Author of The Ninth District
A crucial part of the business of publishing books these days is finding an appreciative audience to connect with. It used to be that the traditional publisher would find those people for you through marketing and media, but now the top-down pyramid has inverted and we authors gotta get out and connect with readers and get to know them a little bit, before they get to know our stories and hopefully become fans of our work.
Through that process I've been privileged to meet a range of fantastic authors around the world as well as book bloggers who play a crucial role in supporting the brave new world of book publishing, marketing and building an author platform from the ground up. Take Mandi from That Book You Like who has reviewed all my books and collaborated on new ways of cross promoting her wares through guest posts, wordsmith Stephanie from Read in a Single Sitting who always posts the most insightful commentary, plus Josh as @oznoir on Fair Dinkum Crime and the lovely Karen from AustCrime Fiction who take considerable time to read, review and post about my books, and a very fun Paratrooping-themed guest post on The Creative Penn where I met readers and authors from across the world that I'm still in touch with today.
So, thanks to the real-time web, it's been fulfilling as all get out to find all these like-minded, thriller readin' and writin' souls to build relationships with.
Another one of these recent finds is a chap called Douglas Dorow, a thriller writer from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the home of many thriller/suspense writers. He wonders whether it is something in the water or the long, cold winters that has spawned a veritable amount of Minnesotan authors - but I reckon if the stories are in your head, they'll be in residence no matter where you are. I know Douglas likes the idea of my great sunny land and it's endless schooners of beer - so here's the invitation to come and write a book Down Under!
His first thriller, The Ninth District, is a kindle best seller. He is working on the second in the series featuring FBI Agent, Jack Miller. He has also started a spin-off novella series and another action/adventure series.
In the spirit of continuing to meet new people and do something a little different, we came up with the idea of a double interview - his on my blog, and mine over on his blog. You can find Douglas's blog here.
So here's what we talked about, author-to-author.
So tell me Doug, what have you learnt along the way? Care to share your biggest disappointments and/or opportunities?
I've learned so much. May 2010, I was working on query letters for my first book to send to agents, when I read about Amazon starting a program where I could self publish my book as an ebook and get 70% royalties. I could publish as soon as I was ready and make more. It was at that point I became an Authorpreneur - an author and a publisher. I'd been concentrating on learning how to tell & write a story and had to learn how to publish and market my book too.
I had to look at my goals and skills and put together a team. I hired an editor and a cover designer and learned how to create an eBook myself. And then I took on the marketing tasks as well.
Biggest opportunities? I made 2012 the year of THE NINTH DISTRICT. I'd published it as an eBook in 2011. But readers want it their way. So, while I worked on the next books I published THE NINTH DISTRICT as a paperbook, hired a narrator and published an audiobook and a translator and published a Spanish version. I also spent a lot of time with social media and other strategies to market my story.
A couple of my biggest pleasant surprises are that I reached the Kindle Top Ten Thriller rank a couple of times in the past year, and that I was able to connect with so many readers via email, twitter and Facebook.
My biggest disappointment is that I don't have more time to write. I don't write full time. I have a day job and find time to write as I can. I have so many stories I want to tell and my readers are looking for the next book in the series. I wish I could've published it already. I'm planning to release book two in the series sometime around July and I also have a novella series I'm spinning off of the first book that I plan to publish this year.
I’m always very keen to understand the motivations of others and the origins of their desire to become a writer. How long have you wanted to be a writer? What does writing represent to you? And, what do you aspire to achieve through your writing?
I've always been a big reader since my mom taught me to read. And when I was young, some of the first television shows my dad would let me stay up and watch with him were private detective shows. I think these two things merged together into being a reader of thrillers, mysteries and spy novels.
In college, I took a couple of creative writing classes while I was studying engineering. I got some good feedback on my writing and enjoyed the creative process. I think that planted the seed to write. When I got married and we had our first child, I decided to take a couple of writing classes. That was probably eighteen years ago. Minneapolis, Minnesota (where I live) is the home of The Loft Literary Center, as great resource for people wanting to learn to write. A critique group formed out of one of my classes there and we've been meeting every few weeks for the last fifteen years supporting each other in our writing.
I see myself as a storyteller. I enjoy coming up with story ideas, researching and learning about things that I can bring into the story and telling a story that I enjoy writing. I hope I can bring all of these things together into something the reader will enjoy as they look for a fiction story to escape into.
Of your large support network, both close to you and across the world, how do your supporters help you in gaining global reach in unexpected ways?
It's weird to think I have readers around the globe reading my book. I've received emails and Facebook comments from readers around the world.
Over the past couple of years I have built a Twitter following of writers and readers and I've joined a few groups of Independent Writers (BestSellingReads.com IndependentAuthorNetwork.com and WorldLiteraryCafe.com). As authors we aren't in a competition, we support each other. I've partnered with authors in supporting each other with tweets, promoting each other for new book releases or discounts on our books. These authors are from so many different countries and we have fans around the world.
How has social media helped you get your work ‘out there’ in the big bad world?
Twitter has allowed me to connect with other writers and readers around the world. I've also connected with some groups of authors built to support each other and help readers find those authors they might not run across otherwise.
What would you say you are most excited about with the changes to the publishing industry currently underway in the USA?
I like the control I have as an independent published writer and I like the challenge of trying to figure out the business side of the game and how to connect with or be discovered by readers. I'm sad to see some of the book stores struggle to stay open. The new model is good for writers and for eReaders in that the book shelf is limitless, books don't go out of print, you want a book? you can find it and books that may have a smaller share of the market can be published in the new model where in the old model a publisher would pass on it.
The writer who simply wants to write will struggle in the old model if they aren't a best seller and get the backing of the publisher to advertise, and in the new model where you have to find ways to improve the visibility of your book to readers.
Thanks Douglas, and you can read my half of this thrilling interview tete-a-tete over at Mr Dorow's blog - including what it's like writing a series, opportunities for authors publishing Down Under, all infused with Aussie / Pommy slang for greatest cultural effect.
I've just downloaded The Ninth District and am looking forward to a fresh read by my new Minnesotan pal! Check out Douglas's website and my own interview on his blog over at www.DouglasDorow.com.