Steve is a writer right here in Richmond, come to find out we’re only a few minutes from other but we met through the wonder of Amazon and the internet.
He has written, The Virginia Mystery Series, a series of adventure books about brothers Derek and Sam who move to Virginia, and get into a series of adventures based on great history that is here in the state.
I finally picked up the series when it was a Bookbub feature. (And it looks like his experience was even better than mine. No jealousy here…)
So I reached out to Steve after I picked up the book, and sent him some questions. He was nice enough to answer.
What did you write before these books?
I’ve always loved to write, but it’s had many starts and stops along the way throughout my life. I really started up in earnest about five years ago after my youngest was born. I found myself the dad to three boys under the age of six, which was simultaneously exciting and exhausting. I started a blog called MyBoys3.com as a way to capture some of the daily adventures that found their way into our busy home. After a few years writing blog posts, I started writing bedtime stories that I thought my kids would enjoy to hear. The story started coming together and I realized it could be a book, and a few months later, Summer of the Woods was born.
Did you ever try to get an agent or send them to publishers?
I’ve never attempted to go the traditional publishing route with my books, and I don’t regret it. Since writing books kind of snuck up on me, I hadn’t put a lot of time into researching how to work with a publisher. In my day job I work for a company that grew out of an online Manhattan startup, so I’m used to working in new ventures and really enjoy the entrepreneurial mindset. I started learning about indie publishing and found it very exciting to be in control of my product from start to finish. Some people don’t seem to enjoy that part, but I find it a lot of fun to start my own imprint, MyBoys3 Press, hire editors, cover designers, and work on marketing efforts. I listen to a lot of indie publishing podcasts in the car and on planes, and given the state of the traditional publishing industry, I don’t think I’d be able to make that jump now that I’m used to running it all myself.
Are there any more books planned for the series?
Yes! I’m currently working on a fourth book for the series that is tied into the historic Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond. My hope is to keep them coming a couple per year since kids seem to really enjoy them. I’d also like to try my hand at a young adult or older book at some point in the future, but I think that’s going to take a bit more work to get used to the writing style. The great thing about books is that the content is evergreen. There are always going to be new young readers coming along through elementary school that are looking for exciting stories to explore. With Print on Demand and eBooks, once books are out there, they don’t go away like they used to after just a few months on bookstore shelves. That’s exciting from both a creative and business standpoint.
How did your Bookbub experience go?
I tried for a long time to get approved for a Bookbub deal. They rejected me at least a handful of times. After I finished Book 3 last fall, I created a box set for the Kindle version of the three-book series. I decided to take a risk and offer them for a big discount to see if I could catch Bookbub’s attention and pull in a lot of new readers at the same time. This time they bit, and the sales from the ad covered my marketing costs by nearly tenfold. The experience reinforced to me that as a writer, and really any kind of entrepreneur, you need to keep trying new things. Some of them (most of them, probably) won’t work, but some will, and that is what’s going to keep your business driving forward. But you probably wouldn’t have found the one that worked if you didn’t try a bunch.
Being new to Richmond, how did you research the town to develop the background to the story?
I moved to Richmond about four years ago from New Jersey to be closer to family. My wife grew up in Virginia, and my parents and sister all settled in the general area too, so it felt like home very quickly. I was a political science and business major in college so I’ve always enjoyed taking a lot of history classes. As I watched what my sons were learning in school and started exploring the area, history seemed to be lurking around every corner. My first book is mostly a straight adventure story, but for the second and third books, I intentionally tied some of the historical people and places that I was learning into the mix. My new tagline for the series is “adventures with a twist of history.” I think too often history gets a bad rap as being boring, but when you mix it into an exciting mystery or adventure, kids love it and they get to learn some cool things about our nation and the area they live in at the same time. It has also given me a natural connection to local historical sites like St. John’s Church, Colonial Williamsburg, and the American Civil War Museum which are all carrying my books, as well as with teachers and librarians who like the tie-ins to what their students are learning.
Thanks to Steve for taking time out to answer my questions.
Catch up with Steve on his site Myboys3.com
Check him out on Twitter @myboysthree
Or on Facebook
Check out interviews I have done with other indie-writers.