I got an exclusive interview with Andrew Aulner, author of The Bully Buster and graduate of Elkhorn High School in the 2014 class. Aulner paid a visit to the school and gave a book talk during TA. Here’s a Q & A about his book and the writing/publishing process.
Q: What is name of your book and when was it published?
A: The Bully Buster and it was published August 4, 2014. It went live that day.
Q: When did the idea for your book first come to you?
A: Back in 5th grade, when I was 10 and I read this book. For the life of me, I don’t know what the name of it is. There were kids in it and they were all like, “Hey, what if we made a superhero that could fend off bullies?”. They used this made-up character in their minds to fend off the bullies. It gave them confidence. I took it a step further, I made him an actual hero who was actually fighting the bully.
Q: What was your goal with this book?
A: Well, I think I wrote that answer in the afterward. I will just read it out loud. Andrew reads aloud from his book. “I wrote TBB to accomplish 3 goals. Firstly, I love reading about superheros so I wanted to write about them. Second to make a statement about bullying and how to handle it. Third beliefs about believing in God and how that helps me without making it preachy. I wanted to be friendlier, conversational.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: So, in general, it comes form the strangest and most random places. I could be in the shower or walking to the car and I will see something and I think “what if?” and I write it down in a notebook. Later on I read over the notebook and after I find an idea I like, I start a draft. Then I sit on it for a while. Afterwards, I do final edits and grammatical things. Then, I’ll have someone else look at it and make revisions – based on their input. The writing itself is straightforward. You just have to stick with it. If you just have a great idea and you never write it down, it doesn’t do anybody
Q: How long did the publication process take?
A: Started near the end of March. I signed a contract electronically then. About 4 and half months it took to fully get it ready.
Q: How much of your personality is in your main character?
A: I would say a lot of it. He’s like me, except braver and maybe a little bit crazier. I wouldn’t go around with a mask and try to punch out bullies and stuff.
Q: When and where can people get the book?
A: Presently, amazon.com, barnes & noble website, barnes & nobel at oakview, and the parables Christian bookstore off of 114th and Dodge are the only ones. I’m looking at the BookWorm –they’re considering the book. I submitted the book and they are deciding whether to purchase from me, but it’s going to be a while. Those are the only places in town. I do have a profile on goodreads.com and I post information about my book signings. Just need to look up Andrew J. Aulner.
Q: How are you profiting from this?
A: I have sold at least 70 copies. But I don’t know for sure until the royalty check comes. At the end of every quarter, I get a check so when that comes in, I’ll know for sure. I’ve also gotten 5-star reviews on amazon. I also have positive comments on goodreads. I’m trying to spread it by word of mouth and trying to get my name out there as an author, so that when my next book comes around, I will already, hopefully, have an audience.
Q: Some of your profits are going to charity. Elaborate?
A: I sold about 59 copies at a church signing. The proceeds are all going to the Admissions Ministry, which has ministries in Haiti and Zimbabwe. It’s nice because it was a good place to have the signing. I got to sign a lot of books, talk to fun people, and it’s all going to a good cause.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Get used to rejection! Andrew laughs I know that sounds negative, but it’s something you have to learn how to handle it because it’s going to happen. I like to turn my rejections into positive things to find the silver lining in the big thunder cloud of rejection and use it to make it better. It sounds cliché, but good writers are good readers. It really helps a writer, because they can see what makes a good book, and what makes a bad book. Also, grammar books, my favourite the elements of style which was co-edited by E. B. White (Charlotte’s Web). It is the greatest book on good writing style. Also, Steven King’s On writing: a memoir on the craft. He has lots of great advice. Basically, don’t add extra fluff that isn’t needed. Those are the biggest things for aspiring writers, perseverance and hard work.