Bart Stewart is with us today on the ‘Lets Meet’ segment. His first book ‘Tales of Real and Dream Worlds’ was published in 2006. This collection of short stories has received several strong reviews, and won a Finalist prize at the 2008 National Indie Excellence Awards. Nine tales are fantasy fiction in the school of Richard Matheson, Rod Serling and H.G Wells. Scenarios range from a family’s entanglement in the 1938 War of the Worlds radio hoax, to an otherworldly day in the life of a honey bee.
“Bart Stewart’s Tales of Real and Dream Worlds between its covers holds the kind of storytelling the short story aficionado longs for, but rarely receives.”
Steve Hansen Book Critic for TQRStories.com
“A fine collection of short stories that are sure to conjure up a few nightmares.”
Sinister Tales, Volume 2.3 Book Review
“The pacing made for suspenseful reading, and the descriptions and characters stayed with me long after I closed the book. This one rates five stars.”
Barbara Custer, in the Horror Literature Webzine Night to Dawn
Today Bart talks about why he chose indie publishing, his other book The Statuary Cats a tribute to old school, atmospheric horror and what he is currently doing now.
Hello and Welcome Bart.
MW: What is your genre? Why did you choose it?
BS: The genre of my novel should be literary fiction, as the crux of it lies in the personalities of the characters, and how they get by here on the Good Gray Earth. But literary fiction doesn’t sell. Nobody wants to read about real life. Fortunately the plot of my novel has a crime element, so I’m going to call it a crime novel. It has a noir feel, so it honestly can be called a crime novel (with soul.) The title is Painter of the Heavens.
MW: Tell us about your path to becoming an author. Did you have any idea at the start what the process really entails?
BS: As for the business end of things, I had no idea whatsoever, and I still don’t. The business aspect of all this is completely baffling to me. It’s straight out of Kafka. I have been writing fiction since my teens. Since that time I’ve been told by objective readers that I’m a hell of a writer, but only silence has ever come from agents and publishers. I’ve had stories in little literary magazines, often with terrific reader response. I self-published a collection of my stories in 2006 and it won a finalist prize in the National Indie Excellence Awards in 2008. The reviews it received (real gushers, some of them) are on my web site, bartstewart.com But the supply and demand equation for fiction is jacked. Every third person in any coffee shop on earth has a novel they are peddling, and readership keeps declining. We go forward with hopes for ebooks, but who knows?
MW: How long did it take for your first book to go from an idea to a published work?
BS: The stories in Tales of Real and Dream Worlds had been incubating in my head for years before I ever wrote them. How long did it take to give up on the traditional publishing route and self-publish? Many more years. Even then I did no ebooks, just a small run of trade paperbacks. The shipping was ghastly expensive. I didn’t lose very much money. Essentially I broke even. It was nothing like some of the nightmare self-publishing experiences you hear about.
MW: Have you published any of your work for free? Why or why not?
BS: You could say it’s all been for free! I charged $12 for Tales. The literary mags were all free, of course. I have a trilogy of surreal horror stories on Amazon Kindle, called The Statuary Cats. It will be the best 99c you’ve ever spent.
MW: Have you outsourced editing, cover design, formatting, web design, marketing, etc?
BS: I got lucky there, in that I knew people who could help with that. Be careful if you’re hiring someone to do it. Get a verified track record. Beware of vanity presses and the related small army of con artists who prey on new authors.
MW: Let’s flip things around for a moment. As a reader, what factors do you consider when deciding whether or not to purchase a book?
BS: I’m less interested in genre than whether or not the style grabs me. I recently read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. What a triumph. And what genre would that be? Literary fiction? It won the Pulitzer Prize. Before that I read War and Peace! I gravitate toward the classics for some reason, even as I preach that new writers aren’t being given a chance.
MW: Do your books have book trailers? How important as a marketing tool do you think they are?
BS: All I know is that I’ve heard they are big expensive losers, as marketing tools. Someone online posed the question – “When have you ever bought a book based on a book trailer?” I don’t know, I’ve never tried a trailer. If you do, I would say concentrate on being on camera yourself. Appear as the author, talking about your book. I may do a YouTube piece for Painter of the Heavens when I launch the eBook in 2013.
MW: What tips or advice would you offer to writers who are about to join the published community?
BS: To someone who has actually been offered a contract by a publisher? I would offer heartfelt congratulations, and maybe ask if I could touch the hem of their garment. To a new writer I would say - Self-publish. Don’t play the lottery that is the traditional publishing route. The odds against success are astronomical. Remember the supply and demand problem with fiction. If you wrote the single greatest novel in the history of English it’s quite possible that nobody would ever give it a meaningful evaluation. The big name authors are the lottery winners, and they may not be any better than you. Indeed, they are often formulaic as hell. You may never see a penny of profit from writing. It has to be in your blood. View it as a lifelong avocation. You may be able to accumulate a following over time with ebooks. Do a small print run if something sells, or approach a publisher at that time. Study self-publishing well before you jump in, and don’t spend a boatload of money on it because you shouldn’t have to. Write primarily for the love of it, and remember that Ray Bradbury said you are only a failed writer if you stop writing.
MW: Thank you very much for taking part. It has been a pleasure to have you.
For more information on Bart Stewart and his books:
Visit his website: bartstewart.com
Follow him on Twitter: @BartStewart1
Tales of Real and Dream Worlds can be found at Amazon.com
The Statuary Cats can be found at Amazon.com or order direct from his website.