{Q&A} Peter Michael Rosenberg

#WeekOfIndieAuthors

And when I say, “week”… I mean 10 days.

Peter Michael Rosenberg has been publishing novels since the late 1980s (that’s before the internet, my friends!). Now, though, he’s very enthusiastic about the indie author movement. (Get ready! Lots of exclamation marks ahead!)

Learn more about Peter on his website | Buy his latest book “Implicated” here

JULIE CHICKLITASAURUS: Tell a little about yourself. How many books have you published? Any awards or mentions? What is coming up next for you?

PETER MICHAEL ROSENBERG: My writing career really began in my late twenties when, after several years of collecting rejection slips, I wrote some prize-winning short stories and my poetry appeared in an anthology edited by the legendary Elaine Feinstein.

Shortly after that, my first book, a co-written political sci-fi novel, “The Usurper,” was accepted for publication and was published in 1988, but it wasn’t until the early ’90s that I wrote my first solo novel.

Kissing Through A Pane Of Glass” won a Betty Trask Award (Best First Novel by a Writer Under 35), and my career took off when it was published by Simon & Schuster in 1993, first in hardback and then, a year later, in paperback (a big deal in the days before ebooks).

Three more novels followed, “Touched By God Or Something,” “Because It Makes My Heart Beat Faster” and “Daniel’s Dream” (also published by Simon & Schuster in both hardback and paperback). All these novels are now available as ebooks, published by Mojito Press.

However, back then, the books were not selling in sufficient numbers for me to make a living, and as I had long harboured an interest in film and a desire to write screenplays, when the opportunity to adapt “Kissing Through A Pane Of Glass” for the big screen came along, I jumped at the chance. Although the book was optioned by Poisson Rouge Pictures, like many film deals, it hasn’t yet made it into production. However, I’d discovered another medium I loved to work in and decided to commit to writing screenplays full time.

It was only some fourteen years after the publication of my last novel, “Daniel’s Dream” that I decided it was time to write a new novel. “Implicated,” completed last year, is a thriller about a Californian crime-scene cleaner who stumbles on a piece of evidence that implicates the cops in an assassins-for-hire conspiracy and is self-published through Mojito Press.

{Read J.K. Konrath’s blog and take note before its too late! He has all the advice [indie authors] could ever need!}

JC: In your opinion, are more authors publishing independently than before?

PMR: Undeniably. The opportunities offered to authors by self-publishing are irresistible! Who wouldn’t want to write a book these days? Authors are now in the driving seat, and with some effort and a very small financial outlay, they can have a book up online in just days and selling to the public without having to jump through the million hoops presented by the traditional publishing industry.

JC: What obstacles did you run into when you tried to be published through a publishing company?

PMR: When I first started writing, the only way to get published was through traditional publishing houses, which meant sending query letters and sample chapters to any publisher that you thought might be interested. This meant doing a bit of research (which in pre-internet days was a lot more difficult than it is today) to find the right company and the right person to send it to, etc. I collected a lot of rejection slips before finally finding a small agent to help place my first novel “The Usurper.” I later changed agents, but again, it was winning The Betty Trask Award for “Kissing Through A Pane Of Glass” in 1992 that brought me a publishing deal for four novels.

Click on the cover to buy “Implicated” for $2.99 on Amazon

JC: What made you decide to publish independently?

PMR: Two years ago my partner bought me a Kindle. I was still writing “Implicated,” and I guess having a Kindle led me inexorably the world of self-publishing. At first, I was just intrigued, and as an experiment I decided to try self-publishing an old novel that had never been previously published. It wasn’t, to my mind, a great novel, so I published under a pseudonym. I just wanted to see how the whole system operated. The novel didn’t sell particularly well but it did get some really good reviews.

More importantly, I found the whole process of self-publishing enlightening. After previously having all the decisions taken away from me, I could now decide on the layout, on the cover, on where it was on sale and how much it should sell for and… well, just everything! Authors new to publishing who have never dealt with the traditional publishing industry can have no idea how liberating this is!

And I was thrilled by the fact that everything can happen fast! Previously, it had taken over a year between the submission of a finished manuscript to my publishers and seeing the book in hardback on the bookshop shelves. It would then take a further year until it appeared in paperback! In other words, I had to wait over two years before the general reader (who might pay $10 for a paperback but not $30 for a hardback) would buy my book!

