October 1, 2017 9:01pm
• Wes Boyd has a business plan: Giving away his novels
• “I’d rather keep working and keep writing rather than sit in a chair and rock”
“In my free time, I write,” says Mr. Boyd, quickly noting that over the years he’s written “about 8 million words.”
“It’s about 60 books, but they’re not all published yet. Been doing this since about, oh, high school.”
And like every editor, whether of a country weekly or a major metropolitan daily, he knows his writers don’t always churn out worthwhile wordage.
“”There is an old saying that … ‘the first million words are garbage.’ I took probably close to 15-20 years writing that ‘garbage,’” he says, adding that he can “barely stand to look” at his early work.
Mr. Boyd says he finally broke through to a higher level of writing by about 1980 with a novel about a railroad, a town in crisis and a nasty winter storm, “Snowplow Extra” – “probably one of my better books.”
Over time, he developed a series of books, most set in the small town of Spearfish Lake, which is perhaps in northern Michigan but most definitely in his mind.
Mr. Boyd has an unusual business plan for an author: giving away much of what he writes.
In 2007, he took note of his book writing and realized it had had a very small audience. So he started a website and put some of his books on it to be read for free, usually at the pace of a chapter a week. “You pretty much have to sit your butt in front of a computer,” he says.
“It was getting some response and getting readership and some e-mails,” he says.
Then came the ah-ha moment. He had posted about half of a 72-chapter book on his website, spearfishlaketales.com, to be read for free. Then he got an e-mail from a reader, impatient to read the full book all at once.
The reader offered to pay for a copy of the full book. Perhaps taken aback, Mr. Boyd replied that he’d do it for $25.
Before long he had a check -- and a business.
“I got a number of checks and thought, ‘hey, there might be something here,’” he says.
That’s been his approach ever since. His books can be read for free with new material posted at two chapters a week, or can be bought all at once. He markets through his website as well as Barnes & Noble and other book sites.
(Wes Boyd talks about the writing business and small town newspapers in today’s exclusive CVBT Audio Interview. He also reveals why he still holds his day job. Please click on the link below to listen now or to share with others.)
He says he is careful not to write characters that reflect people he knows in Hudson.
Arthritis and age are convincing him to slow his pace just a little. Instead of posting three chapters of a new book per week to his website, he’s slashed the pace to two chapters a week. “I’m getting old and starting to lose some energy,” he says.
But don’t suggest retirement to Mr. Boyd. “I thought of retiring about five years ago. I was all set to do it and all of a sudden the thought crossed my mind one morning that if I were to be retired … I’d find myself watching daytime TV. I decided that I’d rather keep working and keep writing rather than sit in a chair and rock.”
Mr. Boyd says a weekly newspaper in a small town is part of the glue that holds the town together. Because of that, he says there is a core audience for local print journalism. “I think the idea of a small paper is still a viable one,” he says. “But I don’t know if it’s going to stay that way forever.”