OUT OF THE PASTQUESTIONS: ANSWERED BY GEORGE SNYDER
Award winning writer of crime novels.
Fresh out of the Navy, I started publishing short stories in men’s magazines; one to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. First novel, The Surfer Killers, published as Surfside Sex by Playtime Books (part of Neva Paperbacks) in early sixties. With Merit and Award books and through promoter Lyle Kenyon Engel, wrote Nick Carter spy/adventure screw and kill books. Later, others began to write them also. Writing as Patrick Morgan, wrote spy/thrillers in the Operation Hang Ten series with titles like, Hang Dead Hawaiian Style, (translated into French and Japanese), Cute and Deadly Surf Twins, Deadly Group Down Under Too Mini Murders etc. Later more writers jumped in to write them. As Ray Stanley, wrote The Mini Cult Murders, loosely based on Charles Manson.
In 2012 received an award from the Southwestern Writers Conference, Albuquerque in the mystery/detective/thriller category for my crime novel, The Farewell Heist. The same year, Solstice Publishing brought out the eBook of #4 in the Bay Rumble crime novel series, Baja Bullets and in 2013 the printed version.
In 2013 launched my new, Logan Sand hardboiled noir crime series. The first two novels, The Calcutta Dragon and Plundered Angels traditionally published. Began the first Makayla “Mac” Tuff, new kick-ass gal Private Eye series with, Pillow Shot, also published traditional. And in May, 2013, I signed a contract with television media production company Villavision for a 24 month film option on Baja Bullets.
After a two year battle, finally won back all rights to all books, and became independent. I have added Baja Bullets and Slut to the Logan Sand series, with Hard Trouble now in work. Coming next with Bay Rumble is Deadly Doubloons. Mac Tuff has, Pillow Shot, Head Shot and Body Shot available with Easy Shot in work.
Several stand-alone crime noir novels are out there, plus non-fiction and a couple memoirs. Catch them at: www.amazon.com/author/georgesnydernet
Down the road is another standalone novel: Nuggets. Plus a couple Western novels, and a swashbuckler.
Update (2016): TV Movie deal circled the drain and disappeared. So-long.
Questions for Self-Published Authors
1. How many books do you have published, and are they all self-published?
More than 45 published books, novels, non-fiction, memoirs. Short stories add to bring the total published to around 60 published stories. Twenty-three novels now are independent and available through Amazon and bookstores. Eleven were traditional published, then I got back all rights and brought them out again as independent.
2. What are the titles and where can we purchase them? Please give link(s).
Go to my Amazon site to see them: www.amazon.com/author.georgesnydernet
3. How long have you been self-published?
Published since the sixties, self-published since the eighties. Independent since 2014.
4. Do you set goals or follow a schedule pertaining to writing, self-publishing, and marketing?
My goal for the last five years has been to write two to three books a year. My writing day is five to noon, seven days a week. Until lately, self-publishing was what I did when nobody was interested in my book—my traditional publisher/agent query limit is 150. After that, I look to another direction. In the eighties, there were those very expensive, terrible print mills like IUniverse and Xlibris (I had books by both) and today Outskirts and Tate—not one person in the whole outfit ever reads what is submitted. They were and maybe still are paper crankers, print mills, nothing else. What I did with three books, I handled every step of the process under my own publishing house, Seaweed Library. None of those books made their print cost back, except my children’s book, The Dragon With No Tail, which was also a coloring book. I would not recommend do-it-all-yourself. The cost is prohibitive. Marketing in the early days was scatter shooting. Since I write crime novels, for me it meant carting books to my favorite tavern when I entered a pool tournament or set up a table in the patio at Catalina Island or on the deck of my sloop. I sent countless free copies to reviewers and bookstores, which returned a few decent reviews but little in sales. Magazines on similar subjects often mentioned the books. Nothing organized about it which sales reflected. Today the computer offers unlimited possibilities. But nobody should forget. You have to have a decent product. If nobody is interested in your book, it won’t sell.
