Glenn Ickler interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Mar 17, 2017 10:22:36 PM
Glenn Ickler interview with David Alan Binder
Bio (shortened) from his website: In high school, I co-authored a column called The Peculiar Press in the student newspaper. The nature of this feature is self-evident from the title. Recently, I was shocked to learn that some of these still survive among the minutiae of a classmate's memorabilia. In college, I wrote sports stories for the student paper and essays that I thought were screamingly funny for the campus magazine. The latter were published because the editor also thought they were humorous gems. Have I mentioned that I was the editor?
During four years in the Navy, my scrivenings were limited to letters written to my fiancé and my parents. When I returned to civilian life, I landed my first newspaper job and began pouring forth a stream of written works that is still running after 43 years. Many of these gushers have been printed on paper that eventually was used to wrap fish, line birdcages or spank naughty puppies. No matter. Stringing words together always has been fun. I have met scores of interesting people and sometimes my combinations of sentences and paragraphs have produced salutary results.
1. How do you pronounce your name?
With a short “I” – Ickler. It is a simple name but it has been mispronounced and misspelled an amazing number of ways.
2. Where are you currently living?
In the tiny town of Hopedale, MA, halfway between Boston and Worcester.
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
That you must commit yourself to a rigorous schedule of sitting down in that chair in front of the keyboard every day. Books don’t write themselves.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
My two main characters are competitive punsters and they frequently break into punning duels.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
I’ve had no experience with self-publishing although I’m considering it in the future. I’ve had two publishers. The first, based in Pittsburgh, provided some national promotion and offered space for their authors at the annual national exposition. Unfortunately, they went broke (owing me money) during the 2007 recession. The one I’m with now is smaller and provides virtually nothing in the way of promotion—it’s all on the author’s shoulders.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city located?
North Star Press, St. Cloud, MN
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
My books are all on Kindle and I’ve had some sales there. Most of my sales have been of the printed version. It all depends on reader preference.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
My tip is no secret: Be persistent and listen to advice. I had 22 rejections before my first sale. I complained about this to an 85-year-old bachelor friend who said, “Steamy sex. You gotta have steamy sex.” I rewrote the first chapter, opening with steamy sex, sent it to a publisher and had it immediately accepted.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
I got an agent by joining the Mystery Writers of America and pitching my book at the annual Crime Bake conference put on by the New England Chapter. She didn’t sell anything for me for two years so I dropped her and went back to querying publishers on my own.
There are lists of agents online, with information on what genres they represent. New writers should have a bang-up opening because agents are very busy and will toss your work into the reject pile if it doesn’t grab them in the first few paragraphs.
New writers should stay away from any agent who requests payment for reading a manuscript. These people make their money by charging writers a fee instead of selling the writers’ work and collecting a percentage of the sales.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Read (but don’t try to copy) the most successful authors in your genre and study how they construct a plot, characters and settings.
Join an organization like Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, etc. They provide a wealth of information about the publishing business, writer conferences, important events, etc.
Attend regional writers’ conferences such as the New England Crime Bake and listen carefully to the talks and panel discussions. Try to go to any event where a successful writer is speaking and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Robert B. Parker gave me some good advice at a seminar he conducted.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
I learned that a book’s characters have a way of taking over from the writer in midstream. More than once I have been surprised by something one of my characters did and I have changed the planned endings of at least three books because of unexpected twists that the characters took.
11. How many books have you written?
I have a series of 12 murder mysteries published and three unpublished standalones. I am almost finished with the 13th book in the series and I am debating whether to stay with North Star or self-publish this one.
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)?
The best tips I can think of came from other writers. Janet Evanovich practices what she calls “reductive writing,” meaning that she boils her work down until she has reduced a “big pot” of ingredients to “a little pot of stuff.”
Elmore Leonard offers 10 rules (that can be found online), the best of which is: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
Read your work out loud. If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.
Let other people (preferably outside your family) read your manuscript before you send it anywhere and listen to what they say about it.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
I try to introduce a red herring or two along the way, and sometimes the characters will surprise me with a helpful twist.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
It’s usually the characters. If they are people the reader likes or cares about, the reader will keep reading. Writers like Hemingway and Leonard provided very little in the way of settings but their characters were strong and real and their actions were important.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I do signing events at bookstores in Massachusetts, where I live, and Minnesota, where my books are set. I have been interviewed several times on community TV talk shows in both states. I do a reading of every new book at a coffee house owned by my daughter in St. Paul. I sell my books at outdoor community events in the summer and fall. I speak and sell books at libraries and senior centers. I keep a list of people who attend my sales and notify them of my schedule by e-mail or postcard.
Promotion is actually my weakest area because I am a bit lazy. Many authors use Facebook but I don’t want to get involved because I already waste too much time wandering around on the Internet.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
The business has changed immensely since I had my first book published in 2002. Self-publishing has become much more respectable and lucrative since then, so I might start that way now if I could not acquire a really good agent in a reasonable amount of time.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
At least five pages a day.
18. Anything else you would like to say?
Polish and persistence are the keys. Make sure that you’ve done your very best work, then keep writing and keep pitching no matter how many rejections you get.