Adventurer, wonderer and wanderer, creative thinker and eccentrically unconventional, Julius Bailey tends to tread the peculiar paths. Born to the humidity, tropical sights, and gators of Florida, he lived in the Sunshine State for fourteen years of his life before moving to the rolling hills and red clay of Oklahoma.
At the age of twelve he fell in love with a book called ‘The Secrets of Droon: The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet.’ From thence his love of reading bloomed. Having taken a keen interest in the fantastical realms of Fantasy, his jaunts mainly focus thitherward.
He currently resides upon a hilltop thronged with hilltops, and avidly welcomes communication from his readers.
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?
Funny or unusual? No, not really. I make it a point to set aside an hour or two every day for writing, but the time of the day doesn’t really matter (unless it’s early in the morning; the words simply won’t flow at 7am). I also try to write whenever I’m hit by sudden inspiration, but as we all know that doesn’t always work out. I find that trying to adhere myself to a strict routine makes me feel unnecessarily bound, and that should never be the case with something you love.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Indeed, I sometimes suffer from writer’s block, though maybe not as often as others. In my experience, I’ve found that taking a walk, listening to soft music, or reading are good cures for that dastardly affliction.
What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Be hardworking, be resolute in your craft, and be patient. A big thing I encounter in aspiring authors is the lack of determination. They find that they enjoy to write, launch into writing a novel, and then, upon discovering how difficult writing said novel is, waver and eventually drop off the tracks. Being a writer takes dedication and patience. These are the two most important things. No, skill is not the most important thing. If you have real dedication to your craft you will always be seeking to hone it; you will ever be striving to make yourself better and in doing so you will become better. And patience will see to it that your determination has two legs to stand on.
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently working on book two of the Chronicles of Vrandalin (the follow up of Strife Of The Mighty) and it is going well. We’ll see more action, uncover secrets, and take a journey that we shan’t forget. After that is complete, I intend to explore a little in a few new realms.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I chose to write fantasy because I’ve always loved it. I’ve always been allured by the crafting of new worlds, the history of new worlds, the peoples of new worlds, and the adventures of new worlds. A well-told fantasy adventure is something that you can get lost in, literally, and that is something that I’ve wished to create, and inspire people through, for a long, long, time.
What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?
Well, I think it’s like this It is now easier than ever to become a published author. There are many platforms out there that make the path very easy to find. To walk that path, however, is another story.
Being an independent author takes a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of loyalty, and a lot of luck. Sadly, many folks don’t realize or refuse to accept this. Or they may apply only one or two of the things I listed above instead of all of them. Without these things, one cannot be a successful self-published author. These things are what will make or break the market.
As far as accessibility goes, yes, I think it will continue to be easy for an author to get his or her work out there. As far as being a thorough, and determined author, I believe that that’s still a niche market.
Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?
I am self-published, and proud of it. The process was rather arduous, as I had far less experience when I began than I do now. I published first in print, then in ebook format. The latter was easier than the former.
In order to prepare my book for publication I had to go over my own novel numerous times for consistency and error. Then I had to hire my own editor, cover artist, and enlist the help of several platforms. I also had to (and still do to this day) work hard on developing a presence, both online and in person.
Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?
The only changes to my work I have ever made after its release, was to make a few minor textual or formatting errors that came to my attention. The process of this was easy enough, but tedious. It often included resubmitting the entire book and everything that went along with it (cover, back flap, etc.), and then having to go through a file check process.
What opportunities have being an author presented you with and share those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)
Being a published author has opened the doors to me for several speaking engagements, and even a mentoring opportunity. I’ve also been introduced to some wonderful people. People who make sacrifices selflessly, and whose help is often invaluable. I’ve become somewhat (somewhat) knowledgeable on certain internet platforms that would otherwise have remained strange to me, and I’ve discovered some very interesting fellow writers.
If you are a self-published author, which platform do you prefer? (Amazon, Smashwords, Lulu, Author House, or something not mentioned), and why?
