Can Internet-only Promotion Really Work? by Velda Brotherton

newVeldaCan Internet-only Promotion Really Work?

By Velda Brotherton

It’s interesting to note how many writers do not use the Internet to promote their books. Is it enough to do personal appearances? How many of those can we afford to do nowadays with gas being so high and bookstores closing right and left? When my novels came out in 2012 and 2013 I could no longer handle physical appearances, so I made the tough decision to use the Internet to promote myself and my work. Occasionally I’ll do a book signing or conference appearance, but not often enough to make a spike in sales.

Just think of it. Sitting in an office and touching people all over the globe with information about your writing, your books, and your life as a writer. Yet it was a tough decision for several reasons. I like talking to readers and writers, and all I knew about my computer was writing and formatting manuscripts. So the first step was to devote time to learning what I’d have to know. Since I had a few manuscripts lying around, I could spend a full summer on that project.

First I submitted a couple of new manuscripts to small publishers, then went to work.

I had an Amazon Page, a website, and three blogs on Blogger. I belonged to a couple of organizations that had Yahoo groups online. I joined LinkedIn and Good Reads. Quickly I realized this was not enough to get my brand out there. It is more important to become known by your name than by an individual book. People know you and like you, then they’ll just naturally want to read your books.

So I added Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and then Pinterest when it arrived on the scene. I’ve discovered it’s not enough to use these sites, but it’s important to learn the secrets of using them well, which I’m still in the process of doing. Take one at a time and conquer the ins and outs.

I promote online for two days out of my six-day writing week. Joining writing groups on Yahoo, Linked In and Google has afforded me the most information on promotion sites online. There writers share sites they have found, they offer to host bloggers, to review books, or share sites that perform those tasks. With good organization, you can post on these quickly and efficiently. Ask friends to repost, re-pin, and re-tweet to double, triple and go beyond with your posts. A blog is a must, and I moved those on Blogger to Word Press where I could get more pages for my books and other subject matter.

There are also what I call virtual book stores online. These are sites that will display your book cover(s), something about ThePurloinedSkullFC300(1)you and the book and a buy link. This gives readers the opportunity to browse specific books without getting lost in the millions of books on Amazon. Most of these are free or have a small minimal sign-up fee. Ask David is such a site, and it is exceptional. For a basic small one-time fee it will exhibit all your books and promote them. There are many genre-related promo sites. Google for them.

Don’t forget that when you post on Facebook, you aren’t limited to your own personal site. There are many group sites that will allow you to join and post information of your own, such as Incredible Indie Ebooks. If you belong to a writer’s group, it often has a Facebook page where members can post.

Beware: Don’t turn into a spammer. Post interesting information about all sorts of subjects, like something from one of your books or something you learned while researching for that book.

For instance while researching for my recent book, The Purloined Skull, the first of my series, A Twist of Poe Mysteries. I learned that Edgar Allan Poe did not receive any royalties for his re-published short story, The Purloined Letter, because at the time there were no International Royalty laws.

cover4When researching for Once There Were Sad Songs, my hero rode a Harley Motorcycle, so one day I was driving through Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and there was a motorcycle gathering for the weekend. Spotting a few guys with their bikes parked, I pulled over. They were eager to answer all my questions, and I had a great time visiting with them. Did you know that if you jump one of those heavy Harleys you’re liable to ruin the shocks or worse wreck it? But it is often done by guys with a death wish. So, in my book, my hero, a veteran with a death wish, jumps his bike off a bluff down onto the sandy shoreline of a creek and lives to tell about it.

There I told you about two of my books without spamming you, because I included something you might think interesting. Make yourself easy to find by posting everywhere possible.

Website: http://www.veldabrotherton.com

Blog: http://www.veldabrotherton.wordpress.com

FB: http://www.facebook.com/vebrotherton

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/veldabrotherton

How about you? What can you add to share experiences in online promotion?

Review: Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

alex-pbkAlex

Pierre LemaitrePierre+Lemaître[1]

ISBN:  978-1-62365-000-1

MacLehose Press; 2013

Hard Cover, 362 pgs.

