Briefly describe your journey in writing your first or latest book:
I’ve written six novels: two were published by main stream houses in hardback and paperback, two are still making the rounds with my agent, one I took directly to E-Book, The Undertaker, and I have two more I’m working on at the moment. I’ve also written four award-winning screenplays, one of which was optioned. My most successful novel, Thursday at Noon, was published in hardback by St. Martins, with a number of paper and foreign editions. I was always an avid reader, and began writing after I read one too many bad books. It happened to be an unusually bad one by Clive Cussler, and I said, “Even I could do that,” so I started writing. The Undertaker began with a one-line premise, “A guy opens the newspaper one morning and sees his own obituary.” Then you ask a lot of whys and hows. The one I’m currently working on began with, “A guy’s in the window seat of an airliner coming in to land at O’Hare, looks down, and sees a murder taking place on a roof top below.” Again, a lot of hows and whys.
Did you query agents and traditional publishers? How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
I sent out my first manuscript ‘over the transom’ to about 40 publishers. It finally got picked up by a small house, but you can’t do that anymore. Back then, there were many independent publishers. Now, the industry is a handful of large ‘entertainment’ companies that own all the old imprints. They’ll only look at material that comes through an agent. The good agencies, in New York, are now the industry ‘gatekeepers’ and are very hard to get.
What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
It would be nice to think that writers have these choices, but 99% simply do not. You take what you can get, and hope for luck and better days ahead.
Did you design your cover art? If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I worked with Rick Capidamonte, a free-lance graphic designer in Honolulu who I was referred to for The Undertaker. I sent him some thoughts, and we went back and forth on-line for maybe a week with six drafts. Take a look at the cover; he absolutely nailed it! And I had a ball doing it. His prices are very reasonable and he can be reached at email@example.com. When my hardback and paperback books were published, I had no input. The first time I saw the cover was on the published book, so doing it myself was very liberating.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
No. I write by re-writing many, many, many drafts, and use my own ear. My wife and a select group of 2-3 friends read the drafts, mostly for grammar, story flow, repetition, or any ‘Clunks’ they see. Also, I must mention Kimberly ‘Hitch’ Hitchens at Book Nook firstname.lastname@example.org gave me invaluable help in getting started and converting my novel to e-book.
What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner publicity for your book(s)?
I’d love to do all of that stuff, and I know I probably need to for promotion; but I don’t. It takes too much time away from actual, “butt-in-the-chair, fingers-on-the-key-board writing.” Tweets, Blogs, Forums, and Faces might help me sell, but I keep thinking a good next book would help me even more. I’m probably going to set up a web site, but I guess we’ll see.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, I can list all of the links, but The Undertaker can be found by searching on the title in the Amazon-Kindle Store, on Sony’s Reader, on Barnes and Noble’s Nook, on Sony IBook, or on Kobo for the exorbitant price of $2.99. It’s my first e-book, so I decided to start low. Dollar-for-dollar, that’s the best suspense novel out there.
What is the best advice you can offer new authors?
Write because you like writing, not to get rich or famous; because you won’t. When I began writing, the publishers and agents all said, “The market’s horrible; it’s a really bad time to sell a (fill-in-the-blank) book.” They say exactly the same thing now, but e-books may be the biggest change since TV and radio. Just ask Borders. How to take advantage of it is the question.
What’s next for you?
Writing. Right now, I have 3 novels I’m working on. They are all international suspense stories. One is in final re-write; one will be a needed ‘update’ of an old one, before I put it out in e-book form; and one is a brand new story, that I’m about half done with.