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Category Archives: Book Marketing

Marketing, Marketing and Wait For It…Marketing

It admittedly scares me when an author approaches me and says, “I need help with marketing my book.” Okay, that alone doesn’t scare me and in fact, thrills me however, read further. “When is your book due for release?” I ask. “Oh it’s already been released.” he or she says. “Congrats!” I say, “What types of marketing have you been doing so far?” “Well,” he or she says, “Nothing yet and I’m getting irritated and discouraged because I have no sales.”

This is a prime example as to why you should start marketing your book….yesterday. As I’ve said before, you should begin marketing your book BEFORE the release. If you don’t believe me, maybe you will believe Jonathan Gunson, Author and CEO of Bestseller Labs. His article, “The Single Most Effective Book Marketing Strategy An Author Can Use,” offers some excellent advice (http://bestsellerlabs.com/the-most-effective-book-marketing-strategy/):

 

How can you get a ‘rave’ response when you launch your next book?

Start Marketing Your Book Long Before It Appears On The Stage

The day your book launches is way too late to start your marketing program. Ideally your ‘theater’ needs to be filled with an eagerly waiting crowd, long before your book fronts the footlights. But for first time authors this can quite rightly seem to be an impossible stretch.

Most authors dream of hitting a home run, as Colleen Hoover did earlier this year with her novel Hopeless. But the reality is this does not happen for the vast majority of writers, and so promotional activity needs to begin well in advance.

For example, Tim Ferris started marketing three years before he launched The 4 Hour Work Week by collecting bloggers, media and supporters, and stayed in touch with them right through.

Rebecca Skloot also began building her audience several years before launching her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

 

Is it Too Late To Start?

If you did leave marketing your book until after launch, don’t worry – all is not lost. It simply means that it’ll take longer. And if it’s an eBook, you still have plenty of time to successfully market your book, because on Amazon, your book lasts forever, giving it time to find its audience. But do start today if you haven’t already.

The fact is, for the initial book in your series, you may not entirely ‘fill the theater’ prior to launch. But by the time your third book in your series comes around, you’ll not only have a fan base, but be well versed in all the theatrical tactics around launching a book.

This has also been my personal experience. I took a very long road and found out the hard way. But after taking many wrong turns, I finally got there, love every minute of it now, and am happy to share what I’ve discovered.

 

Don’t Plan To Be ‘In Store’, Plan To Be READ

For a moment, picture the dream of the aspiring author: A newly published novel on the bookstore shelves:

But… where is it? The reality is that the thrill of seeing your book ‘live’ in a store wears off very quickly.

Publishing is merely the beginning. What you really need is your books being read, because if your books have appeal, readers will want to spread the word. Your fans are ‘reader evangelists’ who’ll carry the flame for your books and drive the most powerful form of promotion – viral, word-of-mouth recommendation.

Your task therefore is to ignite the viral flame using your author platform, which includes interaction with readers on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

 

You’re A Rock Star To Your Readers, So Connect With Them

Readers have given you their commitment, you owe them yours.

So take time to communicate with them and reply if they ask questions or send praise. Why? Because if you keep on producing titles, and maintain contact, your readers will become your fans and ‘Word Of Mouth’ promoters for life.

Your fans value the fruits of your imagination far more than you may ever know. From your very first book, readers become invested in you. If your books are well written and have appeal, they’ll buy everything you write and feel they ‘own’ you. You certainly owe them your allegiance, because they’ve given you theirs.

Aim your communications at them, connect with them, and keep the fans you’ve already made constantly fascinated, engaged, and crowding into the ‘theater’ at the launch of your next book.

And the bottom line is… start today.

 

What are you waiting for?? (Evin – http://www.saplingpublishing.com)

 

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Indie Book of the Week

 

Good morning, friends and a hearty TGIF to you all! I hope you all have some awesome weekend plans lying ahead of you, even if it’s absolutely nothing. Sometimes I find those are the most enjoyable.

 

So….if you have read my blog for any length of time you know that I always post the, “Indie Author of the Week” or “Indie Book of the Week” on Fridays. Well, today I’m posting a book that I think you, as an indie author might enjoy.