Release date: September 3, 2013, $24.95

Reviewed by Gina Metz

Alex is book one in Pierre Lemaitre’s Commandant Camille Verhoeven trilogy translated from French by Frank Wynne.

Alex Prevost is a beautiful single 30 year old woman living in Paris.  After a day of shopping and treating herself to a dinner out, Alex is kidnapped off a Paris street while walking home.  Her kidnapper savagely beats her and places her in a cage suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse.  All he will tell her is that he wants to watch her die.

An eyewitness notifies the police but gives very vague details of the girl, the kidnapper and the van.  Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven is assigned the case but initially has very little to go on and it is even difficult to be sure a kidnapping has taken place.

Verhoeven does not want to take the case as it hits entirely too close to home for him.  A few years earlier Verhoeven’s wife was kidnapped and killed and he had a breakdown shortly thereafter.  But his superior insists that he take the case until another detective comes back to town to take over the case.  By the time the other detective returns, Verhoeven is too deeply involved in the case to relinquish it.

Alex is a riveting book that the reader will not want to put down until the final page has been read.  Be prepared to be enthralled by the book’s twists and turns.  I could not read this book fast enough.  I highly recommend it to mystery readers.  I cannot wait to read the other books in this trilogy.

An interview with Joann Smith Ainsworth

JoAnn sittingJoAnn Smith Ainsworth experienced food ration books, Victory Gardens and black-out sirens as a child in WWII. These memories help her create vivid descriptions of time and place, which put you in the middle of the story as a participant in a fast-paced journey through paranormal realms as U.S. psychics hunt down Nazi spies.

Ms. Ainsworth lives in California. She has B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English and has completed her M.B.A. studies. Her agent is Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency.

PJ: How long have you been writing?

JA: I started writing novels in 1998 when approaching retirement. I needed a way to supplement my Social Security. I had a Bachelors and Masters in English and my MBA studies. I decided that “author” was the way to go since, as long as you write a great story, no one cares how old you are.

Little did I know how difficult it is to create a novel. Just having a story in your head isn’t enough. You have to know how to present the action on paper—how to evoke images in the mind’s eye of your reader to bring the story alive.

It took me four years of online classes to learn the craft techniques to create today’s fast-paced, commercial novel. The result was my medieval romance, Matilda’s Song.

PJ: At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

JA: I felt successful as a writer (and switched to calling myself an author) when I completed my first manuscript. A first manuscript is no small feat.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

JA: I didn’t realize that creating and selling today’s novel would be so difficult and so time consuming. Authors have to wait months and years to know if their submission resulted in a sale or a rejection. I have a file of rejection letters.

In the end I sold all five manuscripts to mid-level publishers and I’m under contract to an agent (Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency).

Your readers can follow my writing life by visiting Twitter @JoAnnAinsworth. To learn about my experiences during WWII and about writing a novel where the U.S. govt. recruits five psychics to locate Nazi spies on the East Coast, visit Facebook at JoAnn Smith Ainsworth Fan Page.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

JA: I met a few wealthy authors, but most of us need a day job. My day job is Social Security.

At about 90 cents a book, an author needs a large readership to make a comfortable level of income. For most of us, this is a slow climb with Word of Mouth being our best marketing tool for building a solid readership base.

PJ: Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

JA: No change in my focus.

Each manuscript must be submitted to stand or fall on its own.

PJ: How long did it take you to get published the first time?

JA: Ten years almost to the month after I started writing novels.

My first sale to Samhain was Out of the Dark, a medieval romantic suspense novel with a sight-impaired heroine.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

JA: I don’t think so. Everything was a learning experience. The setbacks made me a stronger author and a more targeted marketer.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

JA: I am disciplined to the point of being annoying about it. My mind separates tasks into categories. Stubborn determination will not let me slack off. Each category must be completed on schedule, if humanly possible.

