Author Interview: Ken Floro III

Ken Floro III, author of Little Green Men From Beyond the Amazon was kind enough to meet with me today to discuss writing style, his kids’ college fund, and who NOT to listen to while you’re trying to make it as an indie author.  It turns out he is an unbelievably super nice guy, and he even had some really good news about the sequel to Little Green Men (out soon).

Ken Floro
I’m excited. This is my first interview as an author

me
I wish I were more famous for you.

Ken Floro
I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Thanks again!

me
I want to talk about the thing about your book I liked the most: the voice.

Ken Floro
What would you like to know?

me
How did you keep it consistent? Is that just how YOU talk in your head?
Like is Max an extension of you or is he somebody entirely different?

Ken Floro
That’s exactly how I talk in my own head. The oldest writing maxim in the wold is to write what you know. It took me years of practice to make my inner voice anywhere near readable. I’m glad it’s working!

me
It seems to be working quite well, actually.
One thing I absolutely must know because I feel it’s crucial to understanding this book (as you may have gathered from my review of it) is how many books is this series intended to contain?
Did I just read 1/10th or 1/2?

Ken Floro
I’ve already written the second, which is slated for publication this month, and I’m halfway through the third. My gut tells me the series will run through four total, but I absolutely NEVER outline or plan my writing, so the best I can do is catch premonitions about where the stories are headed.

me
okay so at least three then

Ken Floro
Definitely three.
Most likely four.

me
That makes sense. I did feel as though I’d just read around 1/3 to 1/4 of a story

Ken Floro
Oh, good!

me
With self-publishing, sometimes it makes sense to do that. I’ve considered releasing my books in clumps of chapters.

Ken Floro
I had no idea where the whole thing was headed when the story first started bubbling up in 2003. I’ve just been going with it.
I concur with the self-publishing angle. As the author I have so much more control and feel like I can do things entirely as I want to without having to worry about striking marketing targets in given genres

me
I know exactly what you mean!
What sorts of mass-market boundaries did you feel comfortable crossing (in this book and/or in others).

Ken Floro
The first one was written from 03-05. The second from 05-07. The third one has sat dormant in its half-written state for about three years. I was holding out hope for traditional publication. Now my only restriction is saving up for the next batch of ISBN’s
With regard to markets and genres, I didn’t stop to think about it, I just wrote the story that presented itself to me. Stephen King compares writing fiction to archaeology – it’s more like unearthing a fossil than actively creating something. I didn’t set out to cross any boundaries, I just ignored them and wrote what I wanted. Then realized I couldn’t sell it through traditional channels to save my life
So here I am, an indie author

me
That’s a really good way of looking at it.
So, when you were trying to sell through traditional channels, did you receive any feedback? Did you pick up an agent? Tell me a bit about what you encountered.

Ken Floro
I’ll admit I only came to that enlightened stance after years and years of self-doubt and epic frustration
I received enough form rejection letters to make a very uncomfortable blanket, but no one ever connected with my work or gave me any worthwhile feedback beyond “You dialogue seems stilted”
(make that “you’!)
(damit, ‘YOUR”)
((and make that “damnit’!))

me
lol

Ken Floro
(too much coffee this morning)

me
I do that.
So were those letters from agents or did you attempt the publishers themselves?

Ken Floro
I attempted both and never made any headway. To be fair to those who rejected me, I last attempted traditional channels probably five years ago, and I’ve been writing non-stop since then, so I know my work has improved, but I’m in love with being indie now, so there’s no way I’d switch back. The liberty to do what I want and not have to answer to anyone suits my disposition much better

me
Makes complete sense.
You’re the first author I’ve interviewed or reviewed who was not on their debut novel so I’m very interested in knowing what other sorts of things you find rewarding about being an indie author.
For example: do you get to connect with your readers? Have you found a community?
And if it’s not too personal,
Has the complementary income so to speak ever afforded you any grand, significant luxuries?

Ken Floro
I, perhaps unfortunately, fell under the spell of John Locke, and was persuaded to dump a lot of books onto the market all at once. In retrospect, I’m still not sure if that was a bad or good idea, but I’ve been sitting on the material for years, yearning for an audience; at least now I can hunt for one

me
John Locke? Is that a character from one of your other novels? Or do you refer to the philosopher?

