Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mr. Met Offers
Unique View
Dan Reilly has a unique view of the world. Not through rose-colored glasses, but from the inside of a giant paper-mâché baseball head. Reilly served as the original “Mr. Met”, baseball’s first mascot.
Reilly chronicles his experiences in his Print-On-Demand book, The Original Mr. Met Remembers: When the Miracle Began.
“I was encouraged to (write the book) by friends and family,” Reilly said. “I had so many stories to tell. I’m a storyteller.”
It took Reilly about four years to write the book.
Seeing the book finally make it into print was a big day for him. “When I first received the book with the cover, that’s when reality hit. It was a great feeling.”
Reilly, who is not particularly comfortable in front of the computer, received help from his friend Richard Blodgett, an accomplished author and historian, to negotiate the demands of publishing in the electronic age.
“He was a big help for me. He was great about it,” Reilly said. “It really came out well. I’m very pleased with how everything worked out.”
While the book came out in November 2007, Reilly will begin marketing the book in earnest as Major League Baseball approaches spring training in March.
“I’m in the process of contacting everyone I know,” Reilly said. “Any of the contacts I have in the world of sports.”
Reilly has heard positive comments from many of the former Met players he used to cheer on. “They’re excited for me,” Reilly said.

Friday, January 25, 2008

iUniverse Dies,
Leatherface Lives
This sure does look like a bad horror movie.

iUniverse is dead. The doors will close on March 31, 2008.

I spent 6½ years at iUniverse from November 1999 through September 2006. I met some of the most amazing people there among my coworkers and am very pleased that many of them remain my closest friends. I also had the pleasure of working with some of the best as-of-yet undiscovered authors publishing today. So it was with great disappointment that I greeted the news that iUniverse would close its Lincoln, NE office.

I’m extremely proud of the work we did at the company and the many quality books we helped bring to the public. I’ve featured many of those books on this blog, titles like The Death of Milly Mahoney, Tom’s War and The Quest. I was proud to help get other titles like Cagney & Lacey… and Me, My Father’s Voice and Subterranean Towers out to the public.

What’s that you say, iUniverse isn’t dead? It’s just moving to Indiana?

Authorhouse and its parent company, AuthorSolutions, purchased iUniverse in September of 2007 and is moving the iUniverse operations to its headquarters in Bloomington, IN. The name and the logo may go to Indiana, but the heart and the soul, the employees that made iUniverse what it is will remain in Lincoln. The iUniverse in Indiana will be akin to a reanimated corpse in a George Romero film. Some iUniverse employees will be offered the opportunity to relocate to Indiana, but I don’t believe many will be willing or able to take advantage of the offer.

A few years back 1st Books Library changed its name to Authorhouse for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was to distance itself from a less-than-stellar reputation. It seems that original reputation was hard to shake. So now Authorhouse will go around dressed in the iUniverse name and logo. Kind of like Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Good luck with that. Good luck to authors who venture too close to that house.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book Signings:
A Sea of Monsters?
When I first started this blog I envisioned a site that would offer all sorts of information for authors who were considering using Print-On-Demand technology to publish their books. While I’m proud of the work that I’ve done on the blog, it has not yet realized my original vision. In general, the blog has featured anecdotal information from POD authors who can be called successful in one way or another. I’ve mixed in the occasional traditionally-published author for their perspectives as well.

Anyway, I’ll be striving to get a broader mix of topics into the blog in the New Year. This should be easier as I avoid doing my homework in my MBA classes at all costs. With that in mind, I’ve run across a couple of posts on other blogs that talk about book signings and there place in every authors marketing campaign. I’ve only attended a few book signings, but enough to know that first-time authors come into them with high expectations and are often sorely disappointed. I’ve seen authors become angry and even cry after failing to sell a single book at an event.

A small consolation may be that book signings are a challenge for even some well-established authors. Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson juvenile fiction series and the Tres Navarre mystery series for adults, recently blogged about his early book signing experiences.

