Sunday, June 23, 2013

Are Authors A-holes?

My friend, author Elyse Press Major, emailed me this morning with a question: "Do you think 'Author' is derived from 'self-obsessed a-hole?'"

The question made me grin, but it also got me thinking. I can recall my first editor at Delacorte confiding in me over a smoke. "Writers are assholes," he said. I recall my dad showing up at my graduation from my MFA in Writing program at Vermont College and his first encounter with one of the more miserable, stuck up, can't-be-bothered-with-the-common-folk members of the faculty, and him whispering to me, "Who the hell is that asshole?" I certainly recall my first wife screaming at me while I was trying to write at the dining room table: "You're a f'n asshole!" Certainly some of my now fired agents have filed me away under A for ... well you know what. And when some of my novels became Amazon Bestsellers and I started selling more books in a week than that other Albany writer William Kennedy might sell in a year, my head got a little inflated and I most definitely started acting like an asshole.

Today, I'm not always selling more books than Mr. Kennedy and my first wife and I are friends again. I've learned my lesson and deflated my head a little (My apologies to Mr. Kennedy and to anyone else I offended along the way...You know who you are). I still require more alone time than the average bear since I'm always working on multiple projects, and I suppose that might make me a bit of an asshole, but it can't be helped.

So the answer to your question, Elyse, is yes and no. Authors sometimes can't help being a-holes but they don't always have to be a-holes. It's important that we learn the distinction. 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Vincent Zandri, Inc.

It's Father's Day and I'm experiencing one of those moments that seem to only occur on a Sunday when you have a few spare moments to reflect not only on the past week, but on the month and even years that have so quickly passed.

I'm just entering into the tail end of one of those great sales waves, where I go from selling anywhere from thirty to one-hundred books a day to three or four-hundred per day. Last May was the best single sales month I've experienced as an author in two years, and I have both my fans to thank and the powerful marketing efforts put forth by my major hybrid publisher, Thomas and Mercer of Amazon Publishing (also Amazon UK Publishing), along with my indie publisher, StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink. Thanks to both I enjoyed a tremendous response to Murder by Moonlight, The Concrete Pearl, The Innocent, and Moonlight Falls. What's interesting to note is that, one of these novels is thirteen years old (The Innnocent). Another is four years old (Moonlight Falls). One of them has entered into its second edition with a second publisher (The Concrete Pearl) and another is brand new (Murder by Moonlight).

I"m still working off a "very nice" advance at Thomas & Mercer but after 8 solid months of working with them, I can see how effective partnering up with them for 7 books has been.

In a few weeks I'll be leaving for ITW "Thrillerfest" in Manhattan. In the old days, I used to attend conferences to attract publishers and to cozy up to editors. Nowadays, I attend them to reach out to my fans and also to have a laugh or two with other writers. In this new world of publishing, I no longer think of myself as belonging to any one publisher. I think of myself as Vincent Zandri, Inc. I don't just have one publisher or publishing method. I'm exploring many publishing methods and opportunities.

My next experiment will be to partner up with my agent Chip MacGregor on a new series of international thrillers beginning with the novel, CHASE (You might recall I went to Egypt some months ago to research this book. I also just returned from Peru where I was researching what will become the second in the series). Chip has created several imprints for his authors. His crew edits, formats, creates cover art, and promotes the books it publishes. This is not to say Chip is a publisher. He's not. He's an agent who is providing an opportunity for authors to partner up in a book producing venture. If the books he puts out sell well and a major pub wants to buy one or two out, the imprint/author contract can be broken at any moment. It's a win/win for everyone.

Like I said, it's Father's day and I write for a living, so this blog should end while I head out to spend some much needed time with the fam damily. After all, they put up with my writing life day in and day out, and I know that sometimes it can be hard living with a writer who isn't always home for them, even when he is home. But I love them dearly.
To Purchase MURDER BY MOONLIGHT for Dad go to:


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Best Publishing Advice Ever: SEX

How to publish your first novel...

Every now and then a veteran of the publishing wars will come out with some brilliant advice. So brilliant, its like an exposed million watt light bulb no-brainer that burns the retinas when you look directly into it. Joyce Carrol Oates is one of those writers. Her new Op-Ed in The Onion, "If You Wish To Be A Writer, Have Sex With Someone Who Works In Publishing," states the obvious. Sleep your way to the top.

Oates proves her worth not only as a writer who's been publishing professionally since before I was born, but also as a woman who knows how to treat her editor, especially when she drops off a manuscript to him and then proceeds to gift him with a long, slow blowjob. 

I can relate to Ms. Oates. Most of my success has also come from sleeping my way to the top. When I was starting out in writing school back in the mid 90's, I slept with all my professors (minus the guys of course, although I'm sure a couple of them would have loved it). I played it smart and made sure I signed on only with women writing teachers for my course work. If they were married with kids, all the better. That would pretty much guarantee that they'd be lonely and feeling under appreciated by their husbands. Most of the time, they wouldn't even bother to read my work. They were more interested in what I was packing underneath my Levis 501 button-fly jeans. We'd have sex for hours in my dorm room and then, at the end of the semester, they'd give me an A. Easy peasy.

