Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview with NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author @AllanLeverone

Which book(s) made it to the USA Today Best-seller list?

A thriller titled FINAL VECTOR was my contribution to the DEADLY DOZEN collection by The Twelve, which spent two weeks on the New York Times list and four weeks (so far) on USA Today’s list.

Often, books hit the USA Today and New York Times Best-selling lists have been out for a number of years. Was that case in your experience?

Definitely. FINAL VECTOR was first released in February 2011 by Medallion Press. After earning out my advance and satisfying my contractual requirements, I requested and received a rights reversion from Medallion in Spring 2013. I then revised the book slightly, added a new Chapter One, and re-released it under my self-publishing imprint, Rock Bottom Books.

Social media has a very important role in marketing these days, but how did you extend your reach beyond that, or did you?

I’ve worked hard to establish a social media presence, mostly on Facebook. My goal, though, is not so much to use social media to push my work, but rather to take advantage of the opportunity to network with other writers and, especially, with readers.

Beyond that, marketing is a question of trying to determine what will be successful before everyone else starts doing it. Needless to say, it’s not easy, but that’s exactly what The Twelve is all about – a dozen mystery/thriller writers banding together to promote each other and to push each other to be better and more successful writers.

If you could provide 5 integral steps that you took to reach best-seller status, what were they and can you elaborate on each step?

I’ll definitely try, but remember – I’m willing to bet every path to bestseller-dom is different for every book/author. That said,

1 – Write the best book you possibly can. You made a great point above about books hitting their stride years after they were originally published. If you take your time, work at your craft, and demand quality from yourself, you may not see the results right away in terms of sales. You may never see the result, because a lot of “hitting the bestseller list” is a question of things happening beyond your control as an author, not the least of which is sheer luck. But if things align properly years down the line and your book is not of high quality, you’ll never be able to take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself.

2 – Be professional. Any time you put your work out for public consumption, there will be a certain percentage of the population that won’t like it. Some of them may hate it, and they might be extremely nasty about how they express their opinion. Ignore the nasty criticism. Responding in kind will never work out in your favor. When your book hits the bestseller list, when there are 50,000 or more copies of it out there that readers have forked over their hard-earned cash to buy, you want them to see you as a pro.

3 – Don’t skimp on professional editing or cover art. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it really is true: cheesy doesn’t work.

4 – Network with other authors. Nobody knows everything; hell, most of us barely know anything. A professional attitude and a willingness to play well with others can go a long way. I was recruited into The Twelve by a highly respected, successful author I very much admire, but had only rarely communicated with. She liked my work and my work ethic, and gave me the opportunity to work with some amazing authors. That opportunity arose out of a Facebook presence that I believe showcased my personality as well as my work.

5 – Try new things. If there’s one truism in the modern world of publishing, it’s that what worked like a charm a year ago is going to fail miserably today, and what is genius today will be pointless tomorrow. Experiment, track your results, try something else. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Of the 5 steps listed above, if an author would apply even one which would you place the greatest value on?

For me it’s simple: Number One. There is sooo much competition out there, among traditionally published as well as self-published authors, that you stand virtually no chance of a long career if you don’t produce quality work. You might manage to get lucky and sell a lot of copies of crap. Maybe. But people who shell out cash for that crap will remember your name, and good luck getting them to buy your next book. Quality trumps all in my opinion. As an author, I want to be proud of the books I put my name on.

Last, but not least, I am a firm believer in the law of attraction. Did this play a role in your journey and if so, please tell us more about it.

The law of attraction absolutely played a role in my journey. I’ve always been drawn to writing, just as I’ve always been drawn to reading. I wrote my first story somewhere around the age of ten – a genre tale about a guy who gets lost in the woods while hiking in the winter. He freezes to death and is found weeks later, one tear frozen to his cheek. (Gimme a break, okay? I was ten!)

When it came time to go off to college, my intention was to major in newspaper journalism. I was going to be a sportswriter. I didn’t show the courage of my convictions, though, and after my freshman year I changed majors to business. After that, the part of me that was drawn to writing sort of faded off into the background.

For a while.

But I never stopped reading. For decades I satisfied my love of the written word by reading somewhere around seventy-five books a year.

Finally, about eight years ago, the writing bug returned with a vengeance, and I started up a sports blog at FoxSports.com. It was a great experience, a lot of fun, and I began to develop a decent following.

But about a year into that adventure it occurred to me that what I really wanted to be doing was writing fiction. I wanted to see if I could entertain readers as my favorite authors had entertained me. So with no experience other than what I had gained through a lifetime of reading, I started pounding out genre fiction – short stories at first, and then novels.

There has been plenty of frustration and lots of rejection. But I knew going in that writing fiction wasn’t going to be easy and success wasn’t going to come overnight. I knew it might never come. I discovered, though, that the more I wrote and the harder I worked at learning the craft, the happier I was. I’m not going to lie and tell you I don’t care about success, because I do, very much. But if you looked into a crystal ball and told me I was never going to sell another book, I would continue to write.

I don’t think I could stop now if I wanted to.

I’ve found myself in a love affair with the written word for the better part of half a century – if that doesn’t qualify as the law of attraction, I’m not sure what would!

Allan Leverone is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eight novels, three novellas and two short story collections. He is a 2012 Derringer Award winner for excellence in short mystery fiction, and his latest release, MR. MIDNIGHT, was named one of Suspense Magazine's Best Books of 2013. He loves to hear from readers; connect on Facebook, Twitter or at AllanLeverone.com.