PJ: What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

JA: The most exciting thing was opening the box of author copies and holding my first book in my hand.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

JA: Finding that there is no “coasting” for an author. There is always something to do and these days the competition is greater. Each year, my books must be brought to the attention of readers despite the millions of other published novels in bookstores.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

JA: The most memorable is that what started as a business proposition turned into a passion.

I write stories of self-awareness and self fulfillment in historical settings. The heroine becomes empowered as she tackles each story challenge and transforms into an indomitable woman. Even if I never sell another manuscript, I will continue to write these stories for the rest of my life.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

JA: My historical settings are so detailed that readers become immersed in the time period. My novels have a moral tone:  good eventually triumphs over evil. My stories entertain, inspire and keep the reader in suspense.

PJ: What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

JA: Never give up and never believe you’re too old to succeed. Keep getting up every time you get knocked down.

My fifth novel will release when I am 75 years old. It’s been a fifteen year journey, but I have touched my dream.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

JA: I believe we authors are our most effective tool in promoting. What we write comes from our hearts. We want to share our experiences and hope these experiences will inspire readers.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

JA: PINTEREST. I can keep track of 90,000 words, but I’m not visual. It’s difficult for me to think in terms of interesting graphics.

PJ: Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

JA: Many of the booksellers where I had signings and was on panels went out of business during economic downturn. For my recent release, POLITE ENEMIES, an historical western romance, I have author event invitations from Books, Inc. in Alameda (an independent bookstore) and from Barnes & Noble in Antioch.

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

MATILDA’S SONG (978-1-60504-195-7)MatildaSong200x300

OutDark72webOUT OF THE DARK (978-1-60504-277-0)

POLITE ENEMIES (Book 1) (ebook:  978-1-61160-636-2; paper:  978-1-61160-590-7Polite-Enemies-COVER21

THE FARMER AND THE WOOD NYMPH (Book 2) (ebook ISBN:  978-1-61160-660-7) release Dec. 2013

EXPECT TROUBLE (print ISBN:  978-1-61009-074-2) release April 2014

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title, Polite Enemies:

IDA OSTERBACH survived range wars and the murder of her husband. She’s kept the farm going through sheer grit and determination. The last thing she has time for is romance.

 

JARED BUELL was never particularly charitable to farmers, even eye-catching ones like Ida. When an old nemesis comes to town and threatens both of them, he has no choice but to get involved.

 

Experience this action-packed romp through 1895 Wyoming where Ida and Jared find love when they least expect it.

PJ: Where can we buy it?

JA: Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Nook and from independent bookstores which used Ingram as a distributor.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

JA: I awake each morning with energy and excitement because I have a new day to craft another novel.

Thank you for this opportunity to introduce myself and my writing to your readers.

Review: The Widows of Braxton County by Jess McConkey

The Widows of Braxton CountyThe Widows of Braxton County

Jess McConkey

William Morrow Paperbacks, 2013, 384 PagesJess McConkey

ISBN No. 978-0062188267

 

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid

 

Kate Krause was a very happy bride as she traveled with her husband, Joe, to her new home in Braxton County, Iowa.  Kate and Joe met online but Kate felt that they were just right for each other.  Kate’s widowed mother had passed away and her grandparents raised Kate. Her grandmother complained endlessly and Kate’s life was not a happy one.

 

When the new couple arrived at Joe’s farm, a woman that Kate first mistook for a housekeeper met Joe and Kate at the door.  The woman was Trudy Krause, Joe’s mother.   Joe explained that he didn’t tell Kate about Trudy because Trudy was to have moved to a retirement home prior to the couple’s homecoming but there was some problems at the home and her room would not be ready for weeks.

 

Kate soon found that life was not going to be as she pictured it.  The farm was in bad financial shape and Kate’s savings were used to pay some of the debts but it wasn’t enough.   Joe would not agree to let Kate help him with the management of the farm even though Kate had proven to be an excellent money manager.  Plans for Trudy’s move to a retirement home did not materialize.

 

As Kate became acquainted with the neighborhood, she finds that the Krause family harbors a long kept secret about a mysterious death.   This secret haunts Kate as dangerous, unexplainable events begin.

