Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?
Book one, Birth of an Assassin. The setting is the backdrop of the Soviet Union. Corruption in military ranks has filtered down to street level and naive young women are being tricked into leaving Russia.
Book two, The Turkish Connection. This novel reveals the story of the gangs who are getting the girls ready for prostitution before selling them on. The Man in the Blue Fez has the protagonists of the first two novels joining forces in an
attempt to get to the core of the corruption in Russia, at the same time trying to bring the Turkish operation to an end once and for all.
How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?
I was rep’d by an agent for fifteen months. Previously to that, I was offered a publishing contract for my first novel Birth of an Assassin. However, as a member of the Society of Authors I sent the contract to them so they would vet it for me. They said that I wouldn’t do well under such terms and suggested it was renegotiated or walked away from – too much detail, I walked away from it without pursuing changes. I ended up splitting with my agent because I like being in charge of my own destiny – now, I no longer sit waiting for the phone to ring.
The independent road is a difficult one and I won’t necessarily always be treading it, but there is no hurry and I am happy to be broadening my experience. I’m luckier than a lot of my fellow writers; I want a break, yes, but I don’t think I actually need one.
I didn’t bother touching base with anyone about my second book, The Turkish Connection. I also have book three in the series, The Man in the Blue Fez, out by the end of this year and I shan’t be bothering anyone in the publishing world with that one either.
What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?
It doesn’t take much to start your own publishing company and do it yourself; that’s what I did. Although, while it isn’t essential, I do use a couple companies for the formatting of my ebooks and paperbacks. Am I happy with the service? You bet, I couldn’t be more proud than when I thumb through the paperbacks I have created or just go onto Amazon and check out the ebooks on my Author Page, love it!
What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?
The short answer is yes and it isn’t a flippant one. I’ve had TV interviews, radio interviews, newspaper reviews, and I constantly chase reader reviews. Before you ask how I get reader reviews, I don’t follow a single route; if I see an opportunity, I go for it. All these things were a pet hate of mine at the beginning, but now I thrive on them.
What drove you to write this particular book?
Birth of an Assassin was arrived at by trawling through the Russian history timeline. I have family who escaped the White Russian pogroms back in the nineteenth century. It was from the odd thing my uncle, their son, told me that generated my interest. The fact my book covers the 1950’s rather than earlier is that I couldn’t really make the story believable for a Jewish boy to enjoy any kind of success in Russia prior to that.
Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?
I’ve always been a thriller reader, big time, so that was a natural genre for me to embrace when taking up writing seriously. It’s exciting, especially when a piece of action just ‘turns up’ while you’re writing it. Having said that, I believe a writer should be able to write in any genre.
Who are your greatest writing influences?
In the early days it would have been Harold Robins and then David Morrell. In later years, I have been a fan of John Connolly. I also read and enjoy a lot of indie authors, but with them I tend to flit from one to another.
What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?
I retired at fifty and immediately began writing seriously. Diving straight in like that allowed me to stick to the same work ethic as I’d had while in harness. However, I don’t keep to the same hours. Our dog gets a nice, long, leisurely walk first thing and then it’s home for almost as long a breakfast. In summer, I spend a lot of the sunny days gardening and generally enjoying the time of year. That doesn’t mean I don’t work on those days, it just means the hours are pushed back, a little like Spanish time, and I will work until seven or eight in the evening. As long as I put in four to eight hours, I usually feel satisfied.
Would you self-publish again?
Yes, until I find that perfect publishing partner, a difficult task as I’m not looking, I will carry on as an independent.
Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?
Don’t give up. Writers write, that’s what they do. Trouble is, when your work goes out to the real world you create a shed load of unrealistic expectations in your mind. If those expectations aren’t met overnight, it can get you down, make you question why you are doing it. Dream, yes, but don’t expect. And remember, success or failure is not necessarily a reflection of your work, rather a reflection on your marketing skills. Take your time, keep writing, and let the more worldy accomplishments develop with experience. Only time will tell and if you are not willing to put that time in, you might well fall by the wayside before you’ve given it a chance.
Rik Stone’s Author Site
Birth of An Assassin on Amazon
The Turkish Connection on Amazon