{Review the indie books [you] read on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Kobo etc. Good or bad, the number of reviews a book has counts greatly towards its sales – don’t ask me why!}

When it came to “Implicated,” as I still had a literary agent, I sent it to them. They had, in the years since they had placed my first novel, become a hugely influential agency, and as it had been a long time since I had submitted anything to them, they wanted a lot of editorial changes before considering whether to place it. I knew there and then that I was probably looking at even more than two years before people would be able to read my book. Then I thought about all the control I would lose, the substantially reduced royalty I’d get and thought, “No! I’ll publish it myself…”

JC: Why should others publish independently in today’s modern culture?

PMR: For all the above reasons: greater control over every aspect of the publishing process, potentially greater financial compensation and because – while it can require quite a lot of effort – it’s hugely satisfying!

JC: What can indie authors do to support each other?

PMR: Review the indie books they read on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Kobo etc. Good or bad, the number of reviews a book has counts greatly towards its sales – don’t ask me why!

JC: What pros are there to being an indie author?

PMR: As mentioned, being in control of all aspects of your book’s publication, marketing, publicity and sales and, ultimately, getting a fairer and bigger slice of the pie!

JC: What cons are there?

PMR: None. The gatekeepers who previously prevented most authors from getting their books into the hands of the general public are no longer effective. You no longer need someone to tell you your book is good enough to be published, you can do it yourself.

There are, though, a couple of provisos: one, you’re in control so you’re also ultimately responsible – there’s no one else to blame, and it can be quite time-consuming, so be prepared! And two, although it’s possible to self-publish without spending any money at all, to do it properly requires a small outlay of cash to ensure your book – at the very least – is properly formatted and has a professional cover. Nothing screams “amateur” like no paragraphs and a DIY book cover. Yes, you can do these things yourself, but if you want to give your book a chance in the greatly expanded (and some would say overcrowded market), it must look professional. You could cut your own hair to save money, but unless you’re an experienced hairdresser, my guess is you go to a professional because you know the result will look better.

JC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the indie author movement?

PMR: It’s exciting. The publishing world is going through huge changes that are revolutionizing the way in which people buy and read books – it’s great to be involved in that.

{There’s already a move towards shorter novels and novellas and series novels – these days people are time-crunched and they want a quick fix.}

JC: What advice would you give to those who are thinking about self-publishing?

PMR: Stop thinking! Do it! Equip yourself with all the information you need, heed the advice of great bloggers who have been in the vanguard of the whole self-publishing movement like J.K. Konrath and Joanna Penn, be prepared to spend some money on creating a professional, presentable commodity (think of it as an investment – it is!), keep your expectations modest and, most of all, enjoy the process.

JC: What advice would you give publishing companies so that they can adapt to today’s changes in publishing?

PMR: I’d tell them to read J.K. Konrath’s blog and take note before its too late! He’s been predicting the decline of the traditional publishing industry for years now, and I’d say well over 90 percent of his predictions have come to pass. He has all the advice they could ever need!

JC: Do you think indie publishers will evolve literature over time? If so, can you predict how it will change literature?

PMR: There’s already a move towards shorter novels and novellas and series novels – these days people are time-crunched and they want a quick fix. Once they get something they like, they want more of the same, which accounts for the popularity of series. But, as is can be seen by the recent “Fifty Shades” phenomenon, no one can predict anything!

JC: Feel free to add any other thoughts and insights!

PMR: I would just reiterate what many other self-publishers have said: if you intend to self-publish, to ensure your book has the best chance possible, you have to do four things: a) write the best book you possibly can, b) ensure it’s been proof-read and edited thoroughly, c) ensure that it’s formatted by an expert so it has proper paragraphs and a navigable table of contents (and don’t rely on the automatic formatting offered when you upload your book!) and d) make sure it has a professionally designed book cover – this is your prime marketing tool, so it better be good.

And most of all, have fun doing it!

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About julieschicklit

My book blog is dedicated to finding books, stories & ideas that redefine women's literature to be something smarter & funnier. More RAWResome lit for ladies. I am remaining some-what anonymous because I have a day job. My Man-Beast and I are soon going to live abroad in China, so that's why I'm a reblog-aholic.

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