“I remembered one of the first book signings I ever did, ten years ago, when Big Red Tequila first came out. I was invited to Waldenbooks in a shopping mall in Concord, California. They set up a table at the front of the store. They allotted two hours,” Riordan writes. “I sat there in my coat and tie and watched people pass by, steering clear of me like I was an insurance salesman. I gave directions to Sears. I explained several times that I wasn’t an employee at the bookstore and I didn’t know where the self-help section was. I signed a napkin for a couple of teenaged boys who thought the title Big Red Tequila sounded slightly naughty because it had to do with alcohol. I sold no books.”

Riordan’s book signing struggles ran through the publication of The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters, the first and second books in the Percy Jackson series.

“I remember when Sea of Monsters came out, a year later, I was still having anxious conversations with my editor and agent, wondering what I could do to improve sales,” Riordan writes. “Were we missing something? Was I wrong to think the series would connect with kids? It took almost two years before I really felt like things were turning around.”

One of Riordan’s big breaks came when The Lightning Thief was selected for Al’s Book Club for Kids on NBC’s The Today Show. That honor came just prior to the release of the third Percy Jackson book, The Titan’s Curse. It was also just prior to the release of the last Harry Potter book, when interest in juvenile fiction was at a peak. Timing is everything.

I’ve read all three of the Percy Jackson books and enjoyed them thoroughly. Greek mythology is a central element in the books. The stories of Apollo, Athena and Poseidon helped establish my love of reading early on, so it was great to see that world featured in new adventures.
The fourth book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, is available for pre-order and set to be released May 6, 2008.

Over on R.W. Ridley’s blog, The Self-Published American, authors are being encouraged to think beyond the book signing and take advantage of the many marketing opportunities that the internet offers. Ridley references a recent article from the Christian Science Monitor, Why Book Tours are Passé.

“Among the many reasons for this shift are marketing tools that have made it possible to orchestrate a virtual encounter, without the hassle or expense of travel,” the article states. “Publishers and authors are now touting books through podcasts, film tours, blog tours, book videos, and book trailers.”

