Bruce Wetterau interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Apr 19, 2016 1:07:35 PM
Bruce Wetterau interview with David Alan Binder
This is a delightful interview. As I read this interview I really had the feeling that the author had spent a lot of time d answering the questions; it is worth it. The answers are compelling and personal. See if you have the same experience reading them.
I would buy one of this authors novels based solely upon this interview and nothing else.
My website: www.brucewetterau.com
My bio (page on my website): http://www.brucewetterau.com/about-the-author.html
My Amazon Author Central page: http://www.amazon.com/Bruce-Wetterau/e/B001HON6NQ
1. How do you pronounce your name?
Brew-ce. Just joking. Bruce Springsteen has pretty well raised everyone's awareness on pronouncing "Bruce." My last name is not so easy though. I tell everyone it's pronounced "Wetter-ow," just as though it's "Wetter outside." That generally gets a laugh, and the "ou" of "outside" is the correct sound for the last part of my name.
A lot of people are interested in genealogy these days, so I should probably mention my name is actually German, and my distant forebears came to America from a place in southwest Germany back in the late 1800s. I was surprised to learn that in the early 1900s, there actually was a province in that part of Germany named "Wetterau."
2. Where are you currently living?
I live in a 110-year-old house that I renovated in Virginia.
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
That people can like my writing or not, but the worst is if they don't read it at all.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I wouldn't call it a quirk, but some readers have told me I have a very visual writing style that my novels read something like a movie. When I'm not reading I do watch movies a lot and that has probably influenced my writing. In fact, I've collected several hundred movies and TV series on DVD and Videotape.
5. Tell us your insights about self-publishing?
I've self published both my mystery novels, Lost Treasure and Killer Fog, but some years ago during my reference book writing and editing days, I was published by conventional publishers. Eleven books under my own name, in fact. So I've produced books both ways. The advantage of going the conventional publishing route is that the publisher (usually) pays authors an advance to write the book. And with conventional publishing, you have an editor, as well as production and marketing people to help bring your book to fruition. They also take care of natty details like getting your books into stores, sending out review copies, and handling returned copies. But the royalties they pay are painfully small.
The lure of self-publishing is the promise of a huge royalty, up to 70% of the sale price, but you don't get an advance to write the book. With my first novel, I really wanted to try out self-publishing. It's a fast way to get into print, and with print-on-demand publishing, you don't have to spend a lot of money. It's fairly easy to set up distribution for a self-published book through online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But there's a catch (there is always a catch): you have to promote the book yourself. That means you spend your time and money, if you so desire, to get people to read your book. And there are a lot of aspiring writers out there trying to do just that, not to mention those conventional publishers who are competing for the same readers.
So, there are plusses and minuses to both ways. Would I recommend going with a conventional publisher? Sure, if you find one interested in publishing your book. But that isn't so easy either.
6. Any thoughts on e-books vs. print books?
I'd say e-books are the 21st century equivalent of mass market paperbacks, which revolutionized print book publishing back in the 1930s. Both vastly expanded readership by making books more widely available and at a much lower cost.
But e-books are truly revolutionary because they didn't just change the size and cost of print books, they went off in a completely new direction--paperless publishing and the digital page. That not only changed the reader's reading experience, it knocked hell out of the economics of traditional book publishing (manufacturing costs all but disappeared). Where the cost of publishing a book once helped limit the number of books being published, e-books opened up the floodgates. For better or worse.
Personally, I like reading a printed book, but then that's what I've grown up with. I write on a computer though--that proved a boon for me--and my novels are and always will be available as e-books. That "always will be" says something else important about e-books: they don't go out of print!
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
Lots of hard work, and luck. Sorry I can't be more helpful than that, but it's the nature of the publishing business, I think. It's like prospecting for gold during one of those old time gold rushes. For every lucky prospector, there were many, many others who didn't strike it rich. You have to believe in yourself as a writer, but also be prepared for that prospect.
8. How should new writers go about getting an agent?
Getting an agent is almost as hard as getting a publisher these days. Most big publishing houses won't accept submissions without an agent on board.
Agents are also more involved in manuscript preparation now and advances for new writers aren't what they used to be. So writing a good query letter is important, as is researching an individual agent's preferences (and successful sales). The website QueryTracker lists agents, and of course Predators and Editors.
That said, be prepared to wait for responses to your query letter. I got one almost a year after having sent it and by then my second novel had already been in print for a few months. I had allotted six months to the search for an agent before going ahead with self-publishing Killer Fog. I'll try again with the next book, but it's hard to wait around with a completed MS while agents work through their backlog of query letters.
Agents can do a lot for a new author, but it is worth remembering they have to make a living too. You can be sure they will be looking at your book idea from both the perspective of "Do I know an editor who will want this?", and what prospects you as a writer offer as a return on their investment of time. A fellow author once told me that agents look for authors to produce two books a year, though I don't know that to be true.
9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned about your creative process in writing your books?
For me, working up an outline for my novels not only made writing it easier, it really was what made finishing the MS possible. Like a lot of writers, I suspect, I'd gotten a great idea for a novel and just started to bang it out. Then I'd get stymied part the way through and give up on the book.
Stepping back from the idea and doing a scene-by-scene "talking" outline lets you try out different plot lines, situations, dialogue, etc. and make adjustments without having to toss reams of copy. It's a division of labor, I suppose, and that really worked for me.
10. How many books have you written?
Under my own name? Lucky thirteen--eleven reference books and two novels. I've ghost written a couple of other reference books, and during my twenty plus years as a free-lance editor and writer, I’ve contributed to many other books.
11. Do you have any tips to help others become better writers (please be as specific as you possibly can)?
Yes, they are fairly obvious, but are worth repeating: read good writers, write--early and often; and learn firsthand the agony and ecstasy of being edited.
12. What makes a book stand out from the crowd?
You can buy a book by its cover. A lot of people do, based just on the cover copy and the look of it. So the cover counts. But so does what's between the covers--a good story that draws you in, good writing, and characters that resonate.
13. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I've done pretty much all the free stuff in one way or another--set up my website, queried reviewers and sent out review copies, wrote press releases, done book signings & a few talks, etc. I've done a couple of limited giveaways, but so far have resisted paid advertising. Even traditional publishers don't want to spend money on print advertising, and I don't know how effective online ads are in reaching my target audience. I'll be spending more time working on my Facebook presence and may finally knuckle under and start a blog. But as strategies go, I think adding more books to my series is the best thing I can do.
14. What is the one thing you would do differently now with regard to publishing and why?
I don't think there is any one thing, because I'm really learning a whole new phase of publishing--promotion--and publishing itself is going through sea changes right now. It's a matter of adjusting to opportunities and limitations as they present themselves, while always working toward building my publishing presence.
15. What would you like carved onto your tombstone?
Hah! Well, I try not to dwell on my epitaph, but there is a wonderful saying, "Time is a river, and books are the boats." I would feel a small swell of pride in the afterlife if one of mine should somehow remain afloat for a long, long time.
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