A quick and mostly painless interview with best-selling author Bryce O’Connor. Many of you have already read his Wings of War series, but if you haven’t, it’s currently just $0.99 for the first 4 books, which I promise is a huge value! Keep reading to find out why Bryce is able to sell it so cheaply, and tons of other interesting little nuggets.
Q1: Is it true that in 100% of the games we have played, I beat you in chess? (yeah, I opened with that)
Dude... Why you gotta make me start with fisticuffs?? Sure, this is technically true, but there are caveats and circumstance I think you may or may not be glazing over here, sir. Like that fact that we've only ever played a single game. Or the fact that you didn't give me a rebuttal. I'm still holding out for the day I get to take my long awaited revenge! MWAHAHAHA!
Q2: A lot of my fans have already read Wings of War, but for those who haven’t, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Lizard dude with big spear kills all the baddies.
But actually. That about sums it up. If you want me to be more eloquent, the dashingly handsome Dyrk Ashton, of Paternus fame, summarized it very well the last time we were together at Dragoncon: "The story of the Punisher, if Frank Castle were a dragon." I thought that was such a good outline, I've stolen it as my one-line elevator pitch for new potential readers. Just don't tell Dyrk.
Q3: You have tons of great art, both on your covers, and some custom pieces I have seen floating around. First, where is the best place to view all of the Wings of War art, and second, can you talk a little bit about the relationship between author and artist?
So as much of a bummer as it is, there isn't a great place to find all the art I've had done over the years for The Wings of War right now, mostly because myself and some of the artists are trying to figure out how to appropriately make the materials available as wallpapers, screensaver, life-sized body pillows (hehehe), etc. I do plan on putting an art section together on my site eventually, and who knows? Maybe by the time this interview sees the light of day it will be available for perusal at bryceoconnorbooks.com!
Now talking about artist/author relationships.... That's gonna go deep with me, but I suspect you know that. Most of my fans are aware that fantasy art is the largest inspiration behind my own writing. Todd Lockwood. Raymond Swanland. My own cover artist, Andreas Zafiratos. All major, major suppliers of my energy and passion. My Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OConnorBooks) is littered with daily posts of the crazy cool art I've found or had commissioned, and as a result of that respect for the medium I've evolved to think of the creators of those works as masters of their own domains. If an artist was able to wow you enough to ask them for a cover, I think it is generally best to let them do their thing with a piece and not strangle them with more feedback, criticism, etc., than they ask for. Having a good relationship with your cover artist(s) is essential to getting the end product you want out of your cover, and subsequently your book as a whole (or whatever related project you might be involved in). Respect them, treat them well, pay them what they deserve (this one is important!), and you will find yourself surrounded by talented individuals who are always ready to help you get what you need out of a piece. Strangle them, limit them, and try to gip them, and you'll end up with a bad reputation and uninspired work that you might think is great, but lacks the edge an artist who is enjoying his work can give to a his/her canvas...
Q4: You’re co-writing a project called The Shattered Reigns with the amazing LitRPG author Luke Chmilenko (Ascend Online). Is that going to be like your stuff, his stuff, or something in between?
Ok so first off, Luke is a world-building genius. If you haven't already checked out Ascend Online, do that right now. I particularly recommend the audiobook version, because Luke Daniel's masterfully brings the characters to life in a way we can't do as writers.
As for what The Shattered Reigns is going to turn out to be, I think fans of both mine and Luke's will find a lot to love in the work. We've had a hand both in the world-building and plotting, and while you'll see more elves and wizards and such classics than can be found in The Wings of War, you're also going to be neck deep in some really cool, trope-breaking characters and creatures that Luke and I have come up with together. I can't tell you how much fun it was to go back and forth creating a dragon that stays true to the common interpretation of its kind, while simultaneously turning the concept on its head. More importantly, it's been amazing having a partner who has this incredible ability to take one glance at the place you're stuck in and suggest a solution and plot direction that not only get the wheels going again, but usually adds some new, cool edge to the story.
Q5: How does co-writing compare to creating your own stuff? Can you talk some about both the technical and creative process differences?
Without giving too much of our process away, our system of co-writing has been awesome, despite some pretty significant initial challenges. Luke and I write very differently, and for a few weeks we found ourselves editing each other in circles. We met up, talked through the issues we were having, and came up with a solution that has, thus far, worked really well. We're both pretty laid back, so feedback and the go-between has been nothing but helpful no matter what the issue is, and it's been great bouncing ideas off each other. You find a rhythm in the end, working with a partner you trust, and everything settles from there.
