Ahem. Well, how has everyone been? Any excitement? Anything new? Anything worth talking about?
Speculative Faith Hive Mind: Skip the chit-chat, Nietz. We want answers. News! What do you have to add to the discussion? Amish Vampires in Space is out! Hinterlands is out! What happened, man?
HM: We know that already! How does that make you feel?
Me: That result wouldn’t have been my first preference, obviously. I worked really hard on AViS, felt it was a quality story (and reviews seem to confirm that feeling), and think it would be an asset to any company deemed “the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction.”
That said, I certainly wouldn’t want one of my literary children in a place where it wasn’t wanted.
Ten years ago, such a change would’ve resulted in a book being orphaned. Today, though, things are different. It is a straightforward process to create accounts with both POD and eBook providers.
In fact, of any of the Marcher Lord Press authors, I was probably the best person for this sort of thing to happen to. (Aside from maybe Jill Williamson, because she’s sort of the queen of all media.) I already had a CreateSpace and eBook accounts set up from having republished my memoire FoxTales last summer. It was only a matter of revising the AViS eBooks and the print galley to replace references to the old publisher with that of my new imprint.
HM: New imprint?
Me: Yes, I created my own imprint “Freeheads.” The name is based on a term from my DarkTrench books, and the image … well, to me it sort of looks like the guy from another publisher’s image taking flight. But that’s just me. 🙂
As of now, and partially due to Steve’s and Jeff’s help and understanding, there will be no time where AViS is found unavailable to the general public. Both the print book and eBooks are already revised and out. They started showing up on Amazon a week ago.
HM: So, no hard feelings?
Me: Feelings are a matter of choice, aren’t they?
HM: Still, it seems like you got a raw deal …
Me: There were some things that probably could’ve been handled better. As Jeff mentioned in his video interview, this all happened pretty fast, and every time things are rushed, some things don’t get done as well as they might have been. No one knows that better than a writer.
HM: Is it true that AViS was selling poorly? Or that it wasn’t mainstream enough?
Me: I’m not sure any of my work is CBA mainstream. They’ve never gotten an award recognizing them as such anyway. All of the awards my books have received are from secular organizations. So take that as you will.
Regardless, I never think about where my story fits. I just write what interests me. Thankfully, what interested me usually interested Jeff as well.
As for sales, no, AViS was actually selling well by MLP standards. For instance in Amazon print sales alone, for the last eight weeks of 2013 I sold 60% of the print books I’ve sold there all year, and most of those were AViS. It wasn’t just a new release bubble either. Mask came out in February and it didn’t have near the impact.
Plus, there’s no denying AViS created buzz. In fact, I just had a pre-interview for a national radio show.
HM: So, the book had good buzz and good sales. So what happened?
Me: Steve hasn’t said much more to me than he has to you. <shrug> A man buys a business he can do with it as he sees fit, though.
HM: Speculate then. Why do you think he made the decision not to carry AViS?
Me: LOL. There it is, isn’t it?
I’m in a strange situation, because Marcher Lord Press still has the rights to my other books. I will say this, I argued strongly for the merits of AViS, as did others. The answer remained a resounding “no,” though. It finally reached the point where I felt like Moses arguing with Pharaoh, but in reverse: “Let my people STAY!”
That’s when I realized that this might be a God thing. That I should just back off and buckle down for self-publishing the book and let the blessings fall where they may.
Plus, beyond my own feelings and self-interest, I thought this sale could be in the best interest of everyone else involved—especially my friends the other MLP authors. Unlike many of the rest, I’ve been traditionally published before and seen my book in a bookstore. There’s a special feeling to that. I wouldn’t want to deny the rest of them that thrill over my little book.
HM: It was the Amish factor, wasn’t it?
Me: Again, I can’t know for sure. I did have one author friend share how he/she was verbally assaulted because of AViS. Like, this other person was mad at my friend for the existence of my book. Crazy.
Frankly, I think the whole backlash against AViS illustrates how superficial even Christian readers are. That book is no more or less a straight sci-fi tale than anything else I’ve ever written. I’m quite proud of it, and my conscience is clear on what I’ve written.
Yet, it has been summarily judged by a vocal group of Amish defenders based, not on its content, but on perception. Based on its cover and title.
That’s my one regret. That AViS has been attacked for all the wrong reasons, by people who have no idea what’s in it. Apparently there are some sacred cows that you just can’t challenge—and they have nothing to do with the gospel. Just perception.
At some point I may write another article that touches on all I’ve learned about the status quo as part of my research for this book. I have some fascinating stories.
HM: Yes, we bet you do. So, what’s next for Kerry Nietz? Any more stories? Is Marcher Lord Press a possibility?
Me: Good question. In some ways, I’m just like you: willing to wait and see. Steve and I have discussed future publication at Marcher Lord. He said my ideas are always welcome, and that he has no intent to turn MLP into a “friendly unicorns only” publishing house.
That said, I would hate to spend another year of my life on something only to find I’ve crossed another imaginary line. Milked another sacred cow. 🙂 So I’m going to have to think hard about what comes next.
There were a few unanswered subtexts at the end of AViS, though, and from a reader’s perspective, I really want to know how those resolve. Obviously, I’d have to go completely on my own on that one.
That isn’t a bad thing to do while you’re waiting, though, is it?