Dr. Roy A. Teel Jr. interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Apr 26, 2016 1:02:01 PM

Dr. Roy A. Teel Jr. interview with David Alan Binder

1. What was the motivation to write your thirty novel Iron Eagle Series?

The idea for the Iron Eagle was first hatched in my imagination though tragedy. One of my childhood friends was abducted by William Bonin aka The Freeway serial killer here in Los Angeles on Memorial Day 1979 and was brutally raped, emasculated, and murdered, with his body left on a hiking trail in the Agoura Hills. This was a turning point in my life, as it was for many people who knew my friend, and at the impressionable age of 14, the world was no longer a safe place. It would be more than 30 years before I would start the first book in the series, “Rise of The Iron Eagle,” which brings an anti-hero in the form of FBI Special Agent John Swenson, aka “The Iron Eagle,” to life.

The Eagle exacts justice outside the law and does so with tremendous cruelty. The series was originally going to span three novels when I started writing it at the end of 2013 after publishing my first novel, “And God Laughed,” but the Eagle Series quickly surpassed that, and now it is up to 30 titles, with the first 17 books complete. It deals with real world subject matter and while written as fiction, a reader need only turn on the news to see the things they read in the Iron Eagle Series happening across the country and around the world.

The series is about things that can and do happen to people every single day who either let their guard down or are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It deals with diverse subjects – serial killers, pedophiles, rapists, sex traffickers, corrupt police and judicial leaders, prostitution, and other subjects that I can’t get into as it would spoil the series for your readers and mine.

2. Where are you currently living?

Lake Arrowhead, California

3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

Writing is a business and while the creative process is wonderful, as an author, I have to remember that I write because I love it, but it is a business and must be treated as such.

4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

All of my novels are written on a single return envelope like the kind you receive in the mail to send in a payment. A plain white envelope is all that I use to write all of my books. When a novel is completed, the envelope is placed in a black binder as a reminder of where it all began.

5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I am an independently published author, meaning I am the managing member of my publishing label as well as the author. I tried for many, many years to get a traditional publisher and sent out query letters and book proposals to no avail. Self-publishing was very, very taboo when I started in 2005. Authors weren’t taken seriously. The gate keepers at the big publishing houses and the agents representing works held the fate of authors in their hands. Thankfully, the days of the traditional publisher are all but over; the gate keepers are no more. This is good and bad as there is a lot of bad writing flooding the marketplace and making it very difficult for good writers to be discovered (it’s also frustrating readers who have to wade through a lot of junk to find a gem).

Fortunately, with the death of the traditional publishing world, a new world has opened up for new voices. I use professional editors, graphic artists, beta readers, and preview sites like NetGalley for reviews as well as other sources. To me, nothing can replace having creative control over my content and not having to deal with a publisher, agent, or editor in the big five who wants to control my work. My fate as an author is in my hands and that is a rewarding feeling as I write my books.

a. What is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

Narroway Publishing LLC/Imprint: Narroway Press, Lake Arrowhead, California.

6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

EBooks are not a new phenomenon. They have been around in mass production since Simon and Schuster started printing them in their imprint iBooks in 1999.

I have a publishing contract with Ingram, and they were releasing eBooks before there was any such thing as Amazon Kindle or KDP Publishing. My feeling on books as a whole is that readers should have every option when it comes to reading my work. I release ALL of my books on the first day of release in hard and softcover as well as eBook format for ALL ereaders, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, Overdrive, and ALL others.

I don’t use KDP Direct or CreateSpace as it ties a book up on a single platform and really, really diminishes author and title availability and exposure in the market. For me, personally, as a reader, I prefer the feel of a hardcover book in my hands. There is just something about holding a book and smelling the fresh pages as I read that I feel helps to bring the book more to life for me. I do own a Kindle, and I do read on it, but nothing can replace the feel of a printed book.

It is also wise to purchase books in print that you really truly love (if available). Most people don’t read the fine print on their ereaders and don’t know that even though they have paid for a book and have it on their device, they never actually own it. If your ereader platform goes out of business like Oyster recently did, or a company like Amazon gets in a snit with you or they go out of business or stop promoting Kindle, your books are GONE, and you have no recourse.

If you were told 30 years ago that stores like Sears and Kmart as well as book stores like, B. Dalton Books, Walden Books, and Borders would be out of business today, you wouldn’t believe it. And yet, they have gone by way of the Dodo as will Amazon and others over the next decade or so, only to be replaced by another brand. So, if you truly love a book, purchase it in hard or softcover, so you will have it for a lifetime.

