Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Author Interview: Commander Pants

I tracked down Commander Pants in his fortress of solitude, and he was willing to answer some questions for me.

KR: Why did you decide to self-publish?

CP: When the first draft was done, I convinced Luke Rhinehart, author of The Dice Man - an American author who is virtually unknown here in the States, but a cult hero in England and elsewhere - to take a look at it. He loved it, and when I had no success interesting an agent, he insisted on paying for me to self-publish. I hemmed and hawed for a while, fearful that self-publishing would be a mistake, but in the end I jumped in the pool.

KR: Who did you use?

CP: I started with a place that shall remain nameless. We had our disagreements. For example, they kept reformatting the book in ways that I did not like. This led to my SENDING THEM ONE EMAIL IN ALL CAPS, and that led to them “firing” me on the spot (and refunding all of my money).

This was actually great, since working with them had taught me all about formatting and formats for
publication, which gave me the confidence to go to the source. The source being Lightning Source.

I don’t know if your readership is aware, but most POD books ultimately come from one of two sources: Amazon, which does Create Space, and Lightning Source, which is owned by Ingrams, the largest wholesale book distributor in the world. Most of the other POD publishers use Lightning Source for their printing. Well, it seems that Lightning Source has no problem with little fish like you or me setting up our own imprints and using them for printing and fulfillment. I started Pantsateria with Luke’s kind gift, and off I went. Yes, it’s a bit more work. You have to do all of your own formatting, make your own cover and get your own bar code and ISBN number. But in the end, I think it’s worth it; the profit margin is better, and you get to maintain more control of the finished product.

KR: Will you go with them again?

CP:  Definitely. (I mean “Pantsateria” has a great reputation - and blood is thicker that water).

KR: What marketing are you doing?

CP: So far I have been giving books to reviewers, doing give-aways with bloggers, guest blogging and interviews like this. I have also been “trolling” by sending out the book to big names, hoping that someone would sit up and take notice. I would like to do more, but I just don’t know what (I seem to be much better at the creation end than the marketing one).

KR: What's worked well so far?

CP: To be honest, not much. Although the book has had many extremely nice reviews, it languishes. It’s sad really. I am finding that there’s an attitude out there akin to the “Irish need not apply” for self-published authors. If you self-publish, then your product must be crap. It’s interesting, because when it comes to music or let’s say, board games (I also created the board game, Acronymble), there’s a perception that going it alone is respectable, but not in publishing. The irony is that traditional publishing these days is much less open to anything that might not make a buck, and I suspect that many of the classics out there might end up self-published if their authors brought them to market today. That said, I do think that self-publishing is the
future, it just needs some time for people to get past that “Vanity Press” image.

KR: What was a waste of time?

CP: I can’t say that any of it is a waste of time, but as I implied, none of it has been very fruitful in terms of sales. It is a wonderful feeling though, when you read a glowing review, to know that someone out there appreciates what you’re doing.

KR:  Who did your cover?

CP: That would be me. I had a lot of trouble with getting the stars to show up crisply (it’s actually a bunch of starscapes stacked up. The “1st edition” of the book came out pretty awful. My savior was my brother-in-law, a professional photographer, who actually talked me through some Photoshop techniques while he was waiting for a table at a restaurant. It was amazing! He had no computer in front of him, yet still talked me through all sorts of different menus and settings. I swear, He must dream about Photoshop!

KR: Why "Commander Pants?" It's a rather *ahem* unique, pen name. I noticed another reviewer saw it and had the same gut reaction I did, that anyone using that name had to be an amateur.

CP: I like to think of myself as a Pseuper Hero (you know, a Super Hero without all of those pesky superpowers).

Seriously though, I already write music and do “found image” music videos under the moniker Commander Pants. And although all of my agent queries went out using the vanilla, dime-a-dozen, name that my parents bestowed upon me, when it came time to put a name on the book, I figured what the hell? and went with the one that I thought would be more memorable.

KR: What's the best advice you can give new self-publishers?

CP: Don’t give up, and believe in yourself. Oh, and go with the technology. I do believe that Kindles and Nooks are only going to get bigger as time goes on.

KR:  Anything else you'd like to say?
CP: Thanks for giving me this opportunity. It’s been fun. Over and out.

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