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January 28, 2016
By Drucilla Shultz
Indie author Terry Irving urges self-publishers to keep their day jobs and pay their bills.

After working as a network TV producer and writer for 40 years, Terry Irving finally sat down and wrote his debut novel, Courier. He landed an agent, but when he lost his job at Bloomberg News, he started looking into self-publishing. And then, on the day he was going to make the book available to purchase online, he got a call from his agent. “A British publisher was going to read it on his vacation. So, I halted the mighty CreateSpace presses and in a week, the publisher returned from whatever sandy beach he was relaxing on and sent me a letter so full of praise that I still have it framed and mounted on my wall above my computer so I can read it when I feel down. I got a contract and basked in the glow of being a published author.”

Unfortunately, shortly after his book was released in May of 2014, Irving learned that his publisher was being shut down: “By January 1, 2015, the distributor announced that they would mulch any remaining paperback copies, the e-book had just vanished, and my agent had quietly removed my name from his website. So, I became a publisher and Ronin Robot Press was born.”

Within nine months, Irving had published Warrior—the sequel to Courier— and a satirical fantasy titled Day of the Dragonking. He also acquired and edited 19 books by other authors for Ronin Robot Press. "I’d say that we specialize in helping the hopeless," Irving says of his press, which publishes print editions and e-books and offers professional cover design, proofing, and developmental editing services in return for a split of royalties.

Both Courier and Day of the Dragonking received positive reviews from Publishers Weekly with the latter getting a star. We asked Irving what his tips for other indie authors would be.

Be Realistic

“Don’t give up your day job (sadly, I didn’t have a choice, my day job gave up on me)…It’s still hard to make any money at publishing.”

Do Your Research

“Don’t mistake your own preferences for the market. Sure, you may like to write fantasy, thrillers, or romance, but so does everyone else and that makes for a crowded space where it’s hard to stand out.”

Pay Your Bills

“Pay your subcontractors and authors instantly. I don’t know if there’s a good business rationale for this but you’ll sleep better.”

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