7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

As I said earlier, publishing is a business and a very, very competitive one at that. I have a friend who is a long retired literary agent who sold his agency to William Morris in 1992. We have spoken candidly about the industry, and one thing he has always made clear to me is it doesn’t matter how good your writing is; it comes down to who you know or who knows you. Traditional publishers and agents are tough to reach. The industry is so competitive that publishers are incredibly reluctant to take on unknown writers. Today, they search the self-published market in addition to operating a closed talent pool of authors who are fortunate enough to have an agent pitching their writing projects to the big five. But even the most powerful agents can’t always get your writing through the door.

If you have won a major book prize, Pulitzer, Booker, Pushcart, or others, you will pop up on their radar and will most likely get a deal. Publishers want writers with a proven track record of success and a fan base because that is going to sell books and could translate into TV/Movie rights deals. We are seeing more and more self-published books being picked up by traditional publishers and making their way into movie theaters. The Shack and the Fifty Shades Series were self-published and are now household names and are making those authors mega millions.

In the end, authors must pick the road they choose to travel. If an author has a great book proposal and wants to try the traditional route, he or she should give it a shot. There are people who think that a writer’s career can be destroyed if they self-publish instead of publishing traditionally, but nothing could be further from the truth. I see it every day in publications like Publishers Lunch (which I subscribe to) where a previously self-published book has hit the bestseller lists and is being picked by a traditional publisher for re-release.

I say follow your gut and don’t be afraid to put your work out there in the market. The odds are still very much stacked against any of us getting a New York Times bestseller traditionally published or self-published. Make sure you are writing for the right reasons, for yourself and your audience, and not because you want to be the next Stephen King, John Grisham, or Michael Crichton. And make sure you put out a professionally edited product with a high quality cover and interior. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and you want your book or books to make the best impression that they can. Great writing without great editing will only garner bad reviews, and even if you pull the book and have it triaged after receiving those reviews, that impression is still going to be out there.

8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I don’t currently have an agent though I am seeking representation. I have queried many agents over the years without success. Agents are hard pressed to take on unknown writers. Agents only get paid if they sell your work; they work on commission and receive a percentage of your book, movie/TV, or rights deal if they can sell your writing. So agents are very, very particular about who they sign and the projects they represent.

Reputable agents do NOT ask for any money upfront from an author to represent them. They take the risk when they sign an author, so they really have to believe in both the author and the writing. This is an area of who you know or who knows you. Most agents don’t accept blind queries and prefer referrals from someone they know and respect in the industry.

Agents, just like publishers, are always scanning the self-publishing world looking for books that are doing well and getting attention as well as attending industry trade shows, such as BEA (Book Expo America) and others. The first 13 novels in my series will be exhibited in Chicago May 11-14 for the industry along with media kits about the series. Events like these are a good way to make contact with agents and publishers and show off your writing if you are self-published.

For those who want to take the old road to finding an agent, pick up a copy of “Writers Market” or other publishing book and scan the pages for agents that you think are a good fit for your genre and query them. Most accept email submissions and queries. However, if you choose to do this, make sure that you follow the guidelines to the letter. Failure to do so will get your email deleted or your letter thrown in the trash. These people are very, very busy and don’t have time to waste on people who don’t follow directions.

9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Writing, for me, is both a labor of love and a business. If you’re a new writer, don’t box yourself into a corner with your genre. While you might begin by writing fiction aimed at a young or adult audience, you will find as you mature as an author, your interests will mature, too. Your subject matter will change as you write more. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, do your research. Make sure the places and characters in your books are believable, especially if you’re writing about real places, cities, states, countries etc. Just because a work is fiction doesn’t mean that it can’t have factual information in it. There are areas of fiction that give a lot more latitude such as fantasy and dystopian novels. But even in these books there has to be a believability factor, and, trust me, readers will look up terms, places, and other things in your writing, so understanding your subject matter is very important. Interjecting facts into fiction adds a great deal of credibility to you as a writer.

Writing is not a profitable vocation for the average writer. I’m a member of the Authors Guild, and they released a new study on the average full-time authors’ earnings, which is a measly $17,500 a year. So, don’t quit your day job to become a writer.

Write each and every day. I set out a goal to write 3,000–5,000 words a day. This strategy has worked very well for me, and I average a new novel in my series every six to eight weeks, with an average word count of 75,000 words. The secret to writing is simple – sit your butt in the chair and write. Even if that means freewriting until something comes to you, the most daunting part of writing is that first line on that blank white screen.

