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Spotlight Interview – Author Brian Marggraf

Brian Marggraf:

My latest interview, live now on http://indiespotlight.org

Originally posted on :

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In this, the first of our Indie Spotlight interviews, we speak to New York based author Brian Marggraf about his book, Dream Brother, life in the Big Apple, and his unique – some might say aggressive – approach to the challenges of self-marketing. For our part, we think it’s an approach that makes all kinds of sense and then some. But we’ll let you decide.

IS: I’ve spent the morning gathering as much information as I could on you and have come up woefully short. You’ve got a single-paragraph bio that pops up everywhere I go. So here’s my first question: Why so little? Some would argue that a colorful and detailed biography is an important part of connecting with readers.

BM: I’m a minimalist, always have been, always will be. I wanted to keep my author bio simple, just essential details. I’ve read thousands of bios that go on…

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Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules

Elmore Leonard: 10 Rules

 

 

Among all the lists of writing rules and advice, this one ranks high, in my opinion. Simple, yet so important.


 

  1.  Never open a book with weather.
  2.  Avoid prologues.
  3.  Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
  4.  Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said”…he admonished gravely.
  5.  Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
  6.  Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
  7.  Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
  8.  Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
  9.  Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
  10.  Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

 * Excerpted from the New York Times article, “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle”


 

Some of you might agree with these, some might not. Feel free to add links to additional lists/tips in the comment section below.

Let the discussion begin…

Amazon vs. Hachette – Indie authors and lovers of Indie Lit. – take a stand against big publishing, sign the petition.

Some have called for a boycott of Amazon. Read the article excerpt below.

 

Self-published authors responded to Preston’s open letter on Thursday with their own petition, which now boasts over 3,000 signatures.

Launched by Howey – author of the hit dystopian novel Wool – and others including the bestselling thriller writers JA Konrath and Barry Eisler – the letter urges readers not to boycott Amazon, arguing that the online giant has liberated authors and readers alike from the clutches of “New York Publishing”.

“Major publishers like Hachette have a long history of treating authors and readers poorly,” the petition states. “Amazon, on the other hand, has built its reputation on valuing authors and readers dearly. The two companies didn’t simultaneously change directions overnight.”

“Amazon has done more to liberate readers and writers than any other entity since Johannes Gutenberg refined the movable type printing press”, the petition continues, adding that “Amazon is growing overall readership while liberating the voices of countless writers, adding to the diversity of literature”.

“A large percentage of the ebooks sold on Amazon are from independent authors. You have validated our decision to write and to publish. Don’t let the wealthiest of writers convince you to turn away,” the authors write.”

Please take a moment to read and sign the petition.

Indie Hero thanks you…

https://www.change.org/petitions/hachette-stop-fighting-low-prices-and-fair-wages

INDIEpendence Day Sale – $2.99 (40% off) – Dream Brother: A Novel – Kindle Ebook

Manila

Happy 4th of July.

Be safe, and in the spirit of independence, buy an indie book.

Also, don’t blow your fingers off and definitely leash your dog so he doesn’t wage war on your campground.

 

Dog


“Meth, memories, and monsters.”

The Amazon Kindle version of Dream Brother is $2.99 (40% off) until midnight, July 4th, 2014. Here are the links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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Dream Brother: A Novel by Brian Marggraf

 

San Francisco, California. Fifty hills surrounded by the cold waters of the ocean and the bay. City of rebellion and revolution. Smothered by fog daily.

This is the place where Jacob Gavel grew up, the place he ran away from at twenty, and the place he never thought he’d come back to.

The city’s in the middle of its second financial renaissance. A century and a half earlier, gold nuggets. In the year 2000, silicon microchips. The dot-com boom created hundreds of new companies, swollen with capital and potential, profitable only in theory, run by young professionals with a lot of disposable income.

After Jacob, a fledgling sculptor, leaves a failed marriage and flees New York City, he returns home, welcomed by his mentally ill mother, subordinate father, and successful sister. As he settles in, he discovers a family secret. He had a twin brother who died in the womb right next to him. When the shock wears off, his reality becomes clear. He’s alone, broke, and unemployed. In an attempt to rebuild his life, he takes a low-paying job as a mental health case manager, but with all the tech money flooding the city, his childhood friend, Paul, has a better idea.

His fresh start spoils. Events trigger his dreams, and his dreams resurrect childhood memories, propelling him forward on a sleep-deprived, speed-fueled mission to find recognition, love, and revenge.

Indie Author Spotlight – Nathaniel Dean James

Author: Nathaniel Dean James

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Book: Origin – Season One

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A brief bio: I’m a Swede, born in England and raised in the United States. In many ways I was a Caucasian gypsy for the first twenty-five years of my life, settling in Sweden, Denmark, Florida, California (Hollywood, Palmdale and San Francisco), Curacao, Mexico, Hungary, and finally the United Kingdom, where I reside today. I was a soldier for ten years in British Army, first in the Parachute Regiment, and later in the Royal Military Police. I think the only thing that really strings all these things together is that I never stopped reading. Now a family man, I live with my wife and our five year old twins in West Sussex where I drive semis by day and write fiction by night.

