Hi, I’m Palmer Pickering! I write science fiction and just released “Light Fighters,” the sequel to “Moon Deeds” of the “Star Children Saga.”
From Planning to Published
How long did it take you to finish your first book?
Author: I have been working on the Star Children Saga for over ten years. I rewrote Book One, “Moon Deeds,” several times over the years.
Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?
Author: I am self-published and have my own Indie Publishing imprint, Mythology Press.
What is your publishing process?
Author: I work with several editors, from developmental editing, to copy editors, to multiple proofreaders. I found that with books of this length and complexity, it’s best to do multiple editing passes. Then I hire a desktop publisher to do the book layout. I hire artists for the cover art and other art, such as maps. I really like working with so many interesting professionals. That’s part of what makes self-publishing so much fun.
What platforms do you use to publish your works?
Author: I use print-on-demand for printing, with both IngramSpark and Amazon. That way I can offer my books to any bookstore or library, or small book seller. For ebooks I use the same two services, and they distribute to all book reader companies. I have an audiobook for “Moon Deeds,” and I use Findaway Voices, who handles a wide distribution to many different audiobook outlets.
How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?
Author: During early drafts, I participated in writer critique groups, where we exchanged chapters and offered each other feedback. That was a great learning process, and I made some good friends doing that. At a certain point, that process became too slow for me, so I started getting beta readers to read the finished book and provide feedback. I would meet with them afterwards and ask them all sorts of questions about the plot, characters, and their understanding of the world. That provided invaluable feedback as I learned what came across well to readers and what did not work so well. As I mentioned, I also hire professional editors for all stages.
About Your Work
Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.
Author: My writing style is very descriptive. I am going for total immersion, so that readers feel as if they are really there and feel what the characters are feeling. I pit dark characters against good characters, striving to explore the motivations for human behavior and how societies function. However, I always try to make my characters authentic and multi-faceted. I like to explore how people strive for a higher purpose and seek the divine to overcome darkness. This translates into magic in my stories, as the protagonists encounter insurmountable obstacles.
What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?
Author: My favorite thing is writing. My least favorite thing is querying. I like the publishing process, but it take time away from writing, which is my first love.
Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?
Author: I network on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and I join Facebook groups. Also Goodreads. And at conventions. I have met some of my best connections at writing and genre conventions.
Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?
Author: I write or edit a little bit every day, anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours per day, sometimes in small chunks. On weekends I like to do long writing sessions, interspersed with time to think about what I’m writing. I need uninterrupted quiet time and space to just dwell in my mind about the story I am writing: envisioning a scene; working through a plot knot; pondering the best wording or plot device; or outlining and planning the plot structure, world, and character arcs. I guess I would call myself a lion, who likes long days in the sun lazing about but also is a fierce hunter.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?
Author: The hardest thing was trying to find an agent or publisher. I failed at both.
How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Author: I pretty much got impatient with the whole vetting process of agents and publishers. Perhaps I am somewhat bitter or jaded, but it all seems very random and subjective. The numbers just don’t make for good odds at getting a book deal. There are way more talented writers than there are agents and available slots for new authors at traditional publishers. If you didn’t come up through a respected MFA program or have some other connections, or you don’t win the publishing lottery, chances are slim at finding a deal. Not impossible, just slim. Some friends of mine were successful. So I’m not saying don’t try, just don’t take it personally if you are not successful at landing an agent and a book contract. I am very happy self-publishing. It’s a totally viable path at this point in time, particularly for genre writers like fantasy, romance, or mystery. 50% of the sales in those genres are self-published authors these days. They are definitely giving the publishing houses a run for their money.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?
Author: If you want to write, then write. That’s the only way to get good at it. That means sit down and put pen to paper, or pound on that keyboard. Don’t worry about the quality, just start practicing and exercising the writing muscles. Try to write several times a week, like you would do to become good at any skill. Some people say they want to write, but they never actually write anything. Thinking and wishing for a thing does not make it so. Fate rewards those who take action. Writing courses/programs or workshops are always a good idea. Join a writer’s group or trade drafts online to get feedback and to read other people’s work. You learn just as much by reading the poorly executed story as you do the great ones. Regarding becoming a published author, go to cons and listen to panels, read trade magazines, and jump in. The water’s fine.
What book are you reading at the moment?
Author: “Kings of the Wyld” by Nicholas Eames, and “Burn Red Skies” by Kerstin Espinosa Rosero.
What is your favorite literary trope?
Author: How about my least favorite? Meta-fiction. Just doesn’t do it for me.
How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?
Author: I write what is entertaining to me. I am not trying to be unique, I am trying to write a compelling story and improve my craft. I think my imagination is creative enough that my worlds and stories stand on their own.
Do you have a writing companion?
Author: I have three cats who take turns inserting themselves between me and my computer.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Author: Your best advertisement is your next book.