I have the pleasure of having the legendary Al Leverone on my site today. And I say legendary because, well, he is. He’s been writing for years, and recently, he hit it big. Like, really big. Like, over 60,000 downloads on the Kindle big. Don’t worry, though, he’s modest, so you don’t have to be nervous in his presence. He’s really cool and really down-to-earth, and he’s among the Stonehouse Ink family, which sort of makes him even cooler. His latest thriller, THE LONELY MILE, is currently ranked in two bestselling categories, and he’s got other books two in both the thriller and horror market. Diverse, cool, and crazy, talented, here’s Al Leverone to talk to you about how to define success. Enjoy.
We’re in the midst of a revolution; at least that is true of those of us who are either writers or readers. At no time in history has it been so easy for anyone wishing to be a novelist to become one. The gatekeepers—agents and traditional publishers—have been, if not deposed, at least mostly nullified, their influence a fraction of what it once was.
And that’s a good thing for just about everyone, unless of course, you happen to count yourself among the previously-mentioned gatekeepers, in which case you probably wish a plague upon whatever genius first came up with the idea of putting books into electronic devices and making them readily available to everyone with access to only slightly more spare change than most people can dig out of their couch cushions.
For me personally, the ebook revolution has been a boon. I struggled for years to break into the traditional publishing game, chasing agents with the fervor of a teenage boy trying to catch the eye of the cute girl next door. I called it “riding the query-go-round.” I would write a manuscript, rewrite it, edit it, clean and polish it the best I could, and then begin querying agents, hoping for that one positive response that would jump-start my career.
And I came close, too, a number of times, receiving very complimentary responses from some highly-sought-after agents, always falling a little short, reading time and again that while they liked my work, it wasn’t a good fit with them for one reason or another.
Finally I caught a break in December 2009, when Medallion Press responded enthusiastically to my submission of an aviation thriller, FINAL VECTOR, offering me a contract for publication of my first book. That was followed up a few months later by an offer from StoneHouse Ink to publish my next thriller, THE LONELY MILE, and I was on my way, professionally-speaking.
But here’s the thing: What is the definition of success? By many standards I had already become wildly successful, beating the odds by getting my work into a position where it could be read by thriller lovers.
Now that I had accomplished my goal, though, I wanted more. It wasn’t enough merely to be able to say I wrote these books, I wanted people to read them. Well, I quickly came to realize that everything comes with a price, and the price of the publishing revolution is this: So many people are flooding the market with so many books, that what has always been an uphill battle—getting people to try the work of a new author—has become a monumental challenge.
My theory is that people don’t read books, they read authors. The most successful authors in any genre are the ones whose names have become recognizable by the vast majority of readers in that genre. So my goal as a thriller/horror author is now to accomplish exactly that. I want thriller and horror readers to begin to recognize my name when they see it, and know what to expect when they make the decision to buy my books.
Because any book, no matter how successful and how well-written, will have its share of detractors. Not all content appeals to every reader, and thank God for that! If everyone loved the same things, life would be incredibly boring. So, while I am under no illusions everyone will love my books, if I can get them in front of enough eyes, I feel confident the majority of thriller readers will enjoy my thriller titles, and the same with my horror work.
I’m not trying to change the world. I want to entertain readers, and if I can accomplish that very simple goal, I will be happy. Of course, entertaining more readers is better than entertaining fewer, but I’m working on that. Day by day.
I’d like to thank Allan for dropping by my site and chatting with us. He truly rocks, so show him some love and hop on over to amazon or b&n.com and pick up a copy of one of his titles. You won’t be let down.
Spread the fire,
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