Jeff Strand’s writing career has been over 25 years, though not all of that has been full time. We have a good chat about what he’s gone through to bring his brand of comedy horror to the world.
For his 50th birthday (which is 2 days before mine), he released a writing book that I found excellent – one of the top ones I recommend.
And if you are looking for some fun reads in the horror genre, you can’t go wrong with any of these:
Stephen: Welcome to episode 52 of the Discovered Wordsmith Podcast. Now I know I started at 50 with some special episodes and I, uh, put Jay Thorn there. He’s a great friend. He’s been a great mentor and coach. For me. This time for episode 52, which is the landmark first year episode, 52 weeks in a year, I am putting Jeff Strand.
So I didn’t know which of these gentlemen to give, which. Honor position two. Uh, so this is how it ended up. Uh, not that either of ’em will probably care which position they were at anyway, uh, Jeff has become over the last couple years, one of my favorite authors. I enjoy reading his stuff because it’s a nice blend of tongue in cheek horror and it makes me laugh and it’s got just enough supernatural elements that I’m interested in, like reading it.
It was interesting, the first book I read of his just, Put me like left field. I was in a tizzy. I was like, what is this book? At first I couldn’t figure it out. Uh, that was Cyclops Road. Then when it got to the part where there was like this giant troll coming out of the cave and this band of misfits with like a ninja, uh, girl that was defeating it and it was just, Like, wow, this is such great stuff to read.
It reminded me a lot of the horror movies I used to watch and love with my friends sit sitting to watch, well still watch actually. And then I went on and read more of his books and I just devour them. I’ve, I’m starting to get almost all of his stuff so when I do meet him in person, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to buy anything at his table ’cause I probably already will have everything.
So I’ll probably get a double just to get his autograph. Take a listen to Jeff’s story because if you’re a new author, there’s a lot of good things to hear and inspiration here. He was not an immediate breakout success. He was not a full-time author. Uh, within a year or two of writing, he did not write one or two books and then leave his job, you know, uh, right away.
It, for those of you that feel like you know, the imposter syndrome, you are the only one. The, he’s got such a great story, uh, and what really drew me to Jeff when I read his things, I’ll tell you the story of why. Uh, I first started talking to him. I, I found out when, uh, I looked him up after I read that first book, and I was just kind of blown away at how much I enjoyed it.
And I looked him up and found out that he lived in Kent, which is like eight miles from where I live. Went to school at the same time, and I know he went to school at the same time because he was born two days before I was, we’re like almost exactly the same age. And I just thought those coincidences.
Were very interesting considering that I enjoyed his book so much and that could help lead to why he’s one of my favorite authors of all time now. So I was really happy, uh, to talk to Jeff and interview him. I was also very nervous and I didn’t think I’d be that nervous. And I, at the end, instead of taking a couple minutes to chat with him, I made the mistake of saying, well, thanks for the interview.
Click and I hit hang up and that was the end of the call. And I’m like, Oh man, that I shouldn’t have done that. I, oh, and I felt bad and I could’ve got to talk to him a little more. So, Jeff, if you’re listening to this, just wait till I see you in person. We’ll, I’ll probably tuck your head off. So, uh, sit back and relax and enjoy this episode of Discovered Wordsmith with Jeff Strand.
Jeff, uh, thank you much for coming on talking with me. Give people who are listening that may not know who you are, a little bit about you, your books, whatever you feel like sharing.
Jeff: I horror writer, for the most part, I kind of bounce around, but I’m generally known as a horror writer with, uh, lots of humor.
So I’ve written books like Pressure Dweller, my Pretties Clowns versus Spiders. I’m up to book number 50. So I’ve been doing this for a very long time. And, uh, well just for your 50th
Jeff: Yeah, it was a good time. And you know, I had to, I didn’t cheat the numbers, but I was like, okay, does a novella count?
Yes. Novella count? Does a collaborative novel count? Yes. Does a chatbook count? No. So if I didn’t count Chatbooks, but I counted novellas in collaborative novels, then I got it to 50. So, nice. Yeah. Because I thought 50th book on my 50th birthday was a pretty good tie in.
Stephen: So that’s a, a good deal. I mean, it’s, it’s, you’re writing your book, so count it any way you want, right?
Jeff: And then I’ve done some young adult books, which are just pure comedies and then a couple other pure comedies. But for the most part, if you said, okay, what do you write? I would narrow it down to horror.