 

We’ve all heard of indie authors and if you are like me, you consider yourself one (doesn’t matter whether you are published at this point or not). I’m also fairly certain that you are curious as to what helps to make indie authors successful, no matter your definition of success. Here’s something that you should buy:

 

Learn how to succeed in indie publishing.

 

With interviews from 34 of the hottest names in self-publishing, “Interviews with Indie Authors” contains a unique view into the world of the indie writer. Each bestselling self-published author shares how they ensure their books are a hit, and what led them to indie publishing in the first place. You will also find out what they think the future of self-publishing will bring. Their first hand experience is invaluable for anyone planning to succeed with their own books.

 

Whatever your background, you will learn from these incredible interviews.

 

With diverse genres such as thrillers, young adult fiction, the paranormal, romance, comedy, fantasy, horror, science fiction, mystery and even non-fiction, whatever you are writing about, this book has it covered.

 

Contains interviews with indie authors such as: Michael McCloskey, Nick Russell, Connie Suttle, Michael Prescott, Terri Reid, Hugh Howey, Scott Nicholson, Kristen Ashley, Aaron Patterson, Carol Davis Luce, Claire Ridgway, Alexa Grace, Marie Force, Shadonna Richards, Colleen Hoover, Barbara Freethy, Joseph Lallo, Rebecca Forster, Caryn Moya Block, Denise Grover Swank, Mainak Dhar, Imogen Rose, CJ Lyons, Bella Andre, Maria Murnane, Theresa Ragan, Russell Blake, Linda Welch, Debra Holland, J. Thorn, James Somers, Karen Cantwell, Tracey Garvis Graves and Elena Greene.

 

Buy it on Amazon now: http://www.amazon.com/Interviews-Indie-Authors-Self-Published-ebook/dp/B008OTUDWO.

 

Have a great weekend! (Evin – www.saplingpublishing.com)

 

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How To Get Your Writing Noticed

Writing is fun. It’s great stress relief, a great form of entertainment and an outlet to the sometimes woes of living in the real world. You can create any type of character you want and have him/her live anyplace in the world.

 

Some writers write strictly for fun and for themselves. They don’t have the desire for others to read it however most writers do have the desire for others to read their work. In fact, most dream of being published one day.

 

The question is, is how in the world do you get your writing noticed? You know I have once again done my research and found a great article for you, don’t you?

 

Without further adieu (http://www.fictionfactor.com/guests/noticed.html):

 

How To Get Noticed by Editors And Publishers:

Make Your Strengths Shine

by Shelley Wake

 

 

To be a successful writer and get noticed, being good often isn’t good enough. You have to shine. You have to have something that puts you above all others. Of course though, nobody is perfect. Everyone has faults and flaws. But everyone has talents and abilities too. What’s your talent?

 

Find your talent and focus on it. Develop it. Showcase it in your writing so it really shines through. Remember, one thing that stands out is far easier to notice than ten things that are good, but not great. Make sure your best skill stands out.

 

 

Stacey’s Story: Start With Something Special

 

I had my breakthrough while taking a break from writing. I was watching the movie Bring it On and decided to watch the bonus features. One of them was an interview with the director and he talked about how the screenplay got noticed because it opened with the cheer song. That stood out, that got their attention, that made them want to read the rest. I decided to take the same approach. I took chances with the start. I started with a letter, a poem, a snippet from a diary. It must have made the difference because with that one change, a manuscript that had been rejected 14 times got purchased. –Stacey, Novelist

 

Carmen’s Story: Use Your Strengths

 

I was told by my teachers and by readers that my dialogue was really strong. So I decided to stop hiding it away and I put it right out front. I made the first chapter of my novel almost all dialogue. It got the attention of an agent, who has since told me that the individuality of the first chapter told him that he had found a new writer with a clear sense of style. He took me on and is now trying to sell that sense of style to publishers. Even better for me, he’s not just trying to sell my first book, he’s trying to sell me as the next new thing, a young writer to look out for! –Carmen, Novelist

 

Editor Says: “Forget Modesty”

 

Writing is not a business where you can afford to be modest. You have to get in there and show what you’ve got. Whatever you do better than everyone else, show it off. Build your work around your best skill. Otherwise, you’re going to be lumped in with the rest of the writers that are good, but don’t stand out. –James, Editor

 

Editor Says: “I’m Looking for One Thing”

 

Many writers make the mistake of trying to show me everything they do well. Forget it. I’m glancing at hundreds of manuscripts a day. To catch my attention, you have to hit me between the eyes with one strong point that I can’t not notice. There will be time later to show me your other strengths. For the first contact, focus on making one clear point about yourself and make it a good one.

