Today’s guest for the SAT (Successful Author Talk) is Chris Von Halle. Chris’s books recreate his childhood memories of such outlandish locations as the near and distant future Earth, other planets, and even other dimensions. He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and enjoys such extraordinary activities as playing videogames, tennis, and basketball, and writing the occasional comic strip. His debut, THE FOURTH GENERATION, is available now.
Are you a Planner or Pantster?
I’m definitely a pantser at heart, but over the years I’ve incorporated some planning into the equation. It’s an ever-evolving process ☺
How long does it typically take you to write a novel, start to finish?
I think the average is about two years. Usually that involves setting the book aside for months at certain points in order to work on revisions for another manuscript or simply to get distance from the book so I can return to it with fresh eyes.
Do you work on one project at a time, or are you a multi tasker?
As I hinted at above, I’m a bit of a multi-tasker, since I will sometimes set a book aside to work on another depending on which one needs my attention the most at the moment. However, over the course of any long period (say, two years), one project typically occupies most of my time and effort.
Did you have to overcome any fears that first time you sat down to write?
I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even old enough to be aware that writing could be “scary” the first time I sat down to do it. I just wrote for the sheer joy of it. However, the notorious self-doubt monster is definitely something that has periodically reared its ugly head over the years. I think that’s something every writer deals with at some point, though, if not often; even the most “successful” ones.
How many trunked books did you have before you were published?
It’s embarrassing to say, but technically six.
Have you ever quit on an ms, and how did you know it was time?
Yes, six times. In the beginning it was clear that I wasn’t writing at a professional level yet, based on the type of feedback I received from critique partners and agents, so that’s why I shelved a few. Later it was the fact that I sent out so many queries I couldn’t even count, and hardly received any requests or interest.
How did it feel the first time you saw your book for sale?
It felt absolutely fantastic, like a dream come true. Even cooler since I think the cover is so awesome (thanks, Cora Graphics!).
How much input do you have on cover art?
Speaking of which, I did have some input on the cover. That’s what I really like about my publisher, Clean Reads. The cover artist and I had a little back-and-forth action to iron out a couple things, and the result is stunning, I think.
What’s something you learned from the process that surprised you?
I think it’s the importance of evolving and trying different paths if one path isn’t working for you. During my long seven or so years of shooting for publication, I had always envisioned myself trespassing the so-called traditional path: get a literary agent who then gets me a book deal with a major publisher. But after beating down that path for so long without much success, and giving a small press a shot without an agent, I’ve come to realize that that’s also a viable and rewarding path. So, bottom line: Don’t be afraid to try different avenues if one in particular isn’t working for you.
How much of your own marketing do you?
When do you build your platform? After a book deal? Or should you be working before?
I think you can really start building your platform after you get an agent or a book deal, but it doesn’t hurt to have a blog or website while you’re shooting for those things. But, still, I’d say that prior to getting an agent or book deal, your time is best spent honing your writing skills, since ultimately that’s what will bring your work and your writing career to the next level.
Do you think social media helps build your readership?
Certainly. I’m not sure how much it ultimately helps, but it definitely makes you and your book(s) more visible and accessible to the market.