MacMillan Audio recently hired my firm, Planned Television Arts, to conduct a radio tour for Joseph Finder’s new audiobook spy thriller, Buried Secrets. I enjoy representing his work to the news media because the radio stations really embrace him and it makes our lives easier. I had the opportunity to conduct an online interview with him the other day. Enjoy!
1. Joseph, you have had several New York Times bestsellers. What do you attribute your success to? Persistence, luck, and a real effort to tell stories about characters readers can relate to. My books are thrillers, but they’re based in settings that are as realistic as I can make them. Readers probably aren’t going to find themselves stalked by sociopaths or held hostage at gunpoint, but most of them go to work in an office every day, sit through strategic planning meetings, worry about their next promotion, and do the other things my characters are doing before their worlds turn upside down.
2. What is your newest book, Buried Secrets, about? BURIED SECRETS is the second novel to feature my new series character, Nick Heller. Nick is an international private security consultant – a “private spy,” if you will – who has set up his own business in Boston after leaving the firm he was with in his debut, VANISHED. Boston is Nick’s hometown, and BURIED SECRETS begins with his taking on a job for an old family friend, the man his mother used to work for. This man, Marshall Marcus, is an internationally prominent hedge fund manager, and his teen-aged daughter has been kidnapped by some very bad people.
3. What advice do you have for writers struggling to get published? Learn from the masters. Read as much as you can in your chosen genre, and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Everyone learns how to write by imitating, so find good material to imitate, and rewrite your work until your own voice comes through. Ask people you respect for feedback — people you aren’t related to — and listen carefully to what they have to say. Keep asking, and keep revising. Nobody’s first draft is publishable. Nobody’s. And then be persistent. Rejection is part of this business, and you have to be able to take it and keep asking. I tell people that finding an agent is harder than finding a job, and only slightly less difficult than finding a spouse.
4. Do you have any marketing tips or social media strategies for today’s author to promote their books? I’m on Twitter and Facebook because I genuinely enjoy those sites. They’re like online break rooms for me, which is great because I don’t work in an office with a lot of people. In fact, I have to ration my time there, because otherwise they’re too much of a distraction. Their real value in terms of promotion is about building loyalty and name recognition over time. You have to make the connection before you can make the sale. A lot of authors make the mistake of treating social media as advertising before they do the hard work of introducing themselves and building their social networks. Getting on Twitter and asking people to buy your book is the online equivalent of standing on a street corner and shouting, and about as effective. You have to get to know your potential readers, and let them get to know you. Social media is invaluable for that.
5. What do you find to be the most challenging aspects in creating your books? The great fun of writing is being able to ask “what if” about almost everything. What if that guy in Starbucks with two Blackberries is a political double agent? What if that nice elderly couple next door are actually part of the witness protection program? What if that stuffed animal on the highway shoulder was stuffed with plastic explosives? So the biggest challenge is probably just having to make those choices – making the decision to tell this story instead of that one, and commit to it for the 90,000 words it takes to write a book. Writing is a great job, but it’s a job. You have to sit in that chair every day and get it done, whether you’d rather be gardening or going to a baseball game or doing one more piece of research.
Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts (www.plannedtvarts.com) and blogs daily at http://www.bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com/. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.
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