Spotlight 47: Jeremy Spillman
Mark Dawson: I’m Mark Dawson from The Self-Publishing Show and this is Self-Publishing Spotlight, where we shine a light on the indie authors who are changing the world of publishing one book at a time.
Tom Ashford: Hello, and welcome to the Self-Publishing Spotlight. We meet indie authors are all stages of their careers and ask them a series of five questions. Five questions about their process, their mistakes, and their successes. Five answers that will help you level up your own author career.
My name is Tom Ashford and I’m part of the Self-Publishing Formula. Don’t forget that you can get your self-publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
This week’s guest is Jeremy Spillman. He’s written one book in the Western genre and he lives in Tennessee.
Jeremy Spillman: I’m glad to be here.
Tom Ashford: Would you like to start by going over the book you’ve written?
Jeremy Spillman: Sure. It’s called The DeVine Devils. It’s a Western set just post Civil War about two boys, their father was a missionary to the Apache out West at the time. He took them with him on a trip and the village was raided by the United States Army and the father was killed and the boys ended up being raised by the Apache.
So it goes over their lifespan of being raised and then kind of trying to reincorporate themselves back in the East.
Tom Ashford: Very cool. And I haven’t personally read a lot of Westerns. I imagine they’re still quite popular over in the States.
Jeremy Spillman: They are, yeah. Westerns are a pretty popular genre.
Tom Ashford: Yeah. Okay, cool.
If we jump into the questions, the first one is, why do you write?
Jeremy Spillman: I’m a songwriter. That’s my day job here in Nashville. Have been for 20 years. And I think working in commercial music, country music here, I wanted an opportunity to expand my creativity and kind of get out of my confines creatively. And it was an outlet for me, basically.
Tom Ashford: Did you always intend to go indie? I’m presuming you are indie. Or did you want to get a traditional a publishing contract first?
Jeremy Spillman: No, I intended to go indie. I never pursued a publisher.
Tom Ashford: Was there a particular story or a particular reason why you wanted to write this story as opposed to anything else?
Jeremy Spillman: Well I had this thought, this vision, of a rock and roll band in the Old West. So when the brothers, Shane and Audie DeVine go back East, the only thing they really know how to do is make music. It has a soundtrack of original songs and I wanted to write this story so I could incorporate music into it.
Tom Ashford: Would you ever switch to getting a traditional contract now?
Jeremy Spillman: Maybe. I’ve been pretty happy with the indie route. I haven’t thought about that a lot. If the price were right, maybe, but I think right now, indie is the way to go.
Tom Ashford: Question number two is, how do you write? So when you sat down to write the first book, did you have it all plotted out or did you sort of just see where the story took you?
Jeremy Spillman: Not at all. I was definitely a pantser. I had no concept of the end from the beginning. And I use Scrivener, like so many writers. But yeah, definitely a pantser.
Tom Ashford: Is there a time and place that you prefer writing?
Jeremy Spillman: I like to write early in the morning when I can. I think I’m most creative when I first get up. That’s not always possible. I have four kids, so I kind of pick and choose where I can. The morning is the best for me.
My wife allowed me to go get a cabin in the mountains for almost two weeks and I took enough food to last me for two weeks and I holed up. And that’s how I finished the novel.
Tom Ashford: Very cool. Well, you’ve sort of answered this already, but question number three is:
Are you a full-time author? If you are, how did you get there and if you aren’t, what steps are you taking to make it happen? If you want it to happen.
Jeremy Spillman: I don’t want it to happen. I’m not a full-time author but I am a full-time songwriter. I do enjoy writing books and I’m working on my second one now, but I like my day job. I’m not trying to get out of my day job. I do enjoy the ability or being able to expand outside of a three minute song into a book.
Tom Ashford: Have you ever considered writing music theory or nonfiction, that side of things?
Jeremy Spillman: No, I think I would be horrible at that.
Tom Ashford: Fair enough.
Question number four is, what mistakes do you think you’ve made and what have you got right?
Jeremy Spillman: One mistake I think I made with the book was I think we targeted the wrong audience. The foreword for my book was written by an artist, a country music artist here named Eric Church, a guy I work with a lot, and we kind of targeted country music fans to begin with.
Just because somebody listens to country music doesn’t necessarily mean they want to read a book by a songwriter in that genre.
So we’ve shifted our focus to target Western readers, and that seems to be way more the way to go for us. I think my big mistake was targeting the wrong audience.
Tom Ashford: Any sort of success stories in particular?
Jeremy Spillman: Well, as far as the book goes, I mean, it’s my first one. We’ve sold, I think we’re closing in on with digital and hard copies, I think we’re closing in on 4,000 copies now.
Tom Ashford: That’s not bad.
Jeremy Spillman: And yeah, I mean for me, the success story in my mind was that I actually finished a book, but yeah, that’s where we’re at now.
Tom Ashford: Obviously that was your first book and you mentioned you were going to be writing a second one.
Do you want to talk a little bit about that and how that might differ or be related to the first one?
Jeremy Spillman: I want all my books to be centered around music. So the first one’s a Western, it’s very violent, which doesn’t bother me. But the second one is kind of the story of an artist, a country music artist who realizes he’s taken the wrong path. He’s very successful, but he kind of sold his soul a little bit too for the success and left the path of where he creatively wanted to go.
It’s obviously not violent at all, and it’s set in modern times. So a completely different genre, which I know I’ve heard plenty of people say that’s a mistake, but I kind of see my genre as books that can center around music and people who make music.
Tom Ashford: Yeah, and if your main career is still to be focused as a musician, then that’s a good connecting point for different genred books. If your career isn’t going to be or isn’t intended to be as a full-time author, then it doesn’t really matter as long as you’re expressing yourself the way that you want to.
Jeremy Spillman: Yes.
Tom Ashford: Question number five is, what’s your final piece of advice for authors starting out in indie publishing?
Jeremy Spillman: Keep writing and I know everybody says that, but as a songwriter, that’s what everybody told me in the beginning. Years ago when I moved to town, before I moved to town, everybody said, “Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing.” And I think that’s true across all creative endeavors.
You have to keep doing it. It doesn’t matter if you’re successful or not successful, the key is to always write. In songwriting, the key is to write more songs, write more songs and I think the same holds true for authors as well.
Tom Ashford: Is there a particular website or anything that people can find your books and your music or is it the same one or two separate ones?
Jeremy Spillman: You can go to jeremyspillman.com to find out pretty much everything about me and the book’s available, Amazon, all the places online, and you can buy the book here in the State, in Barnes & Noble in the South. So Barnes & Noble in the South are carrying it.
Tom Ashford: Awesome.
Jeremy Spillman: But yeah, anywhere online.
Tom Ashford: Great. Well, those are your five questions. Thank you very much for coming on.
Jeremy Spillman: Thank you, Tom.
Tom Ashford: That’s it for this week’s Self Publishing Spotlight.
Don’t forget that you can get your free self publishing resource kit at selfpublishingformula.com/starterkit.
And if you want to appear as a guest on the show, send us brief details about yourself and your writing at selfpublishingformula.com/spotlight-guest.
I’m Tom Ashford and I’ll see you again next week.
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