An Interview with Local Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author Daniel Ausema
With the wide range of writing tools and publishing paths available, today’s authors have more opportunities to get their stories in front of readers than ever before. And your public library plays a large role in that!
Poudre River Public Library District doesn’t just place books and authors on our shelves (or digital shelves) and make them available for check out; the library also supports local writers in creating, self-publishing, and promoting their work inside and outside the library walls.
Local writer Daniel Ausema is one of many authors who have recently made use of the Library District’s new self-publishing tools to make his sci-fi/fantasy serial fiction “Spire City” available to readers through the library catalog and Indie Colorado (via Biblioboard).
“Some writers think libraries don’t support authors because they offer books for free,” says Daniel. “But this is short sighted. I think about how many times I’ve bought books from writers because I came across them at the library, checked out their book, read it and loved it, and decided I needed to purchase their books myself.”
Daniel considers himself a long-time library supporter, having grown up visiting libraries as a kid and teen, and now taking his own children to Council Tree Library every week. He recalls discovering stories by J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin when he was young and later by Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, China Miéville, and Jeff VanderMeer.
“They really expanded my view of what’s possible in fantasy,” he explains. “I’d always enjoyed the creative writing-type assignments in school, but in college I was strongly encouraged not to put all my hopes into writing fiction, so I also pursued journalism. I enjoyed that aspect of writing, too. Putting words together, arranging them – it appealed to me.”
After college Daniel continued to write fiction and nonfiction, having a variety of original works accepted for publication in anthologies, podcasts, and more. But his path to having a book published would take a less direct path.
“I had submitted a novel to a publisher who impressed me with how they put together books, ones that you’d want to hold and show off,” Daniels explains. “The publisher read my novel and said she had in his mind reading the novel like a serial.
“I wondered if writing a serial is something that could be done in a digital age; many authors I interacted with were skeptical of eBooks at this time.”
Serial fiction is a format where a single, larger work is published in smaller, episodic installments. Think television series and syndication.
Unfortunately, Daniel’s publisher folded suddenly, but he never let go of the serial fiction idea. Later, he set out to write a book specifically to capture that serial fiction approach and find that balance between the episodic, TV-show and an overall story arc that spans the entire series.
This was the start of Spire City.
“I began writing the rough draft of Season One right after my daughter was born, almost 10 years ago,” Daniel says. “The second season I wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November). After that I just let it sit.”
Daniel eventually lined up a new publisher for his serial and soon saw Season One and part of Season Two published as he was finishing writing the story with the final season, Season Three. But once again, Daniel faced another publisher closing its doors and now found himself with only part of his series publicly available.
Readers were expecting the next “episode.” Now what was he to do with his series?
“I decided to self-publish,” he recalls. “Getting it on Amazon as an eBook was really easy – you simply follow the steps through the dashboard. There’s not a lot to that. For print versions, I used their CreateSpace.”
Last summer, Daniel was introduced to the Library District’s new SELF-e publishing platform, where writers submit their eBook to the Library’s catalog for readers to access it and at the same time make it more widely available through “Indie Colorado,” an online collection of work by Colorado authors.
“I looked into the Library’s publishing resource and saw it was easy,” Daniel says.
Because he already had an eBook version of his work, Daniel only needed to use the Library’s SELF-e tool to upload it to the catalog and make it available. In addition to his book being listed among other digital titles from Poudre River Public Libraries, it is also accessible through other Colorado libraries which use the Biblioboard discovery platform and Indie Colorado.
Spire City, Season One: Infected can be read online through the Library’s Biblioboard service and readers have the option to also purchase a print copy of the book along with Daniel’s other complete seasons, Season Two: Pursued and Season Three: Unwoven. The SELF-e platform allows writers to connect their work to purchasing sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble to promote digital and print book sales.
Daniel advises others who want to go the self-publishing route to “get the book as perfect as you can possible make it.” He warns against just throwing a story up on Amazon without going through the full editing process: scene by scene and line by line to make it as good as it can be, and then do the copy edits.
“People get drawn to self-publishing because it doesn’t cost a lot of money, but to do with well you need to work with professionals like editors,” Daniel points out. “Find someone who can look at the story, the character arc, and find the spaces where the book isn’t really working.
“After getting it as perfect as you can, give yourself three months and then take it back out of the virtual drawer and get other eyes to see it.”
Daniel continues to write within the speculative fiction genre. His most recent work, The Silk Betrayal: The Arcist Chronicles, Volume One, was published in December 2017 by Guardbridge Books and is available on Amazon. He is currently working on Volume Two.