Currently, I prefer the Amazon platform. It’s simple, straightforward, and keeps a good track of things. It’s also the most popular online store in the world. It is simple to publish both print and ebooks on that site, though, once again, it takes diligence. Also, their sales ranking feature is nice.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
The genre of my novel Strife Of The Mighty is epic fantasy.
As for my attraction to the genre, well, ever since I read the first book in ‘The Secrets Of Droon’ series, back when I was quite young, I was right taken up with fantasy. Why? I loved the allure of such free adventure. The kids in the Droon books were basically my age when I read about them, and I would often wonder what it would be like to have an adventure like theirs. A little later on in my life, I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. That was a turning point in my as of then undiscovered career.
That adventure was the grandest thing I’d ever gotten lost in. I didn’t just wonder what it would be like to be in that adventure, I burned to be transported into the book and meet Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and all the Dwarves. I wanted to fight in Mirkwood, wander in Rivendell, and trek the Misty Mountains. Sure, I knew it would be uncomfortable and dangerous, but that only added to its allure. To carry a sword or a walking stick across lands without paved roads or automobiles, and sleeping beneath the stars with the sounds of the wild night about me was all I wanted. Then I realized something momentous If J.R.R. Tolkien, Tony Abbott, and C.S. Lewis could create all of these grand adventures from out of their heads, why couldn’t I?
And that’s why I love fantasy. Good fantasy transports you from one world into another, and if you get attached to a world, a character, or an adventure, it will never leave you.
How much influence do you believe a title, cover, content, page numbers have in purchasing decisions of potential buyers/readers?
As a matter of truth, these are the things that have the heaviest influence on potential buyers. In order they are
#1 Cover art. This is the first thing readers will see, and if they don’t like what they see, they won’t bother looking any closer. It is imperative that your book cover stands out from the crowd.
#2 Title. This is the second thing readers will see. Even if your cover is good, many people will be put off by a cheesy title. One has to make sure that one’s title has weight.
#3 Content. After a potential buyer has made it past these other two, that’s when they’ll take a gander at your content. And even if the other two are to die for, if what’s inside doesn’t resonate with them, they won’t buy.
Exceptions occur, of course, but those are the principals.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
One of the greatest things an author can receive is an honest review on their work. Reader reviews are invaluable. Not only do they help to boost the author’s credibility, but they also show the author what readers were looking for or expecting. The author finds out how the minds of his audience work, and how to cater to them. On the other side of the coin, reviews also help to point out those who do not shed the best of light on self-published authors. People who leave reviews will usually point out what they liked and did not like in whatever book it was that they read. By their words, one can discern if a book perhaps has a weak plot or hollow characters, a slow storyline, or if it was hastily put together without much regard to formatting or anything else. Reviews are not to be taken lightly.
Do you believe there are competitors or general readers out to sabotage authors with bad reviews and what are your experiences with this?
Unfortunately, I do believe that this problem exists. For whatever reason, sometimes readers (or maybe even other authors) will sink to this level to discredit an author just because they don’t agree with something he said or expressed, or even because they just don’t like him! I have seen it happen. It oughtn’t to happen, but it does. That is why it is important to gather reviews from all over. Let honest opinions outweigh the ones that are just out to get you.
With self publishing being so easy these days, do you believe there is an over abundance of books out there and how do you sort through all the hype or copycats?
It’s hard, that is. It’s very hard.
The sad truth is that there are many copycats out there, or simply folks who’ve just thrown a book together hastily, and then rushed it out into the world without checking their Ps and Qs– Literally! It’s hard to sort through the multitude of books out there, and that’s why it’s important for authors to take the time to make their work shine. It’s worth it to invest in a decent editor, decent cover art, and decent critique. Without these things, no matter how good you think you are, you don’t really stand much of a chance.
What is your biggest fear about having a book published?
That it won’t sell at all!
What is the intended audience for you book?
My book is really for anyone, but due to the nature of the prose, I’d suggest it for readers who are familiar with the fantasy genre.
Give us a fun fact about your book(s)?
