Author Spotlight: Roger Eschbacher
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
Ever since the eBook revolution started, reviewers complained about the lack of quality of self-published stories. They claim that too many of the available eBooks are badly edited, have confusing stories, or are plain boring. They are partly correct, but there are also wonderful new authors that deserve to be noticed (like my colleagues here on the Independent Bookworm). Therefore, I will present a new Indie author once a month; one that is worth being read.
I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Indie author Roger Eschbacher. Currently, he is a professional television animation writer who’s worked for Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. He’s been traditionally published (with the picture books “Road Trip”, and “Nonsense! He Yelled” both for Dial Books) but decided to go Indie with his MG novel DRAGONFRIEND
If you think it was all good deeds and fancy ideals back in the days of Camelot, think again. Most people don’t know this, but for a time things went seriously bad; Arthur was imprisoned, Merlin had vanished, and a vile demon had taken over the throne. Young Leonard, page to a poor but kind knight, finds himself in the middle of this mess and now must do whatever it takes to set things right – even if that means doing battle with dangerous monsters, trying to outwit Camelot’s dark overlord, or taking a bath!
I found Roger to be a fascinating person, so I had him answer a couple of questions for you. I hope you find his answers just as interesting as I did.
How did you get started? Was it a childhood dream?
I think I always knew, at least on a subconscious level, that I would write books someday. I’ve been an avid reader all of my life and absolutely love books. After college, I moved out to Hollywood and eventually worked my way into writing jobs for television, mostly animation. I was working on a cartoon where a number of the artists were aspiring children’s book illustrators. This inspired me to try my hand at writing a picture book. I sent my first manuscript out to a bunch of publishers and, to my delight, an editor at Penguin bought it. I did another picture book after that. I’m very proud of the books, but let’s just say the sales on both were modest, so publishing and I parted ways for a while. Then in 2007, I ran across NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a wonderful event where you’re challenged to write fifty thousand words in the month of November. I signed up and a month later had the nearly completed first draft of DRAGONFRIEND, my middle-grade fantasy adventure novel.
Why are you focusing on speculative fiction?
To be honest, I only read fantasy and science fiction. They’ve been my go-to genres for pleasure reading from the very start and I have a depth of knowledge of each category from reading so many books over the years. Naturally, my first novel had to be spec fic.
Are you comfortable being categorized as a fantasy author?
Yes, I’m quite proud of the label, as a matter of fact.
Is there a kind of character, or an activity-like description, or dialog, which always seems alien to you?
Adverbs seem alien to me. I avoid them unless absolutely necessary as, to my eye, they’re a writing crutch. I’m also not a big fan of over description when it comes to character and location. I tend to write lean and think my best writing is when I can fully describe someone or something using as few words as possible. Not big on the flowery stuff.
What experiences have you had promoting your work. How about a highlight, an uplifting moment?
When my first picture book came out, I learned quickly that, aside from sending out review copies, publishers don’t really do a lot of promotion for unproven children’s authors. This was the case on my second book, too (although they did spring for some nice promotional postcards). What that meant was that I had to scramble to get any kind of attention for the books at all. I learned how to write a press release, how to set up an author website, who to talk to at bookstores to set up a signing, and which of the local newspapers were willing to do a story on me and my book. I’m a somewhat reserved individual so much of this took me out of my comfort zone. The uplifting part about all of that is that I found I really liked doing it! It was actually fun getting out the word about my books and easier than I thought because I was “selling” something I was very proud of. As you can imagine, those early experiences with promotions and marketing are really paying off as I move into self-publishing (and as publisher, I made the executive decision to print postcards and bookmarks).
What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?
Getting started. Once I type that first word, I’m golden. But there always seems to be something that needs to be done beforehand, doesn’t there?
Who is your favorite Indie author?
There are so many talented Indie authors out there these days. It’s truly an embarrassment of riches. One of my favorites is an author named Keith Robinson. He has an excellent YA fantasy series called Island of Fog about a group of “modern” shape shifter kids who travel into a dangerous world of magic and mythological creatures. A great read.
Who is your favorite traditionally published author?
Living: J.K. Rowling. Dead: J.R.R. Tolkien. Apparently, I’m fond of initialed authors as I’m also a big fan of C.S. Lewis and P.D. Eastman.
Tips for other Indies?
Make yourself and your book available for potential readers. I’m always surprised at the number of Indie authors I run across who don’t make the effort (whether through shyness, laziness, or lack of knowledge) to connect. Don’t be afraid to market your book. It’s all about getting your story, the story you worked so hard on, into the hands of a reader, right? That won’t happen unless you, the Indie author, make it happen.