Stephen: And I think, uh, the way I’ve thought of your writing and the first book I read of yours was Cyclops Road and I threw me for a loop.
Uh, I was not prepared and it just totally is like, this is amazing. And then Forbidden Forest Tour, uh, I was just cracking up. And when people say, well, what’s he right? And I’m like, well, it’s comedy horror. So it’s kind of like an adult grownups book or adult grownup, uh, goosebumps book. Right. Uh, which I find also interesting ’cause r l Stein lived in Cleveland for a while and you lived in Kent, so there’s a Ohio connection right there.
Jeff: Also. I offended r l Stein. When I MCed the stoker’s one year because I, I. We do the Richard Lehman, uh, service award, and Richard Lehman died about, you know, a little more than 10 years ago, but his daughter said, I’ve got dad’s ashes in the car. If you wanna do something with that. It’s like, yeah. Wow. So introducing it, I had her up on stage and like, look, these are the real ashes of Richard Lehman.
Which the joke was supposed to be that we were so desperate for ideas that we would actually bring his ashes up. But people started applauding. It was like, okay, that’s not the reaction we expected. But I’m told that r l Stein thought it was in very poor taste, so, oh, so we have that connection too, along with being Ohio people.
Stephen: Well, I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there that would say writing horror novels for kids is in poor taste. So, uh, it, it comes around, I guess. Yeah. So Jeff, I was reading a little bit about your background, your own life story on your home website. Uh, you have not, Always been a full-time writer. You started out like everybody, you were submitting to lots of places.
Your first wasn’t public, was published clear back in 95. Give us a brief of your journey. Uh, mostly the target audience for the podcast is new authors and I think. Part of my reason for doing the podcast is I, a lot of times new authors think, oh, look at this successful author, Jeff Strand. He’s got 50 books and he’s got all the, all the success, Bram Stoker and all that.
But you really have worked for it. You haven’t, I. It’s been an overnight success with one book. I guess just give us a little bit about what you’ve gone through to get to the point where you’re at.
Jeff: Yeah. This is all fresh in my memory because I just, my 50th book was the Writing Life Recollections, reflections, and a lot of cursing, and it’s basically a non-fiction sort of, Not a writing advice guide, but sort of memoir on how to get through the really rough stuff.
And so, you know, the whole opening of the book is, here is my journey, my very, very long journey without any, you know, big breaks where everything changed. So I basically started as small as you can possibly start. I started with eBooks, which. Now you say, well that’s that. A lot of people do that, but they didn’t in 2000, right?
In 2000 an ebook was worse than not being published an ebook. People were scared of them. PE it was like, it must be garbage if it’s an ebook. So I started out, you know, with a book that was of So Ill repute that. It was worse than being an unpublished author. And I just, it was a very, very slow, gradual, you know, I started off with eBooks and then I got my first small press print book and it was like, okay.
And then, you know, a limited edition hard cover. So it was, you know, a really fancy book, but a really, really low print run, basically just aimed at collectors. And then, you know, nine years after my first book, Came out, I had my first mass market paperback, but it was with leisure right as they were dying.
So it wasn’t a, you know, the money was very, very tiny. Distribution was okay. But it wasn’t, you know, really was not a big deal. And then they published my second book, which was even smaller because that was basically while they were in their death throws and then they closed. So I was like, okay, I had got two mass market paperbacks out of this.
And you know, then I did some young adult books that had a, you know, Wide distribution got some attention, but still the money wasn’t anywhere close to full-time writing, and I didn’t hit that until I started to self-publish, and I did that for. At about five or six years before I started to think, you know what, if I had those extra 40 hours of my life back that I give to the day job, I could make this happen.
So it was a, there was absolutely no, you know, one book Overnight Success. It was a long, long process of just sort of gradually. Every, you know, tiny little steps in my career. And then finally I was like, Hey, I get to be a full-time writer now. And fortunately I still am so
Stephen: nice. What kept you going? I mean, you know, basically 20 years between getting your first thing out there published and becoming a quote unquote full-time successful professional writer.
You know, why keep going. I think a lot of people, like you said, oh, I got a book out. I’m gonna be popular, buy my book, and it doesn’t, and they get discouraged. So what kept you going and why did you want to keep doing
Jeff: it? Well, part of it was I didn’t have a backup plan. You know, I had a full-time day job, which could have, you know, there was career mobility.