Here’s one. Dotted throughout Strife Of The Mighty are the names of almost all of my immediate family! (One or two may have been slightly modified, though.)
If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?
That never a truer thing was spoken than ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’
What makes a good story, why?
To me, free adventure will always be the best story. Why? Because nothing is more grand than reading about the effect a huge adventure will have on the land, the times, and the characters involved. We’ve seen this process repeated so many times. We complain about it, and yet we cannot get enough of it! True fantasy adventure, fantasy adventure that draws the reader into the adventure, will never die.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are very important because they help make or break the feel of your story. For instance, can you imagine how it would sound if there was an elf named Chabo Gomez living in Rivendell? Selecting names for your story can be very tough, and everybody has their own way to conquer this problem. Personally, I sort of just think very, very (very) hard, and usually a name that fits will come. Yes, it often depends heavily on the sound of the name. The sound of the name, as far as my characters are concerned, will usually fit the character’s personality. Sometimes I’ve employed the use of anagrams, or even taken inspiration from ancient history.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Of course I read reviews. Do I respond to them? No, not really. It’s one of those things that you just have to take as-is. Unless I’ve specifically contacted someone to write a review for me—if that is the case, then I will always thank them for their time—I let reviews alone.
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
The most important elements of good writing are the weaving of your story, and then the ability to carry out that story from start to finish while keeping it all interesting. To do this you must employ patience and diligence. Those two things are must-haves. They will keep you plodding along when all looks bleak. They will see to it that you are constantly trying to better yourself as a writer and story teller. They will make certain that you are rewarded all the more when you reach the end of your road. And they will always be there to fall back on.
What book(s), author(s), or significant life event(s) have had a positive or negative influence in your life that inspired you to begin writing?
My favorite books of all time are the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. And yes, they were a great influence for me. Tolkien’s characters had great depth and at the same time pure simplicity. They were all unique; none of them sang or talked or walked the exact same way. They were relatable. The kids in the Droon books that I mentioned before as well. I could certainly relate to them at my age. I’ve also been influenced by some of the works of H.G Wells, such as The War Of The Worlds, and The Time Machine. The stories written by these men mattered, really mattered. They struck a chord with the entire world, and there’s a reason why. One cannot help but be inspired by such strong works.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
For me, writing is a career, a labor of love, a hobby, a creative outlet, a therapy, and several other things besides. It is one of the greatest outlets for our freedom of expression.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
The advantage of self-publishing, of course, is that you are in complete control of your work. Nobody can tell you, ‘No, you can’t release that.’ Or, ‘No one will like that, why bother?’ Or, ‘Your book will be about this instead of that once our editors are done with it.’ You control your content, your money, and, most importantly, you retain your freedom to create what you want how you want it.
The disadvantage, of course, is that you have to deal with everything on your own. You must do your own legwork, hire editors and artists and such out of your own pocket, and labor through the often tedious process of getting your book printed or uploaded correctly (depending on the platform you use). And you have to learn how to market yourself, and get people interested in you on your own steam, which can be nearly maddening.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
Because it possesses a beautiful cover, obviously! Okay, in all seriousness, Strife Of The Mighty stands out because it is a story written to cater to the grand old style of adventure that we all fell in love with. Within its pages is more than simply the tale of a kingdom in trouble; using the realm of fiction as its base, it looks into the possibilities of a time and land of staunch doubt, and the toils of one striving to rekindle faith.
Do you design your own cover? If not who does, why?
I did not design my own cover. I employed the services of Mr. Michael Gauss, whose style was just what the doctor ordered. I’m no artist, but I know what I want to see and what will resonate with others. Mr. Gauss’ skill brought my visions to life.
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
My favorite part of the writing process is to create something and then find that it works, and works well. There’re few things more gratifying to me than that. My least favorite part is when, after toiling and striving and laboring and working on something that I think may pull through, I end up having to tear that work away altogether. So much effort goes into matters like that. I also despise having to go over and over and over my own work in order to check for continuity and such matters. I’ve literally done that till my eyes started smarting.
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