Friday, September 28, 2007

Author's Corner features Jim C. Hines

The Street Smarts Marketing Author’s Corner is pleased to introduce Jim C. Hines.

Mr. Hines made his first professional fiction sale with "Blade of the Bunny," an award-winning story which appeared in Writers of the Future XV. Since then, his short fiction has appeared in places like Realms of Fantasy, Sword & Sorceress, and Turn the Other Chick. He's written four books for DAW, including the popular goblin series.

Tell us about yourself – where you are from, how you got started writing, what you do when you are not writing (or anything you want our readers to know)
I'm a 33-year-old father, husband, and geek who started writing back in college. I couldn't bring myself to finish a five-page term paper, but I wrote a 100,000-word novel in my free time. That was a bit of a clue. It wasn't a very good novel -- the first one never is -- but it was enough to get me started. And once I started submitting and collecting a few rejections, the stubbornness kicked in. I was determined to break in, and I just kept submitting and practicing and learning whatever I could. That was twelve years ago, and I've been writing steadily ever since.

What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, the first published book came about when I was reading a fantasy novel from the monsters' point of view, which I thought was a brilliant idea. But the more I read, the angrier I got. Looking back, it may have been a wonderful book, I don't know. All I remember is she wasn't writing it the way I wanted her to. Finally, I got so frustrated I tossed the book away and started writing my own story. One month later, I had finished the first draft of Goblin Quest.

How many books have you written?
I've written eight or nine, but the early ones ... well, let's just call them my "practice books." If I'm lucky, those will never see the light of day. At this point, I have two books in print, with two more under contract with DAW.

How do you decide on their topic?
A lot has to do with consequences. Once I finished the first goblin book, I started thinking about the consequences of what had happened, how it would change my hero and his world. The books all stand alone -- I hate cliffhanger endings -- but at the same time, I don't believe anyone's story ever truly ends. I also tend to see images of certain scenes that make me do a full Keanu-style "Whoa." I may not know the entire plot of a book, but I'll know I want to get to that scene.

What works best to keep you focused and on track?
I write during my lunch break: one hour a day, five days a week. Occasionally I can squeeze out some extra time in the evenings or on weekends, but I've also got a full-time job and two young kids, so extra time is a rare and precious thing. The fact that I only have a limited amount of time to write seems to help me get started and stay focused. Also, deadlines help a lot.

Do you write to make money or for the love of writing?
Yes. Mostly for love, though. Very few writers make Rowling-type money. And as frustrating as the writing can be, the feeling of getting a scene or a character right is a delightfully addictive thing.

What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used to gain visibility for you and your book(s)?
I've done bookmarks, which I send out to bookstores and conventions. I've made the first chapter of each book available online. My publicist and I work to set up booksignings around the state. And of course I have a web site at and a weblog at

What are some unique methods?
I've tried a number of different things. I made up an online "What Goblin Quest Character are you?" quiz, which got picked up on a number of blogs. I made up Goblin Hero temporary tattoos for the second book, and they've been quite popular. And then of course, there was the "Save Jig from the Strippers" campaign. . . .

Do you sell through a website?
My web site includes Amazon links for every book and anthology I've done. I don't do direct sales, though.

Do you plan on writing additional books?
I'm currently working on book two in a new series, and I plan to keep on writing until . . . well, probably until I'm dead. Maybe longer, depending on whether or not SFWA decides to allow zombie members.

This interview was done in conjunction with Nikki Leigh, author of Book Promo 101 – and Kathleen Gage, The Street Smarts Marketer.

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