Posts Tagged With: Amazon

Behind the Bestseller: Robert Buettner (Part 2)

Bestselling author and all-around nice guy Robert Buettner is back on You Can Write A Novel to give us a glimpse of what it’s like to be the author of a “big” book — and he tells us how he tackled writing something entirely new on the heels of the critically acclaimed Jason Wander series.  Plus, he shares his five tips for becoming a bestselling author.

Laurence MacNaughton:  So what’s the most common question you get asked by readers? (Besides “Who does those awesome covers?”)

Robert Buettner:  Reader questions (as opposed to aspiring writer questions, which we cover below) vary as widely as readers. The most asked question is actually mundane. “What order are the books in?” Answer:

I. Jason Wander, or Orphanage, series from Orbit:

1. Orphanage

2. Orphan’s Destiny

3. Orphan’s Journey

4. Orphan’s Alliance

5. Orphan’s Triumph

II. Orphan’s Legacy series from Baen:

1. Overkill

2. Undercurrents (forthcoming July 5, 2011)

3. Title to be determined

I think the confusion may be worse because e-book readers skip some clues that physical book readers see. The physical books of the Jason Wander series now in stores have the book number, 1 through 5, on the spine, and the five books are listed in order inside, opposite the title page, under the heading “Books by Robert Buettner” The new series has a similar list opposite its title pages. But, as is customary in publishing, each publisher only lists the author’s books that IT publishes. Thus, “Baen Books by Robert Buettner” lists only the new series.

LM:  What’s it like writing an entirely new book, after the critically acclaimed success of the Jason Wander series? Was it hard to switch gears?

Liberating, actually. The Jason Wander books were written 100% in Jason’s first person voice. The new series allowed me to see and comment on the world from new viewpoints. One viewpoint is very new. In fact, I hope, readers will find it not just new but unique.

In the same way, a new publisher, and so new editing and supporting perspectives, were also liberating.

Time Warner Aspect, which became Little Brown Orbit, publishes the Jason Wander books, and does it marvelously. Orbit’s also very much a New York Big Six imprint, and as such formal in author relations, compared to an independent.

Baen, which is publishing the new series, is very much an independent. But a unique one. Baen began as, and kind of remains, the defacto science fiction imprint of Simon & Schuster. Baen’s SF/F list is as large as a New York Big Six imprint’s list, and S&S distributes Baen books with all the clout of the New York Big Six publisher that S&S is. But Baen isn’t physically located in New York. Toni Weisskopf, Baen’s publisher, continues the late Jim Baen’s enthusiasm and hands on involvement with Baen’s authors, as well with Baen’s readers. Baen’s process is less formal than a New York Big Six imprint, but the quality, expertise, and resources are very equivalent.

Another change accompanied the shift to Baen. Baen/Simon & Schuster chose to give the new series “Big Book Treatment,” meaning the format is larger even than trade paperback, with author name prominent. The theory is that I now have a following who will buy the book not because of the covers (which are bold and striking) or the store placement (which is prominent), or even the reviews, but because (gulp) I wrote it. That’s flattering, but also high-wire scary.

LM: So, no pressure or anything.  How about sharing a common question from aspiring writers?

RB:  “How do I become a New-York published author?” There are usually collateral, accompanying questions, like, “Do I actually have to, like, write the book first?” Or “How do I make sure the publisher includes Paris and Tokyo on my signing tour?”

Here’s the answer I give:

1. Write. Don’t just think about writing and read books about writing, though by all means do those things. Do it. Until you take that step you won’t know whether you want it bad enough. And if you really expect to learn the craft well enough to be New York published, you had better want it pretty bad.

2. Write lots. They say that a writer has to write a million words to develop the skills to produce salable commercial fiction. I believe Stephen King had collected seven hundred short story rejection slips before he sold his first one. I completed seven novels of varying degrees of awfulness, now boxed up for eternity, before Orphanage.

3. Write well. Study The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and anything Mark Twain wrote about writing. The best contemporary treatment of the art and craft of writing that I’ve seen is King’s On Writing. Find a mutual critique group of people who know what they are talking about, take your lumps, and learn from their mistakes and yours. If you write well, you will be ahead of ninety percent of the twenty-five thousand or more unsolicited slush submittals that a reputable agent wades through annually.

4. Rewrite well. There is no good writing. There is only good rewriting.

5. Last but not least, persevere. When you have written, then rewritten, a novel so good that it can’t be ignored, be prepared to reinvent yourself and your craft when it is ignored, anyway.

