Friday, February 17, 2012

Interview with James Hutchings, Self-Published Author

While I personally chose to attempt the traditional publishing route, many authors are going for the self-publishing route. I've interviewed James Hutchings, self-published author of two eBooks: The New Death and Others, a collection of short pieces, mostly dark fantasy, and Two-Fisted Tweets, a collection of 30 stories, each in 140 characters or less. Hutchings offers his perspectives on why he chose the path he did, his thoughts on self-publishing, from which kinds of promotion he's gotten the most success, and a free book giveaway.

 I saw that you have two books on Smashwords; have you published anything else?

Apart from The New Death and Others and Two-Fisted Tweets, I haven't put anything on Amazon or similar sites. I wrote a novel years ago, which I just put on my site for free (unwittingly making it 'previously published'), but I never did anything else with it.

Why did you choose self-publishing?

I've never tried to be traditionally published, whereas most authors who self-publish seem to do so after they give up on trying to get a book contract.

Firstly, I didn't want to waste paper by being traditionally printed. There are publishers who only publish electronically, but I was skeptical about what they'd do for me that I couldn't do for myself.

Secondly, it seems like traditional publishers expect most of their authors to do their own promotion anyway, so what are they giving in return? Also, of course, it's very difficult to get a contract, and bloggers like JA Konrath argue that it's going to get more and more difficult, because publishers will respond to loss of income by cuting their 'mid-list', or paying them less, to concentrate on a few authors who can make them a lot of money.

What have you gotten out of it that you wouldn't have gotten through traditional  publishing?

I doubt that I would have gotten traditionally published. First, hardly anyone does. Secondly, I write very short stories and poems that are mostly fantasy. The dominant form of fantasy is currently long sets of equally long novels. So I don't think I would have gotten anything through traditional publishing. The amount of money I've gotten so far is tiny, but the feedback and publicity have been very useful. I've 'built a platform' as some people say, meaning that I've found people who are likely to review or be interested in whatever I put out next.

What do you feel like you gave up in exchange?

I gave up on getting a traditional contract, which would, of course, have gotten me more of everything than I could get through self-publishing. But then I gave up on winning the lottery by not buying a lottery ticket.

How much promotion do you do, and what kinds of promotion have gotten you the best results?

I promote my work almost every day. The main method I use is contacting bloggers and asking them if they'd review my work (or do an interview, guest post, or giveaway) in return for a free copy. I have a giveaway going constantly on, and I post about every giveaway on goodreads, but contacting bloggers is my main method.

Is there anything in particular you've done, joined, or attended (like a conference or a writers' group) that has been especially helpful?

A couple of people have asked me how I've gotten so many reviews (I link to every review from my blog). But my 'secret' is just to contact an enormous number of people and ask.

What's that about a book giveaway? Yep, there's one here too! Hutchings has offered a free copy of The New Death and Others. Interested? Leave a comment and be entered to win! Either include a contact e-mail or check back Feb. 27 (that's right, in 10 days; that's a Monday!) to see if you've won. Contest ends Feb. 26th at 5pm.

Below is a clip of The New Death and Others, available on Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Also check out Hutchings' blog.


In the beginning of the world the gods considered all those things which did not have their own gods, to decide who would have responsibility and rulership.

"I will rule all flowers that are sky-blue in colour," said the Sky-Father.

"I will listen to the prayers of migratory birds, and you all other birds," the goddess Travel said to him. And so it went.

At last all had been divided, save for one thing.

"Who," asked the Sky-Father, "shall have dominion over the poor?"

There was an awkward silence, until the Sky-Father said, "Come - someone must. Those with no gods will grow restless and cunning, and in time will cast us down, and we shall be gods no more."

"Not I," said blind Justice, and her stony face flashed a momentary smirk at the thought. "Why not Fame or Fortune?"

"Darling, I don't think so," said the sister goddesses together.

There was a long pause. The gods shuffled their feet and avoided one another's gaze. At last a voice broke the silence.

"I will," said Death.
--From The New Death and Others


  1. Wow. With very few words, you made a big impact. Great job.

  2. Mr. Hutchings has shown the power of simplicity with this snippet. It is sad, eerie, and intriguing. And I appreciate his insight on traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. I've recently chosen to head down the indie route, as well. As a new author, I anticipate that my books will require time to gain reader traction, and that's not something I believe traditional publishers and bookstores can afford to give me. Thank you for a timely post!

    1. Good luck with your publishing! It can be really hard for new authors to break into traditional publishing - something that makes me nervous, too! I hope you get the word-of-mouth you're looking for through indie publishing.