When it came time to publish in the big leagues, I signed with sexy female agents who worked in New York City and who would have sex with me in cabs, trains, buses, restaurant bathrooms, hotel rooms, offices, on bar stools, you name it. I once even had sex on the Circle Line with a prospective agent, but in the end it didn't work out. But soon I was hooking up with major editors at the major houses. The woman who eventually bought my first big novel, The Innocent, (As Catch Can) had sex with me on the rooftop of the Bertlesmann Building on a glass table. Several weeks later I signed a contract worth a quarter of a million dollars. It was the best sex I've ever had. 

But then, I decided to go legit. I wanted to publish based on the merits of my writing and not the girth and length of my dick. I stopped having sex with my professional publishing associates. My market dried up. I couldn't get a contract if I put a gun to someone's head. In the end I could see that it was either put out or shut up. So I went back to fucking my way to top. In no time at all, I was enjoying not just a new contract, but new contract(s). I was selling hundreds of thousands of books and having so much sex I had to increase my vitamin intake. 

I'm glad Ms. Oates came out and revealed the sure path of success in the writing business. It's time someone had the guts to stand up and admit the nasty truth. If you want to make it in this industry, make certain to fuck your way to success. Because when it comes to signing big book contracts, it's likely your going to get fucked real hard, one way or the other.

Grab a copy of the No. 1 Amazon Bestselling Hard-Boiled Mystery: MURDER BY MOONLIGHT      





Saturday, June 8, 2013

Show Up for Work

There is a delicate balance between the conscious you and the unconscious you. You don't live with the unconscious so much as you develop a relationship with it, much like you would a wife or husband. A relationship built on trust. In a good marriage, you trust one another. Whereas a bad marriage is full of distrust and disharmony. I'm not the first one to figure this out. Norman Mailer did before me. So have other very productive authors like Stephen King and Hemingway, for instance. Freud figured it out while on a coke jag.

If you tell yourself you are going to be writing tomorrow morning, make sure you show up at your writing desk. Doesn't matter what might get in the way, be it hangover (again, these are Mailer's words), sickness, injury, Apocalypse, whatever. If, before bed, you promise yourself you're going to be working come morning, your unconscious will go to work on the book you are writing while you are sleeping. When you wake up and begin the process of putting words on a page, the product you produce will not have come entirely from the conscious you, but the unconscious you who has been working all night. This is why three hours of writing can whiz by in what appears to be a matter of minutes. Often we're not even aware of what we've written until we go back and read the pages.

Once more taking Mailer's cue, if you can train yourself to be true to your unconscious and show up for work day after day, then be sure to be honest with it when you need to take a day off. Tell yourself, "Tomorrow I'm not going to work. Tomorrow I'm going to have fun." Your unconscious mind will, in turn, take the night off and in the morning you won't be plagued with story ideas and plot points banging around the inside of your skull like a dozen bees that can't get out.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Interstate of Life

We have a finite set of miles allotted to us. What are you doing with yours?

Do you find yourself lying in bed some mornings wondering where you took the wrong turn in life?
Maybe it was right after college when instead of taking  left off the interstate of a life towards something that would make you happy but not a lot of money, you instead took a right onto the entrance-ramp of security and financial responsibility. I took that right, right out of college. I had a little help in the matter in that I had been groomed from birth for the family business. "Groomed" is putting it kindly.

But soon after entering into the business, I rejected it. It didn't feel right. I was a young man who felt uncomfortable in his own skin. It was like having been thrust into an arranged marriage and being repulsed by your new partner. I wanted to be a writer. That was the life I wanted to live. People thought I was crazy. My family thought I had lost it. They all said, "You have this great business. One day it will be all yours." Then they said, "You can write on the side."

I didn't want to write on the side. Writing on the side was for hacks and pretenders. I knew that if I didn't give it my all, I would one day become the fat, middle-aged man with high blood pressure, a house in the burbs that needs a new roof, and more debt than I could possibly pay off. If I were going to become a writer, I wanted to do it the way the greats did it. Like Hemingway and Mailer and Gellhorn. I wanted to write about everything and see the world doing it.

I rejected the family business and I rejected the suburbs and I rejected anything that even speaks of normalcy and safety and what's expected of me. Does it make me selfish? Maybe. Writing is a selfish pursuit. It requires alone time and it requires space and it requires stimulation that cannot be had by sitting on the couch in front of the television anymore than it can be had by doing it "on the side." this very moment in time, I'm not fat, I'm not unhealthy, and I don't have insurmountable debt keeping me up at night. But I don't own a business, nor do I have a country club membership, nor do I own a house, nor am I rich. Not even close. But damn, I'm happy as hell. Happy that after taking a right hand turn off the interstate of life, I pulled a U-turn and pursued the other route. It's made me who I am right now and who I will become many miles from now.