Toby Neighbors grew up in Northwest Arkansas and graduated from Springdale High School. He didn't take up writing until he was in college, but after taking a creative writing course at Arkansas Tech University he began to take the possibility of becoming a novelist seriously. After getting his B.A. in Communications in May of 1997, he spent the next thirteen years in the private sector.
After many failed attempts to write a commercial novel, Toby decided to write a story that he would love. In the fall of 2006 he wrote Third Prince, a fantasy novel about a young prince who had been sent away from his royal family to live in a monastery as a baby. When the king and his his children are murdered, the unknowing prince is thrust into the role of king and protector of the entire realm. Over the next few years Toby learned as much as he could about the publishing industry, especially the new opportunities for independent publishing. In 2010, after starting a freelance writing business, Toby published Third Prince along with its sequel Royal Destiny online using Smashwords and Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
In December of 2011 Toby's books began to see an increase in sales with the publication of Wizard Rising, the first book in the Five Kingdoms series. In April of 2012 Toby stopped operations on his freelance writing enterprise and focused all of his energy on writing his own novels. He published three more novels in 2012; Magic Awakening, Hidden Fire, and Crying Havoc, all of which ranked in the top 20 of Amazon's Epic Fantasy best seller list and firmly established Toby as a voice in the burgeoning class of successful independent authors.
Since then Toby has gone on to sell over 300,000 books on Amazon.com and Amazon.UK, and garnered fans from all over the world. His fantasy novels regularly break into the top 20 of Amazon's genre lists. He has been a Kindle Select All Star three times for ranking in the top 100 of Kindle Select page reads. His Lorik trilogy was selected by Amazon to be featured as a Countdown Daily deal with two books reaching the #1 sales rank in the Epic Fantasy category.
In 2014 Toby founded Mythic Adventure Publishing, LLC. He has over 15 books in print and two in audio, as well as over twenty novels available in ebook format. Toby's books are available exclusively on Amazon and are all featured in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program. In 2016 Toby wrote his first non-fiction book Writing For A Living which highlights his unique insights into the publishing industry and how he has made a living for his family solely by writing novels.
Toby Neighbors is an author and independent publisher. He has written over twenty novels and sold well over a quarter million books since 2012. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University, Toby spent over ten years in non-profit work before starting a freelance writing business in 2010. After his fourth novel Wizard Rising became a success on Amazon in 2012 he shuttered his freelance writing business, moved his family to North Idaho, and began writing novels full time.
What inspires you? I'm inspired by a lot of things. I love to be outside looking at the mountains. They seem so magical and full of mystery that it sparks my imagination. I also love great stories. There's nothing more inspiring to me than a really great story that is well told and well presented. Most of my books really center on the idea of a character discovering something about themselves that is truly unique. Call it purpose, or destiny, but I believe everyone has something that they were innately created to do. I think that when a character discovers their purpose it opens up whole new world of possibilities that I love to explore.
Why write a book about writing? I was inspired to write about the industry after meeting a lot of people who live in North Idaho who want to know more about getting published and how I was able to successfully launch my career. I don't have a secret formula for success, but I do believe that knowing as much as you can about any industry will help you be successful in it. So I wanted to share what I've learned. I do my best to keep up with what is happening in the publishing world and many aspiring writers don't have the time to do that. I'm always happy to share what I've learned with others, so a book about writing seemed like a good idea.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Keep writing. I also think that a writer needs to give serious thought to what they hope to accomplish with their writing. There are a lot of options for writers now and knowing what they want to do with their books can help guide them in the industry.
Why write a Military Space Opera after having so much success in the Fantasy genre? I wrote We Are The Wolf simply because I wanted to. I had the idea floating around in my mind of a team based platoon where the soldiers had unique capabilities. There's never a "right" time to do something different, but the opportunity to write a book that could possibly expand my readership and one that allowed me to try some new marketing techniques all came together in We Are The Wolf.
