more than just on my Instagram channel, right? Like they’ve got some really gorgeous stuff that they’ve done. So yeah, so there’s a bunch of merch and stuff next year. And then we’re going to work on some bigger pitches as well and see where that goes.
Now, how are you managing and juggling all that stuff? Like, how are you organizing this so that you don’t drop any balls there?
Christian A Brown17:11
You’re always gonna drop some balls. That’s just how it works. Especially when it comes close to like a launch, I find, there’s always things just go by the wayside. But one thing that, it’s really funny since we talked, because I was struggling to sort of get this last book wrapped up and move on to all these other projects. And you know, I still have some coaching stuff I do on the side for some people locally in Toronto. So there’s a ton of stuff that I’ve got going on. But since our last conversation, I don’t know if I’m quite following your 30 day formula, but I’ve been doing this thing, which is very effective for me. And this is I think important to note with all these like tips and life hacks and stuff like that. Certain things work for certain people, everything doesn’t work, there’s no one size fits all, right? So I’ve been doing like this two hours a day. So basically, I take a timer, I set it for two hours. And most people have two hours a day. If you don’t have two hours, you might have an hour. That’s fine, set it for an hour. And you just sit there and you write. If you get up to take a pee, you pause the timer, because that’s not time you’re writing. You get up to make a tea, same thing, whatever. So I have found, it’s really crazy, but I’ve been doing this, probably I think about 27 days, so I’m not quite at the 30 day mark. I’m at 50,000 words, and six chapters. So I’m actually probably gonna write one of, and my books are massive, like you could break someone with those things. So I’m going to probably finish the next manuscript in about two months, two or three months, which is wild. Like that’s a pace that I haven’t done in ages. So yeah, so that’s how you find the time. You make the time, you create systems of organization, if that works for you. For me, it works. If it doesn’t, you need to find a system that works. And with writing, it’s just all about finding that time. And just honestly, like there’s going to be days, you know this, where it’s like pulling teeth, and you don’t want to do anything. But eventually I find, even days like that, if you just sit there long enough, eventually that flame will get lit and some inspiration will come and something good will come of that time.
Yeah, I think that’s a very good point. It’s not really about which system you use. It’s that you need a system. You should have some process. Before this, what was your system? Because clearly you were doing pretty well.
Christian A Brown19:37
Well, I think we talked about that a couple times, too. So before, like when I first wrote the first book, I came on the back of my mother’s passing. And I had sort of stepped away from health and wellness, aside from my own personal care, like that actually was one thing that kept me sane for that whole experience. But I stepped away just so I could be her primary caregiver, because my sister wasn’t really around. Not in a bad way, she just had a new child and she actually moved out of the city so she couldn’t take care of her. So when all of that sort of ended, I just had this time. And one of the things that, one of the experiences I got to share with my mother before she passed was that she read my manuscript, which is a very different beast than what Feast of Fates turned out to be. And I think it had some cheesy name, like Threads of Blood or something. So it sounded like some like vampire YA novel. But you know, title aside, she read it and bones of the story were there, and she said, “This is what you should be doing.” So when she passed away, I kind of completely threw myself into this. And I was writing like, eight hours a day, and that’s why I was able, over the period of three years, to crank out like three—sorry, no four at that point, because I had four initial drafts before I started really drafting. So four, like, you know, 500-page manuscripts. Because I was just in it. And part of that was obviously processing and working through the grief, and just, you know, dealing with the death of my mother. So that’s not a healthy way to work. But it was mentally necessary for where I was in that point in my life. Since that time, obviously I’ve adapted to better, healthier ways of writing. But that was my system before, was just to like, you know, be in this depressive hole and pour out all my feelings into my work. Not advised. But if you need to do it, sure.
No, but isn’t that sort of the cliché? Like everyone thinks that if you’re a successful author, especially, you’re tortured, you’re in the basement of some like, you know, brothel, your third bottle of bourbon at your elbow. And, you know, it’s good to hear from people who don’t have to write that way. Some of us write that way by choice. We don’t have to write that way. Yeah, but it is good to get a more positive version of the author life out there. Who were some of your inspirations in in author life?
Christian A Brown22:09
I think Timothy Finley, the late Timothy Finley, who passed away. Did Ursula K. Le Guin pass away, or is she still alive? Isn’t she? I hope so.