Wise words!  Stay tuned for the final installment of Behind the Bestseller: Robert Buettner right here on You Can Write A Novel.  And if you’re interested in checking out his latest novel, Overkill (which I had to force myself to put down so I could publish this interview), you can find it here:

Robert Buettner’s ‘blog

Robert Buettner’s website

Baen’s webscription page for Overkill

Amazon’s Overkill page

Amazon’s Undercurrents page

Amazon’s Orphanage page

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SF author Laura E. Reeve tells it like it is

It’s always a pleasure to feature a Colorado science fiction author, and Laura E. Reeve is no exception.  Fans of David Weber or Jack Campbell will enjoy her military science fiction series about flawed but likable pilot Major Ariane Kedros.  Her latest book, Pathfinder, just came out this summer and is in stores now.

Sci Fi Bookshelf:  For those who haven’t picked up a Major Ariane Kedros novel yet, how would you describe the series?

Laura E. Reeve:  Military-flavored SF Adventure.  The heroine, Reserve Major Ariane Kedros, had her identity erased by the government for her own protection, due to her missions during the war. She now has a civilian job as pilot and explorer, but still undertakes Intelligence assignments–always dangerous, because not everyone supports the “new peace.” She also has to deal with wartime guilt and sometimes, against her own inclinations, she has to help old enemies.

SFB:  What authors are your biggest influences?

LER:  C.J. Cherryh fascinates me with her ability to spin alien mindsets and complex politics. Perhaps she even affected me subliminally; I only recently realized I used the same main character name she used in her Cyteen books, which I’d read years ago. Other SF/F writers I like who might have influenced my writing are Dan Simmons (irresistible subplots and character agendas), David Brin (dolphin space explorers–genius!), Vernor Vinge (suspenseful plots), Joan D. Vinge (riveting character conflict), and Marian Zimmer Bradley (because, in the end, it’s about characters and story).  At the least, I hope some of these authors’ skills have rubbed off on me.

SFB:  What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

LER:  I love editing most, by far, because the blank page is still intimidating to me. I also have the problem that I have to write sequentially, to know what each character has been through up to that point–which makes my first drafts pretty painful. However, once I have something to work with, I’m in heaven. I can add scenes, tighten connections between plot/subplot points, enhance characters, and “mine” for more conflict.

SFB:  What are you working on next?  Any more Major Ariane Kedros novels coming up?

LER:  My publisher (Penguin/Roc) wants to wait and see how well the Kedros series does, before contracting me for more books in that series.  I’m okay with that, since they paid for my editor, copyeditors, artists, formatting, printing, distribution, marketing, etc., and there’s such a lag time in determining how well books sell these days. So I’m reworking some of my traditional fantasy and we’ll see how that floats…

SFB: Do you have any advice for new writers today?

LER:  Persevere, but remain flexible. Most writers understand perseverance; finish your work and keep pitching it, right? Agreed. But understand the market and keep moving beyond the one beautiful manuscript you’re trying to sell. I’m not advocating “following the market” or warping a story into something it isn’t. But the ideal flexible writer has several finished manuscripts under his or her belt, and knows what to pitch to whom. An ideal flexible writer also begins working on a different manuscript as soon as the current one is in shape to be submitted.

Note that I said an IDEAL flexible writer, and I’ve got the cautionary tale: In late 2004, my agent said perhaps this wasn’t the “right time” for my traditional fantasy, and it might not be the “first manuscript” I sold. What tactful wording she used! Did I have anything else?  Unfortunately, I’d just spent a year writing a sequel to that manuscript, which was NOT the best use of my time. I made sure to finish the draft I was working on, archived all the information about the world, and put my traditional fantasies on the shelf. I then switched gears, and dug up the beginning chapters of a novel that would eventually become Peacekeeper, my first sale. Now, I’m going back to that first traditional fantasy, editing it, and sending it in. Then I’ll be moving on to a steampunk fantasy that’s been growing in the back of my mind. I’m trying to be more flexible.

SFB:  We’ll keep our eyes open for future books.  Laura, thank you so much for your time!

LER:  Thank you very much.

Laura E. Reeve
The Major Ariane Kedros Novels

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Brand New Look — But No Surveys?!

It’s the end of an era.  (I’ve always wanted to say that.)  Thanks to the spectacular new “Template Designer” feature on Blogger, now has that cool sprawling starfield background I’ve always wanted.

But there’s only one problem:  No surveys!  Where once sat my beautiful surveys (okay, maybe not beautiful, but amusing, at least) there was nothing left but ugly “File Not Found” errors.  So I took them off, with a twinge of sorrow.

But for the curious, my last poll about ebooks revealed (to my surprise) that most respondents favor ebooks.  Some people say they carry ereaders, but most people responded that they read ebooks on a computer.  Hmm.  I’m sure you’re not reading them on your WORK computer, nooooo…

Anyway, food for thought.  If you haven’t tried an ebook yet, why not give it a shot?  There are plenty of free ebooks on Amazon, and you can even download the reader program for free.  So you can read it on your computer.  While you’re, um, working.

Or not.

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