–Darryn, Editor

 

Susan’s Story: Is it Really a Flaw?

 

In the early days of Susan’s career, everyone advised her that she relied on dialogue too much. So she cut out the dialogue. She kept writing but found her work lacked energy. Years later, she decided to ignore all the advice. The novel came naturally to her and it was almost all dialogue. The book reviews praised her unique style and voice. Susan learned her lesson—never suppress what comes naturally to you. Remember, what comes naturally to you might be your greatest gift, not your greatest

flaw.

 

Top Six Ways to Find Your Strength

 

1. Ask other people what stands out about your work.

 

2. Read some of your best work and make a list of what makes it good.

 

3. Read through the contents of a book about writing and ask yourself if there is an area you are good at.

 

4. Think about what other people have said about your work. Are there any comments that keep being repeated?

 

5. Ask yourself what you care about when you write.

 

6. What do you like about other people’s work? Often the things you notice in other people’s work are also the things that you are good at.

 

 

© Copyright Shelley Wake. All Rights Reserved.

 

Keep it up! You are almost there. (Evin – http://www.saplingpublishing.com)

 

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Indie Author of the Week

Wow…it’s Friday already? TGIF, my friends!

Our Indie Author of the Week goes out to Marie Force. Although previously published by traditional publishing houses such as Harlequin, she made the NY Times e-book bestseller list on March 6th.

 

As stated on http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/an-interview-with-indie-ny-times-bestselling-author-marie-force/ written by Bob Mayer:

 

An Interview with Indie NY Times Bestselling Author Marie Force

 

Indie author Marie Force debuts on the NY Times e-book bestseller list on 10 March at #6 and the combined print/e-book list at #11 with her indie-published book, “Waiting for Love,” book 8 in her popular McCarthys of Gansett Island Series.

 

She is the best-selling, award-winning author of 25 contemporary romances, including The McCarthy Series, the Fatal Series with Harlequin, the Treading Water Series and numerous stand-alone books. Her new series, The Green Mountain Series, is coming from Berkley in early 2014.

 

You sold your first book to a traditional publisher in 2007. Less than six years later, you’re one of the bestselling authors in romance. What do you think is the single most important key to your success?

 

Self-publishing is the single most important key to my success. The ability to release books frequently has helped to raise my profile with readers in a way that never would’ve happened without direct publishing access to Kindle, Nook, iBookstore and Kobo, in particular. I also credit Facebook with giving me a daily conduit to readers who have supported me throughout my career and continue to do so today.

 

You’ve said that “No one was interested in these books except my readers,” regarding some of your titles. Is that what led you to self-publish?

 

Yes, exactly! One of my favorite stories involves the Big Six house that rejected my book “True North,” with the reasoning, “No one wants to read about a super model.” Those eight words changed my life profoundly. They were the catalyst that drove me to try something new. “True North,” the story of an unlucky-in-love super model who finds love on a two-week vacation in her small Rhode Island hometown, was the first book I self-published. Since it went on sale in November of 2010, it has sold more than 50,000 units. I guess a few people want to read about a super model…

 

Would you ever go back to traditional publishing completely?

 

Barring major changes in the programs offered by participating retailers, I can’t imagine any scenario in which self-publishing is not a part of my overall picture.

 

How do you handle the workload of not only writing the books, but all the other aspects of being incredibly successful in indie-publishing?

 

The workload is a bit staggering. I won’t deny that. I work seven days a week, three hundred sixty-five days a year. A day “off” usually consists of three or four hours of work in the morning, followed by household stuff that gets neglected while books are being written and published. I’m in the midst of the most intense writing cycle of my career right now, with a Fatal book due to Harlequin March 15, two books due to Berkley before August 1, and another McCarthy book promised to readers, hopefully by the end of the summer. I’ve also got readers clamoring for a fifth book in my Treading Water Series, which is a very nice “problem” to have, but there’s just no wiggle room in the schedule this year. “Treading Water,” book 1 in that series, was my first book and is very close to my heart because it started everything. I find it funny that I’ve reached a point in my career where writing a new book in that very beloved series is just not possible at this time. Back in the day, that scenario would’ve been unimaginable to me.

