R. E. Conary interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Sep 28, 2016 3:56:49 AM
R. E. Conary interview with David Alan Binder
Website: www.rachelcord.net (badly needs updating)
1. How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)?
It’s pronounced CON-a-ree. Growing up it was always a challenge to correct teachers who wanted to split the syllables like the name of a certain yellow bird.
2. Where are you currently living?
I currently live in North Central Florida. I was born in New England and raised on California beaches, and—courtesy of Uncle Sam—have lived many places.
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
That reality can be far crueler, stranger and bizarre than anything writers conjure. Fiction must be believable. Reality stands on its own.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
That I don’t outline or plan out my books. I start with the barest of ideas, or crime to solve, or even only an opening sentence (like “My curse preceded me into the squad room.”) and go from there. It’s very haphazard. Sort of like going from New York to Los Angeles without a map or directions and sometimes ending up in Ireland like Corrigan instead.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
I’m self-published and use Amazon KDP and Smashwords.com for eBooks (Smashwords distributes to B&N, iBooks, Kobo, Overdrive and others). Both services provide free publishing and accept Word.docs without any problems that I’ve experienced.
I use CreateSpace (an Amazon company and a free service) for my print editions and distribution.
Smashwords and CreateSpace require an ISBN for their distribution. Each will offer a free ISBN (which makes them the “publisher of record”) or you can provide your own. Amazon KDP doesn’t require an ISBN. Regardless of which you use, all rights remain with you the author and you can publish anywhere else as well. These companies only provide printing and distribution and handle sales. You earn a much larger percentage from each sale this way than you would from a traditional publisher (that is if a traditional publisher even wants to carry your work).
I use ACX to produce audiobooks for distribution through Audible, iTunes and Amazon. Audiobooks are very popular, but paying a producer/narrator can be expensive and it can take awhile before you see a profit. Still, it’s another outlet to consider.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I grew up with physical paper books—you know, dead tree books. They’re still my favorite pleasure. There is nothing like the feel and smell of a book. And there are no batteries that need recharging. eBook readers can’t compare in that way.
However, eBooks are everywhere. You read them on computers, tablets, e-readers, iPads, smartphones. They’re usually inexpensive and expose you to a plethora of writers you’ve never heard of.
Publishing an eBook is easy, free and—potentially—highly profitable. I’ve made thousands more from eBook sales than print sales, but I publish print editions for those who still prefer the format. Besides, you can’t autograph a computer file.
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
No secret. Robert Heinlein said it decades ago. “You must write. You must finish what you write. You must put the work on the market. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.” SF author Robert J. Sawyer has a really nice take on Heinlein’s Rules (http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm).
Self-publishing an eBook puts you unfiltered into the marketplace. Skip the middlemen. Let readers decide if you’re work is good or not.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquiring an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
It’s nearly impossible to get noticed by the big publishers without an agent. But catching an agent’s interest can be tough. And you want to avoid scammers and those that charge fees to read your manuscript. You can look for agents at the Association of Author’s Representatives (http://aaronline.org). That’s what I did originally. You can search for one by genre to see what each is looking for. However, if your book doesn’t fit comfortably into a certain niche or the latest trend, good luck.
I tried for four years to find an agent for my first book, Life’s A Bitch. So Am I., to no avail. Most wanted a query letter only (many today accept email), some also wanted a synopsis, and some the first 1-3 chapters or 20-50 pages. Nearly all were polite with their rejections (e.g., “doesn’t meet our current needs but thank you for...” etc.). One agent was very interested until she discovered that the creator of a lesbian PI was male instead of female—I probably shouldn’t have told her, as I never heard from her again. That’s when I decided to check out self-publishing.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)? Read everything. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, the daily news, the comics—you name it. Whether you like it or not. Read it all. Then write. Write what YOU would like to read. Not what’s necessarily trending or what someone else may want. Write what you want. Write your passion. And above all, finish what you’re writing before worrying about rewrites and editing—that comes later. Consider this advice from Raymond Chandler: “Don't ever write anything you don't like yourself and if you do like it, don't take anyone's advice about changing it. They just don't know.”
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in your creative process?
Learning that a character can take control of a story. When that happens you’re just a reader racing to keep up to find out what happens next. It’s a huge rush.
11. How many books have you written?
Four. Three featuring PI Rachel Cord (I’m working on the fourth), and an eclectic collection of short stories. I’ve also published a stand-alone Rachel Cord short story.
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)?
Write. Writing begets more writing. Read. Everything you’ve ever read is sloshing around somewhere in your head and will influence how you write.
Elmore Leonard said, “Leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.”
Last year at a Sisters In Crime workshop, James Scott Bell talked about using dialog to reveal clues in your mysteries because “everyone reads dialog.” On the flip side, if you want your clues to slide by unnoticed—like in a Poe story—hide them in exposition (you know, “the parts readers tend to skip”).
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Not really. They seem to pop out of nowhere.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
Voice. The books I like reading—and rereading—have a rhythm that carries me along as I listen to the narrator’s voice in my head. Hopefully, my books have that affect on others.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
This is my weakest area. I do very little promotion. My website is way out of date. I’m not on Facebook, Twitter or whatever new social network is out there. I don’t blog or have a newsletter.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
Correct the promotion deficiencies from my previous answer. It does little good to write a book and make it available if readers don’t know it exists.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
“Life’s a crapshoot.” Good, bad or indifferent, we don’t know the results until we roll the dice. And the dice must be rolled to find out what happens next.
18. Why do you use your initials and not your full name?
Gender bias. Initials are gender neutral. On first look many readers expect a female narrated book to be written by a woman and won’t give it a chance to see if it’s good or not if they know it’s written by a man. The same has been true for female authors writing from a male perspective. That’s why authors like Andre Norton, James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon) and J. A. Jance used male names or initials when writing in what was considered male territo