Even though he’s an award-winning writer, we like Blake M. (He refuses to tell us what the ‘M’ stands for, so we’ll spend the rest of our lives wondering about it.) To begin with, boxful of awards or not, he’s still a struggling writer. Secondly, he dumped his publisher to go the indie route. Finally, despite the middle initial weirdness, he’s a friendly, funny guy. (Montgomery. We’re almost positive the middle initial stands for Montgomery.)
Most of us are struggling writers and, like us, Blake has a day job. It’s not a particularly exciting day job – he doesn’t train elephants or fly jet fighters…or, for that matter, train circus elephants to fly jet fighters – so we won’t discuss it here. Instead, we’ll get to the good stuff: After you left your publisher, Blake Moomba Petitt, why’d you go self-pub?
“I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in fifth grade,” he tells us. “Now, for the first time, I feel like I’ve actually got control over my success. No luck of the draw, no hoping I catch an agent’s attention while she’s in a good mood, no getting accepted by a publisher who quits publishing before my work sees the light of day.” (Which, by the way, happened TWICE.) “Besides, I still believed in my books and I kept getting requests from people – friends, mostly, I’m not claiming I got e-mails from strangers.” We e-mailed. We’re strangers. He answered. And, now, he’s learned a valuable lesson. “Once eBooks hit the market, I wanted to make my books available for anyone who wanted them so I could move on to other things. The response to my first book, OPH, surprised me quite a bit.”
He’s too modest to share what he means so we’ll jump in: Blake MingtheMerciless Petit collected a bushel of glowing reviews – go to Amazon and you’ll see that people love his book or they really love his book – and he sold a bunch of copies. He’s still selling bunches of copies. (Which encouraged him to put The Beginner out, e-formatted and with a flashy new cover. It arrived in the e-world just days ago, on sale here, and available for your glowing review. Get to it!) This didn’t surprise us…some people seem to prefer to read well-reviewed books instead of our stuff…but you know what did surprise us? Blake put OPH out as an audiobook. A free audiobook. How exactly does that work?
“Podiobooks.com reaches a huge audience of potential readers. Even if only a fraction of their listeners decide to buy the book after listening to it, those are sales that wouldn’t have happened without the audio version being out there.”
No, we meant –
“You mean ‘how’ did I do it? I’ve hosted a comic book/pop culture podcast for nearly five years, and I thought transferring that skill set to an audiobook would be a snap. At this point, clearly, I’m an idiot. Producing a viable audiobook is so much more difficult than doing a chat podcast that I thought I’d never get it done. Not only do you have all of the usual recording issues, you also have to be able to differentiate the characters from one another. The real torture, though, is editing. I learned that I HATE listening to myself over and over again, trying to cut out coughs and ‘ums’ and repeated lines and still screwing up. It’s the hardest recording work I’ve ever done.”
We interrupted again. What we meant was -- free? The audio version is FREE? Isn’t he concerned about losing paying customers to an absolutely-no-charge version of his story?
In response, Blake laughs maniacally. Not really but it’s our blog and we wish he had so we’re leaving this non-action in place. “Not at all,” he tells us. “I’m a voracious podcast listener, and I saw just how effective certain podcast novelists were at building an audience. When Podiobooks.com released the audio version of the book, the sales of OPH actually increased. It wasn’t just that I sold a few more copies, it was that I was selling more per week than I had previously and that rate continues to grow.”
Now, we know what you’re thinking: Where, oh where, is your free audiobook version of Aly’s Luck or The Atheist’s Daughter? If you’re seriously wondering about this, we’d like you to reread Blake’s earlier conversation, where he casually dropped the words, 'audiobook', ‘difficult’, ‘hate’, and ‘torture’ before you ask this question again.