Robert (Bob) Levinson interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Nov 2, 2017 12:59:49 AM
Robert (Bob) Levinson interview with David Alan Binder
Shortened bio (it is seriously extensive and a fun read) from his website:
Robert S. Levinson is the bestselling author of the stand-alone novels: “The Evil Deeds We Do,” "Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers," "Phony Tinsel," "A Rhumba in Waltz Time," "The Traitor in Us All," "In the Key of Death," "Where the Lies Begin" and "Ask a Dead Man," as well as the Neil Gulliver and Stevie Marriner series of mystery-thrillers, "The Elvis and Marilyn Affair," "The James Dean Affair, "The John Lennon Affair," "The Andy Warhol Affair (Hot Paint)," and now “The Stardom Affair.”
He won the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Best Short Story, Derringer Award and a Shamus award nominee, was an Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Award winner three consecutive years.
Plays by Levinson were featured at the inaugural and second annual International Mystery Writers Festival of RiverPark Center in Owensboro, KY.
Levinson served four years on the Mystery Writers of America national board of directors, two years as president of MWA's Southern California chapter. He wrote and produced two Annual Edgar Awards galas of the MWA and the inaugural and 2nd Annual Thriller Awards shows of the International Thriller Writers organization.
In addition to MWA, ITW, Sisters-in-Crime, Private Eye Writers of America and the International Association of Crime Writers, Levinson is a member of the Writers Guild of America-West (past board of directors member) and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is past chairperson f the editorial board of the WGAw's monthly magazine, Written By, and served six terms as president of the Hollywood Press Club.
His first novel, "The Elvis and Marilyn Affair," Levinson embarked upon a fifth career, following decades of success as a newspaperman, a public relations executive, and a writer-producer of more than three dozen television specials
His company, Levinson Associates, created and pioneered "independent PR support services" in the music industry and at one time was the largest rock-contemporary music PR firm in the world. Levinson Associates clients-comprising more than 700 major star names-- include Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Jimmy Buffett, The Osmonds, Olivia Newton-John, Ike & Tina Turner, Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker, Bread, Kinky Friedman, Shaun Cassidy, David Cassidy, David Essex, John Entwistle, Sparks, and Tom Petty, as well as the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Arnold Kopelson Productions, Dick Clark Productions, Mike Curb Enterprises, the Actors Studio, Lee Strasberg, Richard Harris, Suzanne Somers, Marcel Marceau, Roger Clinton; Motown Records, Capitol Records, MCA Records, RSO Records, Island Records, Jobete Music, Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas; the Tropicana Hotel, Las Vegas; and, the Friars Club.
Later, he formed Levinson Entertainment Ventures, Inc., developing, writing and producing some 40 comedy, musical, variety and awards specials for the world marketplace, among them the Annual Soap Opera Awards, the first and second annual Beach Music specials, and shows starring major artists such as Glen Campbell, David Soul, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marvin Gaye, Blood, Sweat & Tears, WAR, America, Anne Murray, Charlie Rich, Charley Pride, the Jacksons, and others. Two Suzanne Somers one-hour variety specials for CBS Television were created and developed by Levinson, supervising production for Hamel-Somers Entertainment. "Here Comes Didi!" was a series of half hour comedies produced in Hollywood and West Germany and starring one of Europe's major entertainers, Dieter (Didi) Hallervorden.
1. How do you pronounce your name?
Levinson as in Heaven-sun.
2. Where are you currently living?
Los Angeles, CA
3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
“Write what you know” is just about every author’s standard advice. Actually, it’s only a jumping off point for invention, to be used where it helps support the story you’re telling.
4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?
I edit and rewrite as I go along, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, so my first draft in theory is my only draft and I’m done when I reach The End except for one read-through to catch typos, any inconsistencies, and such.
5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
I self-published a couple novels and short stories way, way back when. They’re still up there on Amazon, Smashwords, etc., but I rarely pay attention to how they’re doing. My vote is always for a publisher to do all the tech work, so I can devote all those hours to my writing.
a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?
Last nine books, including the current THE STARDOM AFFAIR, with Five Star/Gale/Cengage. Waterville, Maine.
6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
Every format has its fans. Write for the joy of writing. My wife at first championed a book in hand to the exclusion of any other format. I pushed her into trying a tablet download and, ya know what?—she fell for it immediately, hasn’t read via hardcover since. (I’m still the hardcover member of the family, so preference balances out here...)
7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?
Not necessarily a “secret;” you’ll hear it from other authors multiple times. Don’t quit writing or submitting because of a few or more rejections. There’s someone out there who’s been hoping to come across your kind of story; told in your unique voice and your paths are bound to cross at some time. On my first crime novel (THE ELVIS AND MARILYN AFFAIR), about a dozen agents passed before I landed one. Then one after another submission brought a polite rejection until a publisher came along who wanted to take on the book. Total elapsed time from finished ms to getting an agent to finding a publisher: about three years. Now add about a year-plus, the time it takes to get from ms to finished hardcover ready for shipping and sales.
8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
One you have a finished/polished ms, check for reference sources that list agents who represent your genre. These agents will have a web site and no doubt Submissions instructions. Give ‘em what they want one-by-one. One agent passes, move on to the next. Don’t let rejection slow you down.
9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Join writer organizations that expose you to authors and others in your genre of choice, e.g., Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and subscribe to magazines such as Crimespree and Mystery Scene. Fastest way to keep abreast of news and views of career value.
The short story market is a great way to get exposure and develop a fan base, but it’s also a tough market to crack and the wait time between submission and acceptance or rejection can be on the polite side of forever. The Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock mystery magazines contain excellent examples of what’s selling overall in the current mystery market and by whom. (Full disclosure: I had a story in the May/June issue of Queen and am due to have another in the November/December issue of Hitchcock.)
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
Your job is only beginning when the book drops. You are partners in promotion with your publisher. There are interviews to solicit, signing/speaking engagements to set at bookstores and libraries, conferences and conventions to attend for their exposure value, FB and other social media, etc., etc.
11. How many books have you written?
Thirteen. Fifteen when you throw in the two self-published. Sixteen if you care to include the one I’m currently working on. I’m good for writing about two novels a year in any good year...
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)?
When you’re not writing, read the classics and more contemporary works by authors you admire. No, not to copy anyone’s style. Your “voice” is yours exclusively and is not to be tampered with. Rather, they provide by osmosis lessons in story structure and continuity.
13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
Plan for them in advance.
14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I don’t know that mine do, except that I believe I developed a modest following by focusing most of my stuff on show business, the movies and music, putting into play much of the history and background I was party to/participated in during my old career in entertainment. Other authors develop and grow their appeal through choice of story matter, familiarity with the subject matter, and a writing style that resonates with the reading public.
15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
Add to what I’ve already mentioned things like radio-tv appearances, interviews, blog tours, contests with your book as the prize(s)...anything that will draw attention to the book and separate it from the pack. For some of this you’ll need a pitch other than a story summary that incites interest. And, of course, blurbs for the book by best-selling authors with a national reputation.
16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I’d probably have jumped into social media sooner. So tied to methods of the past, I hadn’t fully familiarized myself with its impact on recognition and sales. I’m a regular on FB.
17. What saying or mantra do you live by?
They knock ya down, ya pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again...
18. Anything else you would like to say?
Thanks for inviting me here. I hope some of what I’ve said made sense and will prove of value to writers struggling to gain a foothold in the publishing world.