Ridley is an award-winning, self-published author and is also a sales and marketing consultant for POD Company BookSurge. His blog features a number of other helpful marketing hints. Be sure to check out his books on Amazon as well, The Takers and Délon City.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Litigator Publishes
Chasing Hunter
Chasing Hunter, a new novel published through BookSurge, has author Cort Malone running toward success. The novel follows Jake Hunter, a summer associate at a prestigious Manhattan law firm who finds himself caught up in a harrowing game of cat and mouse that puts his friends and family in grave danger. When Jake discovers his mentor, the firm's biggest rainmaker, lying in a pool of blood and near death, the attorney's final words lead Jake to evidence that could topple the highest ranks of the Russian mafia.
A few of the reviews on Amazon have compared Malone’s work to John Grisham. An insurance coverage litigator with the Manhattan law firm of Anderson Kill & Olick, Malone would like to emulate Grisham and his Rainmaker character Rudy Baylor, with success in the court room and on the bestseller list.
He recently took time to share his experiences writing and publishing Chasing Hunter.
What kind of marketing are you doing for your book? What have you found to be most successful? What has been least successful?
Chasing Hunter became available on Amazon on October 25th, so it has only been out for about 7 weeks, and I feel like I am still in the early stages of marketing. At this point, I have focused more on getting all of my family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances to read the book. To that end, I emailed everyone I knew with about the book, and asked them to forward the email on to anyone they thought would be interested. I also had postcards made up and mailed/distributed them to over 1000 people. We have hosted two book launch/signing parties (in New Jersey and Long Island), and I have also brought the book into several bookstores in an effort to get them to carry it. Finally, BookSurge helped me compile a press release, which was distributed to close to 800 media outlets. The email campaign and the launch parties were the most successful marketing efforts, and the press release appears to have been the least successful.
Did you seek a traditional publisher for the book prior to pursuing print-on-demand? If so, what kind of experience was that?
Before pursuing print-on-demand, I attempted to get an agent to represent me and attempt to sell Chasing Hunter to a traditional publisher. I did the research, studied the agent's guidebooks, and sent about 16-18 query letters to the agents who I believed were the best fit for my book. Unfortunately, the responses were all very brief form letters, often stating that the agents were not taking on new clients or did not feel that Chasing Hunter was right for them. Although this experience did not work out, I am glad that I went through it, and feel that it was a good learning experience for how to do a better job approaching agents in the future.
What led you to decide print-on-demand was the way to go? How did you go about researching the industry and what led you to decide on BookSurge?
I wasn't sure that print-on-demand was "the way to go" until after I began researching the industry. As with a lot of research these days, I think my first effort was typing the phrase "self-publishing" into Google and reviewing the websites that popped up. Other than my online research, I spoke with the few people I knew in the publishing field, and at least one person I knew that had self-published another book. One of the factors that led me to BookSurge was an article by a journalist about self-publishing. The article detailed the writer's own experience with self-publishing through BookSurge, and her experience had been extremely positive. After this article led me to BookSurge, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick, easy and inexpensive the process seemed. The more I explored it, the more confident I became in using BookSurge, and that is why I decided to use them to publish Chasing Hunter.
What are the strong points to the BookSurge process? How was there customer service? What areas could they improve on?
One of the strongest points to the BookSurge process is that they provide you with detailed information on exactly what is needed in order to publish your book. For someone like me, who took the publishing process extremely seriously, BookSurge gave me all of the information I needed to make sure that things would go smoothly. The customer service was very prompt and helpful - all of my inquiries (and there were many) were answered within a day, and often much quicker.
One area that could be improved is the quality control regarding the condition of the books. Although the majority of the books were delivered to the people who ordered them in pristine condition, there were at least a handful of orders that were unacceptable. Because the problem with these books included ink/color running over from the back cover onto the front cover, and splotches on the covers of several books, I am fairly confident that these were printing issues as opposed to damage that could have been caused during shipping by Amazon. After a few calls to complain about this, it seems that the quality of the more recent books has been top-notch, so I would give good marks again to the customer service department for responding to my concerns. One other random note - the books are occasionally different sizes, with some being slightly larger/smaller than others. Not sure how or why that occurs, but it would be better if all of the books had the same dimensions.
How was the cover designed and what is your impression of the final product?