I basically worked for MetLife doing insurance stuff. There was plenty of career mobility, but I didn’t want it because like, you know, if I. You know, take the team lead position that’s going to suck away energy that I could be using to write. So, you know, I had a full-time day job, a stable career, but I avoided the upward mobility because I wanted to be a writer.
You know, I always had, you know, the. Need to do this just because my day job was not anything I wanted. You know? I was like, I can’t be doing this for the next 30 years. Never anticipating that I would be doing it for 20 years. Well,
Stephen: you know, at least you didn’t go
Jeff: 30. Yeah. It was like, I started there in 1990.
Sevens like, all right, 1990 eight’s, the end of this 1990 nines, the end of this 2000 at the end. And then you start to hit a point, it’s like, okay, maybe this next year won’t be the end, but there’s gotta be an end in sight and, um, You know, I have always wanted to do this. So there was really never a time when I said, you know what, I’m, this isn’t working out for me.
’cause I had, you know, baby steps, but there was always steps. So I was like, okay, I’m doing a little bit better this year than I was last year. Not a lot. There’s been no big breakthrough, but I can see, you know, the curve is going up, even if it’s a very, very not steep curve. Oh, go ahead. So it’s just tiny little bits of progress and then you start to think, well, if you compare where I was this year to last year, it’s not that big of a deal.
But if you compare where I was to five years ago, that’s, that’s a decent jump and. So it was just constant slow progress over, you know, a long time added up.
Stephen: And I, I love that because for me, you’re probably the, the biggest writer I’ve talked to, and I, I love your work, so to hear that you. Had the same problems that a lot of people in, you know, at my stage are having For me, that’s inspiring.
That’s why I like doing this podcast, hoping to inspire authors, help keep them going so they don’t stop.
Jeff: Yeah, and I probably could have quit sooner, but you know, it was okay. How much of my writing energy will I lose if I am? Always stressed out about paying the rent and Right. That kind of thing. So it was like, you know, when leisure crashed, I had very little investment in it.
I had a full-time day job and I wasn’t making much money from them. The people who were all in on leisure had a, you know, really bad time because suddenly their income was gone. Right. So I was like, you know, I don’t wanna be one of those people. I don’t want to quit my day job until one I can afford, you know, insurance.
I’m absolutely not going to be in a position where getting in a car accident can ruin my life. You know? Right. Financially. And I want to have, you know, enough of a cushion that I’m not immediately stressed out over money. I’ve cop. There have been plenty of times where I’m stressed out over money, but I didn’t want to leap right into that.
Stephen: It’s hard to write when you’re stressed. Right? So if let’s, let’s say you were still at that point where little steps and baby steps. W what would you be doing right now if you weren’t a full-time author? Would you still be pushing for those next baby steps, or do you think you would start hitting a point where you’re like, man, this just isn’t gonna work.
Uh, I’m done.
Jeff: I feel like I would still keep going for the baby steps. I think if I hadn’t quit my day job, I would pretty much be doing the. Same kind of thing. I don’t know what my frustration point. I know that I can go 20 years without quitting, so I don’t know if I, you know, where would I be 30 years from now, or 30 years from when I started.
I’m not sure. I like to think that I would’ve just, I. Kept going. You know, my book Writing Life does have a chapter on quitting, which is, you know, maybe it’s not that bad. ’cause you know, I have people, I have author friends and I secretly think they would be happier if they gave it up. You know, they’re frustrated, not seeing success, and it’s just not fun for them.
I always, you know, had fun with it, even in the early days when you know, you would. Get royalty checks enough to maybe buy McDonald’s if you, you know, maybe got water instead of uh, Coke. But it was always fun. And I think once it stops being fun, I. It’s work, it’s frustrating. It’s, you know, lots of head pounding against the desk.
It’s not, you know, ah, every keystroke is a delight. There’s frustration and hard work involved, but it should still be fun. If it’s not enjoyable, if it’s not fulfilling, then that’s when you say, maybe it’s time to do something more financially lucrative. And I never hit the point where it wasn’t fun. I never hit the point where I wasn’t.
Enjoying the work. So if I hit that point, that might have changed everything. If I started saying, you know what, this is just a drudge, I’m not enjoying this at all, that might have done it. But fortunately, in my very long journey, I never hit that point.
Stephen: And I, I totally agree. I had a hat long ago that said, if it’s not fun, forget it.
