Feb 222012

Today I have an interview with William F Brown, a prolific writer of suspense thriller novels. He is here today celebrating his newest published book Amongst My Enemies.

What’s the hardest part of writing a book? 

Learning when to stop. I also paint and it’s the same problem. If you keep fooling with the paint, you will inevitable ‘make mud.’ At some point, you must put the brush or the pen down, say it is it done, stop waking up at 3:00 thinking of another tweak, and start the next one

What inspired you to become a writer? 

I was always a reader, and I read one too many bad books – bad plot, unrealistic action, and cardboard characters. And I know the guy got a $1 mil advance! So, I turned to my wife and said, “Even I can write something this awful.” (It happened to be an unusually bad Clive Cussler) So I got some books on writing, did my research, and tried. I have now written 6. I think they’re still better than his, but he’s still making a whole lot more money, albeit with ghost writers.

What are your thoughts on e-books? (i.e. love them, hate them, wave of the future) 

The economics make them inevitable. When a reader paid $20 for my hardback, I got 15% or $3.00. When they pay $2.99 for my e-book, I get $2.00, but I should sell a lot more. So, it’s a no-brainer for both sides. Book publishers and the big chain stores got into this mess because they thought it much more profitable to push the ‘top 25’ and ignore the ‘mid-list’ and niche category books that once formed the base of their industry. That’s what Amazon has capitalized on. The book publishers have consolidated to the point there are only a handful now, with ‘divisions’ that use the old names. Mostly, they are parts of large multi-national ‘media’ companies now – Sony, Warner, etc. While many writers think the sudden rise of the e-book is ‘liberating’ allowing writers to control their work and their destinies; I think that is delusional. Amazon now controls 85% of the market. It is becoming a monopoly, and students of economics can easily predict where that is headed. All the free books and cheap books in every niche imaginable are great for the consumer, and it lets tens of thousands of people say ‘Look at me, I’m an author!”, but it may be the biggest shift in writing since the invention of paper or the printing press. Don’t get me wrong, Amazon has done some great things, but the market is now flooded with cheap books, controlled by one company, and they are already changing the rules. It will be interesting to see where it will be in 3-5 years.

Do you write your book from page 1 to the end, or do you jump around? 

I love to learn how famous writers write, and there are a million different ways that have been successful; but a writer needs to know where it’s going, at least in some general way, or he’ll never have a coherent story. Certainly you’ll have much more organization and notes or outline for the beginning sections than the end, but you can’t write popular fiction by stream of consciousness. Without organization, you can’t build characters that flow from the plot and simultaneously create it, or character arcs, or believable plot twists.

What types of promoting do you do? 

I have tried my website, two Facebook pages (reluctantly), book reviews, blogs, a variety of Book-of-the-Day sites, Kindle Boards, and anything else I could find. I do not do Twitter. I find this takes an immense amount of time, to the detriment of actual writing. I also strongly suspect that much of what passes for ‘social marketing,’ particularly on FB and Twitter, is only writers posting, tweeting, and blogging to other writers, none of whom have any intention of buying their books. There is an old management line that goes, “Do not mistake activity for progress.”

But what is a writer to do? There are now over 800,000 books on Kindle. Everyone is trying to what John Locke and a handful of others did, and those ‘marketing’ channels are now flooded. I track my sales, and in what is supposed to be a real time business, the only thing that brought a significant upward bump was several book-of-the-day sites. The rest has produced very little. The current myth is that ‘Oh, you need to keep doing those things for the long term.’ In business, that is usually a long-term prescription for failure. ‘If it works in theory and don’t work in practice, it don’t work.

I do think that pursuing reviews are useful. They are permanent, necessary to leverage the book-of-the-day sites, and the only credible 3rd person testimonial marketing we have. My first e-book came out almost 11 months ago. I now have 18 Five-Star and 17 Four-Star reviews of 37 on Amazon, and a total of 46 on all sites. However, those were of 90 who told me they would do a review, which in turn was only 15% of the 600 blog reviewers I queried who even looked like they might read my genre, which in turn was maybe 20% of at least 3-4,000 I looked at in various directories and blog sites. That effort took many hundreds of hours, but I did establish good report with a number of great reviewers for subsequent books. My second e-book came out three weeks ago and I already have 5 Five-Star and 1 Four-Star reviews of six on Amazon. Still, I could have written a big chunk of another book with the time that took. And don’t even get me going on how much time FB has consumed!

