Starting a Historical Fiction Series – A Reedsy Success Story
Author R.P. Wollbaum is another example of the tremendous opportunity that indie-publishing represents for writers. He self-published his first book in 2015 and is now working on book 5 of his Bears and Eagles series. He has found his editor and cover designer through Reedsy and has been working with them ever since. His story is quite nice, so we thought we'd let him share it on our blog.
I have always been interested in history. As a young lad, I used to listen to the old-timers talk about the old country. There were still a few around that had been born in what they called Russia, now called Ukraine, and they talked about life there. They also talked about life in their new home, Canada and how there had been literally nothing but open sky and prairie when they had arrived. They even told stories they had heard from their grandfather about life in the ‘Old Country’, and the struggles they faced to make a life for themselves.
I had always had an interest in writing. But writing things in longhand — my handwriting is terrible — then transcribing them by typewriter was a pain and any hope of finding someone to publish your work was almost impossible. So it was just an infrequent hobby for me.
Then life in Canada changed and our young men and women were once again losing their lives in war. This time in Afghanistan and a young man serving as a member of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment lost his life. Most of us in Canada know of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) Battalion. Albertans know about the Lord Strathcona Horse (an armored brigade), and Calgarians know about the Calgary Highlanders. They are all famous Canadian regiments. But the King’s Own Calgary Regiment? Who were they?
So I researched this little-known cavalry brigade and thought to myself, what led this young man from a country not known for its military history, to join a reserve reconnaissance battalion? A plotline for the series developed and I worked backward in time to come to a starting point in the late nineteenth century when things were much like they are today, but I definitely still needed to do some worldbuilding. Huge Imperial Empires were dueling over land and prestige. Islamic fundamentalists were fighting to expand their territories and Christians were fighting them.
I placed a young educated man, Russian born to German emigrants and his younger brother in a Cossack battalion along with other younger sons of other German families and progressed from there. Each book of the Bears and Eagles series follows the next generation of this family and I place them in times and events that did occur, but perhaps not exactly how or when.
The explosion of indie-produced writers made the decision to publish easy, and I made a choice early on to obtain professional help for editing and book cover design. I had enough budget to edit two novels and one book cover. So I published Bears and Eagles, the first book in the series. It was well received for a first effort by an unknown author.
My original cover was eye-catching, but its retro art was not particularly suited to my theme. That is when I discovered Reedsy and the services they provided. I chose Dane Low to be my cover artist. Not only was he easy to work with, but I thought his addition of a battle scene into the background of the design was masterful. He is my choice as cover artist for the rest of the series.
The original editor I had hired did a good job, but there were mistakes. So I again looked to Reedsy for help. I am a guy. I write for guys, but I have many powerful female characters in my novels, and I made the decision to find a female editor to work with. Kate O’Donnell and I came to an agreement for an editorial assessment of Eagles Claw and right away we had a connection. I take most of what she wants me to do to heart. Although we speak the same language, we have different cultures and usages of language that have to be ironed out at times. She is Australian, I’m not, and my target market is North American males; but we are able to compromise, both of us being a little quirky and offbeat in our own ways.
She was my sole choice for Eagles Talon, the third release of the series. She performed the whole editing process for me and did fantastic work. My work is now being noticed, even though I only first published last June. Kobo has recently asked me to participate in a pilot project they are putting together that may see my hard copies distributed with the Indigo chain. Kate is about to do an editorial assessment of the fifth novel in the series, and I am about to begin rewrites on book four, for which she did everything —from an editorial assessment to a full and substantial copy edit.
I have expanded my distribution beyond Amazon and Kobo and have found that other sales channels, for me, sell as well or better than Amazon. My Reedsy experience has been fantastic. Soon I will be searching for a marketing professional to join my team and will be looking to Reedsy once again.
My journey continues.
You can check out R.P. Wollbaum's Bears and Eagles series on Amazon here.
As always, feel free to leave any questions for R.P. Wollbaum in the comments below. And if you're ready to follow his example and looking for an editor, designer, or marketer, take a look at Reedsy here!