 

Getting back to your juggling question, I hired a full-time assistant in January, and she has saved my life. I also have a part-time employee, who helps primarily with my e-Book Formatting Fairies business. We format and prepare books for other authors pursuing self-publication. So we’re busy, but it’s the best kind of busy.

 

When did your career begin to take off? What do you attribute your success to?

 

My career got a nice boost from a freebie offered by my first publisher in February of 2011, and I’ve been on a roll ever since then. Releasing the first three McCarthy books, “Maid for Love,” “Fool for Love” and “Ready for Love” in April, May and June of 2011 also helped to give me a big boost. I had four more McCarthy books out in 2012 and offered book 1, “Maid for Love,” as a freebie for the last half of 2012. I had more than 500,000 downloads of that freebie and hundreds of thousands of sales of the subsequent books in the series. “Waiting for Love,” book 8 in the McCarthy Series, is the one that just hit all the major bestseller lists in February. It was a slow build that finally paid off in a big way. I now have 16 self-published books and nine traditionally published books, with more of both coming. Without a doubt, free books have changed the game for me numerous times and contributed greatly to discoverability with digital readers.

 

How do you think your readers found you?

 

It was a combination of things. As I said, free books helped enormously. I’m also very visible on Facebook and run about 30 reader groups—one for each series, one for each book and an overall Marie Force Book Talk group, all of which are very popular with readers. The McCarthy Reader Group just welcomed its 5,000th member, which was another amazing milestone in a month full of them. The readers who hang out with me on Facebook are great about spreading the word about my books to their friends and families, which has also helped the cause. I push my mailing list at every possible opportunity and have seen that grow by many thousands in the last year. Finally, I make an effort—with the help of my assistant—to make sure that every reader who writes to me gets a reply. As time has gone on, this has become increasingly time consuming, but it’s a very important part of what we do every day. Readers are everything, and we never forget that for a second.

 

You recently just hit the NY Times list. What did you do to achieve this goal and how do you feel about it?

 

Yes! My first time on the New York Times list! What a thrill! I tend to be low-key about things that other authors get very excited about, such as contests and the like. I always thought if or when I ever hit the Times list, I’d check that box and move on with my life. Well, it didn’t happen quite that way… Turns out, it was a VERY exciting day! The book sold astonishingly well the first week, so I suspected it might hit the extended list, which would’ve been lovely. But to see it at no. 6 for ebooks and no. 11 on the combined print/ebook list was way beyond thrilling. Then to score no. 15 on the USA Today list and no. 6 on the Wall Street Journal ebook list was triply exciting. In the last two weeks, I’ve learned that “New York Times Bestseller” are words everyone understands, whether they are in our business or not. One of the things that was instrumental to making the list was being allowed to offer “Waiting for Love” for pre-order at several of the major retailers, who are beginning to allow a few indie authors that privilege. And it is, indeed, a privilege that they trust me enough after 16 indie books to know I will deliver the book as promised, on schedule with no drama. Those advance sales truly made the difference in hitting the bestseller lists, and I’m grateful to my retail partners for making that opportunity available to me. It was also a huge thrill to share the bestseller moment with my husband and kids as well as my widowed dad, who was almost as excited as I was. That was a very happy moment in what’s become a lovely career.

 

We noticed you were added to the RWA honor roll with a self-published title. What does this mean to you? Have you entered the RITAs?

 

Well, to be honest, the RWA Honor Roll status would mean a lot more to me if I were allowed to enter my bestselling book in RWA’s RITA contest for published authors. As it stands right now, the RITA is not open to self-published books, but I hope to see those rules changed before too much longer. Although I’ve never been validated by contests, I don’t like being told I can’t enter my book in a contest because of the way it was brought to market, especially when it has done so well. There’s something offensive about that, and I know I’m not alone in feeling excluded from one of my professional organization’s premier programs. I’m hoping that with several prominent self-published authors in leadership positions on the RWA board this year that we might start to see some of those final barriers to participation crumble. Self-publishing is here to stay, and I believe it won’t be long before more authors are self-publishing than are pursuing the traditional path. Yes, I have entered books in the RITA in the past, and have two Fatal books in the contest this year.

