When you put the words ‘terrorists’ and ‘assassination’ together, the first thing comes to my mind is thriller author Allan Leverone. While Allan has been featured in such publications as Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Shroud Magazine, Twisted Dreams, Mysterical-E and many other venues, both print and online, he has written two masterful books with Final Vector being his latest one.
We had the pleasure to talk to Allan about the writing and the publishing of his new book.
Thank you for this interview, Allan. First, congratulations on your new book, Final Vector! Where did you get the idea to write it?
Allan: Thanks for having me! I’ve been an air traffic controller for nearly thirty years, so I suppose it makes sense that my first published thriller (my other book, Postcards From the Apocalypse, is a collection of previously-published short fiction) would be aviation-related. The funny thing is, Final Vector was the third novel-length manuscript I wrote but the first to take advantage of my aviation background. I was pitching one of my earlier manuscripts to an agent back in 2008 and he wasn’t the least bit interested in it. To make conversation, he asked what I did for work in the real world and when I told him, he looked at me like I was a damned fool—he was amazingly perceptive—and asked why I hadn’t written an air traffic control thriller. I took that as a sign and got to work on FINAL VECTOR a month or so later.
Allan: Interestingly, Final Vector doesn’t really fit into the horror category; it’s pretty much a straightforward thriller. I do have two books in the works, though, that can legitimately be classified as horror or thriller or both. Paskagankee is about an isolated northern Maine village suffering a brutal murder spree directly related to a three hundred year old Native American curse, and Flicker, which I’m working on now, tells the story of identical twins separated at birth who share an unusual and destructive psychic ability. I have high hopes for both novels and hope to see them both published soon.
The publishing process – would you like to take us back on that journey and let us know how it happened for you?
Allan: It’s definitely been an adventure. I completed my first manuscript back in the early spring of 2007 and naively assumed I would simply send it out to the major publishers, then sit back and field the offers, picking from the best one. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours over the last several years querying agents and Indie publishers and learning as much as I could about the business side of writing.
In December, 2009 I received a very enthusiastic response from Medallion Press regarding my novel about an air traffic controller who finds himself tangled up in a plot to assassinate U.S. President Robert Cartwright by blowing up Air Force One. I signed my contract later that month for a mass-market paperback release of Final Vector.
Final Vector is in ebook format. How do you feel about that?
Allan: Perfect segue from the previous question, because a few months after signing my contract with Medallion, they informed me they were pulling out of the mass-market paperback format for their books. It represented too much overhead, too many potential returns, and the cost was staggering, resulting in a lack of profitability. Their solution was to take the books previously intended as mass-market paperbacks, and release them in the ebook format instead.
To say I was disappointed at the time would be a massive understatement. My entire life I had dreamed of holding my own book in my hands, not holding an electronic tablet. But the publishing landscape has been changing so rapidly and the market for ebooks has exploded—and continues to explode—so dramatically, that it turned out to be a wise move, both for Medallion Press and for me. I’m very excited to be a part of the biggest revolution to hit publishing in five hundred years.
How does marketing an ebook differ from marketing a paperback?
Allan: When people think of book marketing, they invariably picture book signings, those lavish, heavily-attended functions where lines of excited readers stretch out the door of the bookstore, everyone waiting to have their copy signed by the author. In reality, unless your name is J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, that picture is complete fiction, no pun intended. For a mid-list author, a book signing more likely means hours of mostly fruitless efforts to get the attention of, at most, a few dozen potential readers.
With an ebook, signings become irrelevant. Most people seem pretty unhappy when you try to mark up their Kindle or their Nook, so there’s even less benefit to a book signing than usual. Instead, I’ve spent my efforts in an attempt to put my product in front of as many eyes as possible. I’m in the midst of a two-month blog tour in support of my debut release with the theory being that no one will buy a book they don’t know about.
Has your opinion of the way we get published changed since you’ve become published? Do you feel there are more opportunities for writers to become authors?
Allan: The advantage of traditional publishing has always been in distribution. Random House and Penguin and the other big-time publishers had the resources and the clout to position your book on shelves of stores across the country. If you considered self-publishing, you had no chance of matching that distribution advantage.
Now, though, with the development of e-publishing, that advantage is mostly gone. More and more mid-list authors and above are coming to the conclusion that there is more money to be made from releasing their books electronically themselves than from accepting terms which seem slanted toward the major publishers.
As far as opportunities are concerned, there’s no question there are more now. With a little effort, anyone can become published. That raises obvious concerns about quality, but people are smart. They will quickly become adept—if they haven’t already—at separating the wheat from the chaff in the book market.
What advice would you give first time authors to prepare them?
Allan: There is so much more to putting out a book than just writing it. If you are writing for the sake of your “art,” that’s one thing, but if you expect people to part with their hard-earned cash to buy your work, you had better make it as tight and professional as you can. Because if you don’t, someone else will, and they will be only too happy to suck up the readership you were hoping for.
Beyond that, my only advice is to be tenacious. If you have a problem dealing with rejection, you might want to consider some other form of artistic endeavor, because whether you’re talking about novels or the short story market, the competition is fierce and there will be plenty of people only too willing to tell you that your work is not good enough. Be prepared to get past the disappointment and move on.
Thank you so much for this interview, Allan. Do you have any final words?
Allan: Absolutely. First of all, thank you for having me. The Crimespace readership is huge, and the opportunity to introduce people to Final Vector is something I very much appreciate.
Secondly, Final Vector is my first novel, and this whole adventure has been one long, ongoing learning experience. I would value any constructive feedback regarding my work from any reader interested in giving it, good, bad or otherwise. Anyone interested in contacting me about Final Vector or any of my work can get in touch with me through www.allanleverone.com.
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