1. When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?
In all honesty I have always felt like a storyteller rather than a “writer” per se. The term “writer” has always seemed to be kind of Norman Mailer-ish to me.
To answer your question, I had travelled the world with the U.S. Navy for 20 years, retiring in 1977 and had a wealth of experiences which included a year (1968) as a gunboat crewman in Vietnam. During the winter months of 2007 I had just left a producer/host chair of an internationally syndicated radio program and was thinking about writing a memoir that would compile a few of those life experiences in book form, but I didn’t begin writing the manuscript until 2009 while I was recuperating from a rather serious motorcycle accident.
2. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?
My first effort, “Listening To Ghosts,” became available to readers in book and e-book form in the spring of 2010. Since the initial publication, there have been eleven more. The two most recent (2020) being a re-written, re-edited and re-formatted consolidation of my three earlier novellas (2014, 2015, 2017) into a 400+ page Vietnam war novel, and a personal anthology of 46 selected short stories from three earlier publications (2015, 2018, 2019) which have been formatted by Gatekeeper Press into both softback copy and e-book online download.
3. What made you want to self-publish?
Ha! Traditional publishing houses remind me of the story about the man who walks into a bank and asks for a loan. The loan officer replies that the bank will only give him a loan if he can prove that he doesn’t need it.
For an unknown, unpublished writer to secure a book deal from one of the traditional publishers is next to impossible; they don’t want to see your manuscript unless you are working with an approved agent or have previously published a successful novel. Really, the only answer for me was to self-publish.
4. Would you recommend new authors self-publish, and would you recommend Gatekeeper Press?
While there are exceptions to every rule, the only real avenue for new authors, in my experience, is to self-publish. My personal taste runs to professional looking publications that have a look and feel like a traditionally published work, which is exactly what Gatekeeper press has provided at a competitive price. I would absolutely recommend Gatekeeper Press to new authors!
5. What do you do marketing-wise to help announce and sell your books?
I use social media platforms and book reviews from established review platforms such as Midwest Book Reviews and Donovan’s Bookshelf to review my new publications and get the review out to the military reunion groups and the public. I also arrange for book signings at Navy ship reunion groups, although the COVID scare this year (2020) has seen the reunions temporarily placed on hold. In the UK I have also engaged BookViral.com for reviews there.
6. What advice do you have for a new or fledgling author?
Know your writing genre and which genres are currently the hottest selling: YA, Chick Lit, Erotica, Romance, Fantasy, Sci-Fi seem to be populating the market these days.
Do your research when selecting an independent publisher. I have learned this the hard way as three of my earlier publishers have either folded (with some of my royalties) or are in serious financial straits. You can get plenty of feedback with a Google search which is how I found Gatekeeper – and I am glad I did!
Beware of the cottage industry of online book promotions. Most will take your hard earned money with pie in the sky success stories and give little in return. Again, I have learned this through experience.
7. What social media platforms are you on?
Facebook and my Facebook Blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram. I have a small presence on Goodreads and an Amazon Author Page as well.
8. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had known when you first started out?
Keep an even keel. Too high or too low can demoralize an author. Stay the course, do your research and don’t fall for the “quick sales” pitches you will see online.
9. What do you feel is the biggest challenge authors are facing going into 2021 and beyond?
There are credible estimates that around 500,000 new publications will hit the open market going forward. That is a lot of noise out there to overcome. Know your genre and market it wisely with a professional looking product.
10. Have you won any awards or contests that you would like to mention?
My first book, “Listening To Ghosts” won the Bronze Award for the Military/Navy category of the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA). I don’t usually compete in these award things. Recently MWSA selected one of my short stories from “The Blue Collar Blues and Other Stories” (Gatekeeper Press, 2020), “A Man Who Lost His Wife” for inclusion in their Fall publication, “Dispatches.”
My author website: https://navypublishing.com