I purchased the cover photo from a stock photographs website, which included an agreement granting me license to use the photo as a book cover. I had help with adding the graphics (title and author) to the cover photo from a friend at work, and I am ecstatic with the final product. I think the picture captures the plot of the book well, and my friend did an excellent job with the graphic design.
What prompted you to write this book? Have you always been a writer?
I have always loved writing, and the story for this book has been rattling around in my head for at least five or six years. Regardless of whether Chasing Hunter (and the sequel that I am currently working on, Serial Hunter) ever takes off, I would never stop writing because it is what I am passionate about, and what I truly enjoy doing. Although it is a work of fiction, several aspects of the book come from my own life - my career as a lawyer, interactions with friends and family, and my educational background all provided inspiration for Chasing Hunter.
How much did your work as a litigator influence this book? Can you describe your work? What type of cases do you deal with?
Although some people have called Chasing Hunter a "legal thriller," that description is somewhat of a misnomer. There is no trial or courtroom drama in the book, although the main character works at a Manhattan law firm. I consider the book more of a suspense thriller, and often call it a combination of The Firm and The Fugitive. Because there is not much "legal drama" in Chasing Hunter, my work as a litigator did not really influence the book. My specialty in the law is representing policyholders in insurance coverage litigation (a fancy way of saying that I help people try to get money from their insurance companies). I also have experience in commercial litigation and other general litigation matters.
Who are some of your writing influences or favorite writers/books?
My two favorite writers are Michael Connelly (especially the Harry Bosch novels) and Robert Crais (the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike books). I've also read almost everything by Grisham, Baldacci, and Deaver (the Lincoln Rhyme novels). Much of my writing style is similar to these writers, as well as to Harlan Coben and James Patterson. Several of the Amazon reviews of my book have mentioned the works of Coben and Patterson as books to which Chasing Hunter compares favorably.
Are you working on a new project? If so, what is it about and how is it coming along?
I am working on the sequel to Chasing Hunter, which is titled Serial Hunter. It is a psychological thriller involving the search for a serial killer and the psychiatrist who thinks that he can cure the murderer before he kills again. Several characters from Chasing Hunter will be returning for another fast-paced adventure.
Please feel free to add any additional comments you'd like.
I would just like to thank everyone who has supported Chasing Hunter so far, and those who I'm sure will be supporting it in the future. As I've told everyone who knows me, I am always happy to discuss the book with readers, pass along advice about my writing/publishing experiences, sign copies, attend book club meetings, or anything else of that nature. Writing Chasing Hunter and getting it out to the public has been one of the most enjoyable, satisfying experiences of my life, and I am thankful for everyone who played a part in making that dream a reality.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Nebraska Way Attracts National Media Attention
What is the Nebraska Way? Some would argue that the Nebraska Way would include hard work, integrity and a concern for one’s fellow human beings. The results of the Nebraska Way are put on display most fall Saturdays in the form of the University of Nebraska football team. But after 30 years of unparalleled dominance on the football field, a change in the athletic department has led to an erosion of the Nebraska Way.
That is the premise of Jonathan Crowl's new book, The Nebraska Way. When Crowl, a University of Nebraska student and Daily Nebraskan reporter, decided to research and write about the Husker football team’s decline, he did not have to search far for a publisher. He selected iUniverse, a Print-On-Demand company with ties to Lincoln, NE.
Crowl’s book has received press attention from major media outlets including USA Today, and Sports Illustrated.
Crowl recently shared his experiences writing, researching and publishing the book.
What led you to publish the book through iUniverse? How did you learn about the company?
I heard about iUniverse from a friend who is also working on a book, and I checked their website out online. I realized early on in the process of writing the book that self-publishing was about my only option for the book, because I wanted the book out during the 2007 college football season, and I began working on it the spring prior. It would have been very tough working anything out with a traditional publisher given the timeframe.
Was the fact that iUniverse has an office in Lincoln a factor in your decision? Did you visit the office at all?
I never have visited the office, but their location in Lincoln was an advantage. I hoped they would be a bit more understanding of my book's subject and its target audience, being that they were located at the epicenter of Nebraska football and were likely to have a lot of football fans working for them.
Did you seek out a traditional publisher prior to settling on iUniverse?
No. Time was a major factor, and I was pretty confident that marketing would be taken care of by the media, given the book's relevance to the current football program and season.
What was your impression of the iUniverse process?