I believe so. I think she’s active on Twitter, right? I don’t know. I don’t know. We’re gonna just say she lives on in one way or another.
Christian A Brown22:29
Let’s say yes, she just hasn’t been that active lately. But she is one of, definitely like the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy. And it was just so amazing, like Wizard of Earthsee … What were those other books too, I can’t quite remember. There was a couple. There was Susan Cooper. Like, all of these children’s books, which, you know, is kind of where my—and forgive me, and I don’t want to insult anyone that’s listening, but like my disdain of YA in general is because you look at the YA of the past, and you look at stuff like that, and it’s incomparable. It’s just, the quality, the language, everything is just different. And it’s just better, in my opinion, I find it’s just richer. So I grew up reading a lot of that stuff. I was a voracious reader. We didn’t have a lot of money as a family, but we had a public library. So that’s what I got. But later on, I discovered like Timothy Finley, Peter Straub is pretty fantastic. Timothy Finley I would highly recommend, just because he does, he was a very, very smart man. He wasn’t like the most prolific writer, but he wrote a lot of plays as well, too. And his dialogue—like, his dialogue, I think that’s where I’ve gotten some of my talent with dialogue from, is because I just read a lot of his stuff. And he has a very natural way of just bantering back and forth between people that you only get from just being really, he was a very social person, right, in his real life, and then he became a recluse on a farm somewhere.
Sort of like me.
Christian A Brown23:56
As we all do.
Yeah. I’m on my way there. You bring up a very good point, by the way, and it’s the importance of reading to sort of capture another author’s voice to help train your own. So, clearly you had those influences. Were there other influences besides the reading that influenced your work?
Christian A Brown24:20
I think my family. So I come … like, my father’s side are just very, very loud and boisterous and self-deprecating, and just funny people. So so I was just used to … oh, you disappeared there.
I did. I’m still here.
Christian A Brown24:41
I accidentally dropped myself. I’m sorry.
Christian A Brown24:47
So yeah, so I just have a pretty colorful family. We’ve been through a lot, there’s a lot of good stuff and bad stuff, you know, mixed race family. My father, my grandfather is from the deep deep south, and they were biracial at a time when it wasn’t very popular. But they dealt with like, so we had like a lot of really horrible stuff happen to our family, but they dealt with it always with humor and with kindness. And with, you know, let’s try and understand why this is happening. So I had some really, really positive role models in my life, a lot of really powerful male and female figures just to draw inspiration from.
And your work reflects that sort of, what should I call this, multicultural multi perspective view. That’s actually very good. Is that, and I assume that’s intentional.
Christian A Brown25:39
Yeah, I was doing it back before it was popular. And it’s not—
I was multicultural before it was cool.
Christian A Brown25:44
Well it’s true. Now it’s like a “thing,” it’s like a buzzword, you know, but it’s like, but it’s not done in that way. I’m not doing it to hammer home politics or identitarianism. I’m just speaking from experience and it’s a bit different. So it’s, a little bit more classic liberal than some of the more socialist stuff that you see today. Yeah.
We won’t go there.
Christian A Brown26:10
We’re not even gonna touch that, no.
So we are, I’m gonna go ahead and start us up a little early on this. I’m gonna invite everybody, make sure that you are aware, you’re perfectly welcome to ask some questions in the comments below whether you’re on YouTube or Facebook. And by the way, while you’re there, make sure you’re following us. That will be very helpful to us. But I did have one comment I was going to pop up. This is why, by the way, I disappeared earlier. Because if I’m too overzealous about swiping, I swipe myself right off the screen. So we had a comment from Catherine G. “I agree on the mind/body connection. Vital to keeping centered.” True. What are some of your tips for authors when it comes to that mind/body connection? How do we keep that up?
Christian A Brown26:59
Well, first thing, I think it’s important, before you deal with the mind, deal with the body, because that’s part that you’re going to … the mind, you can train it. But the body is like, you know, it will resist you just through the process of, the longer you stay awake, the harder it is, the more tired you get, you know, the harder it is to do stuff. So one of the things I do, and this isn’t going to be perfect for everyone, but I always do my exercise in the morning. That’s the thing that centers me. And I think you mentioned, last time we talked, you go for walks in the morning. Like, it’s good to do that stuff, just to get it, to get that mind/body connection and that groundedness before you start your day. So I have a, let me see if I can turn the camera a little bit here. But so you can see. There’s my chin up station. I’ve actually got this set up on my exercise bike right now.