 

What top three things do you view as critical to success as an author with the publishing landscape changing so quickly?

 

Job one in my world is quality. Every one of my books undergoes rigorous beta reading, copy editing and proofreading as well as other quality control steps. My covers are professionally designed, and my ebooks are interactive with live links to purchase other books that are customized to each individual retail platform. We also produce print versions for each of my books via CreateSpace, and they are popular with readers who still prefer print. We’re now bringing all my self-published books out in audio format, too. A lot of steps are involved with professional self-publishing, and no corners are ever cut.

 

Job two is quantity. The authors who seem to be doing the best in the digital space have one big thing in common—we’re all prolific. We produce numerous high-quality books each year, and we keep readers happy because they don’t have to wait six months or a year for our next book. With so many things competing for consumer attention, keeping the product coming is critically important to building—and keeping—a readership.

 

Third would be listening to readers and giving them what they want. My readers are very vocal about what they like and don’t like in my books. Fortunately, there is more of the former than the latter! LOL! They desperately wanted resolution of a story begun in “Marking Time,” Treading Water Series book 2, which led me to write, “Coming Home,” book 4 in that series. “Coming Home,” released on 12.12.12., has done very well and has made them happy, which is so important to me. I’m thankful for every one of them, and I try to show them that in every way I can. They’ve also given me some damned good ideas. I plan to write a special Gansett Island book called, “Gansett After Dark,” based on a suggestion a reader made months ago. It was a brilliant idea, and I’m looking forward to writing that book.

 

If you’ve done so well as an indie author, why continue to go the “hybrid” route with traditional publishers?

 

For one thing, I was with Harlequin’s Carina Press for my Fatal Series before I began self-publishing, so it made sense to continue the series where it began. Harlequin will begin publishing the Fatal books in mass-market paperback under the HQN imprint later this year. Since a big portion of romance readers are still interested in paperbacks, I was anxious to get back into print and to have wide distribution for the first time in my career. Harlequin has worked really hard on the Fatal Series (and given me some awesome covers!), so I’m enjoying my stay with them. Berkley provided an opportunity to put a contemporary series into mass market print in addition to ebooks, which was part of an overall strategy to make sure I’m hitting all the available markets—ebook, print, audio, etc. My agent, Kevan Lyon, has been very supportive of my self-publishing pursuits and has worked closely with me to make sure I’m moving in the right direction on all these fronts. At this point, everything is an experiment, and I’m willing to try a number of different strategies to see what works best.

 

Are you having fun yet?

 

I’m having fun every day, and I’m just getting started. This is the best time EVER to be an author, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future!

 

So what are YOU waiting for? Go forth and conquer! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

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Seeking an Agent?

If your goal is to take the traditional publishing route then yes, you should be seeking an agent. Let me do clarify one thing though….if you are submitting to indie publishing houses then no, most will accept manuscripts straight from the author however if you are looking at large conglomerates then yes, you need to find an agent. Most of these will only accept submissions from agents.

Word to the wise…there is no formal education that a person must obtain in order to call themselves an agent. In other words, just ensure you use caution and do some serious research before reaching out. You want to find someone that not only knows the industry inside and out, but someone who has some serious ties to the publishing industry.

Here are some words of advice passed along from Ginny Wiehardt (http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/thebusinessofwriting/tp/agenthowto.htm):

1. Finish Your Novel.

Finish writing your novel before contacting literary agents. Have other writers read your book, take a novel writing class, or hire an editor. We all have blind spots as writers; identify them before contacting any agents with your novel. And make sure that the first 30 pages or so are especially strong. Agents need to see that you can set up your story effectively.

 

2. Establish Credibility.

An agent will be more likely to pay attention to your work if you have published in smaller journals and magazines. Find an excerpt from your book that can stand alone and begin sending it out. (Other ways of establishing yourself as a serious writer include winning a contest or getting an MFA.)

