Author Spotlight: Matt Coleman

See full issue for 2018 08-06

If you had a writing motto what would it be?
I generally work under the motto of "write a story only you can tell." Of course, there have been moments when I challenged my own motto a bit. But I have found, even when I am working from an angle which is far from my own experience, in order to make it something worth reading I have to find a meaning within it unique to me and my perspective.

Where do you draw your inspiration?
Well, as dangerous as this may be to admit, I draw a lot of inspiration from people I encounter in daily life. I meet people and think, "He/she would make a great character." Everything starts with character for me. I think it was Joe Hill who said he doesn't really plan out plot. He fully forms a character in his mind and then puts him or her into a situation and waits to see what happens. I do a little more plotting than that, but I love the description. And, for the record, characters start with inspiration from real people. This does NOT mean all my characters are completely based on real people.

What is one interesting fact about you?
I am tempted to talk about the fact that I have co-written a farce with my best friend to be performed in Dallas next spring because it is writing related. I am also tempted to mention my seventeen years experience in the education field, teaching, all told, over one thousand students and facilitating professional development for almost as many teachers because I think I am rather accomplished in the field (if I may humblebrag). BUT ... if I have to pick ONE interesting fact (which, I realize, I have quite clearly not done), I would definitely say that I once caught thirty-two quarters off my elbow after seeing an episode of Happy Days where a guy caught thirty-one. Suck it, Happy Days. (I am available to create a YouTube video of proof if requested. Although I may not be up to thirty-two anymore. Time catches up with us all. Even you, Fonzie.)

Have you learned anything from the self publishing process and would you do anything differently next time?
For me, the indie publishing process has been very comfortable and nurturing. I think I initially had a little fear of going with an indie publisher. We all start with these grand dreams of signing a million dollar book deal. I have learned through the experience just how rare those deals are. I have friends who are wildly successful with major publishers, and they still talk about struggling to pay the bills each month. If I had it to do over, I don't think I would hesitate as much in finding an indie publisher I love. I may not be buying a boat anytime soon, but my publisher (Pandamoon Publishing out of Austin) has allowed me the creative license to write the types of books I want to write, and they have provided me with the resources to make those books as good as I can possibly make them. It took me a little while to realize the dream was never about fame or money. The dream was about seeing my little stories get to live out in print. Indie publishing has given me that. And, looking back, indie publishing is exactly where I want to be.

What has been your most successful marketing strategy?
I think the best strategy is to connect with people in the book business. It's difficult, because we all experience professional jealousy watching other writers succeed. I mean, let's just be honest and admit that. But, much like yourself, rest assured all (or almost all) writers, deep down, want nothing but success for all (or almost all) other writers. I've found the best marketing comes via the grassroots network of writers out there on the Internet. For the most part, it's a group of golden hearted book lovers who will do more than anyone to market a book OR writer they respect.

What is the best kept secret you have found in regard to indie publishing?
I'm going to keep touting AutoCrit until they give me a free month or two. It has become an ongoing policy of mine. But, for real, AutoCrit is pretty great. I have worked with fantastic editors in indie publishing, but I know many of the people reading this are self published, which means you're probably having to beg, borrow, and steal to find editing services. AutoCrit is cheap, easy, and reliable. Although nothing will ever compare to a real, live human editor, I have polished up each of my books using this online editor before turning in a final draft. I love it. Hear that, AutoCrit? You know how to find me.

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