What inspired you to write The Five Kingdoms series? The Five Kingdoms started out as an idea about a character who discovers he can wield incredibly powerful magical. I really had no plans beyond that but I ended up writing the first five or six chapters over a weekend in sort of a rush. It quickly became clear that there was much more to the story than just Zollin, so at that stage I began to outline the story. I originally thought the series would be five books but as with most books, the story grew as I wrote it. And then when I restarted the series with the Chaos saga I knew I had some deeper conflicts to explore. And so I never set a number on the length of the series.
How many books will there be in the Five Kingdoms series? The Five Kingdoms series is finished at 13 novels, although I have plans for a spin off series and a continuation of the main characters in an all new series. Those books will be published late in 2017 and through the next few years.
What inspired you to write the Lorik trilogy? Lorik was really a throwback to the old Conan novels I used to read when I was young. I wanted to write a character who is really more of a warrior than a wizard. I also drew on some pretty heavy Western influences. I tried to give the books a real rugged, gritty feel. I had created a pretty big world in the Five Kingdoms and what I thought were some pretty interesting circumstances so I went ahead and set the Lorik trilogy in the same world and in the same timeline as the other novels. That actually worked out great when I went back and started the Chaos Saga because it allowed me to bring those characters into the Five Kingdoms story line in a way that was natural and appealing to a series with a strong fan base.
What inspired you to write the Avondale series? The original idea for Avondale was really about a strong character who defends someone who is caught in an unfair class system. So that turned into Rafe defending Olyva and then of course Tiberius defending Rafe. That was the initial impetus for the stories, but as I wrote it I really wanted the main character to struggle with the desire to do something that was forbidden. And so that really propelled the story along as well.
What inspired you to write Zompocalypse? Zompocalypse was initially an experiment with the Kindle Unlimited program. I wanted to write something different and exciting, just as a break from my work in epic fantasy, and so I had the idea of writing a serial novel. Zombie fiction is very popular and I wanted to see if I could capture not only the excitement of that the genre but also build suspense in shorter story installments. I wrote five sections that were each seven chapters, between fifteen and twenty thousand words each, that altogether was the complete novel. Each installment was meant to be read in one sitting with a new story coming every week or two. My goal was to write one segment in the first three days of the week, and then my revisions on Thursday and getting the manuscript segment to my editor in time for the weekend. The story itself started with the idea of a person being at sea to escape the zombie apocalypse. But as I worked on the story it grew with new characters, problems, and dilemmas that would occur hopefully in a very logical and believable fashion.
Why do you publish independently rather than with a traditional publisher? The main answer that question is control; I wanted to be in complete control of my stories, how they are presented, and how much they sold for. Obviously getting a lion share of the royalties was also a factor, but in my mind I wanted to own my stories and traditional publishing requires that you give those rights to the publisher.
Would you ever accept a traditional publishing deal? Yes, if the deal was right. For me at this point the main issues I would have are non-compete and right of first refusal clauses. There is no way that I would take a deal that would keep me from being able to write and publish what I want on my own. I might sell a book or series if the publisher was clear on how they can help me market the books and would be supportive of my other efforts. Obviously royalty percentage would also be a factor, but I would be willing to earn less to broaden my audience.
What do you plan to write next? I'm writing the Marshyl Stories and the Wolf Pack novels through 2017. I do have plans for a new fantasy series late in the year, hopefully before Christmas. I really have no idea how many Wolf Pack novels I'll write, the story is fresh and exciting, but that will probably be my main focus for the foreseeable future.
What do you hope to accomplish with your books in 2017? My hope is to reach new readers. I have the best readership anyone could ever hope for. Things are good with Amazon and I really like their Kindle Unlimited program, but my goal is to broaden my audience so I'm looking for ways to do that. I'm also looking at ways to help authors by starting the Pro Writer's Guide and doing a little more with that as the year progresses.
What kind of books do you read? I read a very wide array of books. In fiction I like adventure from Clive Cussler to Stephen King. I really like Military Science Fiction such as Evan Currie's Odyssey One series and Marko Kloos' Frontlines series. In non-fiction I like biographies and business books that relate to the publishing industry. And history too, I just picked up Thomas Asbridge's The Greatest Knight and Tom Clavin's Dodge City.