Randall Lang grew up in the tough coalfields of southwestern Pennsylvania where nothing comes easily. It is a world of limited opportunity and few roles to follow. Dreams are quickly vanquished in the shadows of necessity and creativity is usually buried beneath an avalanche of cynicism. However, epiphanies come in all shapes, sizes, and in a wide range of locations. In the dark and quiet world of the underground worksite, the stories within him began to take form. Years later, Randall Lang is the author of eight books of erotic stories published by Renaissance E Books, has contributed to two erotic anthologies, and the recently released Magnificent Man, an erotic romance published by Midnight Showcase. Randall’s erotic works include the five volume Trailer Park Nights series and three books of erotic short stories. These are available at http://shop.renebooks.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=120. His newest release, Magnificent Man, is available from Midnight Showcase at http://www.midnightshowcase.com/MagniMan.htm. Visit Randall’s website, The Worlds of Randall Lang, www.randalllang.com. Or his blog, The Mind of Randall Lang, www.randalllang.blogspot.com. It’s a strange place to be. Randall now lives historically on an historic island in historic Wheeling, West Virginia.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Randall. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
Thank you for inviting me, it is a pleasure to be here. Although I never thought that I would be able to say this, I AM multi-published. I have books with three different publishers
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
More than ten years ago, I wrote the first of what would become the Trailer Park Nights series of five books. Trailer Park Nights 1 is an erotic novel of a naive young man who grows under the tutelage of an older lover and mentor.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
I was extremely lucky! Whether it was by careful reading of the submission guidelines and book list; or, by twist of fate, the first publisher to whom I submitted accepted my book. I had looked at vanity publishing but that seemed to be little more than an ego-feeding process. Anyone can buy a trophy and have their name engraved upon it, but that would be meaningless. It is actually winning the award that is meaningful. That is how it was with me. I needed to know if I had the skills to produce a story that people wanted to read.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
I actually did submit a couple of short stories to publishers who rejected them. The rejections were courteous and matter-of-fact and I recognized them for what they were rather than taking it personally. It was a strange feeling to hit what I call the “pink ceiling” where the publisher would only accept stories written by women or GLBT authors. I simply moved on.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Renaissance E Books accepted and published Trailer Park Nights 1, and the next seven books I wrote. Before I submitted to them, I carefully read their submission guidelines and looked at the books that they had for sale. In retrospect, I believe that the company was quite new back then and was in need of authors. That was my good fortune.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
It was a completely stunning feeling! To look at that website and see MY book with MY name on it was the most incredible ego boost. I did not really celebrate as such, but I began to make plans for additional books. I wanted a full bookshelf of my works.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
At that time, I did not even know what promotion was. I (very) simply thought that people went to the website and picked out a book as they would in a brick and mortar store. It was not until later that I would learn the necessity of promotion.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
I fear that if I had, I would have found myself buried under a mountain of disappointment. Had I gone another route I doubt that I would have had the encouragement that the initial publication gave me. In my mind, it is better to have eight or ten published books than to have one work of art that publishers keep rejecting.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
My growth has been tremendous! Jean Marie Stine of Renaissance E Books is a very unconventional publisher who skips editing and several other traditional steps in the publishing process. She expects a well-written book and if it is not ‘shelf-ready’ when she reads it, it gets tossed aside or there is a simple and blunt ‘clean it up’ e-mail to the author. Minimal communication, high-speed scheduling. As I became more involved with internet book chat groups and book websites, I learned about queries, edits, galleys, three-chapter submittals, contract work, promotion, and many other realities of the publishing world. Working with the (patient) staffs of Logical-Lust Publications and Midnight Showcase helped me to learn the ‘system’. After publishing Magnificent Man, I have learned the essential necessity of promotion.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
If it were possible to go back ten years, I would learn more about promotion and marketing. At that time, I had no clue about either and just assumed that the publisher ‘handled it’. One thing I would definitely do is insist upon my own cover design. The covers on my early books are far from great.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Without a doubt, the release of Magnificent Man is my biggest accomplishment. I started out writing erotica and continued for years writing erotica. While there is nothing wrong with that, it ‘labels’ you. If I were to sit down and write “The Di Vinci Code, Part 2”, people would think it was erotica because of my history. That is a difficult hurdle to overcome and I hope that Magnificent Man, a romance novel, will demonstrate that I can write more than erotica. I hope some day to write a humorous book.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I have had other professions; mining, engineering, and real estate. Writing enables me to step back from the high-pressure workplace and be the introvert that I am.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I have the best of any worlds, I am retired. I am able to do that most Holy of Holies for a writer, and that is to write full time. If the ideas are flowing at 3 AM, I can get up and work until the muse leaves, then sleep until the afternoon. Sweet!
How do you see yourself in ten years?
As a memory, after my assets have been distributed to my children. Seriously, I have no long-term plans or goals. As long as the stories keep coming, I will keep writing.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
FINAL WORDS? Yes. WARDEN! Leave that switch alone! Sorry, couldn’t resist. For writers who wish to be published. The opportunities for writers to be published have never been better. The Internet and e-books have opened up tremendous opportunities for writers and there IS a place for you. Spend the time to search publishers thoroughly and carefully. Do NOT waste their time and yours by firing out your manuscript to publishers whose market is incompatible with what you write. Study the publisher’s submission guidelines and look at their target market. When you find some potential publishers who line up with what you write, make sure your manuscript is formatted to their requirements, otherwise it can be an automatic rejection. Make sure your manuscript is free of spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors (sloppy is certain death). Finally, PERSIST! A rejection is not a condemnation of your writing ability, it is simply that the publisher cannot use your story now. New publishers are popping up every day, so keep searching and reading guidelines.
Thank you for inviting me here today. I am,
Your most humble and obedient servant,