Oh, very cool. Yeah, that’s what exercise bikes are for, I’m told. For that and hanging laundry.
Christian A Brown28:00
So yeah, I make sure that the space that I have is conducive, obviously, especially in COVID times. Like, we have a gym upstairs, and we haven’t been able to use it, in our condo, for six months. And they’re only just now opening it up. And it’s under very strict guidelines. So I wanted to make sure, as soon as that happened, I wanted to make sure that the sort of flow, which is essential to my creativity, wasn’t impeded. So I just went out and spent you know, it wasn’t actually even that expensive. Like, a couple hundred bucks. You can get yourself a bike off Amazon, a mat, whatever you need, right? Just so you can take care of that. So that’s how I deal with it, I deal with the body. And I usually, if I’m feeling particularly stressed, I may meditate a little bit. I’m terrible at it. I’m a terrible meditator. But I try it anyways, because that’s one of those things that’s like, you know, you’re not going to get better unless you try it anyway. And I’ve been working on it for years and I’m still terrible. My mind just wanders, and not in like a stream of consciousness way. It’s like tasks, like, this is what I got to be doing next. So yeah, but anyways, but you just try it. And then I’ll sit down and I’ll write, after I’ve sort of found that balance.
Yeah. And so you find yourself kind of charged up when you sit down?
Christian A Brown29:09
Yeah, and that’s the thing, too. You’re soaring with like endorphins and hormones and you’re just like, rah!
Yeah, perfect for epic fantasy. If you’re writing more laid back, like Nicholas Sparks kind of stuff, maybe you don’t do as many pushups.
Christian A Brown29:24
Do some yoga, you know?
Exactly. So, yeah, that’s cool. Yeah, I’m kind of doing a “world is my gym” kind of thing, where it’s like, you know, try to do push-ups and maybe …
Christian A Brown29:37
Yeah, stuff like that. Stuff that I don’t have to carry equipment around with. Because, you know, we live in a van. It’s like 90 square feet. And I’m not getting a home gym in there. That’s cool, man. So, yeah, so that’s one thing a lot … And you mentioned staying up late, and I imagine sleep is very important, all around. And we have a tendency to want to continue sleeping, but what’s your—
Christian A Brown30:06
I’m a light sleeper, and I don’t need more than about six hours. Six and a half hours is kind of where my cap is. But yeah, sleep is definitely one of those things. You need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Nothing functions ideally, if you don’t.
Yeah, but you, all right, we know you get up and you work out, and then you write. So you’re a morning write. Bravo, I’m also a morning writer. What’s the rest of your day’s routine look like for you?
Christian A Brown30:35
I’m actually, I have a hire now, I used to do my social media after that. Now I have someone who handles that for me. Which again is a smart investment just because that will take up so much of your time. And it’s kind of one of those spiraling things, where even though you can, you know, you can start on Twitter and you can spend 10 minutes there, or say I’m gonna spend 10 minutes and then you spend two hours because you’re going oh, crap … I’m actually not on Twitter anymore, just because I’m morally opposed to it in general. But yeah, so I have a social media person that I pay like, you know, 20 bucks a week to take care of all my stuff and she does my posts and stuff. So now, I used to do that, but now I’ll just focus on other things. I’ll focus on all the different projects I got going on, I’ll focus on the stuff that doesn’t—writing itself is very intensive, and it requires like all of your focus. Maybe just a bit of music can be on, for me, but that’s it. So I focus on all the stuff that requires like that, you know, 50% brain capacity that I don’t have to just sit there and lock myself down and squeeze outwards.
What’s your music of choice?
Christian A Brown31:39
Just anything that appears on Spotify? No particular genre?
Christian A Brown31:46
Well they kind of, with all the data mining, they kind of figure you out after a while, right? And they start sending you “oh, you’ll like this,” and nine times out of 10 I do like this.
They’re confused as hell about me, man. They don’t know me at all. Because we bounce back and forth so much. One minute I’m listening to smooth jazz, one minute I’m listening to like, film soundtracks, one minute I’m listening to R&B, and they never know what to play me. But the Beatles will always appear, no matter what track I’m on, the Beatles will always show up.
Christian A Brown32:19
What’s your favorite song? Hey Jude? That’s mine.
I do like Hey Jude. That is one of my favorite songs. Here Comes the Sun.