5. If you've been self-published for a while, what changes have you seen in the self-publishing industry?
EBooks have changed everything over the past ten years. It has given rise to thousands of small eBook electronic outfits who act like publishers, sometimes using POD, although many will not consider print, or if they do they won’t mention it on their site. Now, everybody who can put together a shopping list has a book out there. The competition has reached snarling level. But many are one-shot writers; they write one or two books and expect the bucks to roll in. You got to keep at it; the numbers put you out there, especially with eBooks. You need a following brought on by many books. Another thing, I chair a writer critique group in Long Beach. With a show of hands, only I and one other out of fifteen at the table even owned an electronic reader. The last three books I read were on my Kindle. It isn’t my favorite way to read a book. The best thing eBooks had going was they were cheap. Even that’s changing. Also, none of my four aunts or two of my brothers even own a computer. They do read my print books, probably because I give them a free copy.
6. If you've been traditionally published, what moved you to become self-published?
Before I went independent, my last four books were published by electronic and POD publishers. I had a good relationship with the publisher. The editing was good, and the distribution, the same all of them use. If I were to stay traditional, I’d look no farther. But here’s what I’m sick of reading. I’m sick of reading about these writers who self-publish and sell a thousand books a month—and now we have some self-published millionaires. Never mind the guy who reached the New York Bestseller list and it only cost him $31,000 out of pocket. That stuff isn’t even in my financial solar system. Too many are making good money through hook or crook, and I’m getting into…me too. Probably the main reason I’m switching to—ahem—Independent Publishing resurrecting my old Seaweed Library Publisher, is the bad deal those eBook producers hand out. In the old days, publisher reps/book sellers could in themselves make a best seller. They pressured bookstores to buy, arranged signings, pushed for the New York area which was the headquarters for all books. Publishers who had them on payroll could take 80% of the royalty because they were making the book sell. Those days have gone the way of the dial phone. And yet, these electronic flashes still think they deserve 70% and 80% print royalty and up to 60% eBook. It’s obscene. I had a good deal with my last traditional publisher. We were on a 50/50 split down the line. But I’m getting greedy. I want it all, or at least 70% of eBook sales. My publisher did an on-site review. He let me buy POD from Create Space for his cost. It is unethical for a publisher to take profit from book sales to their own writers. They don’t agree but there it is. Most of those books are giveaways anyhow. The biggest bitch I had against my publisher, I didn’t like their covers. And the writer has little input for covers. The outfit: Self-Pub-Book-Covers, is terrific. I went through all their covers and picked out at least 20 I liked. So, anyway, my new books coming down the line will be Kindle KDP, Seaweed Library, and we’ll see how that works. None of my early books ever made the eBook route.
7. Simon and Shuster jumped on the bandwagon with their self-publishing service called, Archways. Do you see self-publishing as the "wave of the future?"
Self-publishing is not only the future, it is the future here now. I haven’t checked into the Simon and Shuster scheme but just their name makes it sound fishy to me. I don’t see how it’s different than the old print mills. Face it, kids, Amazon does or will own publishing. Their finger is on the pulse and despite grumbles from a few disgruntled they are making the right moves. True, they are too big for their britches but so are the Big 5 or 6.
8. Do you use a website and/or blog to market your book(s)? Please leave web addresses.
Amazon book site: www.amazon.com/author/georgesnydernet
9. What is your best tip for marketing self-published books?
Here is where everybody will shout about editing, the cover, format. But kids, what you need first is a damned good story worth reading. If the story is good enough, it’ll sell, even if it’s written in black crayon on a paper bag. Most stories aren’t that good. I don’t have any secret for marketing. I’m not very good at it.
1 Let's talk money. How much more profitable has self-publishing been for you than traditional publishing? Have you found self-publishing to be worthwhile? Please give examples.
