A former schoolteacher, author Jeff Menapace says he prefers pumping out “suspense thrillers with a dash of macabre,” which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those who know that Jeff thinks the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s the epitome of cinematic excellence.
Although he’s published both fiction and non-fiction, Jeff’s Amazon author page only seems to show his selection of darker fiction. Which is all well and good — this work, after all, is what brought this Philadelphia native and resident to our attention.
How Jeff Got Started Self-Publishing
Jeff was lucky enough to get himself a literary agent early on, although “nibble after constant nibble from publishers became more than a little disheartening.” Like many (OK, most… OK, all) newbie novelists, to Jeff the traditional way was the only way to go. “[I]t was traditional publishing or nothing at all,” he admits. “Self-publishing would always carry that stigma with it as far as I was concerned.”
Enter Joe Konrath’s popular blog, which Jeff started reading. With each blog post, Jeff’s self-publishing stigma shriveled up just a little bit more, until — poof! — he asked his agent if he could self-publish one of his short stories. Considering the wild success Jeff was having at that point, I imagine the agent’s response was along the lines of, “Knock yourself out.”
So Jeff published Sugar Daddy and posted about it on Kindle Boards. “… Michelle who worked for Red Adept Reviews contacted me almost immediately. She raved over the story and it would later go on to win an award. This prompted more short stories, and more solid feedback from critics and readers.”
Eventually, Jeff decided to just go for broke indie publishing. He left his agent, and proceeded to put his novels — his “babies” — out there. “Was I scared? HELL YES. But I had done my homework. I hired an editor. I hired a professional cover designer and formatter. I studied hundreds of blurbs from my genre to get my own nice and juicy. And I like to think I wrote a good book.”
In late February of this year, he released his first novel, Bad Games. To date it has sold over 10,000 copies. And he’s given away way more — during a 4-day giveaway spell, it was downloaded for free over 30,000 times. “I get fan mail every day from readers telling me how much they enjoyed it (probably the biggest reward of all).”
He released the sequel, Vengeful Games, just last June and its numbers show the book’s also doing very well, and Jeff’s third book in the series, Bad Games: Hell Bent, is coming out very soon.
I have a feeling Jeff’s flood of fan mail isn’t going to abate anytime soon.
Self-Publishing Observations and Tips
- “I still think it’s crazy when people ask me for advice on how to do well in self-publishing. I consider myself a rookie in the field, with a long way to go. But I’m hungry, and I know if my luck runs out someday, it won’t be for lack of trying.”
- “If I could offer any advice, I would say learn everything you can about self-publishing. Remember, you’re not just a writer anymore; you’re a businessman or businesswoman too.”
- “I would also steal Mr. Konrath’s basic, but very valuable advice, and say: write the best book you possibly can; get a professional-looking cover; write a blurb that will make readers drool; price your book reasonably; and never, ever, give up.”
- “If your first book has meh results, write another. And then another. And then another after that.”
- “eBooks are the future, and a virtual bookshelf never goes away. If you’ve got a good product, someone will find you eventually.”