Monday, November 29, 2010

Featured Author: Paul Collis

Paul Collis is a Londoner now living in California. The Wrinkly (This tale of one man’s ridiculous attempt at living in a Florida retirement community – and his unexpected encounters with lust, drugs, cosmetics and an identity crisis –)is his comic novel, written from his own screenplay. He agreed to the 10 Questions, and provides us with 10 terrific answers.
Interview with Paul Collis, author of The Wrinkly.
Neil, thank you for this opportunity to chat about myself. I really appreciate the effort you put into this blog, and the service you provide to Smashwords authors and readers.
1) How long have you been writing?
I spent 30 years writing 30-second TV commercials for ad agencies in London and San Francisco, as an art director and as a copywriter. If we were given 40 seconds we could let the dialogue breathe a little. If we had 60 we’d think we were in Hollywood. A decade ago, when work started to get thin on the ground, I had an idea that I thought would make an amusing movie, so I attempted a script roughly 200 times longer than I was used to. ‘The Wrinkly’ didn’t get picked up, but I liked the process and I wrote another, which became a finalist in the Acclaim TV awards. Then, a few years ago, I read that a major studio was about to move on a project with exactly the same premise as ‘The Wrinkly’, so I decided it was worth rewriting as a novella (it’s 45,000 words). But it was only this year that I chose the tools to publish it myself – Smashwords and Createspace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service.
2) How are you marketing your books?
This is my first attempt, so the answer is – not as well as I should be. I bought the domain name, set up a basic web page and email account, and sent out a press release through a free PR website. I decided not to pay for reviews at Kirkus and similar operations, but I sent a printed proof to Booklist, the librarian review site about six weeks ago. (I’ve had no response so far.) ‘The Wrinkly’ involves a retirement community and golf, so I sent emails to relevant webzines. But I’m not that keen on Facebook; I’m easily distracted, and for me it would be a time-absorbing black hole – regular email’s bad enough. I did set up a page for The Wrinkly on Facebook and conducted an experimental targeted ad campaign. I ended up spending $20 to make one sale. I’m sure it’s better for big-ticket items, a classic Studebaker, something like that. As far as the real, 3D world, a few local bookstores have agreed to carry the paperback. But my main strategy has been to beg my friends to buy it.

3) Tell us why readers will like your latest book.
I think quite a few people might empathize with a guy who’s dissatisfied, unfulfilled, who wants to quit the rat race. In Mike Lewis’s case he’s 39 and he works in a youth-centric culture to which he doesn’t really relate. He’s quite good at golf, but doesn’t think that he could make money from it. By chance he discovers a solution – premature retirement in an idyllic senior community. He cons his way in (it is fiction) only to become the center of a farce involving cosmetics, drug running, lust, and manatees. And who doesn’t like manatees? (I’m donating half the proceeds of the paperback to them.) Unfortunately there are no scenes involving graphic violence, deviant sex or drug crazed Nazis, so that’ll reduce its appeal a tad. But for anyone in need of some light entertainment while on jury duty, this might fit the bill.

4) How do you edit your books? Do you have help?
I thank the god of cheap laser printers because, for me, reading on a screen is one thing but editing on a screen is another; I like to cross things out in red pen. I imagine I edit the same way as most people – by reading, rewriting, reading again. Scouring for typos, repetition, grammatical errors, for inconsistencies in character and chronology. And looking for sentences that are just plain dumb, because what might seem amusing at 11pm is often not so brilliant at noon the next day. As for help, I have a friend who’s a better writer than me, and I asked her to read it not so much for her literary suggestions, which would only make me more insecure than I am already, but for her ability to root out my most egregious Britishisms.

5) Where are your books available?
The Ebook is at every site/format where
Smashwords ebooks can be bought. On the Smashwords site itself, insert the coupon code  HR57Y  and The Wrinkly will cost $0.99 instead of $1.99. The Paperback is online at your local Amazon, or it can be ordered through your local bookstore.

6) What have your reviews been like so far?
I’ve had none at Smashwords yet, but
the few reviews at Amazon are mainly short and friendly, most of them noting its cinematic origins. I mean, they realize it’s meant to be more Caddyshack or Cocoon than The Corrections.

7) What do you deal with at your blog/website? I’m not much for blowing a trumpet, mine or anyone else’s, and is about as basic as a web page can be. Although it does have an email link.
8) Have you found reader discussion groups for your genre?I haven’t really looked, but I’m sure that if I checked out groups covering writers like Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry I’d learn something useful.
9) Would you like to review your favorite Smashwords writer? I’m embarrassed to say I’ve read very few so far, so I don’t yet have a favorite. I’ve promised myself, and now you, to make an effort and turn off the radio and keep the newspapers unopened for a week and get down to some reading. So I’ll let you know when I find one.
10) What are you working on now?
A novel about theft and revenge, set in 17th century London and 21st century Los Angeles. I’m halfway through it and I’m not speedy, so you’ll have to give me a year or so.

Enjoy The Wrinkly on your new eReader, and recommend to your gifted friends.

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