 

3. Research Literary Agents.

In finding an agent, you’ll do much of the same research you do when looking for a job. And as with a job hunt, there are many tools at your disposal. Learn about the essential ones here.

 

4. Write a Query Letter.

Your query letter is your one-page audition: your chance to catch an agent’s eye. Introduce your novel with a short, compelling synopsis, then share the credentials you’ve been working so hard to accumulate. These dos and don’ts will further help you craft a professional, dynamic letter.

 

5. Start Writing Literary Agents.

Once you’ve finished your novel and researched the market, you’re ready to start querying literary agents. Dive in and see what happens. Even if you don’t land an agent right away, hopefully you’ll get feedback, both about your writing and about where it might belong.

 

As you proceed, questions will inevitably come up: What fees should you expect? Can you send to more than one at a time? What if you have more than one book? For answers, refer to the agent FAQs. You can also follow one writer’s path to finding an agent.

 

You CAN do this! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

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It’s a Process

It really is a process. First the writing, then onto the publishing. My wife recently started a local women’s book club. Her first one was a huge success. She found out that the author of the club’s first read is actually local to us, contacted her and was able to have her attend their first meeting.

She’s traditionally published 10 books I believe. I’m envious that I wasn’t able to attend because she took the group through the entire writing and publishing process.

For instance, she is currently working on a new book. The main character in this book works a trade in which the author really doesn’t know much about. To learn about the trade, she spent a day with an expert and learned enough, enabling her to write about knowledgably the subject.

I’m sure there was more, but that’s what I learned second hand from my wife. J

The publishing process is really what intrigued me the most. First, the author reads back over her manuscript 8 times before she sends it to the publisher. Yes, 8 times. Once she’s satisfied, off it goes. It’s first sent to someone that checks over her facts, to ensure accuracy. Okay, I must admit that this is something I’ve never thought about with the traditional publishing process however it does make sense.

Once the accuracy of actual facts is verified, it’s passed on to the editor and so forth.

Suffice it to say that I wish I could have spoken directly to the author myself. In fact, I’m thinking about trying to find out if I can score an interview with her, so you just might actually be reading one soon; one that I’ve conducted myself.

Another thing that can be said for this is to realize that although this author is traditionally published, she is marketing. My wife said she spoke off and on about her latest book that is soon to be released. Let’s also realize that she attended my wife’s book club. Goes to show that regardless as to whether or not an author is traditionally or self-published, that marketing is a must.

Okay, so no new great words of wisdom in this post. I wish I could tell you more about the process, but I’ve shared what I’ve learned and hey, maybe I’ll find out more from the author soon!

 

Have a good Tuesday! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

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Interview with Dean Koontz

Happy Monday! Regarding the title of today’s post…how many of you thought that I actually interviewed Dean Koontz? Let’s see a raise of hands. Just kidding but, I do wish I had been the one to conduct the interview however I’m not quite that famous or well known in the industry. Not yet. So in the meantime, I have found an interview for you to enjoy. I think we can learn a lot from famous authors and how they got their starts. Taken straight from http://www.deankoontz.com/writing-qa/:

You had an agent in your early years tell you that you’d never be a best-selling writer. Did that discourage you or make you more determined to succeed?

 

I have more self-doubt than any writer I’ve ever known. That is one reason I revise every page to the point of absurdity! The positive aspect of self-doubt – if you can channel it into useful activity instead of being paralyzed by it – is that by the time you reach the end of a novel, you know precisely why you made every decision in the narrative, the multiple purposes of every metaphor and image. Having been your own hardest critic you still have dreams but not illusions. Consequently, thoughtless criticism or advice can’t long derail you. You become disappointed in an agent, in an editor, in a publisher, but never discouraged. If anyone in your publishing life were to argue against a particular book or a career aspiration for reasons you had not already pondered and rejected after careful analysis, if they dazzled you with brilliant new considerations, then you’d have to back off and revisit your decisions. But what I was told never dazzled me. For example, I was often advised, by different people, that my work would never gain a big audience because my vocabulary was too large.

 

It’s been said that writers reveal their own struggles, fears, dreams, etc. through their work. Which of your novels reveals the most about you?