Q6: You’re a full-time author now, but what did you do before, and how did you make the leap into writing?
Believe it or not, I worked in pediatrics! I was a physical therapist for children with special needs, working at a local school on getting kids to walk and run and jump and do all kinds of things that would hopefully one day drive their parent's crazy at home! It was really rewarding work, but the keyboard has been calling me for 20 years now, and when the opportunity came to go full time about a year and a half ago, I had to jump on it!
The story of my journey into the writing world itself is a pretty interesting one (at least from my perspective), because it was largely planned. I've wanted to write since I was 9 years old, literally. When Child of the Daystar hit the shelves three years ago, the first book in The Wings of War series, my best friend from high school rang me up and laughed about how I'd been talking about being a published author for the last 15+ years. My parents, who have been incredibly supportive and helpful, encouraged me to pursue my passion, with a single caveat: I had to be able to support myself after college.
Fair, right? They helped me find a school I liked, going for a degree that would allow me to not only not live out of a cardboard box till the end of my days, but give me the time to continue to write after I graduated. I ended up at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, and six years later I finished my coursework with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and a Bachelors in Creative Writing. I spent the next three years doing the double shift so many authors go through, working the day jon and writing at night when I got home. Tough, but as they say: when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. When Winter's King, book 3 in the series, broke into the market in a big way, I jumped ship without ever looking back.
Ok that's an exaggeration. I volunteer occasionally at the school when I can, but that's mostly just an excuse to see my work friends and give all my kids a hug :D
Q7: You’ve had a hugely successful series. It has tons of copies sold, great reviews, but now you’ve got a boxset of the first 4 books on sale for $0.99!? Can you peel back the curtain a little for my readers, and talk about why that is, and how authors can make money practically giving their work away?
Oh man... I really wish this question was posed more often, particularly by the sector of individuals who look at something like a $0.99 boxset and think only "Obviously it can't be any good, if that many books are selling at that price." I'm going to summarize it here, but for anyone looking for a more in-depth explanation, I posted a deep-dive into this exact concept on the r/Fantasy subreddit a few weeks back, which can be found here: Why Kindle Unlimited is GOOD For Authors
For those of you who prefer the short version, here we go:
What a lot of readers lack an understanding of (through no fault of their own) are the minutia involved in successfully navigating the eBook markets, specifically Amazon's Kindle Store, and specifically as a self-published author. In this particular instance, it's important to explain a essential part of the Amazon profit-model for authors: Kindle Unlimited.
For those of you who are unaware what Kindle Unlimited (KU) is, it's Amazon's subscription-based membership program which, for $9.99 a month (in the US at least) gives Amazon members access to all titles in the Unlimited program for no additional cost. Thing is: just because those readers are paying "nothing" for a book in KU directly does not mean that we, the authors, are not getting paid. On the contrary: KU pays out in what are called "page reads". That means that for every page of my boxset you read, I make a very small amount of money. Less at 1¢ per, in fact. BUT, recall that this is a boxset, and as a single product is more than 1700 pages long. All in all, while you might pick up my book for $0.99, the person who downloads my book through KU and reads it all the way through puts almost $15 dollars in my pocket.
So yes. To an outsider there is certainly an understandable confusion to be address when something like a successful series puts a boxset out for stupid cheap, but I assure you we know what we're doing ;)
Q8: You’re working on Wings of War 5, The Shattered Reigns 1, what can we expect next? Any other projects you’d like to share?
Ha, oh where to begin...
My author friends typically know I like to have my fingers in a lot of pies at once, so while yes, book 5 of The Wings of War and book 1 of The Shattered Reigns are my top priorities right now, there's a lot more going on in my downtime than is probably good for my health. I'm currently working on a children's book series that will be Kickstarted likely later this year, as well as a number of board and card games that should see the light of day sometime in the next 12 months or so. I'm also working on another co-authored fantasy series that I'm keeping under wraps for the moment, and some college friends and I are simultaneously debating putting together a separate Kickstarter for a therapy product we developed while we were in our grad years together, and have recently been granted a patent for. There's a few more things going on here and there, but nothing I'm free to talk about right now, so we'll have to leave some secrets for another day!
And that’s all for this month’s interview. Remember, you can find Bryce’s Wings of War Boxset Books 1-4 right here for only $0.99!