 

A Krause family member, but not one that Joe associates with, owns the local hardware store.   Joe warns Kate not to shop at that store.  Kate ignores his wishes, makes friends with the owner of the store, and finds out a little more about the mysterious past and haunting secret of the Krause family.

 

The book goes back and forth between present day and the past where the Krause mystery began.  I found this book to be very interesting and I could not wait to get to the end but when I did, I wished the book were longer.

 

Jess McConkey a/k/a Shirley Damsgaard is an award-winning writer.  Love Lies Bleeding was the first book I read by the author Jess McConkey and it was a good read.

 

 

An interview with S.L. Smith

OnceUpinACrime-Val&KrisS.L. Smith is a new acquaintance of mine from the Murder Must Advertise e-group.

How long have you been writing?

I began work on my first novel in 1996. That was a learning experience, and will probably be seen only by my computer.

At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

 

I’d have to say the day I heard back from a publisher, saying they wanted to publish my first novel. I knew what rejection felt like. The affirmation I experienced when someone wanted to publish me was a thrill.

Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

 

The writing part is absolutely what I expected. The marketing is not. Being an introvert, the marketing is far more stressful than the writing, and I wish I could ignore that critical facet of the process.

 

The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

 

Once I abandoned my aspirations for a significant advance, it was easy for reality to meet my expectations. The expenses, including editing, bookmarks, etc., greatly exceeded my expectations. Even so, that won’t stop me. I love what I’m doing.

 

Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

 

It’s curious, but my self-confidence level, relative to my writing, remains relatively low. For each book, I worry whether people will like it, and come back for more.

 

How long did it take you to get published the first time?

 

Technically, it took eleven years. However, there was a major intermission. I completed an earlier version of Blinded by the Sight in 2001. At the time, it was entitled Dot Con, and was connected with the .com era. I found an agent. Then I realized someone should write family memoirs to preserve family stories. Didn’t take long to know it was me or no one. Redirected my attention to the memoirs. Five years later, with no interruptions from the literary agent with whom I’d signed, I completed the memoirs and returned to fiction.

By then, the .com era was passé. A major rewrite was necessary. Once I accomplished that, I paid a woman who taught writing at The Loft Literary Society in Minneapolis to critique Blinded by the Sight. She gave it a rousing endorsement. That was all I needed to fuel my search for a publisher. Signed the contract in February of 2011. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

 

Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

 

At the eleventh hour, I changed the publisher for book two. Book one went well with that publisher. Unfortunately, the picture changed dramatically with book two. I learned the contract had better outline everything, including the year the novel would be published, when and how many advance copies would be produced, you name it. Forget past history. Make sure you have all of the bases covered—in writing.

 

Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

 

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give adequate attention to all areas. I have to prioritize, and that usually means promotion gets the short stick. This year, I abandoned work on book three while I reviewed, edited, and finalized the proof for book two. Work on book three also suffered while I got the word out about events for book two. Now I’m behind with book three. My neighbor is growing a clone to solve this problem. She should be ready to go in another five months. (The clone, not the neighbor.) Can’t wait!  Meanwhile, I do what I can with the time I have, and hope for the best.

What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

 

I’d have to say it was seeing and holding an advance copy of my first book, Blinded by the Sight. It was like: Wow, I wrote this! These are my words. It finally happened. Interestingly enough, that topped my first glimpse of the final version of that book.

 

 What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

 

That has to be the delayed release of Running Scared from September, 2012 to September, 2013. I worked like crazy to complete the manuscript by the publisher’s deadline. While doing that, I put the rest of my life on hold. I realize that in the scheme of things this is really no big deal. Even so, I felt like my world came crashing down when notified of the delay.  

 

 What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

 

 The lead investigator from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office attended the launch for book two. For starters, he told those gathered that my books portray the true picture of the relationship between the cops and the ME’s office. He also said the relationship between my two protagonists is “spot on.” What an endorsement!

With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

 

My books have a Midwest feel. They are not about mass murderers. Time and again, they show how anyone can become a murderer. They portray my beliefs and priorities, whether consistent or at odds with those of the characters.