 

Everything I believe about life and death, culture and society, relationships and the self, God and nature–everything winds up in the books, not in one more than another, but equally, title after title. A body of work, therefore, reveals the intellectual and emotional progress of the writer, and is a map of his soul. It’s both terrifying and liberating to consider this aspect of being a novelist.

 

I’ve read that you will rewrite a page until it’s right before moving on, sometimes redoing a draft thirty or forty times. This must make for a slow process. Approximately how long does it take you to write one novel?

 

I work 10- and 11-hour days because in long sessions I fall away more completely into story and characters than I would in, say, a six-hour day. On good days, I might wind up with five or six pages of finished work; on bad days, a third of a page. Even five or six is not a high rate of production for a 10- or 11-hour day, but there are more good days than bad. And the secret is doing it day after day, committing to it and avoiding distractions. A month–perhaps 22 to 25 work days–goes by and, as a slow drip of water can fill a huge cauldron in a month, so you discover that you have 75 polished pages. The process is slow, but that’s a good thing. Because I don’t do a quick first draft and then revise it, I have plenty of time to let the subconscious work; therefore, I am led to surprise after surprise that enriches story and deepens character. I have a low boredom threshold, and in part I suspect I fell into this method of working in order to keep myself mystified about the direction of the piece–and therefore entertained. A very long novel, like FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE can take a year. A book like THE GOOD GUY, six months.

 

You are one of the most prolific fiction writers of our time. What keeps you going?

 

In addition to the enchantment with language and storytelling, there is the fact that I wouldn’t know what the hell to do if I were not doing this. Some leisure is fine, but not an unrelieved diet of downtime. I’m also writing to ensure that our foundation–which focuses largely on organizations for the severely disabled, critically ill children, and dogs–will be deeply funded and able to support those organizations long after Gerda and I are gone.

 

You are known as perhaps the hardest working novelist of our time. To what do you attribute your work ethic?

 

Two things. First, I am enchanted by the English language, by its beauty and flexibility, also by the power of storytelling to expand the mind and lift the heart. Language and story offer possibilities –intriguing challenges–that I couldn’t exhaust in many lifetimes. The work is joy when it’s going well, even when it isn’t. Second, I believe that talent is a gift and that it comes with the sacred obligation to polish and grow it.

 

As a young writer, did you encounter rejection?–Allison, Pennsylvania

 

I sold the first short story I wrote. Then I received over 75 rejections before making another sale. My first four novels were never published. Later, after I’d been selling genre fiction routinely, I wrote a mainstream novel, ALL OTHER MEN. Editors sent me enthusiastic letters about it, said they loved it, but turned it down because they felt it was too disturbing and too avant garde to be commercial. But let me get to the heart of your question: young writer. There seems to be an implication here that I’m no longer young. I am as young now, Allison, as I have ever been, and not because of any form of dementia. I am young because my work keeps me young and the daily wrestling with our beautiful and supple language keeps me limber and youthful, as well. You may think that is bullshit, and it is, but it’s a sincere kind of bullshit.

 

How important were college creative-writing courses to your success?—Alberto, Washington

 

I’m sure that the right teacher, in a well-designed course, can be a great help to beginning writers who are trying to find their way, but I have no personal experience of that. I found my own way by doing two things. First, I read 150 books a year, sometimes more, (very little TV, later no blogging, no e-mail, that’s how), fiction in all genres, contemporary novels but also the classics, poetry, and a variety of nonfiction. Second, I revise every page of a novel twenty or thirty times, whatever it takes, before moving on to the next page. This line-by-line immersion focuses me intently on language, character, and theme. I began this ceaseless polishing out of self-doubt, as a way of preventing self-doubt from turning into writer’s block: by doing something with the unsatisfactory page, I wasn’t just sitting there brooding about it. I have more self-doubt than any writer I know, which seems healthy to me, and now this method of working, this line-by-line immersion, no longer seems arduous; instead, it delights me. While my conscious mind is on the micro world of a single page, my unconscious is always working on the macro world of the entire novel.

 

When did you decide you were destined to be a writer? At what point in your life? —Marcy, New Jersey

 

After a devastating ankle injury forever ended my ice-dancing career. Actually, nothing is destined. Everything depends on the unstinting exercise of free will, and hard work.

Have a good one. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

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