And that’s been partly my life philosophy, I guess. And I haven’t always lived up to that. And I’ve always come to regret it because the things, when I en enjoying myself the most, I, I feel like I’m living a good life regardless of what I’m doing. So, It’s a good philosophy to follow. Definitely.
Jeff: Yeah. And, and there was always the thought, you know, the big deal could happen at some point, you know?
Right. Some guy could, you know, I had lots of people who would, you know, query about the movie rights and stuff would move forward a little bit. And then nothing happens. Like, well, you know, if one of those happens, I always had lots of irons in the fire, so I always had lots of things going on. When I finish a book, I start on the next one.
I know. People who will write their first novel and say, I’m gonna wait to see what happens with this one before I start the next one. Which is a terrible mistake. You should always, because when you get the rejection or it comes out and doesn’t sell, you’re already thinking about the next project. You know, when my big potential deals crashed and burned, I had other stuff going on, and I had other stuff that I was focused on.
So no one setback was devastating. It was always, okay, I’ve got other stuff. I’ll focus on
Stephen: that. I also agree with that. It’s the focus on the writing and the next book, because I’m excited about the next book. I wanna see this next story come out and, oh, look at this, the last one is doing well. Or if it’s not, that doesn’t matter because this next book, I’m really excited about it.
It’s a, you know, a snowball effect going downhill here. Right. And, and your, uh, your titles. That’s something I’ve noticed. Uh, About your stuff and really jumps out at me because new authors we’re told a lot, make sure your title reflects what you write, and there’s no way I could read Candy coated Madness or Dead clown barbecue and not know what you write.
And there’s a definite fun and joy just in reading your titles, let alone the books themselves. What I, what I see is, Put yourself into your work, and I can see the fun and enjoyment you get out of that. And the, so the success is starting to come because of that. Would you agree?
Jeff: Yeah. I think, you know, the books, if you look at the cover and read the description, they deliver what they promise right now.
Some people, you know, if you don’t like, if you see a book called Candy Coated Madness with a skull with candy spilling out of its mouth. You go in expecting quiet literary horror, you, you’re going to be disappointed. But I think it pretty much delivers what it promises. So, and I’ve, that goes through pretty much all my books.
They, you know, they may be low brow, they may just be focused on the entertainment value. They’re not Peter Straw, but you know, if I think you look at the cover, read the description, that’s what you’re gonna get.
Stephen: And, and that’s one of the things I’ve. Been seen talking to others in our digital publishing world, we’ve got very much a niche market everywhere.
You’ve got people that really like the comedy horror, but some of the stories or books I. Quite possibly may not have been published traditionally because it was comedy instead of just straight horror. So do you feel your career would’ve been different without digital or without being able to publish in that way?
Jeff: Uh, that 100% is what made my career. Because the niche market you’re talking about in mass market is a lot harder because you’re making 6% royalties. With my self-published books I make, um, 70% royalties. So if I sell a book for 2 99 and you buy it, I get $2 and 5 cents outta that. I don’t have to sell anywhere near as many copies when I’m making 70% royalties as I do when I’m making 6% royalties.
So a book like Candy Coated Madness can be, you know, a decent income stream just because I’m getting a much larger piece of the digital pie. And it’s easy for people to find. They don’t have to go, you know, To a bookstore trying to figure out a bookstore that would carry something like Candy Coated Madness for six weeks before they send it back to have the cover stripped off.
Right. So, and my entire backlist is available, like if you want to read my first book, those published 20 years ago, it’s just as easily available as the one I published last month. And so it’s sort of cumulative royalties if I’ve got 20 years worth of. Content that is making money every month, even if it’s just a little bit, even if it’s an old book, that people aren’t buying that much.
50 books worth of income every month keeps me writing full-time comfortably.
Stephen: The titles draw you in and then the story, if you like, the comedy like you mentioned, uh, Douglas Adams, things like that, that the comedy of it is what totally drew me in. I cracked up reading just about everything you’ve written well, except maybe pretties and pressure.
Jeff: Yeah, I’d mix it up. I’ve got. I started off, I was known as the horror comedy guy, and then Pressure was sort of the first quote unquote, serious one. And now I, ’cause it was like, and now Dweller is my second serious one. And then it was like, Wolf Hunt is kind of, it’s more comedic. I don’t know if that, so I just stopped counting which ones were the serious ones and which ones were the, you know, every book even pressure.
My pretties has a lot of humor in it, but some are definitely, Less laugh out loud, funny than others.
