For some reason, the scary soundtrack was stuck on repeat in the M3 Coffee Shoppe. Red pulled out a large batch of baklava and went to see what was happening in the third booth. J.W. Bouchard was signing books for the early evening zombie crowd…You know, the ones who need a caffeine jolt before supper.
M3: The horror crowd knows you but the M3 Readers need a quick introduction.
JWB: I live in Iowa with my wife, two kids, and a Ring-Necked Dove that seems to have discovered the secret to immortality. When I’m not writing, I enjoy cave surveying at Wind Cave in South Dakota. I also manage several businesses and am co-owner of Heroes Only Comics & Games in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I recently worked with Jason Dudek on the first drafts of the screenplay for Infected (fka “Mentryville”), starring Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, and Taylor Handley.
M3: I love doves…especially ring necks. Anyone you want to thank before we get to the meat off the bone?
JWB: I have a strong rebellious streak, so rejection has always served to motivate rather than deter me. I’m always indebted to the people I’ve learned from.
M3: Interesting way of looking at the learning curve. Where did you get started on this publishing path?
JWB: I sold a few short stories back in the 90s, and then spent a number of years without submitting anything. Prior to the last eight months, I had been focusing most of my energy on writing spec scripts. By the time I went back to writing short stories and novels, the self-publishing scene had really taken off.
M3: Sounds like you were distracted. Day job get in the way?
JWB: I manage a business formation service for a group of attorneys. It’s a fast-paced and high-stress job, but secondary to writing, I enjoy building businesses from the ground up. It pays the bills. The concept of being a starving artist is cool when you’re eighteen, but when you’re thirty-four and have a family to support, well, that changes things a bit.
M3: Preaching to the choir on that one. So, how do you find time?
JWB: I think if you really want to call yourself a writer, than you’re always going to find the time to write. I started writing when I was 15. I forced myself to write 7 days a week, and at least a thousand words a day. When I’m passionate about something, I exercise a lot of self-discipline. I wake up and write for a few hours before work, in the evenings, and on the weekends.
M3: Sounds like it could be an all work and no play scenario. Do you go on hiatus?
JWB: I’m a fanatic. It’s a good thing I never got into drugs, otherwise I probably would have been the worst kind of addict. I’m not happy if I’m not working on something. Much to my wife’s dismay, I still work seven days a week.
M3: Perhaps, I should send her a condolence card. Is it always this way or has the economy changed things for you?
JWB: I don’t think so. The cool thing is that using your imagination doesn’t cost anything.
M3: Very true and very fortunate for writers. Over what are you currently toiling?
JWB: Where to start? I have a sci-fi/horror novel called Posers coming out this month. I’m about halfway through the first draft of a sci-fi action novel, and then I’ve outlined a zombie comedy I’ll probably tackle next. I’m also working on a spec script with Jason Dudek, who I co-wrote the script for Infected (fka Mentryville) with. There are plenty of things in the works, but I try to focus on one thing at a time, so I don’t jump the gun and lose interest in whatever I’m currently working on.
M3: Focus is important to success. Has it garnered any success over the publishing industry?
JWB: Not specific to self-publishing. I consider my greatest accomplishment right now to have co-written a script that attracted the attention of Danny Glover, Taylor Handley, and Vinnie Jones.
M3: Very laudable, but it sounds as though you are not all that interested in traditional publishing. Have a specific bone to pick with it?
JWB: I’m focused on self-publishing right now, so not really. There are plenty of folks out there that believe you aren’t a real writer unless if you’ve gotten past traditional publishing’s gatekeepers. I respect that choice, but with so many other avenues open these days, I’d rather have more control over my own destiny.
M3: It is a very popular choice these days. Do you think the gatekeepers are looking down their noses at Indies?
JWB: I could write a book on this. There are some heated arguments going on about exactly that these days. I think most people are intelligent enough to understand that times are changing, but there’s a group of people out there that still look down on self-publishing as though it’s impossible to produce good material without passing through the gauntlet of traditional publishing.
It’s the same mindset people probably had back in the day when they refused to believe the world was round. I’m not necessarily saying that one is better than the other, but there’s a lot of lag time when you go the traditional publishing route. In the time it’s taken me to self-publish two novellas, a short story collection, and a few short stories, I’d probably still be waiting for a response on my first submission with a traditional publisher.
M3: You have chosen my favorite example. Do you have some advice for the newbie heading down the publishing path?
JWB: It’s been said a million times before: read a lot and write a lot. You can study the mechanics, which is important, but nothing compares to being well read. Find your voice. Usually, when you’re starting out, you tend to imitate the writers you admire. It takes a while to find your own style.
M3: Imitation may be the grandest form of flattery, but originality is the winner. Tell me about your colleagues. You came recommended to M3.
JWB: The author-to-author support system is phenomenal. There’s a network of innovative and talented writers who are always there to give advice and help spread the word. Speaking of which, this is probably a good time to give a shout out to Armand Rosamilia, who turned me on to the M3 Blog.
JWB: The story takes place in the 1990s. I grew up during the 80s and 90s, so it was a lot of fun to look back on my own childhood. It’s also my version of the early Spielberg movies. Back when he was doing stuff like E.T. and Jaws.
M3: Memory lane is such a good drive. What makes it different from all the other horror books on the market?
JWB: It’s the whole ‘give me the same, only different’ thing. Yes, it has demons, a possessed jock and the eternal battle between good and evil, but what it’s really about is a kid dealing with the loss of his little brother. I want you to care about the characters as much as I do. If you do, then I’ve done my job.
M3: Sounds like you are onto the whole selling yourself idea. How important is your social media marketing to your books’ successes?
JWB: It’s a critical part of becoming a successful author. You have to build your own brand. Writing is a passion, but it’s also a business. If you want to make it, I think you always have to keep the business side of things in mind.
That being said, it’s easy to get wrapped up in too much self-marketing and promotion, to the point where it interferes with your writing. I’ve tried to take a step back and really focus on the writing first. I also think there’s a fine line between healthy self-promotion and becoming the online version of a traveling Bible salesman.
M3: Then, boil it down. Tell the M3 Readers in 15 words or less why they should buy your book.
JWB: It’s The Goonies with monsters! Who wouldn’t want to check that out?
M3: (Laughing) Who, indeed? Now, you shared something about your childhood. What is there you really do not want me to share with the M3 Readers?
JWB: Have you ever watched American Idol? Every season during tryouts, they always showcase a few contestants that really stink. It’s apparent that in their own minds they sound like the next Lady Gaga, but the rest of us are at home covering our ears. Sometimes, I worry about that with my writing. I’ll think I’m pretty good, but everyone else will be laughing at how bad I am. Sometimes, I’m paranoid like that…
M3: I think most writers are that way! You need to update us when Posers hits the virtual stands.
Darling M3 Readers,
Thank you for your unwavering support of the talented M3 Coffee Shoppe authors. When you tweet and +1 this post, please use the hashtags #authors, #books and #WW.
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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