 

 What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

 

Don’t give up! Keep plugging away. Keep striving. The most important thing is to get a story written. Once that’s accomplished, there’s plenty of time for perfecting it. Just set your butt on that chair and write! Once the book is “done,” explore your options. Used to be that self-published authors were an inferior breed. No longer! Some highly successful authors, including New York Times best selling author Vince Flynn got their words and names out there by self-publishing.

 

 What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

 

Once my books are out there, my most effective tool is word of mouth. I order 1,000 bookmarks and give them to bookstores, friends, family, people I meet in airplanes/airports, folks in grocery stores, anyone who crosses my path and is willing to take one. Inevitably, some are tossed, but some result in sales.

 

 What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

 

Talking to people is difficult. I’m a lot more comfortable talking to my computer than to people.

 

 Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

 

Can I mention two? Once Upon A Crime in Minneapolis and SubText in Saint Paul have supported me ever since I first walked in their doors, begging to schedule a book event. To top it off, they recommend my books to their regulars. Couldn’t ask for better support than that. J

 

 Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Blinded by the Sight (September, 2011)d9RunningScaredfront_FINAL

Running Scared (September, 2013)

 

 Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

Nick Rice knows someone is after him. He doesn’t know who, and he doesn’t know why. Efforts to determine both are unsuccessful. This morning, he concocts a sure-fire solution.

St. Paul investigators Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney must determine if a horrific crash on Wheelock Parkway was accidental or deliberate. Their step-by-step investigation uncovers secrets that leave more than one person running scared.

Where can we buy it?

 

It’s available at the two bookstores mentioned above, as well as at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you’re searching on the Amazon or B&N websites, please specify: “Running Scared by S.L. Smith.” Also, here’s the link to my webpage that lists locations:

http://slsmithbooks.com/?page_id=195

Review: Killing Instinct by Darcia Helle

Killing InstinctKilling Instinct 

Darcia Helle

Quiet Fury Books; 2013, 323 pgs.

ISBN:  9781484951910Darcia Helle

 

Reviewed by Gina R. Metz

 

In Killing Instinct, Sandman and his partner run an internet business where they provide a secure location and victims to clients who for the right price can turn their fantasies which include things like rape, torture and murder into reality.   Sandman’s personal fantasy revolves around a woman named Maria Milan who he feels ruined his life years earlier.

 

Michael Sykora and Sean Riley run a business where they provide justice for crimes like rape and murder when the legal system fails.  Sean Riley is a hit man born to kill.  Michael got into the business after his fiancé was murdered.

 

Sean accepts a contract to torture and murder Maria but finds he cannot complete the job.  Now it is up to Sean and Michael to track down Sandman and shut down his organization before someone else can locate and kill Maria.

 

Killing Instinct is the third book in Darcia Helle’s Michael Sykora series but is designed to read well as a stand-alone.  Killing Instinct is a fast paced thriller that captivates the reader from the start.   I thoroughly enjoyed this read and will be purchasing No Justice and Beyond Salvation which are the first and second books in this series and I look forward to future installments.

An interview with Mark Rusin

Mark Rusin with President Bill Clinton

Mark Rusin with President Bill Clinton

Mark Rusin was born and raised on the south side of Chicago.  He attended Quigley South High School and Western IllinoisUniversity, where he majored in law-enforcement administration (and ice hockey.)   Mark is a former Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer and retired ATF Special Agent.  During his law-enforcement career, Mark witnessed and investigated several major fire scenes, homicides, bombings, and other high-profile cases, which serve as inspiration for his stories.  He is a Chicago sports junkie and a published writer. This is his first crime novel.  Mark lives in the Chicago area with his wife, Marcie, where he continues to write stories and still dreams about playing hockey for his hometown Blackhawks.

How long have you been writing? 

I started writing short stories and poetry as far back as I can recall. In grade school I had a crush on this one cute girl in my class.  I wanted to impress her so I wrote her poems.  Turns out we dated for a long time but as we got older my poetry skills ultimately lost out to some older guy with money.

