Hello, I'm a self-published and small press-published author of more than 40 books and novels. Ask me anything about writing, self-publishing, marketing or my work!

Bryan W. Alaspa
Sep 2, 2018

My name is Bryan Alaspa and I am the author of more than 40 books and novels. I have self-published a lot of them, but have also worked with small press publishers in a more traditional sense. I write thrillers, horror, detective novels, true crime and history book. I do not have an agent and I hold down a full-time job while also writing, editing, and publishing my work. In my daily life, I am an SEO expert and digital marketing specialist. I'd love to field questions from those interested in writing, considering self-publishing, or those looking for different outlets for publishing.

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What are your thoughts about the print-on-demand services for book authors? What are the advantages of such services?
Sep 4, 10:29AM EDT0

I use CreateSpace, which is a service through Amazon. They have paired it nicely with their Kindle platform these days. I also use their ACX platform to find voice talent and have produced many audiobooks through them. These days, I think they work just fine, but find the ones connected to Amazon work best because they promote them more. With online book-buying easily outpacing bookstore book-buying these days, it's a good way to get your print books out to the public. Also, CreateSpace filters the print editions to other book sites like Barnes & Noble.

Sep 4, 10:49AM EDT0
One of the good things about being part of the crime fiction community is the camaraderie that goes along with it. Would you agree with this and what part of it are you especially fond of?
Sep 4, 4:26AM EDT0

I'd go along with that, but I would expand it. I have found it rewarding to just be part of the writing and author community. I have become good friends with other writers and I find their input and camaraderie to be excellent, too. Only other writers can really understand what other writers go through. We have different processes, but we all tend to experience much of the same things. I love it and find that if writers work together and don't try to compete with each other, we all end up winning.

Sep 4, 7:01AM EDT0
How do you manage your time to write your novels and have a full-time job?
Sep 3, 7:53AM EDT0

It's not easy. Not at all, but you just have to carve out time when and where you can. I am fortunate in that I can crank out (usually) 1,000 words in half an hour or so. So, right now, I am working on two novels at once. I write 1K words in the morning in one and then write during my lunch hour and get 1K words in the 2nd novel. When I am working on just 1 novel or book, I write 500 words in the morning and then 500 words at lunch. 

Sep 3, 11:30AM EDT0
Besides finding time, is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sep 3, 3:08AM EDT0

Editing. I get impatient. Often, the story has been in my brain for months, maybe years. By the time I write the book, I am DONE. However, being a self-published author means I have to go back at some point and edit the book. I can hire editors, sure, but I do a run-through on my own and then I have to take the Beta readers and editors comments and suggestions need to be done. So, there are often multiple rewrites and revisions before I can publish.

Sep 3, 11:29AM EDT0
Why did you like Johann Apasilic, AKA Mr Apples from the series The Lightning Weaver
Sep 2, 10:17PM EDT0

I always like a good villain. Even as a kid, when I saw Star Wars, my favorite character was Darth Vader. I think a great villain is usually more interesting than the hero and a good villain makes a better hero. So, I knew I would need a really bad, serious, villain for a full series. I also like my villains to be complicated. When I was into comic books, Magneto was my favorite villain. He does horrible things, but his reasons behind them are not crazy. He wants to protect his people. I think Mr. Apples is along those lines.

Sep 3, 11:27AM EDT0
What is your creative process like? Where do you get so many ideas for new novels?
Sep 2, 9:28AM EDT0

The funny thing is, I don't think I have a set process. I mean, I go through similar things to start writing, but the ideas come fast and furious when they come. Sometimes an idea comes in hot and fast, but when I try to write it down, I find the story isn't quite right. I will often say the idea needs to tumble around in the "rock polisher" in my head. Sometimes an idea tumbles around in there for years and sometimes the idea comes complete and intense. I get ideas from the news, urban legends, a conversation I have, an experience I have, something I see. Sometimes I don't really know where they come from. I was once just walking my dog and had an intense image (even though I was walking her during the summer) of the street buried in snow after a blizzard and three men walking down the middle of the road towards where we were. I knew they were bad, something bad was going to happen, but not what exactly. That eventually became my one NaNoWriMo novel After the Snowfall

Last edited @ Sep 3, 11:34AM EDT.
Sep 2, 10:36AM EDT0
What are the most common archetypes that you use in your stories?
Sep 1, 11:54PM EDT0

Since Stephen King and some other horror writers of his ilk have been my inspiration, I think I borrow some main character archetypes from them. Ordinary people who find themselves in amazing, supernatural situations and having to deal with them. I also have revisted the idea of child murderers a few times. I think if I need to show someone is very evil, I tend to make them child killers because that is the most evil thing I can think of. I also deal quite a bit with alternate realities. I have visited the idea of alternate realities, dimensions, timelines, again and again. Finally. I have a fictional town in Pennsylvania called Knorr that is a little like my Castle Rock - and a lot of my fictional world is centered there or passes through there.

