Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Interview with R. Doug Wicker

In my continuing author series, today's interview is with R. Doug Wicker.  Welcome Doug!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I’ve always been an avid reader and for many years I played around with the idea of trying my hand at writing.  In 1988 on a cruise to Alaska I met and chatted with James A. Michener, as well as attending his onboard lectures.  I found him to be a very charming man highly encouraging of other wannabe writers.  I stewed over that encounter for perhaps three years and finally started banging out my first novel.  It was dreadful.  But I found I enjoy writing and I’ve been honing my skills ever since.  I was even commissioned to write a small book for Rosen Publishing on the Pan Am 103 disaster.  It’s part of Rosen’s Terrorist Acts series and its in many school libraries.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
Not only have I gone the traditional literary agent route, I currently have a literary agent (my second) representing my books.  He’s worked diligently since around 1996 trying to sell not only my second through fourth novels, but also a nonfiction piece I wrote on the Federal Aviation Administration just a year or so ago.  That one was considered by many publishers too terrifying to print, which unfortunately tells you quite a bit about the state of mainstream publishing today.  At any rate, he still represents me to this day and has already expressed interest in my current work-in-progress, so I haven’t completely given up on that route . . . yet.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
Alas, being agented in this day and age in which publishers are far too risk adverse to try new ideas or new concepts from unproven authors does not guarantee a publishing contract.  I’m a damned good writer and a great storyteller.  I’ve had two very high-powered literary agents in my writing career, and the dramatic rights to my second novel were once shopped around and very nearly sold in Hollywood back in 1996 by two of the most powerful dramatic rights agents at that time.  Anyway, my point is that eventually an author has to decide if he believes in himself enough to get his work out there.  The fact that industry experts (literary and dramatic rights agents; Publishers Weekly; Rosen Publishing) take me seriously even if mainstream publishers don’t convinced me to go ahead and make the leap.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
Yes.  I’ll probably give traditional publishing another shot with my next novel, The Globe.  But I no longer feel I need that for validation as an author.  I’d do it for the exposure only.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I tried my hand at designing a cover and it was universally panned by fellow authors.  I then got an offer for help from a young graphics designer named Ronnell D. Porter, who’s an author in his own right.  I must say that I and many of my friends and associates really liked what you came up with, as it really captured the flavor of a murder mystery set on a tropical island resort.

If you used a graphic designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Almost none at all.  I took the advice of others over trusting my own instincts on this.  Ronnell developed for me two completely different covers and fellow authors chose for me the one that was in fact my second choice.  Ronnell then listened to some criticisms from these same authors about the font and the arrangement of the title and author’s name.  He then submitted a second version of that cover, which is the version you see today.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
I was ecstatic.  I still am whenever I get a sale.  It means that somebody deemed my novel worthy of shelling out hard-earned money to obtain and trusted me to not only entertain them but to also give them their money’s worth.  That being said, I must admit that my sales to date aren’t anything about which to brag, but I’m told by other self-published Kindle authors that they are in fact not bad for my first month.  I’m hoping things improve around the third week in October, as that is when I have scheduled to run a sponsorship (advertisement) from Kindle Nations Daily.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I’m a regular on Kindle Boards.  I’ve also started back up on Amazon’s ABNA forum, which is geared toward past and future entrants into their annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  Decisions was a semifinalist in the first contest back in 2008, and that is where it obtained its rather glowing review from Publishers Weekly.  I also have an author’s page on both Amazon and Facebook, and I’m currently contemplating a possible author’s blog.  Beyond that I frequent a few other forums related to my past career (NATCA union website), handguns, and a few other forums on which I’m not shy about advertising my work.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Currently, no.  But I registered several months ago with Barnes & Noble’s PubIt site and it’s my understanding that they’re gearing up and sending out invitations to registrants to submit works for the Nook, which is B&N’s eReader.  Hopefully I can soon work something out to make Decisions available for that format as well.

What’s next for you?
My current project is another murder mystery titled The Globe.  It’s set aboard a rather unique cruise ship and the main protagonist is the security officer.  He an expatriate American who has a pretty complex love life, a past he doesn’t like to think about, and, as with the protagonist in Decisions, a lot of personal issues with which to deal.  I’m really enjoying this character.  After that I may go back to a sequel to Decisions I started a few years back but never got around to completing, as I rather enjoy the Donovan Grant and Kelly LaBrecque characters.  They’re quite lively and a lot of fun.