Friday, January 13, 2012

The Best of Both Worlds: A Guest Post by Author Ian T. Healy

I met Ian at last year's Pikes Peak Writer's Conference. He was friendly, calm and seemed confident in a setting that I found mildly overwhelming. That was the first thing I noticed, other than his hair (obviously). Most people I saw at the conference looked about as frazzled as I felt, but he seemed to be having a great time.

Since then, he has become the word-wielding slave master that makes me feel bad if I'm screwing around on Facebook without having written or edited anything that day. Not because he is actually telling me I should be writing, or in any way trying to make me feel ashamed, but because he is always working on something, despite being a dad and having a full-time job. He cheerfully posts snippets of his current works in progress and updates what he's working on. If you want real, positive encouragement, I recommend you add him on Facebook. Everyone needs someone to kick them into gear in some way or another, right?

Since that meeting, Ian has self-published several novels and short stories in e-book format, which you can find on Amazon and Smashwords. He has also traditionally published a book through New Babel Books, entitled Just Cause:

Some superheroes can fly, or lift great weights, or shoot lightning bolts. Mustang Sally runs. A third-generation superhero, Sally's life changes forever when she fights and loses to the notorious villain Destroyer, who killed her father just before she was born. She dedicates herself to tracking him down so she can even the score. When all you can do is run, you'd better be fast, but can even the fastest girl in the world run quick enough to save her teammates' lives from Destroyer and his growing parahuman army?

Ian is one of the few authors who has experience in both self-publishing and traditional publishing, and one who hasn't chosen sides in the war that rages on the battlefield of publication preference. He agreed to write about the best of both worlds on his Just Cause Live Blog Tour (for other stops, including interviews and guest posts, go to his blog and look in the top left corner).


The Best of Both Worlds:
Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Dual Publication

I've been rejected more than anybody I know.

That's not to say I'm any kind of record-holder. I'm sure there are writers out there whose Rejection Collection is more than a thousand strong, but let's face it—if you've earned that many rejections, maybe writing just isn't your strong suit.

That being said, the story of how Just Cause found its way to publication involves well over 140 rejections (that was the number where I stopped counting). I've recounted how the initial story came about in other posts of this tour, but to recap, I wrote it as a way to get my foot in the door with Del Rey so I would be asked to write Star Wars novels. I realize that's an odd reason to write a novel, but like so many other great discoveries throughout history, it seemed like a good idea at the time. This was 2004, when I was barely scratching the surface of what it meant to be a modern writer, and the truth is that I knew next to nothing about revising, editing, querying, etc.

Is it any wonder I earned all those rejections?

Unlike many other writers, I didn't keep trying to massage Just Cause. I kept writing other books, like sequels (which I know you're Not Supposed To Do if the first book hasn't been published). I discovered NaNoWriMo and over the years have added eight more novels to my catalog than I might have otherwise. I experimented with "self-publishing" in 2005 with my NaNo book The Milkman. iUniverse took money from me and that was the first time I really learned the lesson that money should flow to the author, not the other way around.

I finally landed an agent, who couldn't sell any of my work, and eventually her failing health drove her to retirement. Her replacement likewise couldn't sell any of my work, and eventually her health issues drove her to retirement as well (Note: along with my next agency contract, I'll require a note from the agent's doctor). At the beginning of 2011, I found myself without an agent and something like two dozen completed works gathering dust on my hard drive.

I decided to publish them as ebooks. Just Cause, renamed Mustang Sally by then, was one of the first ebooks I released. It, along with a few superhero short stories, formed the backbone of my early library. And by then, those works had been revised and edited, because I learned a lot in eight years of beta reading, conferences, and paying attention to the Right Sort of People (those who have been published).

What I did worked, because I attracted the attention of a small publisher specializing in superhero fiction, named New Babel Books. The Editor in Chief wanted to acquire the entire Just Cause universe. I was pleased to accept the offer. Right now I have three more books under contract with them and one more under consideration. I have plans to write at least fifteen more novels set in the JCU, and as long as New Babel is happy with them and I'm happy with New Babel, we'll keep working together.

At the beginning of 2011, I was hiding my ebook library from potential agents. Now I'm flaunting it. I know what I'm doing now, and it's important that they see that if they can't (or won't) sell my work, I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. Publishing doesn't have to be an either-or proposition. You can be successful working both sides of the fence.


Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific writer who dabbles in many different speculative genres. His superhero novel Deep Six: A Just Cause Novel was a Top 100 Semi-finalist in the 2008 Breakthrough Novel Award. He’s an eight-time participant and winner of National Novel Writing Month where he’s tackled such diverse subjects as sentient alien farts, competitive forklift racing, a religion-powered rabbit-themed superhero, cyberpunk mercenaries, cowboy elves, and an unlikely combination of vampires with minor league hockey. He is also the creator of the Writing Better Action Through Cinematic Techniques workshop, which helps writers to improve their action scenes.

His goal is to become as integral to the genre of superhero fiction as William Gibson was to cyberpunk and Anne Rice was to urban fantasy. The first book in his Just Cause Universe series, JUST CAUSE, is available now from New Babel Books.

When not writing, which is rare, he enjoys watching hockey, reading comic books (and serious books, too), and living in the great state of Colorado, which he shares with his wife, children, house-pets, and approximately five million other people. His ebooks can be found on Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, iBook Store, and other online retailers.,


Thank you for coming by, Ian, and for your informative guest post! Good luck on the rest of your tour.

Any questions for Ian?


  1. Good thing he just kept writing then!

  2. Being obsessive and persistent must be a great combination! Good for him! And, HALLELUJAH! for you!

  3. Shannon, you were frazzled? Really? You seemed so cool!

    Great post, Ian. Good luck with the books.

  4. Thanks for hosting me, Shannon!

  5. Great post - very inspirational - reminds us all to keep going and not give up.

  6. Wow, this was very encouraging to read! Thank you!

  7. Alex, definitely! I've read a few of his stories and they are great.

    Susan, it seems to be working for him!

    Julie, the more I talk, the more nervous I am! Okay, so that may not always be true, but it's a good rule of thumb. You'll be hearing from me soon!

    Ian, thank you for the post!

    Tania, it certainly does!

    Shelley, I'm glad to hear it!