Christian A Brown32:24
That’s beautiful. That’s a beautiful song. Yeah.
I wasn’t a huge Beatles fan, but Spotify converted me. So okay, so all this all is going on. How many books do you actually have out right now?
Christian A Brown32:41
Four. Okay. And you’re working on a new one.
Christian A Brown32:45
The fifth one’s done. So I’m gonna order the galley this week. And then it goes off to the beta readers—well, not beta, I guess they wouldn’t be, just advanced readers. And then that’s it. And yeah, this last one though, these last two books, actually, just took so much, so much energy and so much out of me in a good way. But it was a huge investment, just sort of wrapping up the series. Not financially, I just mean in terms of like, emotionally, and just the amount of work that it took. They’re about 250,000 words each, so they’re gigantic. And there’s just, it’s especially important to me that like, I’ve had readers that have been following along since 2014, or even 2013 if they were reading the advance stuff. And it’s like, I’m very, they’re very invested in me, and I’m very invested in making sure that this particular arc wraps up properly. Because there’s nothing worse than like a terrible ending to a series you’ve been reading for five or six years.
Right, exactly. And then you’re gonna have the omnibus and you’re gonna … Are you continuing on, or is this wrapping up the whole series?
Christian A Brown33:53
Well, okay, so the weird thing about this series is, I told you I wrote all those manuscripts back when my mom was, after she passed. And so I took them to Barbara. And in the manuscripts I’m referencing, it’s in this, it’s in a different period of history in this world that I’ve created. And I’m referencing this great war that’s happened. And I keep referencing it more and more. And she’s like, this is really juicy, meaty stuff. I want to hear about this war. So she’s like, go back further, add more, you know. But we started getting to this point, we were like, cobbling in so many flashbacks, and historical time switches, and it just is very jarring to the reader. So eventually, the fourth draft of those four that I did, I said, I’m just going to write that history, and I started writing it. So all of these books are that history. So now I’m sort of back to where I originally wanted to be. I’m back to the story I wanted to tell. Of course, everything’s changed, because in writing this history … I’m a pantser. Stuff just happens and your entire timeline changes. So yeah, so we’re back to the present timeline finally, and that’s the manuscript that I’ve been working on just recently, so I finally started that as well.
You’re finally writing the books that you started out to write.
Christian A Brown35:06
That’s correct. Seven years later, yeah.
Seven years later, you finally got it started. I have a general question, it says, a general question from Erik. “For a new nonfiction author, how critical are these: blog sites, networking with other authors, finding a mentor, advisor, etc. How critical is that?” He’s specifically a nonfiction author, but …
Christian A Brown35:32
Um, well, nonfiction might be more critical in terms of … I have a nonfiction author I know, she does like relationship guru and matchmaking advice. So I know for her, it was essential to connect. For me, I connected just my own personal, I’ll just speak my personal experience. I connected with the people I connected with through my publicist. And that worked out well for me because they’re generally kind of well-groomed and hand-picked and, you know, there’s a better chance at a match. But you, you know, is it Erik? Yeah, so Erik, it’s definitely important to get on Goodreads, especially if it’s your first book. You know, you got to do the Goodreads, you got to do all that grunt work, unfortunately, you got to use Goodreads, you got to put your book out there, you got to do the Kindle $.99 or free sales every quarter as they come up, just anything to get traction and to get recognition for your brand as well, too. So all of that stuff is definitely important. How much of it you can do is another matter, because you will burn yourself out just chasing down all of these leads and social media avenues, and you won’t actually necessarily have time for yourself or time to work. So you have to find that work life balance is hugely important. Just make sure that you’re not just overextending yourself, because you won’t be putting your best self forward. And if you’re not putting your best self forward, then people aren’t gonna respond to that, right?
Right. Just to add in on this, because it was a general question, I think networking is probably the most important thing on this list. Like, getting out there and connecting with people in the industry. Other authors, editors, you learn a lot just from having those connections. So joining Facebook groups, for example, are a great source of information. As far as like blogs and that sort of thing, I find that those can be very useful, depending on the type of personality you are. There are definitely indie authors who started their careers with blogs. Andy Weir and Hugh Howie, authors like that, the girl who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, we won’t dog her too much. E.L. James. They, you know, they all started these on like blogs. and sites where they could do fanfiction and stuff like that. So depending on what you’re writing, especially as a nonfiction author, I think a blog can be very useful. Sharing your, you know, the research you’re doing, the information you found, that sort of thing that can actually help build an audience before you’ve even written a book. So, yeah, can be very helpful. Um, so we have Diaz asking, “For a starting writer, where can you get people to look at your work? Or where would I start to look on that?” So how do you find people who are willing to look at and help you out with your work?