Stephen: Yes. Uh, that’s one of the things I’ve been, I guess in my mind in talking with others about is I don’t think the old way of categorizing books is as valid anymore because they say, oh, if you’re going to write fantasy, every book should be fantasy.
’cause that’s what readers want. And I’m like, that’s not necessarily, I’m very omnivorous. I read tons of different stuff. Someone that reads dead clown barbecue. Yeah. They may not like, uh, pressure, but that doesn’t mean they won’t like it. I, I like the way Netflix categorizes their movies. They have interest tags, you know, gritty horror comedy or something like that.
And if you like the gritty part of it, there’s plenty of other gritty movies. Some are police dramas, some are. Historical fiction. So, but if I like the gritty part, I can find other gritty books. I can find other, uh, police procedural books or in your case, other horror books, some of them comedy, some not, or other comedy books, some of them sci-fi, some comedy.
I, I, so I think I. The digital world doesn’t fall into the categories as well as bsac and Amazon tries to, you know, shoehorn them. And I think that’s partly what has made you and other authors successful being able to hit these different interest tags without necessarily always having to hit the. Three interest tags,
It has to some degree. I will say there’s a very definite, you know, the further I get from horror, the lower the sales are so kumquat, which is a romantic comedy, you know, the people who read it are like, wow, I never thought I’d enjoy a romantic comedy, but I liked his other stuff. So I tried this one. But you know, there are no, you know, the sales are way less than they are for a horror one, so it’s.
But what happens is, because the book is always available, so Kumquat came out, if that had been a mass market release that sold the way the digital version did, they would have pulped it in six weeks and it would just be a failure. But it’s still available, you know, five years later bringing in, you know, a small amount of income that.
A gets added to the pile of the other books and then people, you know, are gradually discovering it. But it’s definitely, you know, if I am, you know, if the royalties are low, I need to put out a intense horror novel, not a goofy romantic comedy.
Stephen: And actually that, that supports my thinking a bit. The people that read your stuff, that mainly read it because they like the horror aspects, wouldn’t like kumquat, but the people that read your stuff and like the comedy aspect, read other comedies, comedy, romance, young adult comedy, and they like it.
So I, I, I think, you know, if we could click on. Any group of horror books and then click on comedy and narrow it down. Those types of things I think are helping people discover new books and helping authors be able to write many different things. Yeah. Have you thought, thought of, uh, doing a pseudonym or a pen name for some of your other stuff?
Jeff: I did a pen name and I actually revealed it for the first time in the writing life. I wrote a book called, um, evil, Bigfoot Monster as ff Monsoon, and it was just a joke. It was, I was on vacation, but I felt like writing. So like, well, I’m just gonna write something fun. I’m gonna write the worst book imaginable.
So I wanted it to be, Credible as an completely incompetent writer, but as funny as I could possibly make it. And what I kind of wanted it was for people to accidentally discover it and say, my God, this is the worst book ever. It’s hilarious. You’ve gotta see it. And that didn’t happen at all. It just kind of, you know, sat there with no attention whatsoever.
So I finally confessed to it. But that was just because, you know, it was, I was hoping people would. Discover the worst book ever written, but
Stephen: they didn’t. Well, I, I definitely probably would enjoy it. I go for the quirky, weird stuff all over the place, which is kind of what drew me to your stuff to start with.
I, I, I had read plenty of Stephen King and Strub and Dean Kuntz, and it was nice and refreshing to read something that. Was horrific elements, but some comedy and things that weren’t so deep and dark. Yeah.
Jeff: Well, all ego aside, I’ll say evil, Bigfoot Monster is a masterpiece of bad writing.
Stephen: Well, that, now I wanna copy, uh, ’cause being able to describe it as that will make me wanna read the whole thing today.
Jeff: it is bad on every level. It has, you know, it requires multiple readings to absorb just how. Bad it is.
Stephen: No, that’s, you need to put that on a subscription service then. Yeah. So that people read it multiple times.
Jeff: It’s on Amazon. Anyone can check it out anytime they want.
Stephen: Well, I, you’re gonna see a sale after this.
I’m so just. Uh, I, I was looking at your, one of your newer books coming out, uh, creep Out, uh, which there, it’s funny we mentioned r l Stein. He’s got a really popular book with a ventriloquist dummy. Um, did that have any influence on your thinking of this, or was it just, Hey, this sounds like a great story.
