Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My first book to date, Living Beneath the Radar; A Nine Year Journey Around the World is an account of my travels from 1970 to 1979. The adventure took me from Europe to India overland through Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan three times and eventually down through SE Asia in 1975, ending up in Australia. The book starts off with a little of my background including experiences with the army draft board, post college life and other influences that directed me to take this journey during a time of world turmoil. The book is full of events and encounters with people not found in the world of media and news. The stories are humorous as well as true, even though some readers may challenge the author as to their possibility of ever happening.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I tried the traditional route after the book came out in the first edition as self published. I sent query letters to agents in order to find a larger market for the book. After I edited the first edition and added 100 pages of more stories and adventures I still searched for an agent, but may republish with the same self-publishing company in order to get the edited version out into the world quickly.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I would have to say that Goodreads book club has become my critique group as well as other writers who pointed out my need to edit and redo parts of the first edition. I was in a hurry to get my book published and did not take the needed time to go through the final copy to the degree needed before printing. I received very good reviews but the editing needs really made me sit down and spend 4 months rewriting and editing the book.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
Amazon is the top name in on line bookstores and any independent author needs to get his or her book on their site. It would be like building a solar car that can travel for free because you built it in the desert and the sun shines every day. If there are no roads in the sand dunes for you to drive you solar powered car then you will go nowhere. Amazon is the road in the desert for your book and it offers a place to be seen and travel on. Without this avenue your book will be stuck in the sand and not journey very far. (How’s that for a green vision of Amazon?)
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
A friend of mine used the Word edit-program and read the book through once. He gave me some corrections but Word does not replace a human reading the book. Finding all the words that are spelled correctly but are the wrong word. Where, were, choose, chose are just a few examples that only editing and reading a book can catch. Also I found that one really needs another person to edit and review because the author will continue to re-read the same mistakes over and over again and still not catch them. I now have re-written Radar, changed the passages in order to flow easier, and corrected grammar. I still have several friends reading it again and giving me their input.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
The most difficult part of self-publishing is the promotion. Bookstores will not accept your book in their store if it does not come through a big publisher. Getting people to read your book and writing a review is one way to get it noticed and hopefully the buzz will reach someone who has an “in” with promotion. Some writers are good at writing but cannot self promote or do not want to. Promotion has to be the biggest hurdle for indie writers.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I did get the book on all the e-book links. Authorhouse sells the book and it is available on line with all the bookstores. My Goodreads site is also helpful because there is where serious readers see reviews, read about the book and decide if they want to get it and read it. I have given away a lot of books through Goodreads and have received many good reviews as well as a few that drove me to edit and redo the book. I am glad I did edit Radar and now I feel the product is ready with out any regrets. I hope to have the second edition available by fall of 2011.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have a facebook page for Living Beneath the Radar. I do get some interest when I do things like radio interviews or T.V. interviews and I post the links to these media spots for those interested. I also have a twitter account and hope to expand my exposure there as well.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I have started another book on the experience of moving to Mexico. The working title is “Learning to Love the Peso”. The move is taking place as I write this. I just returned from my last load of furniture. I move down June 8 and my wife will arrive around June 19. I dropped all work on the book when I edited Radar. Marketing one book while working on another can be a real challenge. It takes a person who is very dedicated to write at certain times every day and promote at other times. In other words the writer has to be dedicated to a writing window and move on to a marketing window in order to complete both.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
The biggest advice I can pass on is to not be in a hurry. The book has to be edited to the 10th degree. If not you will end up redoing the book later. Do not be in a rush to push the send button. Get a friend or person who edits and take your time getting everything right before taking the plunge.
What’s next for you?
My next is having Radar written into a screenplay. I was interviewed and the person doing the interview fell in love with the stories and wants to write a screenplay. She knows producers and it just might make it to the world of film. We are also moving to San Felipe in Baja California in June. I started writing about the move last year and I hope to make the book a need to know before anyone else tries to do such a move. There have been other books in the past that have done such a story but the mechanics of such a move change all the time and those books are outdated. This book will also be full of humorous adventures because humor is what I find in many of the situations I have been in. Moving to Mexico is no exception.