Author Interview - Riley Tune
For this week's installment of the Author Interview Series, I had the privilege of asking Riley Tune a variety of writing-related questions. Riley is a self-published author, YouTuber, and overall wicked cool guy. Check out what he had to say below!
1) Describe your most recently published book and/or your current work in progress.
My most recently published novel was the debut in my superhero series. Paragon: An Icon Story is available in all formats, including hardcover and audio. My current work in progress is the sequel to it titled Omega: An Icon Story.
2) Which do you prefer: self-publishing or traditional publishing? What factors made you choose one over the other?
I like the hybrid model. All of my novels have been self-published so far, and I like that it gives me unmatched freedom. I write what I want, when I want. It doesn’t matter if it's trending in the industry or not. The downside to self-publishing is that you fund EVERYTHING and that can be a bummer. You can even get in the larger bookstores as a self-published writer if you work hard. I will still try to get an agent eventually, though. It would be mostly for bragging rights.
3) Are there any books, movies, music, etc. that influenced your writing?
Not really. Many times I write the stories that I can’t find on the shelves. That, or I will mix some ideas that I like and then write the story. I do read a ton, though. It’s good for any writer to read as much as possible. It may not influence the writing, but it will no doubt make it better.
4) Which is your favorite genre(s) to write in? Which genre have you never written in but would love to try someday?
I’m a fantasy slut... or nerd. Depending on how you spin it. It’s what I love to read, and what I love to write. I suck at mystery or thrillers but would love to try it.
5) Do you prefer reading on an e-reader or actual books? Which do you think is better from a publishing point of view?
I prefer actual books. Maybe I’m just old school, but I feel like I’m messing around on my phone or tablet too much anyway. I don’t want my favorite hobby to be tech-focused too. Publishing-wise, it just depends on what you are looking for. I think most writers will publish both simply because there aren’t many feelings better for a writer than holding a physical copy of your finished work.
6) How has the online writing community affected your writing career?
It’s been great! If not for the writing, then for the support. The writing community is one of the most acceptable communities you can find online and in real life. I use Kboards and Twitter a ton for advice, or points of view, from other writers.
7) Describe your typical writing routine.
Normally I outline and world-build for about two months. Then I write about five days a week (Mon - Fri) from 4:30 AM to about 6:00 AM. I aim for 3,000 words each session. If I stick to this routine, I finish a novel in a little over a month. Sometimes I tweak this if I have to shoot a video for YouTube.
8) What is your ultimate goal in terms of writing?
To share my stories with the world, and to leave a library of work behind for my children. That’s the obtainable goal. The “sky's the limit” goal would be to get an agent, go on a book tour, and see my work transformed into a movie or television show, preferably on Netflix or the CW Network. Those are my go-to streaming platforms.
9) What has been your biggest writing struggle? What is your greatest strength?
The learning curve at the start of my writing career was steep and unforgiving. I think I get better with plot development, round characters, and dialogue with each novel, though. My greatest strength would be world-building. I get compliments on that often in my reviews, especially in audio. I world-build but within reason. I can’t spend a week developing lore for my world only to have it mentioned for a second in the story. Any aspect of my world-building plays a part in the story either now or later.
10) Is there anything about the publishing world that has been very difficult? Has anything been easier than you expected? If you aren’t published yet, what do you anticipate being easy or difficult?
Marketing. Especially if you don’t have a major social media following. The marketing process is pretty much trial and error. I have some sites that yield great results, though. I spent a lot of money and failed a few times before I got the hang of it. Launching my YouTube channel (while expensive to get equipment) was easier to get running than I thought. It also showed me the “cliquey” mentality of self-published authors, which can be difficult to deal with. You often see it and don’t notice it at first but it’s usually the same authors that have a revolving door of marketing for each other. They plug each other's books, social media, YouTube channels, etc. The AuthorTube folks run in a very tight circle, and that can be discouraging for some folks, even if it’s not done intentionally.
11) What is your favorite way to market your book and yourself as an author?
Twitter and YouTube are great to market yourself as an author. Instagram is a close second, but I have had more personal connections with IG people. Marketing sites that have large subscribers or mailing lists are GREAT marketing tools for your book. Lastly, one of the best ways to market your book is to strike while the iron is hot, and get that next book published ASAP.
12) Have you taken any writing classes? If yes, would you recommend them? If no, do you want to?
I have and I did it for FREE! (A self-published writer's favorite word.) My favorite fantasy author teaches a college course on fantasy writing. Local people actually take the class, but each lecture is recorded and uploaded to YouTube. I have “attended” every class, and even took notes. Totally worth it, and I recommend taking classes if you can. I also listen to a podcast that is run by a panel of fantasy best sellers.
13) Is writing your full-time job? If yes, what was your last profession? If no, do you want it to be and what do you do now?
I wish it was. I make enough in writing for it to be a good part-time job, though. I have a normal day job in software sales. It’s very relaxed, and I’m paid more than I should be, which helps push my novels out. The goal is to be a full-time writer one day, though.
14) What do you think the future will hold for the publishing industry?
I find myself thinking that rather often. Years ago, the self-publishing platform wasn’t as great. Before that, it was very hard to get your work in front of readers without an agent. Since it’s the popular thing to do, I think that more indies will form their own publishing houses and more AuthorTube YouTube channels will pop up. I’ve seen both on the rise lately. I would love to see other major companies with enough financial backing break into the publishing world so that Amazon will have some competition. Amazon runs the market now, and because they have a monopoly they do what they want. If Wal-Mart, Netflix, Google, or Apple went all-in and presented a true rival to Amazon, it could mean better options for the writer.
15) What advice would you give to someone who has just started writing?
Read and listen a ton! I mean a sh**load. That will help you improve as a writer like you wouldn’t believe. Outside of that, write for yourself. Don’t go into it thinking about money, because some traditionally published writers have a day job. Everybody can’t be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Don’t write because it seems like a trendy thing to do, or for some other random reason. Write because you love it. That’s a little bit of a cliche answer, but it’s true. Also, and this is a BIG one, develop a thick skin. FAST! You’ll have friends (assuming they are real friends) that will tell you that your story sucks. It will hurt, but it’s for the best. You’ll have a reader that will say some hurtful stuff, but don’t take it personally. You can’t please everybody. Just clear your head, finish your story, and take it one word at a time. I’ll see you on the bookshelves.
Keep up with Riley's writing endeavors by following the links below!
Check out Riley's books and more on his official website.
Watch Riley's latest YouTube videos and subscribe to One Word at a Time.