Last edited @ Sep 2, 10:40AM EDT.
Sep 2, 10:33AM EDT0
What are your thoughts on the monetization methods offered to self-published authors by platforms like Radish and Wattpad?
Sep 1, 8:41PM EDT0

Well, I haven't had much luck with them, but know others who have. I had a story I was telling in episodic terms on Wattpad for a while, but it never really took off there and didn't do much for me. However, in the world of self-publishing, it can be so hard to make money, I am all for whatever platform the author finds works for them. For me, it was Kindle. I jumped on the Kindle platform with the release of the very first Kindle e-reader. Amazon notified me I could join up and submit my work and that led to the audience I have.  So, I have stuck with that. However, I have also tried platforms like Inkitt, Wattpad, etc. I may try them again, too. 

Sep 2, 10:28AM EDT0
What drew you to writing thriller and horror novels?
Sep 1, 6:38PM EDT0

I have always been a little dark, I guess. I once had a friend ask me why I couldn't write a nice story about puppies, bunnies and flowers. I said: I have to write about the things that interest me, so unless the flowers are poisonous and the bunnies and puppies rabid, they just won't interest me.

Sep 1, 8:12PM EDT0
What are some challenges you have encountered from self-publishing?
Sep 1, 5:02PM EDT0

Selling enough to make any kind of living or even part-time income. Having to do the marketing all alone and having to edit the book, too. Finding good Beta readers and editors willing to work for basically nothing is hard. Plus, finding outlets for the books is tough. You really won't be able to get your books into bookstores when you self-publish, so it's all digital. 

Sep 1, 8:11PM EDT0
Forty books are a real accomplishment especially with a full-time job and doing it all on your own. What do you do to make sure you stay focused to reach your writing goals?
Sep 1, 10:16AM EDT0

Thank you for this question. You just find the time. I write early in the morning. I strive to write 1,000 words a day. Sometimes, I write 500 before work and then 500 during lunch. If you love doing it, like I do, you find the time. You carve out half an hour here, an hour there, a few hours here. Sometimes you take a mental health day from work and be a writer. I find writing my fiction work before I have to write blog articles and website content primes the pump, so I can write business-related materials the rest of the day.

Last edited @ Sep 2, 10:43AM EDT.
Sep 1, 11:32AM EDT0
What advice do you have for someone who is a writer but hasn’t focused on writing their book yet? Or don’t know the first steps to publish their work?
Sep 1, 9:06AM EDT0

You just have to do it. There is no magical formula I can give that will allow you to focus and write that novel. I know lots of great authors who seem afraid or unable to focus for some reason. It can be intimidating. The thing is you just have to sit down and write. You have to find the time and just write 1,000 words of whatever you can a day. I set out every day to write 1,000 words for each project I am working on, but sometimes can only manage 500, or 300. Don't beat yourself up about it. Do what you can. As for publishing, it's pretty simple. There are so many platforms out there and if you self-publish, they are pretty intuitive. If you want traditional publishing you'll need to learn how to write query letters and reach out to agents.

Sep 1, 11:31AM EDT0

What made you decide to want to be an author?

Sep 1, 8:48AM EDT0

I just loved it. Once I sat down and wrote my first story, it was all I wanted to do. What kind of writing was always a bit up in the air. I tried journalism and have done that kind of writing. I write non-fiction too. But the act of creating a story, telling a story, is what I love and it is what made me want to be a writer.

Sep 1, 11:25AM EDT0

What is the difference between a small press publisher and traditional publishing?

Sep 1, 8:08AM EDT0

A traditional publisher will usually require you to have a literary agent to submit your work on your behalf and work out a contract. Bigger, traditional, publishers have a large marketing department and a team of edtors, lawyers and a team to help make the book a successs. Small presses often do not have the budget for big marketing campaings, which means you have to shoulder a lot of the burden. You may not get your book into a bookstore even with a small press. So, you have to work a little harder on the back end than with a traditional publisher. You will also often make more money from traditional publishers in royalties than small presses.