You need to carve out at least an hour each day for nothing but writing. Turn off the cellphone and email; get off the internet (unless you need it for research as you write), and allow yourself to enter the world that you are creating. Writing is an art. We do with words what a painter does with a brush or a photographer does with a camera. We paint pictures with words and take our readers into the world of our creation.

10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I have been self-publishing since 2005 and have a backlist of seven books, both fiction and nonfiction, outside the Iron Eagle Series. Editing is the hardest part of the writing process for me. When I finish the first draft of a book, I call it the “vomit copy” (my wife hates the term). I walk away from it for a day or two and work on something else. In the case of the Eagle Series, I will start the prologue for the next book in the series. Once I have the next book well underway, I start the editing process.

When I start the editing process, I have to take off the writer’s hat and put on the editor’s hat because the two process are very different. I spend a great deal of time editing my work to make sure that plot lines are developed, dialogue is consistent, and that the story is flowing briskly. I am always amazed when I start editing at how clean the storylines are and how cohesive the plot is. I always think that I have made some grave error in the book only to find that I have not and that the work is really clean.

11. How many books have you written?

To date, I have written and published 24 books, including the first 17 books in the Eagle Series.

12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

Read and read and read. You can’t write well if you don’t read. I take the first few hours of my day reading news, periodicals, and poetry and reviewing the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon and Barnes and Noble to see what’s new in writing. Join a writer’s group where you can share your thoughts and ideas (but make sure it is a group of people you trust). Your writing is copyright protected from the moment the idea is set to paper, but that doesn’t mean that someone won’t try to steal your ideas.

Set aside time each and every day to write. I wrote and published four books while working one hundred hours a week and traveling for business, and I did it by making sure that I wrote every single day.

13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

There is a great line from Robert Frost: “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” Let your muse guide you as you write. For me, my characters derail my ideas all the time. I think I’m going to write a book one way, and my characters decide to take a different course. Follow your instincts as you create characters and the world they inhabit. If you’re writing fiction, allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole with your characters. You will find that well defined characters really do take on a life of their own, and, if you follow them into their world, you will learn more about them that you didn’t know, and you will learn more about yourself and your craft with each book that you write.

14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

My books, both fiction and nonfiction, tend to deal with very controversial subject matter. This makes for provocative conversations at readings and signings as well as flat out arguments at times. The Iron Eagle Series is set apart from any other series in its genre by both its protagonist and its content. The “Iron Eagle” metes out justice in the cruelest and most sadistic manner. These hard boiled mystery novels are not for the faint of heart. I’ve included a clear and concise content warning on ALL buying platforms that the series is for adults 18+, and that the series contains content that could be troubling to sensitive readers. The Iron Eagle Series deals with real life subject matter. This series is not the type of series is not for those who wish to snuggle up in bed with a cup of tea and a warm blanket. This is a series that you read during the day, and you do it (as many, many of my reviewers have said) from the edge of your seat.

15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I use Facebook as well as other social media sites, write press releases, and run free and paid promotions for my eBooks. Book one in the Iron Eagle Series, “Rise of The Iron Eagle,” is perma-FREE for ALL ereaders, which allows readers to download the book to their favorite device and read it with no risk. I always ask that people please read the content warning before downloading the book as I don’t want ranting emails from readers or nasty reviews because the book unsettled people. For me, making the first book in the series FREE has been the real move that stoked the fires of sales.

Each novel ends with a prologue to the next book, so readers get a taste for what’s coming (and this is another way to promote the series further). I have been on a very, very aggressive release schedule with this series, releasing a book every three months. So far, I have released books 1–8, and this warp speed approach has fueled interest in the series as a whole.

16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I would not change a thing. As a writer, there has been a natural maturation from one book to the next. I use professional editors and beta readers and release my books on all sites. I use a long time professional graphic artist for layout and cover design and really feel that I am growing with each book that I write. I highly recommend to ALL writers that they work with all of the above for their books if they are self-publishing as it really makes a difference in how you are perceived in the marketplace. Authors need to remember that they are a brand, and they need to get their brand out there and recognized.

17. What would you like carved onto your tombstone? Or what saying or mantra do you live by?

Carpe Diem, which is Latin for “Seize the Day.” You only get one run at life. Give it your best.

The first 13 titles in The Iron Eagle Series will be on display at Book Exo America and Book Con in Chicago from May 11–14 in the New Titles Showcase. We will also be promoting the series to the publishing industry in our booth B469 in the “Blend,” so I hope people will stop by. We have some great Eagle giveaway items and the opportunity to win series related prizes.

Please contact me at dalanbinder at gmail dot com or ab3ring at juno dot com

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