Steven Lake, featured in today’s IndieView, is a prolific author. More importantly he’s a good writer, and he loves writing. There’s nothing more pleasurable, from a reader’s point of view, than finding a new author, whose writing you love, and finding out they’ve written a whole pile of books.
Steven writes full-time. Lots of good advice here for new writers.
The Back Flap
“Born of a need to protect their homeworld, Earthfleet, the military arm of the Society, struggles continuously to ensure the safety of Earth and all who live on it. But a dark force moves within the galaxy, one who wishes to use Earth as a pawn in its quest for power. In a struggle for survival, the Society, Earthfleet and their allies must race against time to uncover the identity of this dark force, before it can destroy Earth, and the nine races. Failure means extinction of the human race.”
About the book:
What is the book about?
The book is about a group called Earthfleet, the military arm of the Brayburn Society. They find themselves in the middle of a vast universe filled with thousands of races, about equal portions of which either hate Earth, or love us. Earthfleet is tossed into the middle of this world and must work hard to protect Earth, while at the same time trying to unravel the reasons behind a growing unrest within the galaxy that could lead to war.
When did you start writing the book?
Several years ago, actually. It started out as an experimental writing project, and then grew into a series of its own from there, eventually getting to the point where friends and family suggested I get it published. So I did.
How long did it take you to write it?
The actual story itself was completed in about 6 weeks (I write fast). After that I spent nearly a year working on and off in order to clean it up and get it ready for release (once I had been talked into publishing it.)
Where did you get the idea from?
The idea actually came from another experimental novel I had written about five years earlier to try out some ideas. While the original story was put in storage shortly after its completion (having fulfilled its purpose), there was one ship within the book that stayed with me as I worked on other ideas. Eventually the ship morphed and changed and took on other shapes and purposes as I tinkered with the idea until I eventually settled on the design which would eventually become the Sergenious. Then, from that single ship the entire Earthfleet universe was born. It was really a simple matter of asking myself, “What is this ship, why is it here, and what can it do?” Once I answered those questions, Earthfleet itself was born. After that the world began to grow and take on a life of its own, eventually forming the story universe that is the foundation of the series.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
The biggest area I always struggle with on any book is keeping character personalities consistent and accurate. It’s always the one area I have to concentrate the hardest on, but it also is the most rewarding when I’m done, as you don’t end up with cookie-cutter stereotypes or character sets. They become more realistic, and readers enjoy that.
What came easily?
Probably the narrative parts and the action scenes. Those are always easy to do, and lots of fun as well, because there are so many awesome things you can do with them to really make the book fun.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
The characters themselves are entirely fictitious and built using character type models, they are then individually enhanced with a variety of minor character traits I’ve observed in real world people that I have either seen or met to further enhance the characters and make them unique.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
Quite a few actually. Some of my favorites include Tolkien, CS Lewis, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Card, and quite a few others.
Do you have a target reader?
The book itself is targeted towards sci-fi readers, however it’s written in a way that pretty much anyone can enjoy it. I’ve had people who don’t even like sci-fi who have read and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I don’t have one per say, other than to take an idea, let it stew in my head a bit, outline it to see if it’s a valid story, and if it is, then I dive in and start writing it.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just Chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
I outline my book, but not in any structured way. I write my outline as though there’s no chapters, and then flesh out the rough elements of the story from there. Mostly it’s a bunch of simple paragraphs and sentences that outline scenes, plot lines, and many of the macro elements of the story.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I edit a bit as I go, but mostly when I’m doing my initial draft I’m working quickly to get the entire story down, as the ideas tend to come faster than I can put them down on paper. Once the story is written, then I go back and clean it up, do some heavy editing, flesh out areas that didn’t get enough attention and expand the story further.
Did you hire a professional editor?
I do all the initial editing myself, then I run it past proof readers who pick up little problems with the story, as well as spelling and grammar, and then I give it to my publisher who handles all the editing for me, so no, I don’t have a professional editor of my own. I use the one my publisher has.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
At this point in time, no. I plan to in the future with some of my upcoming series, but since my current publisher is happy to do all 12 books of my Earthfleet series for me, I have no need to look for one. I will eventually though once I get my next series ready for release, which I’m hoping will be sometime this year.
What made you decide to go Indie? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
It was more the fact that I saw how ungraciously the big house publishers treated the authors that signed with them. Not wanting to be treated like cattle, I went the small house/indie route instead. The sales numbers are smaller admittedly, but at least they treat you well.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did it you do it yourself?
Yeah, it was done professionally by my publisher, who is also my best friend. He does excellent work.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
Well, a little bit of both really. I do have a specific marketing plan for the basic promotion of my book, but then I’m also winging it in the fact that I’m still scouting for the perfect avenue(s) by which to promote my books.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Patience, and a lot of it. It’s a long, slow, steep road to the top, but the journey is well worth it. I’ve found it better if you have to struggle your way to the top, because once you’re there you’ll appreciate it a lot more. Plus, if you start at the top, the only direction you can go is down. But if you start at the bottom, the only direction (unless you really flub it badly) is up. And the gradual path upward is also the better way to get longer lasting fame and recognition for your writing, as quick success creates a “flash in the pan” effect, which creates temporary admirers, but no long term fans or readers, and those are your bread and butter when it comes to any kind of career in writing.
Also, make sure that if you’re writing for a living you’re doing it because you love to write. There are too many people out there who write strictly for money and not because they enjoy what they’re doing. Authors who write because they love to make the best stories which last for years. Those who are in it strictly for the money typically hate their work and it shows in their books. So take a good long look at the reasons you’re writing. If you’re doing it for the love of writing, then you’re in it for the right reasons. But if you’re just in it for the money, you might want to find a new line of work, because your stories won’t have the same heart in them as those from a true lover of writing.
Where did you grow up?
In Marshall, Michigan in the middle of farm country. It a slow moving, sleepy little area, but still plenty of fun, and there’s lots of nature to go around.
Where do you live now?
In Marshall, where else? 😉 I may be a writer and a computer geek, but I’m a country boy through and through.
What would you like readers to know about you?
I write because I love writing. I enjoy creating the worlds I write about, and living in them, as it makes every day an adventure. It also gives you some occasional opportunities to be a kid again, which is a nice change from the normal stress of today’s world.
End of Interview
Steven was given The Blue Nebula Award for his work on The Oort Perimeter – “For writing excellence and Creativity in a specific genre”.
You can find out more about Steven at his web site, Realms of Imagination.
If you’re a lover of a good sc-fi story then I recommend you go get the book here. It is available as a free download in either epub or mobi.