To paraphrase, the old quip is still true. Nobody but a fool ever wrote anything for any other reason except money. Mickey Spillane made a career of it. James Patterson is doing it with a lot of help from his friends. Lofty notions of self-satisfaction, and inner sole pabulum aside—once the creative part is done, I’m a pimp and those little darlings are my whores out there to bring in as much cash as their pleasure-giving will allow. I do have a financial goal. But I have to be realistic. I write hardboiled crime noir novels from a man’s POV, a genre agents tell me are a tough sell. Facts reveal the hard truth. 80% of all readers are women. The vast majority of these women read books in the sub-genres of Romance. That’s the lay of the landscape. More fact. 45% of college graduate men never read another book after graduation. For families that jumps to 80% period. So, I’m drawing dead from the get-go. I’m aiming at a 20% reader market and almost half the educated among them don t read. Not many left. Couple that with I’m a low-life blue collar writer. You won’t find many multi-syllable words in my books. So, burdened with that there’s no reason for me to make money. I find little or no difference between traditional and Independent sales because nobody is going to push my books but me. The only saving grace I have for myself is the situation improves with each new book. I do and will continue to write many, many books. I want to equal my retirement in royalties. I’m not there yet but I’m pogo jumping to it. Writers have to face it, not many others are going to bang their little drum. They have to do it themselves; maybe it’ll work, maybe not. Just keep cranking them out. There is one area where the old days, along with under-a-buck paperbacks were superior. No matter how small the publisher, the writer always got some cash up front. And the little publisher had a select group of outlets that it kept adding, who always stocked their books. The advance against royalties might be as little as a couple hundred dollars, but it was always something. My first novel brought me an advance of $500, and I was proud of that. It never made any more but I had that up front. Statistics continue to prove few books ever earn more than the advance. Maybe it’s creative bookkeeping? Even the old Nick Carter and Hang Ten books brought more than $1,500. How many of the self-published out there with their fifteen to twenty sales a year would like to get $1,500 a book for their output? Certainly the reason why all writers got something was because a select few of them did not receive obscene amounts in the millions and millions. As far as marketing, the policy for publishers today is to do as little as necessary and keep as much as they can get.
1 Do you support your family with your self-published earnings? My family is me, living on a small sailboat. Low overhead. I live on retirement and my royalties. If my royalties ever equal retirement, I’ll take a backpack trip across Europe.
What has been the most difficult part of self-publishing for you? Little or no help with marketing from those who share in the profit. And the changing complication thrown in the path of just getting the book to the reader. That is one of the flaws of using social media to market, mostly, writer to writer, not writer to reader. The dependence is hoping other writers will help out by reading the books of fellow writers, and writing reviews. Someday, hopefully, only readers will read what writers have to say about their great American whatsit. And will buy.
1 What has been the most exciting or rewarding part of self-publishing for you?
Anytime I get a fat royalty check. Miller Time. Winning that award was keen too. Who would have thunk it? Sometimes I think I should enter more writing contests. But they all want a fee, even the lordly out-of-reach Pulitzer people.
There has been a stigma on self-published books making them seem of a lesser value than those traditionally published. Why do you believe this is so?
The stigma is well-earned. Yes there were misspelled, cliché-laden sophomoric books but I don’t think that in itself is a turn-off. As a reader I can forgive some of that stuff. Bad writing is the reason for loss of value. Bad writing coupled with a mundane, lousy, done-to-death, quit-beating-the-dead-horse story. Only the writer and maybe a few friends think it’s terrific. But self-published books didn’t hold an exclusive on that. I’ve read some horrible best sellers. One of my most treasured reference books is a little 50-page book that has no-color no publisher, no SSN number, no copywrite and no photos, with an author named Fred Jones. It looks like something he put together in his garage. The information in it has me coming back again and again. I paid five bucks for it almost ten years ago. I love it.
With the advent of eBooks and the saturation of easy-to-self-publish books, do you find this still to be true?
No. Apparently writers are richer these days; they can afford expensive editing and fancy covers. But what’s happening now is genre constipation. The market is getting so backed up the reader is looking for release. We can’t all sell a thousand books a month, or become millionaires. One area the Facebook-Twitter-Google sites don’t quite hit—when it comes to those marketing tips—we’re not connecting with the reader, we’re connecting writer to writer. Sure writers are readers but it’s a different kind of reading. Instead of using marketing maybe we should seek a way to connect direct, writer to reader. And I think that is coming.