Episode 02 – Colin Schneider – Ramblings of a Teenage Cryptozoologist

Colin and I visit Last Exit Bookstore

Colin started his career much younger than most – he was 15 when he started to talk to groups at conferences. His research into the paranormal and cryptids allowed him to become a radio host and he interviewed some of the biggest names in the paranormal field. By the time he was 17, he had published his first book.

The audio for this episode was recorded on Skype.

You can find colin at:

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011613589718

https://paranorm101.blogspot.com

And you can get his book on Amazon (affiliate link):

Stephen 0:47
Okay, so let’s let’s get started. Actually, something other than outtakes. But those are the fun ones. Yeah, I know. Okay, so, welcome. Let me just say at the beginning of the podcast, that today, this is my first actual interview. And I am using a guinea pig my son just to be full disclosure, but he has written a book, and I figured it was a good first interview to get started. So welcome, Colin. Thanks for having me. And I must say, he is a much more experienced podcaster and interviewee than I am. So I bow to his experience his superior knowledge. So, yeah. All right. So what I’d like to do, since this is the first interview, this set of questions may change, but call it I’m just going to ask you some questions and just tell me a little bit about each of them. You’re what you written, etc. So that’s normally how interviews do go. Oh, that that’s amazing, isn’t it? Alright, so calling other than being my son, tell us a bit about who you are, where you’re from, and a bit about your background.

Colin 2:08
So I for like six, seven years, was one of the world’s youngest cryptozoologists. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s basically someone who hunts monsters. We look into folklore and current reports and investigate stories of animals that shouldn’t exist. And yet people claim they do good examples, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, monster tube macabre, that type of stuff. I had a really great time doing it. And I think the subjects super interesting, I had a radio show for almost two years, I have written dozens of articles and a book. And I just, I did conferences and talks all across the country. And just generally had a great time doing it.

Stephen 3:01
So as I said, As you can hear, he’s much more experienced, but how old are you calling?

Colin 3:07
I’m currently 19. And I started when I was like 1119. So

Stephen 3:11
there you go. Much more experienced. He’s done more than some of us well, so for that you should be pretty proud. And as your Father, I guess I am too. So. You guess Wow, that makes me feel good. Yes. So, tell me, what do you like to do besides writing?

Colin 3:30
I like to read, I read a lot. Basically, if I’m not in the middle of like three separate novels, and like two comic book series, there’s something wrong with me, I need to like, talk to someone because like, I’m always reading. Um, other than that I pretty normal teenager, I hang out with friends, play some video games on a lot. Go to Comic Cons.

Stephen 3:58
Okay, so you say you read a lot? Do you think that’s important for your writing?

Colin 4:05
Oh, absolutely. I mean, anytime I. So I’ve only ever written one book, but I am pretty experienced with article writing. And anytime I would start an article, what I would first do is not only read the sources that I’m referencing, because you know, that’s kind of important. But I would also take some time to go through and in read and kind of understand the type of writing styles I want to follow and the way I want to write it and try to depending on what the specific subject is, there might be a certain author that I’m trying to replicate their style or one way of telling the stories. And so when I’m preparing to write an article, I would make sure to go over their writings again, and just try to Pick out what about what they do is interesting and makes them unique, and how I can replicate that. So, so you also you can’t really understand how to write without understanding, reading, you know, like, it’s important, just to read a lot to be able to understand the subject that you’re writing about, or their genre you’re writing in.

Stephen 5:24
Totally agree. And just so everybody listening knows, we did not like plan answers. So I did not ask him to say things with certain way. I’m just that good. There we go. So why did you want to start writing?

Colin 5:44
So originally, I didn’t. Like when I was a little little kid, I wrote comic books and drew the pictures, and I still have them, they’re pretty bad. Um, and I would tell the stories, but I never. As I got older, I didn’t get terribly interested in writing. But I was really interested in the paranormal and cryptozoology in particular. And I started reaching out to different people, and asking them what I could do as a young person to get involved. And the late Brad Steiger, if anyone is familiar with the paranormal, you’ve most likely heard his name, the, he was very well known and wrote, literally hundreds of books on topics, not just cryptids, but ghosts, and UFOs, and all kinds of stuff. And I emailed him one day, just randomly explaining what I was interested in and asking if he had any suggestions. And he said that I should try to write, I should try to look into something that no one’s ever looked into before and write an article about it. And from that article, try to expand it into maybe a book or another couple articles, looking at different pieces. And he said, that’s a really great way to get involved and produce something without having to go on into the field necessarily. So I kind of just followed his advice and went from there. And I first got published when I was 14, in a cryptozoology journal from the UK, and animals and men. And since then I just got hooked. And basically, every month or so, I was working on a new thing to get published on, I just, I had a, I just, it was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

Stephen 7:38
I totally agree with that. That’s, you know, me, that’s kind of my philosophy. Just jump in and do it, you’ll learn when you’re doing it, you’ll get better and find out if you really enjoy it. That is definitely guided me throughout my life. So I’m happy you discovered it from someone and got the same type of results. So that kind of answered my next couple questions. Why did you want to start and what made you finally start? So you wrote some articles, you got published in a few magazines, a few things. And from there, you decided to write more, write a book, tell us about that book, what it was about, and how you went from the articles to the book.