Self-publishing can be a little frustrating at times, because there isn't much devotion from the company to your book. Any written work is essentially being pushed through on an assembly line, and it can be difficult getting any "special treatment", even for a book that you feel is going to have reasonable success. But, once the book was mentioned in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times, along with most other sports news outlets, I think they saw the potential for the book and have been very accommodating. I've been really happy with the response I've gotten from them in helping me with the book.
How was the cover designed?
Doak Ostergard, who was a heavily-contributing source for the book and wrote the forward for it, took the picture on the front cover. The rest was the work of the iUniverse design team, and I'm happy with the way it turned out.
When you began writing the book did you have iUniverse in mind?
I had self-publishing in mind; I didn't stumble upon iUniverse until later, but once I was aware of them and researched them as a publisher, I didn't look anywhere else.
How long did it take to research and write the book?
Somewhere between 2-3 months. Two of those months were very intensive, though; seven days a week, and the researching was much more time-consuming than I expected it to be.
What was the most difficult part of that process?
Making revisions and editing on my own. It's really tough to assess your own work sometimes, and I was concerned at the time about missing some obvious things, having weak transitions, presenting information poorly, and so on. I didn't have the luxury of getting advice and feedback from other people, so the book is essentially the best work I on my own could do. I will say, I would have really loved to have an editor read through it. There's only so much a writer can do on his own.
What type of legal advice did you seek out with regard to the book's content?
I talked to some people who have been published and worked in publishing, and iUniverse had a lawyer look over the book. Additionally, before the book was sent to the publishing press, another attorney looked at some of the chapters in the book where semantics and accuracy of information were vitally important.
What are your career goals and how will the book impact them? When are you scheduled to graduate?
My goal is to graduate in December 2009, but internships and other projects could delay that another semester. I would like to keep writing. I'm not sure in what manner, if it's books or articles. But I would also eventually like to go on to graduate school and become a professor. There are a lot of avenues open to me right now, and I'm trying to keep it that way.
How have you been marketing the book? What has been most successful for you? What has been least successful?
My book was unique in that news outlets gobbled it up. I haven't done hardly anything to market it. I have appeared on a few radio shows to discuss the book and its content, but most of the hub-bub about the book is media-generated.
What kind of national publicity has the book received? Have you been doing radio, TV, newspaper interviews?
I've done a few radio and newspaper interviews. As I said before, the book has been in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and on, along with most other local news outlets in Nebraska.
What kind of reaction have you gotten from fellow reporters (Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal-Star, etc.)?
Not much of one, really. There are several people working up in the press box with books of their own, so I don't think having a book would generate big waves, even if I am much younger than them. But I'm sure there's a wide range of reactions. Some might not care, and some may be aggravated by it - because, you know, young people aren't supposed to write books. I know a few of them have used their space in newspaper columns to take a couple shots at me, but that doesn't really phase me. One thing to realize is that when news of the book broke, most people jumped right into commentary and criticism without knowing much at all about the book.
Initially there were a lot of people blasting me for writing a book, or trying to cash in on it and get my tuition paid for, but when people are that judgmental without knowing the full story, or the entirety of the book's content - I think it says more about them than it does me.
What has the reaction been to the book from players, coaches, other athletic department personnel?
For the most part, there has been no reaction. Most people just want the news of the book to die down as quickly as possible. I have heard a little positive feedback from within the world of Nebraska athletics, but I'm not going to point in any directions.
What has the reaction to the book been from your peers and your professors?
Very positive. Professors have been very supportive, although surprised, and many of my peers were shocked as well. I didn't tell many people about the book before it came out in the newspapers, so I'm sure a lot of my friends were caught off guard as well.
How has the publication of the book impacted your ability to cover the team for the Daily Nebraskan?
I don't think so. It could have depending on how the athletic department handled it, or how I handled it, but I've tried to separate the book and writing for the DN. I wrote the book at a time when I wasn't writing for the newspaper, so that has helped to keep them separate. No one has denied talking to me or treated me differently, and if anything, it gives me a much better knowledge of football team, which is a benefit to my reporting.
Will the book be available in local bookstores?
It's already in most bookstores in Omaha and Lincoln, as far as I know.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Author A.C. Ellis

