Interview with fantasy author Martin F. Hengst

So as I announced a few days ago, all of my posts after February 2013 got lost after the hacking attempt on my website (curse you, hackers), I am now slowly putting up some of the more popular posts back. This is an interview I did with fantasy author Martin F. Hengst in April 2013. Currently his first fantasy book The Last Sword Mage is No. 10 in the Amazon Sword and Sorcery category, and his second book The Darkest Hour is No. 20 in the same category.

So here is the interview (republished):

Today I bring you another author interview. And I am really happy to introduce to you Martin F. Hengst. Sure, many of you may not have heard of him now, but mark my words, all those fantasy readers would have heard of him in a few months’ time. His books are amazing. His fantasy book, The Last Swordmage, first in his Swordmage trilogy was released in December 2012, and is already at #32 rank in Amazon’s fantasy category. The second book, The Darkest Hour, was released in March 2013 and is ranked at number 30.

the last swordmage

What an amazing accomplishment by a new, self-published writer!

So here is an unedited version of his interview.

Q. Tell us a bit about your fantasy The Swordmage trilogy?

The Swordmage Trilogy follows Tiadaria, a young woman sold into slavery by her father, on her travels as she becomes, all unwitting, the last swordmage. In The Last Swordmage we meet Tiadaria and follow her adventures as she’s rescued from execution by a retired soldier and taught to be a fighter. Tiadaria’s adventures continue in The Darkest Hour  where she must use all she has learned to continue the battle against the Xarundi and their hunger for domination. In The Pegasus’s Lament, the final installment of the trilogy, due out later this year, Tiadaria must face some of the most challenging personal decisions she’s ever had to make in her quest to ensure the safety of Solendrea and its people.


Q. How did you come up with the world of Solendrea where your stories are set?

The people, places, and things in the world of Solendrea have been with me for more than twenty years. I began the imagining when I was in high school and over the years I’ve gotten to know the people well enough to finally start putting down their stories on paper. Solendrea is a wild and magical place and I’m glad that others get to come along with me on my journey of discovery.

Q. Do you plan to release more stories set in the same world?

Absolutely. I currently have plans for at least six more novels and an anthology of short stories, all set in Solendrea and sharing threads to form a common tapestry.

Q. Why did you decide to self-publish the books?

I primarily write for my own self-enjoyment. That others seem to enjoy the places and characters I’ve created has been a wonderful and pleasant surprise. I chose to self-publish because it gives me complete creative control over what I release and when. I’m not limited by having to pitch new ideas, wait for them to be accepted (or rejected!), then go through publishing, marketing, etc. Self-publishing has also been a wonderful experience in learning to do things like copy editing (of which I still have much to learn) and formatting, and so on.

Q. Currently your books are only available on kindle. When do you plan to release the books on other formats?

Part of my marketing strategy was to utilize the Kindle Select program early on to generate interest and reviews for the books. My participation in the Kindle Select program comes to an end in the middle of June, so it is likely that you could see different formats available as early as late June/early July. Additionally, that is around the time that The Pegasus’s Lament should be ready for publication. Additionally, for those who would like to get their feet wet with the world of Solendrea, but are unable to utilize the Kindle store for whatever reason, my short story, Volinette’s Song, which is based on a young girl’s quest to enter the Acadamy of Arcane Arts and Sciences in Solendrea, is available on Smashwords.

Q. Do you see any advantages of releasing books on KDP select?

I think there are definite advantages to utilizing KDP Select. Especially when you are starting out. Being able to offer a book for free for a day or two as a promotional item to generate buzz and increase interest can be invaluable. That’s predominately how I got my foothold in the market, by generating social media interest and coupling it with a free promotion early in the marketing life cycle. Additionally, what many people don’t know about KDP Select is that Amazon Prime members are able to borrow your books enrolled in KDP Select for free, and you are compensated for those “borrows” out of a Kindle Select fund, so though your royalties may not be as much as they would for a straight sale, you’re still receiving good value for your hard work.

Q. I haven’t seen any evidence of a marketing and promotional strategy and yet your books are in the top forty in the kindle bestsellers. Do you believe a writer can do well without any marketing strategy if his stories are good?

I wouldn’t say that I have no strategy, I would say that it is very much an organic strategy. My marketing comes from asking others to provide their honest reviews, answering every review I receive (positive or negative), and encouraging others to tell their friends and loved ones about the story if they enjoyed it. I like engaging people, and Solendrea is something I’m very passionate about, so I have that working in my favor. As far as a writer doing well without a marketing strategy, I think it helps if the stories are good, but I think its as valuable to have a network of people willing to put themselves out there on your behalf on social media sites to get the word out.

Q. Any advice for new writers?

I have lots of advice, but the most important advice I can offer anyone is this: don’t ever give up. No matter what you write, or how well you write it, there will be people who HATE what you’ve written, and that’s okay. None of us will be loved by all the people, all the time. Don’t let that criticism, no matter how harsh, stop you from creating. Always be creating. Live in your world, love it, and put that life and love into everything you write. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Some things will work, some won’t, but never give up.

And that’s the end of this interview…but certainly not the end of Solendrea, or Martin. I am sure we will be reading many great stories set in this fantastic world. Yes, you have guessed right; I am a fan of his writing already. So here’s a tip from one fantasy reader to another, go and grab your copy of The Last Swordmage at Amazon, or download his free short story.

You can also follow Martin at Twitter or join his facebook fan page. He can also be found on goodreads.

Sabine’s Note: I will putting up some of the older posts soon. Watch this space for more!

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