Jeff: It was not specifically r Stein or any of the other ones. It was just, that’s a. Cool trope and it’s one of those, right? I wanted to do something that’s legitimately scary because that’s not, you know, I write horror, but I don’t tend to write scary. So I think really sick house, the first half of sick house is the only one where I’ve tried to go with the eerie creepy.
So I thought, I wanna try that. So what’s a good trope that I haven’t tackled yet? Because a lot of what I do is, okay, I’ve never done a werewolf book. So then I come up with a way to twist that around, or, you know, dweller came from, you know, the bullied kid who has a monster friend. So I wanted to figure out how to tell that in a different way.
So, you know, the. Ventriloquist dummy. It hasn’t been done that much in fiction except for RL Stein, but it’s been done, you know, in movies, you know, the classic Twilight’s Own episode or the movie Magic. So I like, okay, what can I do to change up that story but still, you know, deliver what people like about it.
So that’s what Creep Out is. It’s hopefully will be my scariest book and that should be out. I don’t have a publication date yet, but it should be fairly
Stephen: soon. You seem to be. Getting quite a few books out. Uh, so I take it writing full time is going well and agreeing. ’cause it seems like every other day I’m turning around and seeing a new book by you come
Well, it’s a combination of, you know, having worked a day job for so long, I got used to writing weekends and um, evenings. So maximizing my time. So it’s suddenly, it’s like, Hey, I’ve got 40 hours a week. Not counting the commute. Let Extra to write. I, there’s no excuse not to get stuff out. And also the fact that I’m not a bestselling author, I have not had that, you know, big breakthrough, crazy sales book.
So I, you know, to stay writing full-time, I have to keep out a pretty decent stream of content while keeping up the quality. Because if someone says, wow, Jeff’s latest one was garbage, then I could have lost that reader for, you know, the end of time. So I have to be prolific and also, Only deliver, you know, really entertaining books.
So yeah, it’s pretty much, I have the time, I’ve got the, you know, work ethic down and I also have the need to keep books out because I really don’t wanna go back to doing insurance stuff
Stephen: there. There’s your impetus, you know, pushing you. And I, I appreciate you saying that ’cause I think a lot of people need to hear that type of thing that you don’t.
Say, oh, I’m going to go full time and just get one book out a year necessarily. Uh, today’s market is fairly dense with the amount of books that are out there, so people seem to always want that next thing. Thank you Netflix for binging everything. Yeah. So. Uh, just a snarky little comment on your Creep Out book, uh, four-Time Brahm Stoker Award nominee, which I love that story.
Stephen King beating you out, but it just seems, when I read it from your humor, it, it should say four-time Brahm Stoker Award. Almost winner.
Jeff: I do that in like bios where it’s, you know, Jeff Strand is a four time Brahm Stoker nominee and zero time winner. Right. But I figured for the actual cover of a book, I don’t do that, but I put it in the bio stuff and,
Stephen: and your wife does your covers, right?
Yes. So Lynn Hansen. Well, Jeff. What would you say for other new authors out there, people who are working on their first book or have a book or two out and are like, man, I don’t know about this. What, what, what advice might you give them? Well, for people
Jeff: who are still, you know, who haven’t published a book, don’t be afraid of the practice novel.
What used to happen was you didn’t have a choice because there were gatekeepers. So you would write a book, it would get rejected by everybody, and you’d have to write another book because that book was not gonna get published. And that’s kind of how you learn to write. The gatekeepers don’t have to be there anymore.
So it’s easy to finish your first novel and think, Hey, in 12 hours I can have this available. But you know, the art of the practice novel should still be around, and it’s totally fine. You write a book, you say, you know what, this isn’t good enough. If you’re, you know, if you’re. Wanting to be a musician, you don’t immediately learn to play the guitar perfectly.
If you wanna be in sports, you don’t immediately become a great football player. You practice a lot. So there’s nothing wrong with practicing writing. And so, you know, don’t be afraid if your first book isn’t that good. It is totally fine to just. Put it, leave it on the hard drive and never let human eyes look at it.
I wrote lots of books before I had one that I thought was good enough to be published, and then I wrote many more before I had one that actually was good enough to be published so that it’s totally fine to. Write stuff that never comes out because you’re practicing writing. If you have books out and they’re not doing as well as you would hope, you know, it can be a long cumulative process, especially in the digital world where it’s not front loaded, like a print book is a fruit print book.