Thanks for being here. It’s very interesting to hear how much work goes into getting a book reviewed. It makes me feel a little guilty since the size of my TBR list prevents me from reading and reviewing all my books right away.

About William F Brown:
I live in Ohio. As a Vice President of the real estate subsidiary of a Fortune 500 corporation, I traveled widely in the US and abroad. A native of Chicago, I earned a BA in History and Russian Area Studies and a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Illinois. (Go Illini!) I’ve been active in politics (I had the stupidity to run and the misfortune to win a -year seat on a County Board of Supervisors) (more hard time than you’d get for armed robbery, car theft, or embezzlement in most states!) and active in numerous civic organizations. I served in the US Army and was a company commander and drug counselor. (The only two places in the country that teach leadership and organizational management are the Boy Scouts and the Army) When I’m not writing, I like to play golf (usually poorly) paint landscapes in oil or acrylics and running 5Ks. (slower every year) .

My wife and I have traveled widely in Russia,Germany, the Caribbean, England, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria, Holland, Egypt, and Israel.

Connect online: Website, Facebook, Goodreads

Amongst My Enemies by William F Brown

Inside an old German U-Boat rusting on the bottom of the Baltic are millions in gold bars, stolen art, and a secret that could tear NATO apart. The only one who knows the truth is Mike Randall, a battle-scarred American who survived four months in the frozen Hell of northern Germany at the end of the war. When he does speak up, he puts a target on his own forehead, one which the Russians, the West Germans, the U-boat’s former owners, the Israeli Mossad, and even his own government quickly take aim at. Some want the gold, some want him dead, and some want proof about a high-ranking spy inside NATO itself. Randall’s wants are much simpler. Caught between the Kremlin and a new, deadly, 4th Reich, he wants revenge and to satisfy some old debts with a steel-jacketed bullet.

Find the book online: Amazon, Goodreads

Want to win a copy of the book?
I have one ebook copy of Amongst My Enemies to give to one luck reader. To enter, simply leave a comment answering the following question:

Do you think Facebook is useful or a time waste?

Giveaway is open worldwide until midnight EST Feb 28, 2012.

  4 Responses to “Interview: William F Brown + Giveaway”

  1. The answer to your question is both. I think it is useful to marketing, to a certain extent. If you have readers that have heard of you and want to interact, it is a good way to keep them in the loop about current and upcoming projects. On the other hand, it is an immense distraction. I deactivated my personal FB account four months ago when I began to take writing seriously. I'll only reactivate it when it's time to self-promote.

    Thank you for the giveaway and the very informative Q&A. I learned a lot. 🙂

  2. I think it all depends on the person using it. It can be useful, however, there are so many things on facebook to grab your attention – distract you – and then all is for not!!! There are days that I look at the advertising and have actually bought stuff from companies I first met on facebook. But that has only happened on a few occasions.

  3. Personally, i do like Facebook…but i also don't like it. i don't like that fact that many blogs require you to follow them for a chance to win a book, but i like that i can keep up with friends this way.

  4. Thanks for a great giveaway. I feel bad about my TBR pile now, too – I have some that have been waiting on a review from me since July that I just haven't gotten to yet.

    As to your question. Facebook – mostly a waste of time, but I have found it useful in one respect, and that is in reacquainting myself with old friends. But overall … I don't spend much time there. I get e-mails when certain things occur, and otherwise I go on maybe once a month and look through the postings for that day to comment, and let people know I'm around. Mostly I use it as a way to let everyone know what I”m reading 🙂 as I have it connected to my Goodreads, Amazon and Kindle. I highly doubt anyone cares, but at least they'll know I”m alive that way … 🙂

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