All was good until we dug a little deeper. On his blogspot, GF claims, "Malice was born from a nightmare" – pretty convenient, eh?, him sharing this after we told the world that The Atheist’s Daughter was inspired by one of Renée’s more disturbing dreams. In his storyline, per the Grifster, "Something unspeakable is murdering the townspeople of Millingham"...while, in T.A.D., we have something unspeakable murdering the townspeople of Winterhaven. In his book, only his teenaged hero knows what is doing the killing – while, in our novel, only the teenaged heroine knows what is doing the killing. Finally, both in Malice and in T.A.D., when friends and neighbors start to die, the main character has to act.
So we contacted this so-called Griffin Hayes and asked what was up. Specifically, we asked if he had bunches of money. We wanted to know if he'd like to settle the lawsuit NOW, rather than spend the next decade in court. "Geez," he told us, "right out of the gate and we’re already in litigation? Before you start counting your settlement, know that the first draft of Malice was completed back in 2002. It sat on a computer hard drive for a long time before I finally decided to bring it back from the dead. So I might have a pretty strong counter claim, but I’ll only agree to sue you if we can appear on Judge Judy. I love Judge Judy!"
And that’s how he won our hearts: We, too, are fond of Judge Judy. Also, we worry that society has grown too litigious, especially since his novel was written years before our story. We knew his manuscript had found him an agent and almost found him a publisher – a TOR editor held his pages close to her breast for quite some time – but he still published the book himself. "Interest from TOR should only have wetted my appetite," he said, "but I’d already been kicking the book up and down the street for months by then. I knew the book was good. My agent knew it was good. TOR liked it, they only worried because it was too cross genre for them."
"My two biggest hesitations with self-publishing was that I didn’t want a crappy cover to make me look like an amateur. I also didn’t want a garage jammed with books waiting to be dropped off at the local bookstore. Once I discovered Amazon’s KDP service and realized those two concerns weren’t going to be an issue, I jumped at the chance. Frankly, I don’t care one bit for awards or trophies." Which is exactly what Harrell said back in the sixth grade, when Josh Moretz beat him in the 50-yard dash. Then Harrell kicked Josh in the leg and ran off but, again, Josh was faster, caught Harrell and kicked him back. It was not a proud day in the Turner household. Griff continues, "I want a readership. Fans who are dying to gobble up everything I write. For me, that's the payoff."
When it came time to publish, he kinda followed our strategy: Hire a pro! "I wanted Malice to stand toe to toe with any traditionally published book sitting on the shelf at your local Barnes and Noble," he tells us. "I probably paid about 300 clams for formatting, cover art and a final proofread. The cover itself went through about 10 or more iterations before I was finally happy. I wanted on paper exactly the image I saw in my head and my designer, Kit Foster, was a dream to work with."
We like people who use the term, “clams”, when they mean dollars. We really do. (Unless GH truly did pay these people in clams, which would make their work quite a bargain if you live near the coast.) Still, we know that self-pub takes time to pay off. Was it worth it, going out of pocket this early in the game?
He said, "The way I look at it, traditionally published books have the benefit of launch parties and lots of advertising. Building momentum with an indie book is a long, hard slog. Trying to convince people to lay their hard-earned cash on a new author also isn’t easy, especially an indie writer. The first few months are about building awareness. Once a reader discovers and enjoys your books, they’re more likely to seek out your other work."
He’s doing other work, too. There are some shorter pieces at a lower price (here for example)...and more: "I’m planning to publish an adult horror novel, tentatively called Nocturnal, in early 2012. I’m just bringing it through a few more edits until it’s ready for prime time. In addition, I’m working on a post-apocalyptic zombie novella set a few hundred years after the world’s been overrun. If it catches on, it’ll act as the prologue to a series."
The bottom line, as we see it: Griffin Hayes is a hardworking guy, he’s mapped out a career path for his writing, he knows his stuff and we like him...and there's no denying, he's some serious competition to the other writers in the Indie Pond. But you know what?
It's a big pond. There's room for all of us....