Christian A Brown38:19
Oh, well, I mean, I think Goodreads is actually good for that. So Goodreads has a lot of like new author circles and, you know, Kindle free giveaways and author connections. They have a ton of little communities for that. So that’s one thing Goodreads is very good for. I just about swept you off by accident there, sorry about that. And, I mean, there’s just, the problem with social media is there’s so much of it. So pick an avenue that you know you’re going to be good at. That’s what I would say. Because, again, you can cast your net too wide. And then you’ll just be doing this all day, and you won’t have time to do what’s important, which is the writing. So pick one or two of the things that you’re really good at and pursue them. So for me it was Goodreads. I was really into Goodreads for a while. Not so much anymore, it’s kind of on auto now. But like for a while there, I was really really active and cultivating fans and meeting new people and so it was really good for that. And I was also quite active on, I did a NetGalley release, and you can get those pretty cheap now, like you can find more exposure for your book regularly and they’ll offer it now through a lot of … you don’t have to use NetGalley themselves, because they’re quite expensive. But you can get a NetGalley package through like, you know, some of these smaller, like I think BookGorilla might even offer one or something like that. But there’s a lot of like, lower, very, very cheap like $50 or $75 that you can sort of bundle your book in with them and get some exposure on NetGalley as well, too. Twitter, I guess, is another avenue, but I can’t stand Twitter so I’m probably not the best person to advise on best Twitter practices.
Twitter has its place. So does Facebook. I have found that I kind of wandered away from being active on Facebook, but for some reason I’m way more active on Twitter now. But I’ve also been muting people a lot, so it’s becoming a more pleasant atmosphere the more people I mute. Okay, so um, we are, we’re kind of getting close to wrapping up here. I want to make sure people know where to find you, find your stuff. Where can people find you and your work?
Christian A Brown40:36
So you can go to www.christianadrianbrown.com. There’s links and I keep a pretty regular blog, mostly regular.There’s links, there’s a blog, there’s a storefront. There’s a link to my literary stuff on Instagram and some YouTube videos as well too. There’s a YouTube channel that you check me out on: CAB_life. Christian Adrian Brown life, because it’s my life. Genius title.
There you go. Very reasonable, very reasonable.
Christian A Brown41:09
Yeah, so you can find me on YouTube, you can find me on my website, you can find me on Facebook as well, too. If you want a physical book, you have lots of options for those too. You can get those obviously at all of the major retailers and brick and mortar when they’re open again. So yeah, those are pretty much my regular online sites. I like Instagram. And I do a lot of stuff on Facebook, too, because I’m just familiar with that platform at this point.
Yeah, yeah. If you were panicking because you didn’t get to write down that URL, don’t worry. Look in the notes from this show. It’ll be right there. And you can visit Christian online. Christian man, I really appreciate you joining us today.
Christian A Brown41:54
Yeah, thank you, it was fun.
All right, everybody else. We’re gonna go through the litany of things I need you to do for us. First of all, make sure you are subscribing to us on YouTube at youtube.com/draft2digital. While you’re over there looking for a CAB_life, go on over to Draft2Digital as well and make sure you subscribe to both of those channels. And if you are on Facebook, you can find us at Facebook.com/draft2digital. And be sure you bookmark D2DLive, because you’ll find a whole archive of shows like this one, great interviews. That’s also where you’re going to be able to see a countdown for the very next live broadcast that we do. Sometimes that’s interviews like this, sometimes it’s Ask Us Anything, so you can go and check that out. You will enjoy that, trust me. And make sure that you are tuned into SelfPublishingInsiders.com, where you’ll find an archive of all these episodes. It’s actually right now linking to a tag on our blog. We’ll be, you know, beefing that up over time, but you can find all the past episodes of Self-Publishing Insiders. And Christian, once again, man, I really appreciate it. I’m always happy to talk to you.
Christian A Brown43:04
Yeah, it’s always fun.
We’re making this kind of a regular thing now. All right. Well, thank you, sir. And thank you everyone for tuning in. And we’ll see you all next time.