Everything is based on when it’s face out in the bookstores. And then after that, Maybe it’s still in the bookstore, but it’s spy out. And then after that, they start sending ’em back to the publisher for credit. But it’s not like that with a digital book. Your digital book can hit anytime and if you keep adding to it, you know, the revenue streams keep growing.
So it’s, you know, the dark part is it could take a long time. It took, you know, I’m not an inspiring story in terms of. How long it took because it took me forever to quit my day job. A lot of authors haven’t taken anywhere near that long. You know, there are self-published authors whose first book did really well, but there are self-published authors whose who took a long time.
There isn’t one path to success. There are lots of different ones, and just kind of really the generic advice is keep at it because, It can happen. You just keep trying to write books that entertain people. Don’t get frustrated. Have a, you know, day job so that you’re not stressed out of your mind because the last one didn’t sell and keep writing.
Stephen: I I love that. I agree. If, if anyone would say, Hey, this sounds interesting, what would be the first book or two you would advise them to read of yours?
Jeff: Well, specifically if someone listened to this particular podcast and said, Hey, I. Mildly entertained by what he’s saying. Then it would be the Writing Life, which is my latest book, and it’s nonfiction.
It’s the Writing Life Reflections, recollections, and a lot of cursing. It’s sort of, you know how I got through all of the frustrating times in my long career. If someone said, I don’t care about that, I just wanna read one of his novels. I would say probably Wolf Hunt or Blister, one of those two.
Stephen: Uh, I, I love Wolf Hunt, George and Lou.
I’ve listened to the audio book like five, six times by now. Not cool. Yeah. Good. And the second and third one, uh, were just as good though. You scared me with what you did with Lou in two, but it all came out good.
Jeff: Well, actually, the writing life has a description of the whole loose situation and why I course corrected it.
Oh, okay. So it’s like, here’s why I did it and here’s why I undid it.
Stephen: And that’s, you know, it’s your books, your writing, and you can do so much with them. It was basically
Jeff: creative mistakes when you realize, hey, I messed up,
Stephen: right? Yes. I, I, I was, I was going to put in a review like, oh my God, I can’t believe you did this.
And, uh, but then, uh, I got three very shortly after that and I’m like, okay, I’ll forgive them.
Jeff: Yeah. No, it’s actually a fun article about how, um, you know, you sometimes you can justify a creative decision. Then you get the reaction, say, okay, that was a bad creative decision, and then how can I fix this? And that’s what I did.
Stephen: Well, uh, Jeff, you know, uh, you could always come back and visit Kent. I mean, we’ve got snow flurries right now, and it’s just barely above 20. That’s probably perfect, right? Absolutely. Well, I mean, you lived in Alaska. I, I find that humorous, that you wanted to live warm and you moved to Alaska for a while.
Jeff: Well, no, I started in Alaska. I lived in Alaska for 15 years. Then we moved to Ohio, and then after eight years of Ohio, I said, I have got to get out of cold weather because Kent was cold. But then I moved to Bowling Green for college and Bowling Green is I. Very flat and very windy. Yes. So it wasn’t, you know, Alaska doesn’t have that much wind because your Sur Fairbanks, Alaska doesn’t have that much wind because you’re surrounded by huge mountains.
So it can be, temperature-wise really, really cold, but it’s not as miserable as the bowling green Ohio ice daggers. Yes. Flying into your face. So that was what killed me. That’s where I said, I can’t do this anymore. I need to move to, I moved to Arizona for a year and then I moved to, Um, Florida for a little over 20 years.
So I’m a warm weather guy now.
Stephen: Well, I, I lived in San Diego area for a while, and that if you. I don’t like changes in weather. That’s the place to be because it’s either nice and sunny, or it’s nice and sunny with a mild chance of rain. Yeah. That’s the only weather.
Jeff: As opposed to Ohio where it’s like shorts and t-shirt weather.
And then by that afternoon you’re breaking out the parka and then by the evening you’re back to shorts and t-shirts and you never know what’s gonna happen.
Stephen: Literally. And that, that could be July 6th. Yeah. So well, Jeff, uh, I appreciate you taking some time talking with me today. It’s been a thrill for me, a great way to start my weekend here.
Uh, I, I must say personally, I love your books. I’m gonna keep getting as many of them as you keep writing 50 more. All right, well, thank you. I. Uh, you have a great day, man. I appreciate it.
Jeff: All right, thank you. Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths. Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road they’ve traveled, and maybe sometime in the near future it might be you.