I wanted to talk to Marie Bilodeau, a multi-Aurora-nominated Ottawa-area author about her new novel, Nigh. It is an apocalypse story, a magical one, which is an original twist, but it’s also taking an old-school/new-school leaf in that Marie decided to serialize the novel as several novellas and self-publish them. So I sat virtually with Marie and the disjointed conversation that follows is the best one out of twenty-six takes…
So what’s fun about Nigh?
Stop! That’s not even a real word! God, let’s start again. Take twenty-five….
No! Keep typing! It is a word! That’s what fun. I’ve taken all the old scary faerie stories and thought about what would happen if the veil between our world and theirs suddenly collapsed. It’s not pretty. It’s definitely dark fantasy that could also be considered horror.
Plus, since I’m a professional storyteller, I’m also going to be performing a set of traditional faerie stories, woven in with some bits of Nigh, as bonus-can’t-read-this-on-the-page material. No, but seriously: FAERIEPOCALYPSE!
Ha ha! You’re funny. Why would they do that? Ha ha ha… *shifty eyes*
You’re a traditionally-published author with 6 novels (3 fantasy, 3 scifi) doing well with small press. So, paper books, bound together, author advance, etc. What made you pick self-pub and serialized as a strategy?
With Nigh, I had a very specific vision of what I wanted to accomplish, so I wanted to see it through myself, from start to finish. I started when The Page of Reviews (led by Adam Shaftoe) mentioned that he would “buy the sh*t” out of a serialized novel by me (or something like that). Because my mind is fertile grounds for crazy ideas, it took root rather easily.
In the end, all five parts of Nigh will come together to form a complete novel, but each part has its own unique storyline. For example, the first is “something weird is going on….” And the second is “OMG PEOPLE ARE FALLING FROM THE SKY AND DID THAT PERSON JUST EXPLODE?”
You’re yelling again! Take your caps-lock off.
Sorry. (Not really.) I also had a very specific vision for the cover: a traditional-looking faerie tale book with the title destroying it in some way. So, for Nigh 1, the title is burning through it. All five books will have their unique covers. On top of that, there will also be a print edition with extra artwork within, in the grand tradition of faerie stories.
I loved working with my traditional publishers and learned a lot that way. I plan on continuing to work in traditional publishing as well! But, in this case, my vision for the final product came on too strongly and I wanted to see it through. It’s the Type A in me.
As a writer, I occasionally consider self-pubbing some of my stuff, but I worry about being one of the 500,000+ self-pubbed pieces, and being lost in the flood, and selling four copies and getting a request for one return. Are you crazy? If you’re not, what sort of business and marketing plans did you set up for this?
Well, I think the consensus is that yes, I am crazy, but I’m also fun! I already have an established fan base, which I’m hoping will follow Nigh as loyally as they followed my two other series. I levelled up with this book, so I really hope they do. Plus, since I’m a full time writer/storyteller, the thought of having regular monthly/quarterly royalty payments as opposed to payments every six months/year/maybe never was definitely appealing.
On the business plan side, I’ve been mostly making use of my project management experience, with lots of charts and timelines. I *love* charts and timelines! It keeps everything in check and keeps me honest. Nigh is a pretty breakneck release schedule, with a book coming out every month until it’s done, so it’s going to be rather crazy (but fun!) … See how we’ve circled back to that?
On the marketing side, I approached a bunch of people in my network and asked for help with promotion. That includes blog posts, reviews, sharing on social media… I’m pretty open, as long as the word gets out there. I’ve been lucky to meet lots of great people over the past few years, so I’m feeling the love.
To ramp up interest, I also released a free copy to all my eNewsletter subscribers. And I’m working again with Beverly Bambury, a publicist who’s great at helping out with some quality media hits (www.beverlybambury.com). She’s kick ass.
Since this is a serialized novel, I have five releases in quick order. I’m curious to see if that’ll help build up momentum for the series as a whole. I’m really hoping it will.
The cover is absolutely amazing. Who did you lean on (in the mafia sense) to get such a good cover?
Ha ha! Hang on. Let me consult my lawyer… Okay, so this person certainly DOES NOT have any Italian blood nor has she EVER changed her last name so that her Italian roots would be disguised. My roomie, Kerri Elizabeth Gerow (who NEVER had another last name), is a wonderful artist. She drew the art and is doing the inside art as well. For the design (typeface, colour, texture), I hired Designs by Lyndsey. She did a great job working with Kerri’s art and their two styles really complement each other. I couldn’t be happier! I could be a bit less caffeinated though, my lawyer informs me.
Marie is back in consultation with her lawyer, but I think we got it on take twenty-six. The first of five serialized novellas making up the Nigh story launched two days ago at Amazon. It’s only 99 cents so you can give it a try for less than the price of a cup of coffee. If you’re interested in Marie’s other work, links are at her website.
Derek Künsken writes science fiction and fantasy. You can find out more about him at @derekkunsken. His horror story “Dog’s Paw” was included in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume 6 and can also be heard for free at Pseudopod.