Tell us a little bit about yourself, your books and any new projects you are working on.
1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I come from a long line of writers starting with great grandfather Herschel Rubin, a rabbi and writer in Lithuania many years ago. My Uncle Manning in Charleston was Associate Editor of the Charleston Evening Post and an opinion writer called “strong cigar”. My Uncle Dan was a successful Broadway writer in the ’20s. My brother Louis D. Rubin, Jr. was a somewhat legendary teacher of writers at Hollins College and the University of North Carolina, a writer of some 52 books and founder of Algonquin Press of Chapel Hill.
I never knew that I would end up as a writer. I wrote a few little things as a a kid that appeared in the Charleston papers but I never knew that I would end up working in Richmond, Virginia and then New York City in the advertising business as a writer and Creative Director. I believe my ad experience taught me how to market things and I applied that knowledge to marketing my books. But I wanted to write other things and decided to write 60 ways to Reduce Stress in 60 Seconds because I was in a very stressful business. Then after reading the NY Science Times in 1995 which had a section for weeks that was all about the brain, I read about a discovery that adults could actually grow new neurons. I wanted to write a self-help book about how to successfully keep the brain healthy, strong, and alive. I found a neuroscientist, the late Larry Katz, to read my theory about exercising the brain; he was working on that very subject in his lab at Duke. So we wrote Keep Your Brain Alive. It was published in 1999 and is still running. The first edition was published in 24 languages. And that’s how I ended up like many in my family as a writer.
I also must mention my nephew, Robert Rubin, who is also a talented writer like his father Louis. And my son Joshua, a successful ad writer also writes very funny and insightful things, too.
2. How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?
I’ve written three books – Keep Your Brain Alive, 60 Ways To Reduce Stress In 60 Seconds, and Voyage To The Wall. The latter is an historical novel based on many of my own experiences as a naïve young Jewish army soldier from Charleston, SC. It describes how I ended up in World War II in Germany, discovered the holocaust, Dachau, the War Crimes trials, the plight of what was left of Jewish refugees and their plight to get to safety. The only place that wanted them was Palestine. It includes amazing details about the struggle to establish Israel.
3. What made you want to self-publish?
I have been strongly supportive of Israel ever since I was in Germany and have wanted to write about what actually happened in the desperate struggle to establish Israel, including the harsh resistance from the Arabs and the English. It changed my life. It’s why I am so supportive of Israel and why I spent 33 years of my ad career doing pro-bono ads for the ADL to fight prejudice and to support Israel. I submitted my manuscript in various stages to many traditional publishers including the one my brother established, Algonquin Press, now owned by Workman/Hatchet.
After many turn downs I decided that I didn’t want to wait any longer and so to self-publish. I examined a number of companies that specialize in this. I chose Gatekeeper Press after interviewing Rob Price and Jessica Bushore. They did a wonderful job all along the process.
4. Would you recommend new authors self-publish, and would you recommend Gatekeeper Press?
Yes, assuming they have submitted their idea to several traditional publishers and been refused. So, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting, I would say self-publish. I highly recommend Gatekeeper Press since my experience was an easy and intelligent process with them.
5. What do you do marketing-wise to help announce and sell your books?
As far as marketing is concerned, if like me, you can’t really afford to hire a marketing source, you can do it yourself. In some respects, I find it harder than writing a novel. But I learned to do it when I co-authored Keep Your Brain Alive. The publisher sent my co-author, the scientist, around for a book tour, which is really not done anymore and then stopped. I realized then that it was up to me to put the book in the brains of potential buyers, so I began to send reviews with the book to many senior citizens and Boomer target sources and to many media reviewers. I still do that. And since my book really was the first of the many brain books that since then have come out, it was well received all over the world.
6. What advice do you have for a new or fledgling author?
I think my only advice for new or fledgling authors is to READ A LOT and write, write, write. When you have an idea, determine who you believe may be your target and research them to see what they’re into and looking for.
7. What social media platforms are you on?
I was on Twitter but under the present circumstances I decided to cancel it. I’m not on Facebook or anything else. I just think they take you away from life ,experiences, and reality.
8. What is the one piece of advice you wish you had known when you first started out?
As far as a piece of advice I wished I had, none occurs to me. My father got very ill when I was two, so I learned to take care of myself at an early age. Sure, I made some mistakes, but I learned and kept going (and still at 95, I keep going). Finding a wife who is my equal in so many ways is also very helpful. And Jane has been that for 54 years.
9. What do you feel is the biggest challenge authors are facing going into 2023 (and beyond)?
The biggest challenge authors face now is not very different than it has been. The perseverance to keep at it, the extraordinary competition, the difficulty to get an agent, the consolidation of publishers, and the new entrance of technology designed to capture people and shorten their attention spans and write nothings in 141 characters.
10. Have you won any awards or contests that you would like to mention?
The only awards I’ve won so far have been the many for my former ad writing but also for the long-time sales success of Keep Your Brain Alive. That’s a real reward for me.