I also wrote my mom and dad poems over the years for their birthdays, anniversaries, mothers’ and fathers’ days and just to tell them how much I loved them.

Then when I was a Las Vegas cop we had to dictate our reports and they would get transcribed for us.  I saved copies of all my reports and just elaborated with more detail as I prepared for court.  It also served to help me “vent” any time I was involved in any dangerous or overwhelming situation like a shooting where I almost got killed to homicides, suicides and the MGM Grand Hotel fire from where I pulled dead bodies.

In fact, I have kept a log of short stories or vignettes of the twenty craziest, scariest, funniest, saddest most unbelievable calls I handled in my four years of patrolling the Las Vegas strip.  These stories are all told in first person as I responded to the scene.  They all intended to put the reader in the squad car with me or even in my shoes.  It is some very real, dangerous, funny and emotional stuff.

Believe it or not when you live and experience trauma first hand it is easy to write about, that is if you like to write.  Lucky for me, I love to write.

Then as an ATF Special Agent from 1983-1988 when I worked the street, I had to type out all my reports as these were pre-computer days.  I got pretty good at that as well.  I also kept great notes and a diary for which I used to draw stories from, like my crime novel JUSTICE FOR DALLAS.

 

At what point did you reach a place where you felt successful as a writer?

I have always thought that I can tell a good copper story with the best of them.  With over 30 years in the law enforcement business I have seen some stuff.  That is why I have a unique perspective from which to tell my stories.  I was there.  It’s not a cop telling a writer a story and then he or she writes about it.

My wonderful wife Marcie, who I have written a few poems to over the past 28 years, has been supportive all along and very adamant that I could write well.  I always thought she was just saying that because she loves me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

Some say I look like a cop, act like a cop, walk like a cop and talk like a cop.  I am a cop for crying out loud.  What did you expect?  I also write like a cop and basically give the facts without the fluff.  I guess that is what a ghostwriter is for.  I am a writer all right, but not a ghost.

In 1980, I experienced one of the most traumatic tragedies in our lifetimes.  I helped pull dead bodies out of the MGM Grand hotel fire in Las Vegas.  It was a night I will never forget.

In 1990, some ten years after the fire I wrote about my observations from that night.  It was a very vivid “first responder” recollection of my actions and emotions as I worked the scene.

I let my wife read it and a few close friends and I got the same reaction I wanted.  Everyone who read the article cried, including me!

In 2005, on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy I sent the article to The Las Vegas Review Journal Newspaper and they called me and flew me out to meet with them.  They decided to dedicate a pull out section of the Sunday paper called “In Depth” about the fire and mine was to be a lead story.  I was very proud of that and still am to this day.

That is when I thought I had arrived as it was my first published article.  Needless to say my wonderful wife Marcie framed up the article very nicely and it proudly hangs in our home today.

 

 

 

Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

It’s too early to tell.  I will say this however as a brief observation that I find amusing.  As soon as someone finds out you wrote a book they want to be your friend and they want a signed copy of the book and hopefully for free.  I could just be some jerk sitting at a bar or on a bus and nobody will even look at me or give me the time of day.  Then they hear you are an author and they want to shake your hand and be your best friend. It’s crazy.

Not to take a slam at authors but I would hope people would want to shake my hand and say “thanks” once they hear I am a retired law enforcement official who routinely put my life on the line for people like them and other strangers.  With that they could care less.  But they hear you are an author and they want to be your friend and say they know you.  It’s the damnedest thing.

Then of course all my buddies break my stones and want me to sign a bunch of books that they can then sell and make a few bucks on.  See, I really am from Chicago.

The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

I can tell you that thus far I have not made dime one on this project.  In fact, I am out approximately $20,000 to date because I had to hire a ghostwriter and a publicist if I wanted to get published.  I also had to pay for a professional cover designer, website professional and formatter up front.

This is my first book and I learned publishers won’t talk to you if you aren’t represented by an agent.  Agents won’t talk to you because you are not yet a published author.  It is a vicious circle and I learned you have to self-publish your first book to prove you are “sales-worthy.”  If you are, agents who know publishers will follow.