Colin 8:25
So one of the things that I did as well as write a lot in the field was I went conferences and gave lectures. And for those of you who may not be familiar with the field, believe it or not, there are a lot of paranormal events, especially around where we live in Ohio and Pennsylvania. There are a lot of them. So I was lucky enough to go to quite a few and give talks. But I started to realize that everyone else had books, and they were selling the book. And they were coming away with a bit of money. And I was just sitting there chatting with people, which was great. I had a great time, but I would I was wanting to get my writing and information out there a bit more. So I decided at that point, I had a bunch of articles done already. So I decided to collect the ones I had, update them and then write few specific essays for the book and work with a friend of mine who is also a young crypt as well just Tyler Hoke, and we put together a collection of essays on various types of cryptid stuff. A lot of stuff that people may not be familiar with. I don’t think we even talked about Bigfoot once. And I use that as a way as both a an additional piece of credibility because I always had a hard time as a cryptozoologist, who was also a teenager but also as a as a way To get people to read my information without having to subscribe to these fairly obscure magazines.

Stephen 10:07
Okay, so obviously the book is nonfiction correct? As nonfiction as it can be, okay. And you partnered with somebody. So what did you learn in writing with a partner? Um,

Colin 10:27
see, we have been friends for a few years at that point, um, and nearly all of the things we ever wrote, we send to each other to check out first before they got published. So I don’t know if I’m necessarily the best person to talk to about this, really, it was just a conversation that we had a month before the book ended up getting put together. It wasn’t a long drawn out thing, because it was just pulling some of our best works, updating them slightly, making sure they got edited a bit cleaner, and then putting it all together into a book. I I did the book putting together and the most conversation we had was about what are the what articles and essays we should include? So I don’t know if I’m necessarily the best person to talk about working with a partner because for us it, I would imagine it, our process was almost completely different from writing a book on on its own thing with another person.

Stephen 11:33
Okay, so you basically had some repurposed material that you compiled into a book expanded upon it edited a little bit,

Colin 11:43
and then a lot of stuff that had never been published before.

Stephen 11:47
So has that worked well, for you to where people receptive did they enjoy it?

Colin 11:53
Well, it came the book came out August of last year, and it was in the top 10, cryptozoology books of last year, according to the international cryptozoology society. So I would say it when it got received fairly well, um, it sold it generally sold pretty well at cons. And anytime I would talk to someone if they were interested in this stuff, I would I would, I was always able to find something in the book they were interested in. That was kind of one of the reasons I wanted to go wide with the approach.

Stephen 12:26
I think that get went well. That sounds great. So this is self published, you don’t have an agent, it’s not traditionally published. Yes. Where did you publish this? What services? Did you publish it through lulu.com.

Colin 12:44
It’s a self publishing website that does in house printing, but only they print to order. So they only print what is going to what people are actually wanting, or what you purchase yourself. I really liked it because that meant I wasn’t getting 1000 books, and they’re just gonna sit there until I sell them. But it also was a bit more expensive than going that route. feet per book.

Stephen 13:13
Got it. So you were mostly going after print books to sell at conferences?

Colin 13:20
Yes. Myself, I wasn’t as interested in trying to sell them online. The book is on Amazon. And it is on Lulu has their own store. But I haven’t done really any marketing with that. Because it was it was mostly just a thing for me to sell at conferences and use as a piece for networking and that type of thing. Okay,

Stephen 13:45
so do you have any thoughts on offering it through ebook or other services or doing marketing or pushing it

Colin 13:53
a little more? Maybe? ebook, I looked into it. And while Lulu does have ebook capabilities, it was kind of a mess. And I was having a hard time trying to figure it out. I even talked to someone who was the person that recommended Lulu to me. And he said he couldn’t figure it out. So I just kind of dropped it. Um, I have kind of stepped away from the cryptozoology fields. So I haven’t been attending. I haven’t been going to conferences. I haven’t been giving any more talks. So I don’t know if I’m planning on going any further with the book. It was a really fun thing to do. And it’s definitely not the end of my writing career. It’s just not something I’m necessarily interested in. spending more time on.

Stephen 14:47
Okay, so, we’ve talked about the book, but I haven’t even gotten what is called What is it called? People would like to look it up.

Colin 14:54
The book is called ramblings of teenaged cryptozoologists Like I said, it’s a collection of essays and articles that myself and Tyler halk have written. There’s all kinds of stuff, the thing I’m most proud of proud of, the thing I am most proud of in the book is a nearly 30 page essay on the vampire cat of bladen burrow from 1954. It’s a story that a lot of people talked about, but nobody really went in depth as to what it was. And I’m almost certain I figured it out. So I’m pretty proud of that. One. It’s got pretty much every article, a piece of work that I feel is that I have created that I feel is worthwhile.

