3 Questions with novelist Aric Davis

Aric DavisARIC DAVIS is the author of seven books: From Ashes Rise: A Novel of Michigan, Nickel Plated, A Good and Useful Hurt, The Black Death: A Dead Man Novella, Rough Men, Breaking Point, The Fort and Tunnel Vision. He is married with one daughter and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he worked for sixteen years as a body piercer; he now writes full time. A punk rock aficionado, Davis does anything he can to increase awareness of a good band. He likes weather cold enough to need a sweatshirt but not a coat, and friends who wear their hearts on their sleeves. In addition to reading and writing, he also enjoys roller coasters, hockey, and a good cigar. All of Aric’s books are available on Amazon.com.

Aric will be interviewed as part of the next Jot Writers’ Conference (9.9.16). I (Andy) asked him a couple of questions recently about writing fiction and alternative publishing options. Take a look.

What are two important skills every fiction writer must possess? What are the things that seem universal among great fiction writers?

The first skill that I believe every writer should possess is the ability to take a beating. When I was trying to get published I wrote six manuscripts and suffered over 400 rejections, but if I would have stopped I’d have never seen my work in print.

The second skill is an ability to write every day. Not when the mood strikes you, not when the kids are in bed or the sun is setting or when your favorite song comes on the radio. Every. Single. Day. Sick? Write. Vacation? Write. So busy you want to die? Write. Do it so often that when you do actually have a good reason to skip a day it feels like someone carved a chunk off of you.

The one thing that seems universal to great writers is an ability to establish a daily word count. A daily word count is a number of words, unique to you, that you promise yourself to write on each day. With a daily word count we can estimate when a project will be done, we can hold ourselves accountable to something that is difficult to measure with a clock, and eventually, we have something to look forward to every day. Assuming the average novel nowadays is roughly 80,000 words long, an author with a count of 500 words a day can finish a manuscript in just 160 days.

Who are your favorite novelists and why? Who should we be reading?

Some of my favorite novelists are Stephen King, George RR Martin, Gillian Flynn, and Andrew Vachss. Three of those authors most people have read, and the other is one of the greatest crime novelists of all time. If you needed even more of a reason to give Mr. Vachss’ work a look, consider what he does in his free time. Not only is he an incredible author, he’s also worked for years as a children’s attorney, specializing in cases where a child needs counsel in order to protect them from their parents. Great author, great guy, and basically a hero? Time to get reading.

If someone feels uncertain about an independent publishing option, or an eBook first publishing arrangement, what should they consider first?

Go with your gut, and never take a deal that sounds bad just to get into print. I love ebooks and I love the printed word, but a bad deal is a bad deal. Unless you’re dealing with a self-publishing press–and there is nothing wrong with that–there are a few pratfalls that are relatively easy to avoid. Essentially, what it boils down to is money. Do they want money for editing? Nope. Do they need a few grand to get the promotional stuff going?Heck no. In publishing, money should be a one way street, from a publisher to an author, and though an author may choose to beef up promotional work or spring for a pre-edit before submission, there is no reason that you should be required to pay a publisher unless you are self-publishing.

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