Ken Floro
Being an indie author, for me, has been challenging. You get to confront the deafening indifference of the universe head-on, which can be chilly and disheartening. But I remain optimistic and hope that supplemental income can help pay for some higher education for my kids some day (assuming we add to our litter)
John Locke is an indie author who made a big splash a few years back and was only recently discredited for having paid top dollar for spam reviews to pump his Amazon ratings (according to scuttlebutt).

me
Ohhhh I see.

Ken Floro
He published a book about how he made himself such a huge success as the first indie to sell one million ebooks but neglected to mention he bought most of that publicity
Again, so the story goes . . .

me
I see.
But you know… Fifty shades of crap was originally an indie book

Ken Floro
I’ve managed to avoid reading it, but it feels like I’m the only one

me
…and now whats her name and her disjointed, barely coherent vocabulary are drowning in yachts.

Ken Floro
That would certainly be nice!

me
Somebody lent me the book. My girlfriend and I got 20 pages in before we felt actively harmed by the text.

Ken Floro
HA!
For my own work, I’m satisfied that I’ll be proud to let my kids read it someday
Obviously, when they’re old enough

me
So you’re saving up your indie book income for your kids’ schooling. That’s awesome.

Ken Floro
Well, that income amounts to a grand total of $11.43 so far

me
of all the books you’ve released, you’ve only made 11.43?

Ken Floro
Yeah. Deafening indifference of the universe. What can ya do, right?

me
Wow. How many sales is that?
Don’t tell me it’s 1,143 sales, I’ll kill myself

Ken Floro
About a dozen total books, counting print and ebook, but for a long time I had all my ebooks priced at $.99
This is where the “writing whatever I want” part feels sort of like you might have shot yourself in the foot, but I can’t exactly back out now

me
Other than the staggering supplementary income with which you’ll surely one day purchase many summer houses,
and the freedom to write what you want,
can you think of any other benefits?

Ken Floro
It really is FUN! I get to write whatever I want! Staring into the horizon of building an audience is just the next challenge

me
Well, that’s as good a reason as any. How much time do you spend in the average day/week writing?

Ken Floro
It depends entirely what I’m working on. When I’m writing for my website, it can soak up 2-3 hours a day or more. When I’m editing books for publication, that can take up as much as 5 hours a day, but those fits of productivity usually only last for a few weeks out of the year. The rest of the time, I treat writing like a fun hobby. And it’s a lot more constructive than video games

me
Have you tried Sims?
Because maybe you would change your tune a little if you played Sims is all.

Ken Floro
I’ve always been fond of Civilization. A buddy introduced me to it back in high school and warned me I’d be up until 4am playing, and damnit, he was EXACTLY right. The franchise is on its 5th iteration now, but with a toddler, I don’t have the 6-8 I used to scrounge up for marathon gaming sessions any longer. Oh well

me
Toddlers are very detrimental to video game progress.

Ken Floro
You got that right!

me
Two more questions.

Ken Floro
Hit me.

me
As a seasoned indie author, what would you recommend new indie authors pursue/avoid. In other words, what did you waste your time on and what do you wish you’d found earlier?

Ken Floro
I wasted a little money on some digital advertising, and I wasted a lot of time and effort attempting to “exploit” Twitter, per the advice of a certain million-selling indie author. Now, I guess I’d say just write what you enjoy writing and be prepared to let that be good enough, because it might very well be that all you get is the satisfaction of having done it. Not to sound like a pessimist or anything. It it a helluva rush to hold your own book in your hand!
Dance like no one’s watching, right?

me
Definitely.
Okay last question:
Can you please give us a little sneak peek at what’s to come for Max?

Ken Floro
Absolutely!
In the second book, I split the narrative perspective, so half of the book is from Max’s eyes, still in first-person, and the other half is third-person, from Veronica’s eyes. They discover that the little green men are much, much more than wild animals. They also discover just how dangerous the new Director and his goons truly are.

me
It will be exciting to see things from Veronica’s perspective.

Ken Floro
It was a much easier for me to tell a story outside of strictly first-person perspective!
If you’d like, I can send you an advance copy

me
I would love an advance copy, thank you.

Ken Floro
Rock on! I’ll email it today!

me 
And thank you for coming it was all my pleasure doing the interview. You’ve been super fun.

Ken Floro III has the best blog I’ve ever seen from an independent author. It can be found here along with links to purchase his action-packed novels soon to include the perspective of a pretty awesome female character whose voice I can’t wait to hear.

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