Monday, April 24, 2006

ITW: ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 3


Today, we conclude our three-part conversation with novelist Robert Liparulo, member of International Thriller Writers. His debut novel is the acclaimed suspenser Comes a Horseman (WestBow), and he is also a contributor to the ITW anthology Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night (Mira).

"Robert Liparulo is one of the best writers to hit the block in a long time. Comes a Horseman is brilliantly conceived and executed. It will leave readers desperately wanting more."
-- Ted Dekker, Obsessed

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PART 3.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
On one hand, I wish people would realize that it isn’t easy. If something reads as though it was easy to write, it was probably painstakingly hard to get it on the page that way, either at the time it was written or by virtue of the training and experience the writer went through. Like anything, the easier something looks, the more work went into it.

On the other hand, what does it matter if the reader thinks it’s easy or not? My job as a writer is to entertain and maybe on some smaller level to educate. If the reader thinks too much about what went into a book, he or she is not into the story enough; the writer didn’t do his job.

So on a case-by-case, basis, like to the guy I meet at a party who says, “What a life. I should quit my job and become a writer,” I’d like to say, “It’s not as easy as it looks.” But in general, readers don’t need to know about writing. They need only to know what they like, what enthralls them.

WHAT ONE THING ABOUT WRITING DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD?
Probably the very thing that took me so long to understand: For my entire career, 20 years of writing in one form or another, I’ve focused on craft—How can I write better? I ignored the fact that there are business considerations to writing—proving you can move books and make the publisher money. I’ve talked to a lot of published writers who are flabbergasted at either their books’ lack of performance or their publishers’ lack of support; but when I ask if they’ve volunteered to hit the road or how much of their own money they’ve put into promotion, they come back with, “That’s the publisher’s job.” I think it’s a two-way street.

FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT?
Be accessible. Be available for interviews and signings, when asked. Understand that the publicists and marketing people aren’t going to be able to draw attention to your book if you don’t do your part, as well.

That means not only being available for whatever they line up, but also making suggestions to them. If you’re writing in a certain genre, you probably read that genre. Most likely, you know it better than anyone else on your team, who have their own reading tastes, as well as a lot of other authors to work with. They may not know which specialty magazines you should be trying to get into, which blogs, which bookstores and conventions. You can let your marketing people know without making a pest of yourself. Help them help you.

Also, I believe it’s critical to get booksellers on your side. New authors, especially, should try to meet as many managers and staff as possible. John Grisham is famous for driving around from store to store, hand-selling his first few books out of the trunk of this car. The retailers he met liked him and probably ended up reading the books he signed and left with them. Then, when someone came in, saying, “I’m looking for a murder mystery or a legal thriller,” these retailers would say, “Boy, do I have just the book for you. I met him. Nice guy, good writer.” If Grisham had not made a personal appeal to those retailers, they would have suggested a book by some other author who did stop by or one that some reviewer liked.

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND JOINING AN AUTHOR GUILD LIKE ITW?
Absolutely. Camaraderie and sharing knowledge is crucial for understanding your craft and market.

OF ALL THE FINE AUTHOR ORGANIZATIONS AVAILABLE, WHAT ABOUT INTERNATIONAL THRILLER WRITERS DO YOU FEEL SETS IT APART?
Primarily, it’s the like-mindedness. We’re all working in the same genre, we’re all trying to entertain through suspense. When a member talks about craft or marketing or trends, it’s more likely to fit my own situation. I also like that everyone seems to care immensely for the genre, for the publishing industry, for writing as a career. ITW members are professional, experienced, and extraordinarily generous with their time, talent and money, to ensure our having a truly effective organization.

BONUS: THE MUNSTERS OR ADDAMS FAMILY?
Addams Family. That Morticia, wow. And I’ve always liked John Astin. The Munsters kind of creeped me out when I was a kid. I guess that was the idea.

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Many thanks to Bob for his time. Find Comes a Horseman at Amazon.com and many other fine retailers. Find the author online at his official site.

Related links:
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 1
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 2

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