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Good Living
Author & Publisher PDF Print E-mail
Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 18 October 2017 16:30

Robert Brumm of Port Washington was good at writing stories, but he couldn’t get them published. Then he found a way—do it yourself. Now he has a worldwide audience.

Robert Brumm of Port Washington had tried getting published on numerous occasions. He used a thick book of contacts, listing agents and editors of various publications.
“I tried the old-school methods of submitting my work to magazines,” he said.
“I had zero success there.”
That was the late 1990s. Years later, while listening to a tech advice radio show,  Brumm heard a story about someone who made a huge amount of money self-publishing.
“I literally went home that night and researched how to publish on Kindle,” he said.
The rest is history, but it also turned out to be Brumm’s future.
After dusting off an old manuscript and publishing it in 2011, the Grafton native has been publishing books ever since.
Holding that first book in his hands was “pretty cool,” he said, and not long after came another emotion.
“It was pretty terrifying because that’s the first time complete strangers would be reading my work,” he said.
That made praise all the more special from “actual strangers who didn’t know me and had no reason to share my feelings.
“That’s probably my favorite thing — getting an unsolicited email from someone, ‘I liked your book.’”
His first book, “Desolate,” was the story of a prison camp off the coast of an island that turned into a trilogy.
Brumm has dabbled in different genres, but often comes back to science fiction, horror and thrillers. He once tried a formula romance story geared more toward women called “Black Water Creek,” but it turned into a supernatural horror story.
“I like to write what I like to read,” he said, listing Stephen Hunter and Stephen King as two of his favorite authors. He also checks out indie books of other self-published authors.
Some books he reads because they’re good; others for a different reason.
“I find it very helpful to read bad books,” he said. “It’s a great learning tool to know what not to do.”
Brumm grew up in Grafton liking reading, cars, music and art. He went to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for three years before leaving. Ten years ago, he went to Milwaukee Area Technical College to study information technology and now works in IT at Kleen Test Products Corp. in Port Washington.
He balances his hobby with a wife, child and three cats and two puggles.
“There’s always time to do something you enjoy, instead of watching TV or doing something like that,” Brumm said.
He writes at a desk in his house, occasionally interrupted by his pets, and likes to sit in his backyard where a pond contributes to a peaceful atmosphere.
Writer’s block is a typical nuisance.
“It can be extremely frustrating. Sometimes, you write yourself into corners and you have to solve that problem. It’s like a puzzle,” Brumm said.
Of his nine books, Brumm had an outline for one, that romance story in “Blackwater Creek.” The other stories he makes up as he goes along.
Brumm once had a goal to become a full-time author and make oodles of money, but that has passed. He said he is jealous of those writers who can work four to eight hours per day. Brumm writes for an hour to two at a time.
“You really have to treat it like a job,” he said.
“You have to go every day, even if you don’t like it, or you’ll get fired.”
Like most writers, Brumm has trouble with the first line.
“The hardest part is getting started. It’s pretty intimidating,” he said.
Then, he stalls somewhere in the middle of a story and wonders if he should keep going. Once he clears the second hurdle, finishing the book becomes easier.
“It’s very satisfying to get it done,” he said. “It feels good to start with nothing and end with a finished product.”
Once a book is completed, Brumm allows a couple of months for revisions. He sometimes hires editors and so-called beta readers to provide feedback.
Marketing, he said, “goes on forever.” Brumm sometimes sends his books to an advanced reader to ensure reviews — good or bad — will be completed as soon as the book is published.
“A lot of people click publish on Amazon and think they’re done,” he said, adding they will be lucky to get a sale besides one from their mothers.
Brumm said plenty of advice on self-publishing can be found online. Most people don’t hide their secrets.
“It’s definitely not a situation of ‘Don’t talk to him, he’s the competitor,’” he said.
Services such as premade book covers can be bought for $20 that look professional. Editors and marketers are also available.
Brumm does all of his own book designs and handles all his marketing.
It used to be, he said, that getting published by another entity was like winning the lottery. The company does everything.
“No point to do that in today’s landscape. You get paid every month and you’re in total control.”
Brumm experienced one month when he made more from his book sales than his day job.
He has developed a following across the world, with friends in Korea, China and the United Kingdom. Most of his readers are in their 30s to 60s.
“That’s pretty awesome. The internet is an amazing tool for something like this.”
Unlike other authors, Brumm isn’t sitting on hundreds of copies of unsold inventory. He only has a handful of books. On-demand printing, he said, keeps costs down
He sells books on Kindle, in paperback and as audio books — “that’s a trip” to hear narrators read his book.
Brumm is now working on the Bowman Chronicles for adults that tells the story of a 16-year-old growing up in Grafton, “a trip down memory lane in my generation.”
Years ago, Brumm did get a short story published in print and another online, but he didn’t get paid for either one.
Now, it’s all about self-publishing due to “that stupid radio show.”
Brumm’s advice to others interested in getting published is to get the ball rolling.
“The best advice to give is to start writing. You’ve got to get started.”
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