Friday, November 23, 2012


You want to know what I think is sad in all this new finagled (newfangled?) publishing paradigm? What is sad is that over the MANY years before Kindle was born and longer still before Amazon showed up on the scene, publishers - big publishers - and distributors - big time distributors were eating up all the smaller fish in the pond. Gobble gobble toil and trouble. It comes as no surprise to anyone who had been in the publishing Casino (it is more a horse race or roulette wheel than a business in my estimation)...anyhow anyone in the casino for my time in knows that now that it has come first down to the big SIX publishers left and maybe fewer big Distributors of the units you and I call books, we will not be surprised to learn it went down recently to the Big FIVE... and rumors on the horizon calling it soon the BIG THREE.

Imagine that, every publishing company in the US controlled by three corporations. So much for mom and pop publishers? Certainly, any that had any large following such as Algonquin Press is now under the umbrella of a major corp.  Ten Speed Press. You name it.  And while there remain small presses out there, many with extremely high standards from Krill Press and Echelon to Five Star and more, the shrinkage in publishing outlets has been a horror show to watch.

What has it done for authors? It has put us all on alert and many of us who are too smart to wait around for a year or more to sell a book, then a year or two to see it actually published, all the while making NOTHING in the way of green, no way to pay the bills in such a system... well the smart
ones among us, we have GONE fishing....NO  not fishing, we have GONE Indie Authorship; we have become our own bosses, we have become intrepid entrepreneurs thanks to ala

At this site anyone can publish at no cost and you go into an immediate mode of publishing partnership with Amazon. This means as Barry Eisler encouraged all of us BEFORE kindle to do -- take charge of our own Writing Business. That means we become public relations and marketing, we become the guys who give thumbs up or down on cover art, and we write our own book description, and we become our own bandwagon and sales force.

I know that sounds tough and it sounds like you are giving up much too much in the way of BIG MAJOR Publisher coddling you and sending you on jet planes across America and putting you name up in lights and on marquees (bookstores ought to have marquees over the top!). But guess what, by the time you become the next Janet Evanovich or Stephen King or even Stephen Hawking, you will have cobwebs growing out your ears. While in the meantime, you can publish that book and begin sales in an hour or two.

Way back in 2005, Award-winning author Barry Eisler, author of the famous Rain books as in Killing Rain, wrote in MJ Rose's blog (another major author) that writers need to quit bellyaching about their poor sales and poor relations with their publishers and take control instead. Treat their quite artistic productions as business people by putting on the entrepreneur's hat. Seven YEARS ago a lot of us were saying you have to treat your work as best you can as a business venture, and Barry laid out a long list of process and method to get you there. It was reprinted in the infamous newsletter put out by the MWA - mystery writers of America - The Third Degree.  The point of my blog -- by going Indie Author ala Kindle or any other ebook process, we smart guys who beat our heads against the NYC curtains and walls of NYC publishing have freed ourselves of untold burdens that frankly no one ever wanted to hear us complain about, so I won't complain about them here. What I will say is the discovery of one's courage in taking the leap of faith, and the discovery of a new found freedom among the new fandango of a new publishing reality has been WONDERFUL and PROFITABLE.



Monday, November 19, 2012

I have gotten away from blogging for some time....Had been terribly busy with all manner of other things too mediocre to list here.  Suffice it to say, am getting steam up to reestablish DIRTY DEEDS here.  I hope to at least blog once a week and have some guests bloggers as well.

So watch for it!  I will post when and where I can as new blogs go up.  Most will hopefully be of use to readers and writers alike as well as all book folks.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recently was asked a question via my website at and it went a bit like this:  "Knowing you are quite the experienced author and enjoying the hell out of your City for Ransom series, I have to ask:  How do you deal with rewrites from agents, editors, and publishers?  I work a full-time job and find it extremely frustrating after having once told the story and pounding out hundreds of thousands of words only to be told it needs a complete rewrite.' -- thanks, Jackie Chan

OK...I changed the name to Jackie Chan. But the question remains and here is my reply to Jackie:                                                 

Hello -- your question is one that will rarely be answer the same way twice, but for me REWRITING is where I make so many "aha" discoveries that really and finally improve and characterize the book to make it as unique as it can be. I worked briefly with your agen Xavier Holecraft (not her real name), so I know how frustrating it can get; I pulled out when after a year or so she was unable to place anything I sent her, and yeah, she wanted a lot of rewrites. I don't hesitate to rewrite but after so many hurdles one gets well...frustrated.

I finally got those Ransom books sold after they were turned down by EVERY publisher known to another agent who represented them. We'll call him Calvin Jeans, a fellow I fired TWICE. Agents frustrate me as much as do publishers. If working with a traditional publisher, I prefer doing a partnership/rewrite with an actual EDITOR in house. If I am workking with a publisher.

I say if because for my last book done with a publisher we'll call Zenith Press (made up name) while they were happy with the sales and pocketed what they considered enough to make them happy, I earned very little, a pittance. After that, I took the same book and priced it at 2.99 as an ebook and have made some serious money, thank you! This after getting all my out of prints "in print" as ebooks. Some forty titles that I feel publishers looked on as midlist and with no or little enthusiasm. The Ransom titles are as good as I get, and yet they did not earn out; I say it is due to the piss poor way they were handled and given short shrift by the publisher as my editor was gung-ho over them while the pblisihing house simply did not know what they had in hand. (Your letter was prompted by your reading of these books and how you loved them.)

My last six or so titles have been Original to Kindle ONLY titles. I have extended 'dead' series as a result, placed Ransom on board Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic, did my Bismarck 2013 - Hitler's Curse without anyone telling me no one would want to read an alternate history of the greatest battleship in history. I also publsihed what amounts to my life's work, a novel turned down by EVERY publisher and agent, inlcuding Chan and Calvin -- Children of Salem.

 My first agent, who has since passed away, said of my Salem Witchcraft title 30 years ago, "I love it, Rob. There are scenes I cannot get out of my mind, but in this market, I can't sell it." I got the same sort of response from every place I sent it--and it went everywhere. As an ebook, it is doing very well and has found an audience. far as rewrites, imagine how many times I had to rewrite Children of Salem -- off and on between doing 8 series characters over 30 years! So I may not be the best person to ask regarding "Are rewrites necessary" as in my 'book' they are absolutely necessary, and so far as I am concerened, editors are a fantastic help (not so sure the 'editing agent' is anywhere near as helpful--least not in my experience). in the end, yes, REWRITNG is WRITING so far as I know. Frustrations abound in dealing with agents, editors, and publishers but the real hurdle to a reader's GETTING you, following you, understanding you is YOU.  Don't get in the way of a good edit. Once you get editorial corrections take them like ducks in a shooting gallery and deal with each in turn. Some will be minor, grammatical, logic issues, while others may require a rethink of format, plot, characterization. Take them each in stride and realize the best for the book is not always one's own myopic view.

Good luck and happy REWRITING.