Stephen 15:47
Okay, so what had writing this book, marketing it going to the cons talking? What are some things you’ve learned that you could give advice to other authors that are still working on getting their first book out?

Colin 16:03
Um, if you are, like at a con, because that’s what I have the most experience with. And you’re sitting behind the table and someone’s flipping through it. Don’t try to sell to them too hard. I book, both as someone who’s been to cons and Ben on behind the table, trying to sell the book. And as someone who has been in front of the table being sold the book. I’ve noticed a lot of people just try to hammer home how great this is and how revolutionary it is and how you need to read this. And I don’t know, for me, at least Personally, I’ve noticed that kind of pushes people away. What what I’ve found works best is if someone’s flipping through, try to start a conversation with them. Obviously, they’re kind of intrigued by the subject. See if they are familiar with this, especially for nonfiction, try to engage them in conversation about Oh, I see you’re interested in cryptozoology. Dr. Do you happen to be into Chewbacca, the chupacabra or Bigfoot? Or what type of things do you like to read about and whatever they say try to be able to connect that back to the book in a natural way without trying to like push and sell it too much, because that just makes people uninterested in leave. And I’ve I found this out through a lot of hard selling and watching it fail right in front of me.

Stephen 17:34
So there you go. There’s some great advice from someone with experience. I know, you’re correct. I’ve been to some book fairs and author conferences, where the other pushes and pushes and pushes, and I don’t even want to go up to the table sometimes, because I almost feel obligated to buy a book that I may not even be interested in. So the books I do get that I am interested in, I’m much more likely to read much more likely to give a review, much more likely to keep in touch and possibly buy the next book. So it’s not about getting every person to buy your book by twisting their arm, it’s finding the ones that are really interested. And then they will love it more, because they were already interested.

Colin 18:19
And regardless, the personal connection, I think, is actually more important, because I’ve had people who I’ve talked to for Heck, even an hour, like like in front of my table, we chat for close to an hour. And they don’t end up buying the book by they come they came to a couple talks later, and we chatted again. And then there was a conference that they went specifically to see me and we chatted some more. And then they bought the book and then bought some of my podcast, CDs, and then talk some more and then gave me a story. Like the personal connection is the important part. If you’re doing the like Comic Con or whatever circuit, people who frequent it may not necessarily buy whatever book you’re trying to sell there. But if you form a personal connection with them, they might go to a thing just to see you and then that just makes it more likely that they will not only buy your your first book, but then each book after that, or whatever you happen to do after that.

Stephen 19:29
That’s good advice that I think has been said many times and I don’t know if enough people follow it. You’ve got first hand experience. This works. If I spend a little time talking. I’ve got more product sold. They’ve got more interest in buying my book. So what are your plans? Do you are you working on another book? You mentioned a few things like comics, other writing, what are your plans? Are you going to branch out to a different area do something else Then cryptozoology, are you looking at writing more books or just more articles? what’s ahead?

Colin 20:05
Well, I I fell in love with comics before I even fell in love with cryptozoology. So it’s something that I’ve always wanted to try out. So I’ve been toying around with a few different ideas. The more difficult part of comic book writing is, I can’t draw at all. So well, I

Stephen 20:27
enter jackpot. I don’t totally agree with that you used to draw very well, I think you still can I,

Colin 20:35
I am not experienced. And it is not something that that I want. I want to practice and try to get better at. So the challenge there is finding an artist that is is willing to work with me. But at the same time, I’m also kind of playing around with some short stories, and stuff like that. Um, cryptozoology wise, like I said, I kind of have stepped away from that, I’m probably going to come back to it, just not at the moment. There’s several projects that pester me. And every once in a while, I’ll just go into a craze and just do nothing but read on the subject for like a week and then just don’t touch it for for a year. But it’s something that I’m still interested in. I’ve just stepped away from it for now.

Stephen 21:30
Okay, fair enough. Well, if anyone is interested in cryptozoology and cryptozoology books, maybe they’ve seen you and want to look up your book, they can keep an eye out. Is there a way we can keep up with you online? Are you still working on that doing something?

Colin 21:49
I have a blog that I haven’t touched in over a year on cryptozoology. But you can find it if you’re interested. It’s paranormal 101 dot blogspot.com. But like I said, I haven’t touched it in over a year. Other than that, not really, I am thinking about putting together a YouTube thing, talking about comics and nerd stuff. But that’s not even close to being ready yet. Um, so it’s basically I’ve sat and talked to a friend of mine about it for a few hours. And that’s about to the extent that that is at right now. But I’m always working on projects. It’s just the question of whether or not I’m going to stick with it because I always get distracted.

Stephen 22:39
Understood? Well, if you do come out with the next book, The next comic, would love to follow up in a year or so and find out what you’ve been doing, get an update on how things have gone. So I think you’re I mean, we live in the same house, so just let me know. That will make it easier. All right column. Thanks. I appreciate you taking the time and be my first guest and helped me muddle my way through this first interview. Sure, was fun. All right. Bye. Bye.

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