Sep 1, 11:24AM EDT0
What self-publishing platforms are great for writers who have never published before?
Sep 1, 7:36AM EDT0

For me, it's all about Amazon. They got there first and have developed the tools I think work best. I find their Kindle platform easy to use. Their print platform, CreateSpace, take a little more work, but is also relatively easy. FInally, their ACX platform has allowed me to turn most of my self-published works into audiobooks. 

Sep 1, 11:22AM EDT0
What do you believe are the best outlets for publishing?
Sep 1, 7:32AM EDT0

For me, publishing using the tools available from Amazon has been the easiest route. I publish ebooks, create pre-order sales for upcoming books, and use Amazon ads. They also provide me an easy way to publish print books through CreateSpace. FInally, their ACX platform has allowed me to turn most of my books into audiobooks in recent years, which as become a major market for me over the past year or two. I have used Smashwords and Draft2Digital in the past, as well as Google, but never gained much readership in other areas. I have sold best and the most through Amazon.

Last edited @ Sep 2, 10:46AM EDT.
Sep 1, 11:20AM EDT0
How long have you been writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Sep 1, 5:35AM EDT0

I have been writing in one form or another since I sat down at my mom's electric typewriter in the third grade and pecked out this horrible, three-page rip-off of the movie Jaws. I loved the act of creating and writing and from then on, if people asked what I was going to do for a living, I told them I was going to be a writer.

Last edited @ Sep 2, 10:47AM EDT.
Sep 1, 11:18AM EDT0
What kind of marketing strategy is needed to market a self-published book? How effective has this strategy been for you?
Sep 1, 4:10AM EDT0

Well, for me, creating an effective SEO-optimized website is key. I think social media, doing things like this AMA, doing interviews, blog tours and even standard marketing like press releases is key. I know many self-published authors who insist their email marketing campaign is the most important, but I always found that frustrating to get off the ground or become effective. I prefer to participate in Facebook groups, doing some advertising on Amazon and Facebook, and my Twitter feed is my largest audience. I have had other writers tell me how powerful Instagram can be and I have been trying to put some emphasis on that. As for how successful? Well, I have yet to be able to quit my day job working in the marketing department of a large company and write books full time, so not as successful as I would like. However, I have since found audiences in audiobooks and other mediums beyond ebooks and that has helped me a bit. I did co-author a book called What Every Auhor Needs to Know About SEO earlier this year as a primer to understanding what search engine optimization is and how it is used to market your writing through your website. Understanding SEO is a critical marketing tool in the Internet age.

Last edited @ Sep 3, 11:35AM EDT.
Sep 1, 11:17AM EDT0
What do you enjoy about writing and when do you hate writing the most?
Sep 1, 3:09AM EDT0

For me the entire act of creating realistic worlds is the thing I love the most. For me, the characters in my novels come to me and tell me their stories and I love tapping into that flow of words. I have been very lucky about that, when the wors are needed, they are almost always there. This year, however, writing has been a bit of a struggle. My father was very ill and ultimately passed away and other personal issues came up that made writing hard. I felt cut off, for a while, from that flow of words and it was painful. For me, editing can be hard, although I have gotten much better about it. And sometimes marketing the book is tough for me, because I usually have the next book in mind already and just want to start writing that.

Sep 1, 11:14AM EDT0

What authors or writers have inspired you over the years? How does their inspiration reflect in your work now?

Sep 1, 2:18AM EDT0

The first writer that influenced me was Peter Benchley. Even though I was too young to read Jaws, I was so fascinated by sharks that the idea this guy made a living writing about them was fascinating to me. Stephen King became my biggest influence. When it became clear I was a fan of horror, other writers in the genre became infuences. Poe, Shelley, HG Wells (War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man), Jackson, Mattheson, Lovecraft. I think I fall back on their influence all the time. Their abilities to create realisitc ficitional worlds with realistic fictional characters is what I try to use within my own writing. And, creating a good scare, of course. I continue to be inspired and now consider some modern horror authors friends: Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Ronald Malfi, Blake Crouch, Allison Dickson, Patrick Greene, Iain Rob Wright, Ian Woodhead and so forth.

Sep 1, 11:11AM EDT0
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