If you think about it they all minimize their risks as most authors who think they can write don’t sell.  However, if they come to an agent with a proven sales sheet, the agent minimizes their risk as they now are representing a known “money maker.”  It doesn’t even matter if the author can write or not as sales are all that matter.

I can tell you that I am confident in my ability to tell a story and I believe I have a unique perspective and experiences to draw from.

In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that this novel will eventually become a screenplay and then a movie as soon as the right people discover it.

In the meantime will readers want to pay to hear my story?  I guess that’s the exciting part and remains to be seen.

Early on, so much focus is given to getting published. Now that you’re published, how has your focus changed?

I would really like to get this novel written as a screenplay and turned into a movie.  If you think about it this story has it all.  A biker related quadruple homicide, arson, witness intimidation, knifing, attempted murders and good old fashioned police work. 

How long did it take you to get published the first time?

It took me about 10 years to write the story.  I then found a ghostwriter/editor (Priscilla Barton) who helped me get it “published ready.”  After entering several contests to no avail and discussions with several publishers to no avail, we decided to self publish.

Priscilla did her homework here and found a great cover designer and formatter.

Also to be very candid, I am not sure how the sales will go on this project so we decided to do it ourselves and see where it leads us.  The very least we felt we needed was to invest in a great publicist so we got the best in PJ Nunn from Breakthrough Promotions.

Once we decided to self publish it took just over a year.  This includes rewrites, cover and web design, formatting and printing of the advanced reader copies and their feedback.

Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

I would take the time to find someone locally who is multi-talented to include writing, editing & publishing who has a certain amount of time to dedicate to the project.  For instance we need to meet face to face to exchange ideas and discuss expectations, deadlines, problems and any other issues that are relevant.

I believe it is possible to do things via email, however working remotely caused me too much frustration and down time. 

Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

 I need hands on assistance in naming a goal and then executing a game plan to achieve that goal.  Otherwise it is a “hit and miss” operation that I am not comfortable with.  As I stated earlier I believe in the team approach very personal and hands on to look together to accomplish a goal or due date.  This approach also leads to the freshest ideas in writing from those involved.

What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

 I am looking forward to seeing how our promotions and sales go once the book is released October 15.  This will serve as a good indicator whether or not people will part with their hard earned money to read what I have to write.  At the very least I will soon be able to check “write a book” off my bucket list.

What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

I really thought that what I had to bring to the table would have publishers jump at my project.  Not to even get a nibble was very humbling to me.  I always thought they would like to hear from a retired Federal Agent and Author but it’s not that easy.

What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

One lady told me it (JUSTICE FOR DALLAS) was the best book she has read since The Firm.  She said she couldn’t put it down and if this doesn’t make the New York Times best seller list she will eat her hat.  That was pretty cool.  I said, “Thanks a lot, mom.”

Actually that quote came from Ms. Nanci Wudel of Mesa, AZ.

With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

I am very confident that my writing style has a unique way of bringing the reader into the story or crime scene.  As far as I know there aren’t too many Retired ATF Special Agents who are currently Authors.  The fact that ATF is such a controversial Federal Agency should also work in my favor I believe.

There is no doubt that I have witnessed a lot of stuff in my 30 plus years in law enforcement.  Some crazy, some scary, some dangerous, some funny but rest assured I always tried to do the right thing.  I couldn’t help but get emotionally involved at times and just living through it and witnessing it gave me a different perspective on life.

The most exciting thing about being a cop remains that when the bell rings you go and you often go alone.  All cops are heroes no matter what anybody says.

What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

Don’t give up…don’t ever give up.

What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

My experience and background allows me to discuss the scenes in detail because they are all inspired by actual events.

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title: Justice for Dallas

Butch Crowley

He ruled the Iron Cobras

No one could touch him

No one could stop him

Until ATF Special Agent Marko Novak

And his small force of men

Swore they’d bring him down.

Where can we buy it?

Amazon.com         after October 15, 2013

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

I still dream about playing hockey for my hometown Blackhawks