Hits POD Trifecta

Comparing and contrasting Print-On-Demand publishing companies has sprung up as a bit of a cottage industry unto itself. But what do these surveyors really know about the process? Sure they’ve checked out a few websites, studied a few contracts, and maybe even made a few phone calls. But can they truly judge a company without publishing a book with the company?

Author A.C. Ellis may want to consider setting up shop as a POD pundit after he’s done promoting his latest tomes. The Denver science fiction writer published three books with three different POD companies this past summer. In May, he came out with Worldmaker, an out-of-print title originally published in 1985, through iUniverse’s back-in-print program with the Authors Guild. Soldier of ’Tween was released by Angela Hoy’s Booklocker that same month as was In Pursuit of the Enemy with Infinity Publishing.

Ellis recently took time to share his POD experiences.

Who was the original publisher for Worldmaker? How did you go about landing the publishing contract back in 1985? Do you have other traditionally-published books?
The original publisher for Worldmaker was Ace Books, the mass-market arm of what is now known as the Berkley/Penguin group. My then-agent sold the book to them and negotiated the contract. She later sold the book to a German publisher (the German edition appeared in 1993) and about five summers ago the book was optioned by an independent Los Angeles film producer. After about two years of negotiation, the deal fell through.

Previously to the initial publication of Worldmaker by Ace, I had a collaborative science fiction novel, Death Jag, published in 1980 by Manor books. The co-author on that one was Jeff Salten.

How did you learn about iUniverse and the Authors Guild back-in-print program? I was simply browsing the Web one day, looking for self-publish/POD opportunities, when I happened across the iUniverse site, where they mentioned their partnership with the Authors Guild and the Back-in-Print program. I contacted the Authors Guild to confirm the information, joined the Guild on the spot, and applied to be included in the Back-in-Print program. The rest, as they say, is history.

What was your impression of that program and iUniverse?
I was truly impressed with both iUniverse and the Back-in-Print program. They were professional and extremely helpful. I had input into every step of the process, and even came up with the idea for cover art. A very enjoyable experience. And, to top it off, under the Authors Guild Back-in-Print program, there is absolutely no cost to the author.

If you have an out-of-print book you are having trouble getting back in print, I highly recommend this program.

What led you to publish Soldier of ’Tween with Booklocker? What was your impression of that company? How was the process different than the iUniverse process (aside from back-in-print versus new manuscript)?
After beginning the process of getting Worldmaker into print through iUniverse, I realized I had a perfectly good novel, Soldier of ‘Tween — which I had been offering as an e-book for a number of years to good reviews — that I hadn’t really tried to publish in paper format. I knew that I would have a hard time getting it published traditionally, because it had been out there as an e-book, so I decided to go the POD route. iUniverse was quite expensive in any of their publishing plans other than the Back-in-Print program, and Soldier of ‘Tween would not apply for that program. Besides, I wanted to try other POD publishers, to see how they stack up against one another.

I searched around and compared. The one that seemed the best for the money at the time was Booklocker. They seemed more author-friendly than most, and it appeared they would work with the author to produce a quality product.

I was right. Working with Angela Hoy was a writer’s dream. She is not only an expert in the POD publishing process, but is extremely knowledgeable about the creative process, as well. And those who work with Booklocker know their stuff, as well. I sub-contracted with a cover designer, and when I was sent a number of cover ideas that didn’t really suit my book (but were very good in the generic sense) was allowed to produce a cover of my own that more closely represented the book’s content. Consequently, on Soldier of ‘Tween, I got not only the byline for the book, but also the cover art credit.

It all worked out quite well.

What led you to publish In Pursuit of the Enemy with Infinity? What was your impression of that company? How was the process different from the other two companies?
In Pursuit of the Enemy, I had just finished my first mystery, and the first book of an envisioned series. I was still in the POD experimental mood, went looking for a company that did mysteries well. I finally found Infinity Publishing. Their editing process was quite good, and distribution was excellent.

Again, I came up with the idea for the cover, although this time I did not actually produce the artwork. I was amazed by how closely they had captured my concept when I opened the package containing my proof copy. Really, one fantastic cover!

What I plan is to brand the covers of the Brad Carpenter series books. Each will have a smoking gun pointing out toward you, but each will be a different gun. Each will have “Pursuit” in the title. Besides In Pursuit of the Enemy, I foresee Extreme Pursuit, In Pursuit of Justice, In pursuit of Happiness, In Hot Pursuit, In Cold Pursuit, In Pursuit of Honor, In Pursuit of the Past, and, finally, Final Pursuit.

Are you working on any new projects? If so, where will you be publishing it?
I am currently working on the first book of a very dark, very bloody mystery series, the Point series. The titles will be similar to Hollow Point, Point Blank and Point of No Return.

I hope to publish these books traditionally, capturing an agent at the March 2008 Left Coast Crime conference. That’s the plan, at any rate.