 

Book purchase link: http://getbook.at/OSO

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathanieldean.james

Twitter: @NathanielDeanJ

Blog: http://nathanieldeanjames.wordpress.com

 

1. Why did you decide to go indie and self-publish? What was the process like for you?

When it finally came to the crunch, I was in two minds about the path to take. I have a friend who is a published author with Orion and very conservative in his views. He spent most of the eighties collecting rejection letters from publishers and had all but given up when he was “discovered” by an agent. I guess you can understand why he’s reluctant to applaud the seachange in recent years. He doesn’t even own a Kindle, although all his books are obviously available on Amazon for download.

Anyway, I had spent a couple of weeks making a list of literary agents in London and reworking my pitch when I read an article about Louis L’Amour and the 200 hundred rejections he received before Bantam signed him and on went on to sell 330 million copies of his books. I hunted around and found a few other horror stories, Agatha Christie’s 5 years in limbo, Zane Grey, C.S. Lewis, Dan Brown, Irving Stone, the list is endless. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was never going to be easy. But what really caught me out wasn’t so much the vagaries of the industry, but the time involved. I just didn’t think I could go on writing for five or ten years without an audience. That story might kill a few minutes at a cocktail party, but it would be good for little else, and I don’t really drink.

As for the process, I think I’m only just nearing the end of the beginning of the learning curve. I’ve read hundreds of essays, articles, how-to guides and blog posts about life on planet Indie. In the end I’ve gone with the things that uniformly resonate throughout. Considering I started late in the day, I’m finally starting to see some momentum.

 

2. How do you market/promote/advertise? What’s been successful and what hasn’t?

A pretty standard start really. I began with the holy triumvirate of social media: Facebook, Twitter and a blog. These things work, but as you know, they take time and you can’t go in kicking and screaming about your book because that just pisses people off. My blog is a general interest platform covering everything from politics to cinema. I do book reviews, although I’ve more or less given up on taking submissions. I spent a lot of hard-earned money on editing my work to a professional standard. When I see an error in the first paragraph that no studious reader, let alone editor, could miss, I take it personally, and 95% of the submissions I receive fall into this category.

At the moment I’m in the review-collection business and that will only end when I have at least 25 or 30 of them up on Amazon. There are a lot of mixed messages out there about the importance of reviews, but I tend to side with the assumption that they matter to readers. In this regard – and I have you to thank for the pointer – Goodreads is proving to be the most effective agent. I recently gave away ten print copies of my book there and had 160 people enter the giveaway. I’ve since contacted the 150 that didn’t win and offered each a free eBook copy, and over half have taken me up. The first review I got was from the follow up. The important difference here is that all but one of the people who entered was also a Goodreads Author. I’m not saying I have anything against giving away a book to a fellow author, of course, but these are what I call organic readers. Indie authors have to stick together, but when it comes to cross promotion, it’s a closed loop. I’d have to review 30 books to get thirty reviews on a one-for-one basis and that’s just not realistic.

 

3. What advice would you give to an author who’s trying to decide between traditional publishing and independent?

Well, people are different of course, so I guess it would depend on the person asking. But my default answer would be that unless you had an in, the odds of finding an agent prepared to take you on are beyond slim. It’s not just chance, nepotism also plays a major role in the publishing industry. Look over the lists of any major agent today and you’ll see a lot of former publishing executives, TV and radio people, and others from the fringes of  the entertainment scene. Feel free to assume that none of them submitted a manuscript or wrote a covering letter. And let’s not forget that while finding an agent may be your best (only) bet for a deal with a major publisher, it’s by no means a sure one. All it takes to knock your book off the pile is one retiring footballer or ambitious nephew. I don’t mean to sound bitter, it’s a private business and they can do whatever they want. But that’s the point, isn’t it? They can do what they want because like it or nor,  they’re not a public service.

So unless you have written something that is going to break the literary mold, or inspire the next roller-coaster at Islands of Adventure, the law of probability dictates that you stand a better chance of going it alone. Until you do, you’re at the back of the line. Even successful Indie authors who have already put in the hours and achieved good sales are more likely to end up on the industry radar than an unknown in their slush pile.

 

4. When/how did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I can’t quite recall when I made the conscious decision, but I do remember where the spark came from. I had just finished reading my first Stephen King novel, It, and I remember looking around me in a daze wondering what had just happened. I didn’t really read the book so much as disappear into it. And when I came back out on the other side I finally understood why some people didn’t bother buying a TV. The idea of being able to grab someone like that with words stuck with me. And while it was years before I finally wrote a book that I thought had a fighting chance of achieving something even remotely similar, I did begin writing shortly afterwards. I wrote short stories, started half a dozen novels that died in the making for one reason or another, but I kept at it.

