Quan Williams

Quan Williams was born and raised in Flint, MI, and has always had a love for stories. Quan honed his writing craft at the University of Michigan, where he studied creative writing. Since graduating, Quan has jumped at every opportunity to bring his wild ideas to life. His latest book, Godmode, is a straightforward survival horror story set inside the headquarters of a corrupt biotech/pharmaceutical company.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write/create it?

Godmode started as one of many wild story ideas I often get. It was originally supposed to be a shyamalan type story with a twist ending that the hero was actually a character in a video game. My beta readers shredded the first draft and didn’t buy that premise at all. So I refocused and told a straightforward survival horror story set inside the headquarters of a corrupt biotech/pharmaceutical company.

My other book, The Hand You’re Dealt, started as me reflecting on some of the trials and tribulations I’ve had to endure while trying to find my footing after graduating college. It started as just the catharsis of writing about my experiences, but then the reflections turned into whole scenes and the scenes started connecting to each other, and the characters in those scenes started developing their own unique voices.

Share your personal publishing story. Did you choose self or traditional? How did you go from book manuscript draft to finished book available for purchase?

My publishing journey is complex. I’ve had 5 books published all in different ways. My first book was picked up by a publisher that I didn’t know was not reputable. I self-published a graphic novel I wrote and illustrated. My third book was picked up by an e-book romance publisher that eventually went out of business. My most successful book was published by a niche horror company, the owner and sole proprietor of which died in a car accident back in 2021. And my latest book was picked up by a startup publisher that was completely neglected by its owners. In each case, I eventually had to self-publish the book to keep it available. And I really don’t like self-publishing. I’m hoping history doesn’t repeat itself again with my next few books.

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

I don’t keep any set routine or set amount of time I spend. I’d have to be writing full-time for a living to be able to do that. My main writing time is during my breaks at my day job. I bounce back and forth between various story ideas and articles for my writing advice blog.

How do you name your characters (if fiction or names changed for nonfiction)?

Combination of things. Sometimes I look up names that match the culture of my characters and find one that fits their personalities, other times I just go with something that just sounds right.

What is the most difficult part of your creative process?

Staying focused on a creation long enough to make significant progress. I’m a bit scatterbrained and am easily distracted. I also get a lot of ideas frequently in addition to having lots of other tasks and responsibilities that tug for my attention. Whether it be writing or some other creative endeavor, tuning out the distractions long enough to make progress is a challenge.

How do you come up with your illustrations/images/graphics?

I’m a freelance graphic designer, so most of the time I create my own art. I do illustrations and design book covers for others, so if I self-publish it’s no big deal do do these things for myself. I do some hand illustration, but I usually take lots of public domain stock photos and rework them in Photoshop. I take inspiration from whatever the story demands, and what I see in my mind’s eye when I write the stories.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written and set aside? What are your plans for them?

I’ve got three finished novels right now I am seeking representation for. One is an Indiana Jones-styled treasure hunting story, one is epic high fantasy and the other is a sci-fi war / sports hybrid. As far as my unfinished work is concerned, I have a ton of stories I have yet to finish and at least two finished novels I know will never see print. Many of my undeveloped story ideas get posted on my blog because I think they are ideas worth sharing even if I never get around to developing them. I’m also working on a follow up to one of the books I’m trying to get published, but everything thing else can wait until after the three books I have done see print.

What do you do for book marketing? Describe your plan, how it is working, and what you want to add or change to that plan, if anything.

I’m terrible at marketing. Mostly I’m just telling people about it on social media and trying to get people to do reviews. I’ve posted a google ads, done some readings and posted a banner ad or two, too, but I haven’t really gotten good results. Godmode’s publisher helped get the word out about my book. my problem is having the capital to go all in on a promotion campaign, which is why I’d like my next books to be picked up by a publisher that can help with that.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

I mainly just scour the net for book bloggers that read the genres my book fits in and send them copies. My publisher helped me a lot with that before he passed away. I also offer readers incentives to post a review on Goodreads. Godmode has a film score-styled soundtrack I offer to readers in exchange for a review.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

E-books are more convenient for me with my work schedule. I currently work 2 jobs, do freelance graphic &web design and help my wife with her cleaning business. Carrying around a physical book just doesn’t work for me, and I never got into audiobooks.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

I’m a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. I also enjoy the works of Isaac Asimov and Fred Saberhagen. But most of my fiction reading lately has been stories in the world of Magic: the Gathering and various comic books, particularly Fred Perry’s Gold Digger, Green Lantern, and the X-Men line of books.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I’m hoping more niche books that defy genres or obscure genres like sports fiction or business fiction gain traction. I have selfish reasons for this because I have a finished sci-fi sports novel I’m currently seeking representation for.

Now that you have published a book/new book, what would you do differently this time?

Honestly I don’t know. Had I known what happened to Godmode’s publisher sooner I would have started the self publishing process earlier. But I was planning on doing something special for the book’s tenth anniversary anyway.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I have 2 pieces of advice authors can use. First, never stop trying to improve your craft. Whether you’re writing your first book or your 50th, you can still learn and improve. Study the stories of others and ask yourself how they made theirs work, read resources that give advice on writing – like my substack blog! https://proseandquans.substack.com/ – and examine your own writing process for ways to make it even better.

The second piece of advice is much simpler: Stop procrastinating. Stop making excuses. Write.

Quan’s Bio

Quan Williams was born and raised in Flint, MI, and has always had a love for stories. His earliest inspirations come from having his 2nd grade teacher read classic stories like The Hobbit, Charlotte’s Web, and Winnie The Pooh to him in class. Around that time, his parents supported his appetite for fiction by subscribing him to the Star Wars comic book series. A chance encounter with a ripped up Batman comic book on the way home from school (of which he collected all of the loose pages, took them home, and put them
together in order) prompted Quan to shift from consuming stories to creating them.

Quan honed his writing craft at the University of Michigan, where he studied creative writing under the tutelage of novelists Jonis Agee (Strange Angels, South of Resurrection) and Tish O’Dowd Ezekiel (Floaters). He also found time to write and illustrate three comic books and work as an entertainment journalist for the Michigan Daily Newspaper for three years. It is while in college that Quan gained a passion for gaming, and sought to apply his talents co-creating the rules and design for Transformers Battlecards, a trading card game based on the popular toy franchise. This game was eventually opted by Hasbro and turned into Beast Wars: The Mutating Card Game.

Since graduating, Quan has jumped at every opportunity to bring his wild ideas to life. He wrote the short story “That Weird Kid” which was published by The web magazine Storiesthatlift.com, before writing the young adult novel, The Leopard Man. He created, designed and self-published the
Organized Crime-based card game Syndicate: The Underworld and took third place in a worldwide online fantasy short story contest. He wrote, illustrated and programmed two webcomics, one of which (The Seizure) was collected and published as a trade paperback. He wrote the business/family melodrama
Double Entry which was published by Red Rose Publishing, this novel, Godmode, was published by Necro Publications.

More Information

Amazon author page

Substack page