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Interview med selvudgiver-succesen Dani Amore

Det er kun små to år siden, at Amazon og e-bogen revolutionerede den amerikanske bogbranche. Det nye var ikke så meget, at alle nu kunne selvudgive deres bøger, det havde man jo kunnet hele tiden, det nye og revolutionerende var, at der pludselig var nogle af disse selvudgivere, der solgte rigtig, rigtig mange bøger.

Indtil da var bestsellere noget, de store forlag udgav. Og kun dem. Præcis som herhjemme.

Men pludselig var der navne som Amanda Hocking og John Locke, der i løbet af få måneder rundede salgstal på over en million e-bøger – og i løbet af de to år, der er gået siden da, er flere navne kommet til.

Men okay, med de kritiske briller på, så kunne jeg godt ønske mig lidt mere vildskab og fandenivoldskhed på bestsellerlisterne stadigvæk. Det er mest forfattere, der skriver i kendte genrer – og ofte gør det i bog-serier, der storsælger. Selvudgiver eller ikke selvudgiver. Der tages ikke mange chancer. Man gentager, man holder sig inden for rammerne.

Så er det, man bliver så meget gladere, når der dukker en forfatter op på Amazons bestsellerlister, som både er talentfuld og har noget af den vildskab, jeg efterlyste.

Og det har Dani Amore. Hun har nået en placering i top 20 på Amazons samlede liste, og hendes debut, Death by Sarcasm, blev belønnet med THE 2011 INDEPENDENT BOOK AWARD FOR CRIME FICTION.

Death by Sarcasm er en skarp og speciel krimi, som formår både at være original og samtidig tro mod genren. Men selvom Death by Sarcasm er første roman i en serie sarkastiske krimier, så er Dani Amore ikke en forfatter, der er let at sætte i bås. Inden hun nåede til andet bind i serien, havde hun formået at starte en anden krimiserie, udgive en håndfuld noveller, som bestemt ikke var sarkastiske krimier, og for det ikke skal være løgn var der også plads til en World War 2 romance. Og ja, for kort tid siden udgav hun så lige en western.

Dani Amore set som forfatter-brand er altså en ret rodet ting, og hun gør ikke noget for at tegne et tydeligere brand. F.eks. er der intet biografisk materiale om hende på hendes blog eller på Amazons forfatterside – ja, længe var det eneste officielle billede af Dani Amore, det, der følger dette interview, hvor hendes ansigt er gemt bag en hat.

– Why did you choose to self-publish?

The short answer is that after several well-respected agents had not been able to sell a variety of my projects, I decided to take the plunge with a novel called DEATH BY SARCASM.  I felt it was the perfect book to launch as an indie, it being the first in a planned series.  The second one is already out, called MURDER WITH SARCASTIC INTENT.  And I’m currently working on the third in the series, tentatively entitled GROSS SARCASTIC HOMICIDE.

– Some people are very hard and biased on indie-writers. I believe we all get our share of prejudement from time to time. Did this affect you in any way?

Not at all.  I simply look to the music industry.  Some of my favorite bands are indie bands – groups that have yet to sign with a label.  I look at indie authors the same way.  Yes, we’re self-published, just like indie bands are self-produced.  If an indie author gains a large following, signing with a publisher is always an option.  In the meantime, I enjoy what I’m writing, and there are at least a few readers out there who seem to enjoy my work.  What else can you ask for?

– Do you only publish e-books or do you do paperbooks as well?

All of my work is currently in e-book form.  My kindle serial western THE CIRCUIT RIDER will be published by Thomas & Mercer as a paper book and an audiobook.

– You succeded in selling books on Amazon, reaching an impressive Top 20 in the Kindle Store, not doing series, not writing the same book again and again. The succes came before the series, right?

– How did that happen? Did it just take off – almost by accident – or was there a point, where you did something right, and it took off?

There’s a theory that it takes time for a book to find its audience.  I am a firm believer in that.  Some books find their audience immediately, others can take years.  And you never know how small or large that audience may be.  I published Death by Sarcasm in February of 2011, and it didn’t really start to gain a readership until about six months later.  Dead Wood and The Killing League were a bit quicker.  I did all of the things conventional wisdom say to do in terms of marketing and promoting, but nothing specific moved the needle.  I like the quote from John Wanamaker:  “I know that half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”  All you can do is write the best book you can, and hope that it ultimately finds its audience.

– Thomas & Mercer is an Amazon publisher. I was wondering, have you received offers from any of the major publishers? Or inquiries on the movie rights?

I have received interest from traditional publishers and production companies, but I very much enjoy being in control of my own destiny.  Waiting on others is not my strong suit.  I’m the same way when it comes to driving.  Yesterday I had a friend swear they would never get in a car with me again.  Hey, that’s what seat belts are for.

– Are you able to make a living based on the income from your writings?

No, not yet.  I have a day job in advertising, and the funny thing about advertising as an industry is that it’s a difficult thing to “take a year off” and come back.  Things change fast, just like publishing.  So I don’t want to leave until I’m as confident as I can be that I won’t have to return.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing both and see what happens.

– Tell me something about yourself. Who is Dani Amore?

A writer who loves books, beer and guns.

– Would you be surprised , if I told you, I have been wondering if, Dani Amore was a pen-name?

No, I would not be surprised if you thought that…;)

– Tell me about your new book …

The Circuit Rider is a Kindle Serial western.  It features a traveling preacher named Mike Tower and his gunfighter bodyguard Bird Hitchcock.  It’s sort of a western meets noir meets thriller.  Because while Tower is mainly focused on his “Circuit Ride” Bird is hot on the trail of a serial killer.  The characters are complete opposites, and the dynamic makes for some incredibly interesting situations.  I love working on this book, and my publishing team at Thomas & Mercer is an absolute joy to work with.

– How do you see the future, both for yourself and for the whole industry of books?

At some point, of course, I would like to write full-time.  But for now, I’m happy trying to work as much writing time into my day as I can.  I will switch between new installments of each of my mystery series, as well as the occasional standalone.  The industry?  It’s amazing how much change has already occurred since I first self-published back in early 2011.  Things will continue to evolve and deliver plenty of surprises for all of us.

– Have you found a way NOT to check on your sales figures five times a day? I find this to be the curse of the selfpublisher.

I give myself a daily report card.  90% of the day’s grade is based on whether or not I completed my writing task for the day.  The other 10% of the day’s grade is based on sales, reviews, social media presence, and publicity.  So, in other words, if I don’t write, no matter how good my sales are it’s still a failing grade for the day.  Keeping that in mind is a good way to obsess less about sales numbers and focus on the most important thing – writing.  And once you’ve been doing it for awhile, you realize there are constant peaks and valleys in terms of numbers so you are forced to take the long view.   Plus, I have so many obsessions, I don’t have time to focus on just one.


Tilføjelse: Et par år efter dette interview fandt sted, stod forfatteren Dan Ames frem og aflivede sit pen-name Dani Amore. Så skal du læse Dani Amores bøger i dag, skal du søge på Dan Ames.