What kind of advice can you pass on to other authors using Print-On-Demand companies?
Shop around — don’t go with the first one you find. There are now many POD publishers out there, and you should be dealing with the one that is the best for your needs. And, of course, each author’s needs are different.

How are you marketing the books? What's worked best for you? What has been the least effective?
I am marketing my books. I realize that, even if my books were published traditionally, I would have to take the responsibility for getting them noticed. Publishers just don’t do that any more, not that they ever did much for writers that weren’t best-sellers to begin with.

It is still too early to tell what works best — these books were released during the summer of 2007 -- but I think the best bet is to do as much as you can through I have published two short stories, The Navigator and Strolling the Road, through their Amazon Shorts program. On each of the pages selling those stories, there are links to my books.

And Amazon has several other programs designed to help sell books on their site, such as their AmazonConnect, Search Inside, and Affiliates programs.

Then, of course, there are my e-mail signature line, e-mail newsletters, Web sites and Blogs. Even this interview. Any way I can get the word out about my books.

Read more about A.C. Ellis and his books at his website

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Napoleon Conquers Multiple
Borders, Boundries, Genres

Crossing borders and boundaries, genres and media is nothing new for author Landon Napoleon.

Napoleon’s debut novel, ZigZag, was published by Henry Holt in 1997. Shortly after the book hit the shelves, Napoleon was approached by writer/director David Goyer about film rights. The film adaptation of ZigZag came out in 2002 starring John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes and Natasha Lyonne.

Napoleon than did a bit of a Zig Zag himself when he switched genres and brought out The Spirit Warrior’s Handbook, a self-help book that hopes to inspire one to ‘step into your true potential.’ Napoleon brought the book out through print-on-demand publisher iUniverse.

“I seem to be blessed as a writer in this lifetime. My first novel was made into a film that l love. And my first self-publishing go-around with iUniverse was nothing but positive,” Napoleon said. “I think the biggest plus with self-publishing is getting to design one's own cover; that doesn't happen in traditional publishing unless, perhaps, your last name happens to be 'King' or 'Evanovich.' With my self-published book I got to bring my artistic vision for the cover to fruition. With my novel, I got stuck with a really bad cover that completely missed the mark.”

While Napoleon had several successful signings with The Spirit Warrior’s Handbook, he did not push for much beyond that.

“One thing I've learned is that I love to write, but I'm not real big on the selling side. I did the basics—signings, readings, etc.—but probably not nearly enough to really get the book out there,” he said. “I wrote this one more for myself and if people stumble upon it and find it helpful then that's a real bonus. I had one former high school classmate find the book on her own and track me down to say it helped her tremendously as a person in recovery. That alone made the effort worthwhile.”

The stigma attached to self-publishing is not of much concern for Napoleon.

“Traditional publishing is, well, very traditional! For many in the industry there will always be a stigma associated with self publishing as not 'real' publishing. But I think the lines between 'traditional/real' and 'self-published/not worthy' are blurring more and more,” he said. “I also like the old adage (which applies to Hollywood, book publishing and finding the right mate): No one knows anything. Follow your passion and do what you want to do; forget about all the rest because the clock's ticking and sooner or later we're all going in the box anyway.”

Next up for Napoleon is finding a home for his recently completed novel, The Rules of Action.

“We're currently submitting the new novel to agents and traditional publishers. I like the idea of going the traditional route, if possible, because the publisher picks up a lot of the leg work (editorial direction, copyediting, layout, printing, distribution, etc.),” Napoleon said. “And I also love that self publishing is now a viable alternative to get one's work out there.

“The best advice I ever heard from a traditional book editor is the magical key to this whole business of getting published whatever route you choose. She simply said the best marketing tool is-- drum roll please-- write a great book. I think it's easy to get sidetracked and focus more on 'being a writer' (self publishing, marketing, speaking, selling, cashing six-figure checks, etc.) and less on writing. That is, plant butt in chair for extended periods and produce your pages every day. That's still the hardest part. Write first, sell later.”