Today and tomorrow, we talk with suspense novelist Brandt Dodson, author of Original Sin, Seventy Times Seven and the upcoming Root of All Evil (Harvest House).
It was during a creative writing course in college that a professor told Brandt,“You’re a good writer. With a little effort and work, you could be a very good writer.” That comment, and the support offered by a good teacher, set Brandt on a course that would eventually lead to the Colton Parker Mystery Series.
“I wanted Colton to be an ‘every man.' A decent guy who tries his best. He is flawed, and makes mistakes. But he learns from them and moves on. And, of course, he gets away with saying and doing things that the rest of us never could.”
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WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS? Read, and then read some more. And then write, and write some more. Learn the craft, and learn what's already out there. There's no substitute for writing -- if you want to write.
WHAT DO YOU WISH NON-WRITERS UNDERSTOOD? That you don't get "rich" by writing. Too many people (and this probably includes a few writers) write for the wrong reason, or assume that others are writing for the wrong reason. I wrote for years when no money was coming in. I wrote, then (and still do) because it's enjoyable. Now that I have a growing audience -- all the better.
WHAT DO YOU WISH OTHER WRITERS UNDERSTOOD? That we are not in competition. It is unfortunate, but some of that attitude exists.
FOR THE WRITER WITH A NEW BOOK, WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BEST THING TO PROMOTE IT? The internet. I'm not convinced as to what form that should take (whether blogging, posting, reviewing, e-publishing, etc.), but more people can be reached through the web than anywhere else.
However, that having been said, ALL publicizing is geared toward creating buzz. Word of mouth is the best form, and no amount of blogging, paid advertising, etc., can sell a book that people don't want. The best PR firm in the world, can't sell snow to Eskimos.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND JOINING AN AUTHOR GUILD? I would. I have joined the Mystery Writers of America, and Private Eye Writers of America, and have recently been one (of two others) to create the Writer's Guild of Southern Indiana.
However, I think these groups should promote the craft of writing as well as the financial welfare of its authors. The organizations that I've joined, do just that.
WHEN CHOOSING FROM ALL THE ORGANIZATIONS AVAILABLE, WHAT TRAITS SHOULD A NOVELIST LOOK FOR? Integrity: Does this organization have a means to handle finances that makes them accountable? Do they have a board in place that is responsive to the membership?
Purpose/Mission: Why does this group exist? What does this group stand for? Do they seek to promote its member authors and the literature they write, to the betterment of society and the membership? Or do they exist as a way of promoting a few, with the help of the many.
Membership: Who's involved? Who sits on the board? Do they represent my views? My writing? Am I comfortable with their bylaws? Mission statement?
There are many, many writers groups/guilds/ and organizations to choose from. Be selective. Pick the few that are most representative of you. And then, participate. It's a cliché but true -- any organization is only as strong as its weakest link. Don't let that weak link be you.
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Many thanks to author Brandt Dodson. Find him online at BrandtDodson.com.
Related link: Q&A: BRANDT DODSON, PT 1
More mystery and thriller novelists:
Q&A: ERIC WILSON (The Best of Evil)
Q&A: JON L. BREEN (Eye of God)
Q&A: MELANIE WELLS (The Soul Hunter)
Q&A: SUSAN MEISSNER (Widows & Orphans)
Q&A: SANDRA BROWN (Ricochet)