Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Introducing Andy Holloman

What I love about hosting Indie Authors on my blog, is that I am exposed to new authors I might never hear about.  Andy Holloman, author of Shades of Grey is one such author.  While y'all are reading his insprational message for authors and writers alike, I'm going to be downloading Shades of Grey onto my Kindle.
This Kindle was definitely my best investment of 2011.  Without any further ado, let me introduce you to Andy Holloman.

Reflections of a writer as 2011 draws to a close
So it's that time of year.  The time when all of us are suppose to get nostalgic and reflect upon the "soon to be ending" year and wax poetic regarding our goals for the upcoming year.  My response to this overdone pastime is "Bah Humbug!"

I had a pretty decent, no EXCELLENT, 2011.  So perhaps I should be more inclined to enjoy my accomplishment of having my first novel be published.  Hey, not bad!  Damn, now I'm stuck because it does feel mucho chic to be writing the phrase "my first novel ...published".   I can feel my earlier "bah humbug" melting away.  

Lesson One -  Hold onto EVERYTHING you write.
For those of you who have that novel, memoir, or non-fiction book tucked away in a drawer, I did too.  In fact, my copy of my novel was SOOOOO old that it was saved on a 3.5 in. floppy disk!  Remember those!  I had shelved plans to be a published writer because, well, it just didn't seem like it was gonna happen.  I read the recommended books, polished my MS, and queried until my fingers bled.  I only received a few nibbles.  But I was realistic. I didn't expect an agent to scoop up my MS and shout from the highest mountain that they had just discovered the next bestseller. (Well, maybe I had a wee bit hope that it might happen!)
Because I had floated my MS out to members of a writing group I had joined in 2005, at the end of 2010, a friend from that group
advised me that she had passed my MS along to a local publisher and that they would want to publish it because they typically
went by her recommendation.  And she was right!  Finally, someone wanted to publish me and I hadn't done a thing for almost
5 years!!

Lesson Two -  Don't isolate.
Get into a writers group.  Network with authors, readers, anyone that you can find.  Work at it (and it truly is work).  Use Twitter to meet other authors.  Reach out to as many folks as you can.  There are millions of people like you who want to be writers and who have a MS and who need the EXACT same things that you do.  When you connect with folks who have the same needs as you, then it becomes very easy to swap MS's, critique, suggest connections, point folks to good websites, etc. 

Lesson Three -  Control your Publishing Experience.
Even though I received a publishing contract from TWO different publishers (both were small, indie publishers) I wasn't exactly blown away with what they could deliver in regards to helping me sell books.  By this time, I had also discovered that even the big boy publishing houses depend on authors to do MOST, if not all, of their marketing and promotions themselves.  There simply isn't any money floating around to assist new (read: unproven) authors.  Plus, even if you DO get a publishing offer from a BIG BOY company AND they throw some money into promoting your work, it is STILL VERY UNLIKELY that your book will sell enough copies to earn back the printing costs for your first print run. (Remember that a novel is labeled a "success" if it sells 5,000 copies.)
So take the step that I did and publish yourself.  I knew that I could promote my book effectively and I knew that I had a decent novel.  So I hired a cover designer, editor, and book production company to handle areas that I wasn't familiar with.  Then I got my book onto Amazon, BN, and a few other places.  Hey, I'm a published author!  It all happened on a much faster timeline than would normally be the case and I was involved with every step.  I made the final decisions on everything.  I also have control over the PRICING of my book, which is a HUGE advantage and a lengthier topic than can be addressed here.
Unless you truly do have the next bestseller (but don't be fooled into thinking that ANYONE can predict this) or you have some
insider connection to the publishing world, sending your book out to agents and hoping for a publishing offer is akin to winning
the lottery (only book publishing pays MUCH MUCH less). So don't pin your hopes on the lottery. Take control of your publishing
experience as I did.

So, against my better judgement, I have just written down my "year in review" for 2011.  It was a very special year for me, so I've earned the right to shout out a little.  Make 2012 YOUR year to publish.  It can happen.
Have a great 2012,
Andy Holloman

And if you'd like to know a little more about Andy, here's his bio.
Just like the protagonist in my novel, Shades of Gray,  I was the owner of  travel agency for 12 years (mostly in the 90′s).  But this is the only similarity between myself and John Manning!   (I never ventured into the cocaine business, I swear.)
 I grew up in Greenville, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Economics.  All through high school and college, I was notorious for scribbling out stories and ideas for novels (hey, this was before wordprocessors!)  and always kept them in a top secret shoe box. (and the box is so top secret that I’ve been trying to find it for 15 years!).
       After college, I fell into the travel industry by accident and was able to grow a travel business  into an Inc. 500 company.  The agency grew  through the use of the Internet and by acquiring three other companies.  Late in the 1990’s, I became familiar with the story of one of the my company’s clients who was murdered in Durham, NC and was a suspected drug smuggler.    This story and the subsequent downfall of the travel agency industry (and my company)  after 9/11,  planted a seed in my head that grew into my first published novel, Shades of Gray.  I began writing this novel in 2003, shelved after completion in 2006, and revived in 2011 thanks to a great friend from a writers group in Cary, NC.
      Today, I live in the Raleigh, NC area.  I am the father of three,  and have been happily married for 20 years.  I enjoy (mostly) attending my kids sporting and school events, supporting the local real estate industry, and watching fine films with my wonderful wife.  Whenever possible, I enjoy the beauty of North Carolina’s mountains,  running, camping, and short walks on the beaches of the Outer Banks (several references to OBX in my book) .    I am also an avid reader (time permitting), and a social media goofball.   Most evenings I can be found tapping out my next novel,  due for release in late 2013.   Stay tuned!


Andy H said...

hey cindy, mucho merci for the support, will tweet out the location and send some folks your way..u r lovely

Unknown said...

Nice post! Thanks for sharing what you've learned :)

Raine Thomas said...

Wonderful post, Andy! As a fellow indie author, it was great to read about your experience and nod along with your points. Best of luck in 2012!

Toby Neal said...

Great cover on your book, and fun post. Thanks for sharing!

D.C. said...

Great post, Andy! Thanks for sharing!

RachelintheOC said...

You're such a smartie, Andy. You've learned so much and I'm thrilled to be along for the ride. Thx for sharing all your wisdom.

Tamara Ward said...

Great post, Andy! I can't wait to read Shades of Gray.

Sharper13x said...

Nice post, Andy, and congratulations on your 2011!

You do a great job of detailing the reasons why following the time honored method of querying big publishers makes so little sense in 2011. If you have a book that can sell, you can sell it. And if you still want that contract after you've done all that work yourself, the truth is, selling your book is the best way to get their attention anyway. They are a business, not a book club. If they are going to be interested or uninterested in your book, it's not because it's so great or so terrible. It'll be because they think it can make money.

So, you make it great. Make it everything you want it to be, then see if you can sell it. If you can do the first part, your already a success. If you can do the second part, you might also get the attention of big publishers. Although... just make sure you really think through why you care what they think before you sign anything.

Great post!

Cindy Vine said...

Thanks for a great post, Andy, was motivational. It was a pleasure to host you and I hope 2012 is a year full of book sales. I'll be posting a review of Shades of Grey in the near future.

Unknown said...

Excellent post Andy! Thanks for hosting Cindy :).

Happy New Year Everyone!