A few months ago, a friend of mine announced that he was publishing a book. It was pretty exciting news, because as I stated in an earlier post, that’s always been a dream of mine. The book is called Dodger’s Doorway: Dodger’s Adventure to Storyworld, and the story itself is pretty interesting. It’s your typical story about a teen unwittingly stumbling into a magical, previously believed to be imaginary world full of imaginary characters. The thing that sets this story apart from others I’ve read is that the world the main character stumbles into happens to be inhabited by a few handfuls of the most beloved story book, fairytale, and nursery rhyme characters from the stories that everyone under 80 has grown up with. The twist here is that these classic characters have been re-imagined in a way that makes them appear fresh and new.
I was so interested in Alex’s book publishing journey that I sat down with* him, and asked him a few questions about his creative process, and some of the challenges of self publishing. You can buy Alex’s book here.
So, it looks like you didn’t go through a big publisher for this. Is it technically self published? If so, what kinds of things did you have to do to start that process?
I sent my manuscript to at least a dozen publishers but they were all busy and not taking on new clients. So I decided to go towards self-publishing. Amazon has an affiliation with a program called Createspace.com. Essentially, they offer all the things you need to get your book from your computer to the readers. They format it, they offer cover designs, they register you with an ISBN number, etc. They also set up the whole royalty payment. Warning to potential authors out there: it can be quite costly.
I have noticed that you’ve been marketing your book on facebook. Are you entirely responsible for the distribution and marketing of your book? Has that been challenging, or have you found that people are receptive to you because you’re doing this on your own?
I am responsible for marketing. Createspace registers your book onto Amazon and gives it the ISBN so you can have it sell and be part of an actual transaction. Since I get a discount on my copy of the book I buy, I can order a bunch of hard copies and sell them myself. But it’s very difficult to work out the taxes. Not sure too much about that. People have been pretty receptive because they know me and just like the fact that someone they know on a personal level actually wrote a real book.
What made you want to write this particular type of story; what other authors have inspired or motivated you to take on this project?
It’s weird what inspired me to write this book. I have been trying to write a book since I was 14 but I kept changing the idea over and over. Then I read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when I was in high school and fell in love with it. I liked the concept of someone going into a fantasy world and meeting strange creatures. So I wanted to write something like that and create memorable characters. But it was difficult. By the time I was 17, I had come up with title of Dodger’s Doorway but I had no plot or anything to go with it. Later on, I started imagining what it would be like if certain characters from fairy tales teamed up to fight a common foe and along those lines. I was originally going to write a story about Robin Hood and William Tell but couldn’t find a plot. Then, I ended up writing a short story involving Beowulf, Robin Hood, Siegfried, and the Mad Hatter fighting in Colosseum type gladiator fights. Eventually, I just started building up the plot for Dodger’s Doorway revolving around these characters interacting with each other.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
While writing the book, I had to do A LOT of research. I wanted to use familiar characters but there’s legal issues. When a character is created by an author, they’re copyrighted until 75 years after the authors death (sometimes longer depending on certain extensions). So I had to make sure that all the characters were in the public domain, which is like a group of characters who are no longer under any copyrighted and can be used anywhere. You’ll notice how movies like Shrek often used fairy tale characters because they are in the public domain. There were some set backs that prevented me from using characters that I wanted to because of this legality issues like using Willy Wonka or James and the Giant Peach. However, I plan to get around that by using certain loopholes.
What was your favorite fairytale?
My favorite fairy-tale would have to be Pinocchio if that counts. Hence why I wanted to portray him as such a fierce warrior and leader in the book.