Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My most recent book, 1,001 Tips for Writers, was best described by the Midwest Book Review as “an anthology of witticisms, insights, tips, tricks, techniques, warnings, suggestions, and much more for anyone and everyone in the writing trade.” It is somewhat of a quirky book of quotations, and I edited it primarily to help writers who are just starting out.
I am also coming out with an updated e-book version of what many consider to be the definitive book on the killings at my alma mater: Four Dead in Ohio: Was There a Conspiracy at Kent State? The new edition explores recent new developments, including two audio forensics experts’ claims that a “prepare to fire” order was issued seconds before the shootings.
How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract?
I had contingency plans for the Kent State book back in 1973, and began working on it in earnest in 1975. So it took me 17 or 15 years between the time I got started and the book was first published.
On the other hand, I whipped out my Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book in just six months.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
I self-published The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book because my agent at the time could not find any New York publishers that were interested. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I am now on my 25th printing and my 23rd year of publication. I bought back the rights to Four Dead in Ohio just to keep it in print. I actually sold more books than my original publisher.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
No, I do not believe in critique groups. Too often they are like the blind leading the blind.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Absolutely. Every author needs an editor. Those who think they can get away without one are not thinking professionally.
What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
I discovered that I really liked the book business and loved publishing more than I liked writing. I learned how to run a small business—which is what self-publishing is—and I learned from all the rookie mistakes I made. I also learned a lot from the self-publishing gurus: how they have a vested interest in getting people to try self-publishing; how they are encouraging so many unnecessary books; and how they earn their livings not through their books but through speaking engagements, workshops, consulting, and other ancillary services.
What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I create master publicity lists even before the book is published: lists of print outlets that might review my books; and a list of radio and TV shows throughout the country that might interview me. I even have a side business selling a database of radio talk shows, which I began after Citadel neglected to send review copies of my movie location book, Shot on This Site, to radio and TV stations. I wound up doing all the work myself and kept researching radio stations until I reached the point where I began to market the list to other publishers, publicists, and independent authors.
I am on Facebook and Linked In and will soon join Pinterest. Facebook does not seem to be all that effective for me. The only reviews I got on GoodReads were from unqualified reviewers: people who thought reference books should read like novels or who were so ignorant about writing they did not understand the difference between a byline and a subtitle or the difference between an author and an editor. I have also used Net Galley and participated in various writing forums.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
I am still juggling three different books!
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Learn everything you can about the book business. Have realistic expectations.
Work with people who have a strong background in traditional publishing, as opposed to self-publishing. Your goal is to transcend the self-publishing ghetto. Publish only if you have a really good reason to. Too many people are being encouraged to publish when they really have nothing to say.Remember that you are asking people to spend their hard earned money. You are writing FOR someone and not just to please yourself. Being an author does not mean what it used to mean. It used to mean something special. It is not special any more.
Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Fun fact: I was born during the blizzard of 1950. They had to call out the Ohio National Guard to take my mother to the hospital. That has nothing to do with why I wrote the Kent State book. I just thought that was a good anecdote to use on talk shows.
Amazon buy link:
William A. Gordon’s web site is www.nrbooks.com . He lives in Rancho Mirage, CA, with his wife and three dogs.