Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
TRIBE is about how power, love, and fathers and daughters come into play in conflict-riven Afghanistan, and how the government gets it all wrong. What separates TRIBE from its competition is its authenticity - so authentic that the U.S. government censored it. I draw heavily from my service involving Afghanistan, including in the field.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yes. I've had three good agents, the last one (still my agent) also representing Stieg Larsson. Each agent tried hard to land a traditional publishing deal, but, alas, no offers came in the shrinking traditional market. After my books took off and became Kindle paid bestsellers, I decided to abandon the traditional route. My agent handles movie and audio rights, etc.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
No. I tried one out early on and my experience was so negative, I quit, vowing never to go down that road again. I know all critique groups aren’t alike, but I’ve always been bad in team dynamics. My books have all been Kindle bestsellers and they’ve gotten excellent reviews. I’ve landed a top agent. I’ve had national and international media exposure – all without the benefit of a critique group.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
I self-published to Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and others as well. But Amazon wins the authors’ hearts and minds game hands down. They truly level the playing field to give unknowns a fair shot.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Each of my agents took care of this aspect. I didn’t have to pay a dime.
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
First: That it takes a lot of time and hard work, but that, if you master the various processes, you, too, can achieve success as a published author. Second: Pursuing traditional publishing is a waste of time. Life is too short.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
All the social media that everyone else uses. I question, however, just how effective these outlets are as marketing tools. My first two books reached bestsellerdom without any of these tools. I had to play catch-up with social media.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Very much so. I spend a good 50 percent of my time on marketing and keeping on top of trends. My most productive writing time is beween 9:00pm and 3:00am.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
It’s a steep and l-o-n-g learning curve. Successful authors are those who never give up. Improve your craft; learn the business side. Again, I would skip the legacy route altogether and self-publish.
What’s next for you?
HAVANA QUEEN, an espionage thriller set in Cuba, where I’ve served, is due out in 2012 (after the Feds finish with their security review – a requirement for all of my writing).