 

5. Most indie authors have day jobs. How has your current or previous employment informed your writing?

I guess travelling broadens your horizons, and I certainly saw a lot during my time in the army that helped to develop some of my deeper convictions about life and people in general. But for the most part I think I have reading to thank for whatever passes for talent in my own case. Imagination is inherent in all human beings, but like a muscle it must be exercised to be of much use. I believe reading achieves this like nothing else.

 

6. Do you have any favorite authors and do they influence your writing?

My favorite author is Stephen King, and by a country mile. I’m no fan of horror, read no other authors associated with the genre, and probably never will. King is one of those authors who bears this label more like a cross than a distinction, and only because we live in a world where categorization and comparison are endemic. King doesn’t write about gore and death, he writes about people and there aren’t many who do it as well.

Do I try to emulate him in my writing? Yes, I do, and proudly. That’s not to say I succeed.

 

7. Anything else readers should know about you?

I still don’t know what half the genres in fiction even mean, and have never written a word with a view to staying inside any lines. Some call my book Sci-Fi, others say it’s a thriller. There’s a coming of age story in there somewhere, a first kiss, a marriage on the rocks, an unlikely friendship, people dealing with the uncertainty of unprecedented events, a look at evil, questions about the meaning of life, and a bunch of other stuff. To me it’s just the story as I experienced it. If you asked me what my target demographic is, I’d have to go with literate humans above the age of consent.


 

***Authors, I’m always accepting submissions for the indie author spotlight. If interested, click here for more information.***

 

Father’s Day Sale – $2.99 (40% off) – Dream Brother: A Novel – Kindle Ebook

“Dreams are just nightmares that haven’t turned yet.”

The Amazon Kindle version of Dream Brother is $2.99 (40% off) until midnight, June 15th, 2014. Here are the links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

dreambrothernewbookcover-cropped

San Francisco, California. Fifty hills surrounded by the cold waters of the ocean and the bay. City of rebellion and revolution. Smothered by fog daily.

This is the place where Jacob Gavel grew up, the place he ran away from at twenty, and the place he never thought he’d come back to.

The city’s in the middle of its second financial renaissance. A century and a half earlier, gold nuggets. In the year 2000, silicon microchips. The dot-com boom created hundreds of new companies, swollen with capital and potential, profitable only in theory, run by young professionals with a lot of disposable income.

After Jacob, a fledgling sculptor, leaves a failed marriage and flees New York City, he returns home, welcomed by his mentally ill mother, subordinate father, and successful sister. As he settles in, he discovers a family secret. He had a twin brother who died in the womb right next to him. When the shock wears off, his reality becomes clear. He’s alone, broke, and unemployed. In an attempt to rebuild his life, he takes a low-paying job as a mental health case manager, but with all the tech money flooding the city, his childhood friend, Paul, has a better idea.

His fresh start spoils. Events trigger his dreams, and his dreams resurrect childhood memories, propelling him forward on a sleep-deprived, speed-fueled mission to find recognition, love, and revenge.

Pubslush Campaign for Claribel Ortega – please support

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Here’s a few words from the author:

Hi there! So my Pubslush campaign was started to help launch my book Emerald Kipp & The Riddle of The Timekeeper at this year’s New York Comic Con. The current goal is for $3000.00 which would include booth space, rental of all the furniture for the day of the show (you have to rent everything from chairs/tables to carpeting), ordering book copies and items for giveaway, shipping of rewards for anyone who pledges and any incidental costs that go along with booth rental (like electricity which I would also have to pay for). There are a few different levels of contribution; anything  from $5 for a social media shoutout and personal thank you to $1,000.00 for a role in my next book trailer, skype chat and signed copies of both of my books and many more affordable options in between. You can also set your own donation price, donate anonymously or chose not to get a reward. For indie authors I am offering the chance to include your bookmark or postcard book promo in my giveaway bag. With over 100k people expected to attend, this could be a big push for your books. I am also considering including a small book shelf with some physical print titles if there is enough author interest. Any money left over from NY Comic Con will be used towards school and library visits, any other book launch costs, and a donation to cancer research in honor of my late brother Pablo Ortega. Comic Con is not until October but I need to make the deposit as soon as possible if I want to get one of the last remaining booths. The campaign is running for one month, and I would need to pay the full booth price $950.00 by end of June.

To contribute, click the Pubslush logo above or click here: http://emeraldkipp.pubslush.com/
If you have any questions for the author, email her at claribelortegaauthor at gmail dot com
Thanks.