Earlier today I posted an argument against authors writing for shorter attention spans. I argued that attention spans weren’t actually getting shorter; instead, readers will stick with a book which interests them no matter the interruption. I still think that is a good argument, but it’s not the only one I could make. An article… Read More »
If you liked ARGO, you will love The Man Who Fooled SAVAK, a similar story based on true events.
Order your copy at a special publisher’s discount price of $12.99, list is $15.99.
Just click on our Bookstore tab and then click on Fiction.
We decided to reprint this interview with Douglas Roberts about what inspired him to write such a book. The interview was originally published June 19, 2011.
Inspired by true events in the early 1970s, The Man Who Fooled SAVAK captures what it is like to live in a dictatorship with secret police monitoring your every move – an atmosphere of fear that still pervades today in many countries in the Middle East.
What makes Doug’s book so appealing is that what he wrote today about events 40 years ago is still going on today in many parts of the Middle East. And all of these events are carefully woven into a love story that will make you fall in love all over again.
Q. The release of your book coincides rather well with Arab Spring. When did you start writing it?
A. In the summer of 2008. A woman I’d met on line named Erica Murray was interested in Iran so I started writing to her about it. I started doing some very preliminary research into the history and politics of Iran in 1971 in order to refresh my memory of things I had experienced when I was in Iran during that time. The book was completely finished several months before the uprising in Tunisia.
Q. Even though that was 40 years ago, there are many common elements with what is happening across the Arab world.
A. Yes, especially the fear people experience when living under an autocratic regime is something I hope I have captured, and as the book proceeds, the breaking out of that fear. Perhaps it will give people hope. Just like in my book, the methods used by various dictatorial regimes to maintain control seem to be taken from a common playbook: trample a free and independent press, keep the people fooled, use an iron fist to silence dissent, eliminate fair trials, use torture to extract confessions – the list goes on and on.
Q. But when you wrote the book, you weren’t thinking about that.
A. (laughs) True! I don’t have a crystal ball and the Arab Spring was as big a surprise to me as the rest of the world.
Q. Can I ask you about one of the characters in your book? Was there really a Junior?
A. Yes there was. I think Junior made the story possible to write. We really did sell our liquor and cigarette rations to him. I recently learned from a fellow who served in ARMISH/MAAG just before I arrived that Junior mostly dealt with the domestic workers, the Iranian nationals who worked at the bachelor quarters where we lived.
Q. I’d like to ask you about another character, Mihan Jazani. She is a historical figure, the wife of the Bijan Jazani who founded one of Iran’s guerilla movements. It appears that she’s a friend of yours on Facebook.
A. (Blushes) Um, well yes…so it would appear. (laughs) Actually, Mihan Jazani doesn’t like Facebook and never uses it. The Facebook account was set up for Mihan by her granddaughter, Aida. Aida and I exchange messages occasionally.
Q. How were you able to remember so much about what happened then? It was 40 years ago after all.
A. I was assisted in several ways. I had some writings I had done about Iran when I was in journalism school at Kent State in 1972. I had a large number of slides that I’d taken when I was there. Those were crucial in reviving old memories. A huge help was finding a 1977 map of Tehran on the (now defunct) Tehran American School website. I was able to use the exact names of places, even street names. The fellow I’d mentioned earlier who told me about Junior had sent me a copy of the ARMISH/MAAG directory, which was very useful. Finally, talking to people I worked with at that time was extremely important, namely Heidi Eftekhar and Barry Silver, who are characters in the story. I obviously couldn’t remember all events specifically, but I found I could generate them as needed by being very specific in my language. I would take seeds of ideas and extrapolate and grow them into full blown events. For example, a certain lecherous officer really did say to Heidi, “I think you’re a woman who needs a lot of loving.” I took that and ran with it. Last, but also important, the Internet was a valuable tool in researching the historical incidents in the book.
Q. So, where does the novel part come in?
A. Some of the human rights related events are novelized, but they’re very accurate in their portrayal of the times. I’ll leave historians to figure all that out. They will have their work cut out for them because I’ve spent a lot of effort weaving the story line into the history of those days.
Q. How close is your character Doug Roberts to the way you actually are?
A. That’s a really good question. (laughs) I had originally intended that Doug the character would be an extreme version of myself. But after having read my book now over and over, I’ve come to see that what’s extreme are the circumstances he’s in. Doug the character is a lot like I was back then: ok in the smarts department, and a little too cocky sometimes. He’s not very romantic or knowledgeable about women, but does all right in spite of himself. (laughs) There’s an element of male fantasy in the book I suppose. In the story, I have two charming female lunch companions in addition to Fari my Iranian girlfriend/fiancée.
Q. But you really were friends with Heidi Eftekhar your co-worker in the story.
A. I still am. Heidi and I communicate regularly by email and her input on the book was immensely helpful. Miss Farou is the fantasy. She actually didn’t like me all that much. (laughs).
Q. I get the impression you had a lot of fun writing your book.
A. It was pretty trippy for me at times. I would totally submerse myself in it. For example, I had written the scene describing how I spent New Year’s Eve in Iran just a couple of weeks after New Year’s Eve in real life. When someone asked me about how I’d spent my New Years, it shocked me as to how much effort I had to put into pulling up what I’d actually done versus what I’d just written. That was a little scary.
Q. What do you think people will get out of your book?
A. I’m sure everyone will get a little something different, but what I’d like for people to take from it is that, like in the story, life may present you with some extreme circumstances. When that happens, keep a level head and your wits about you. Try to see beyond what appears to be happening on the surface. There will always be some good things happening at any given moment. Try to focus on that. To get through your ordeal it’s a good idea to engage all your friends to help you and your faith if you have that. Most important of all: never give up.
Outer Banks Publishing Group
BISAC: Fiction / Espionage
Martin Brossman and Anora McGaha know how to launch a book. Over 50 people attended the event on Aug. 4 celebrating the launch of Social Media for Business, a comprehensive anthology focused on small business and the power of social media. More than 35 books were sold with some guests buying two and three copies. The launch was held at the Center for Excellence, a training and speaker center in North Raleigh, NC.
Social Media for Business is available on Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere.
For more information about Social Media for Business, visit the book web site.
Congrats to Amanda Hocking for using a traditional publisher to further her writing career. She did the right thing seeking out a traditional publisher and the reason is clear – she wants to be a writer – not a book marketer, editor, designer and distributor.
The caveat here is her content. She has the content that sells – when she writes, it sells. She can afford to give away a large piece of her royalties so she can spend more time writing.
So should every self-published author seek out traditional publishers for their work. Maybe, yes and maybe, no. Some authors like JA Konrath took the reverse course – he went from traditional publishers to self-publishing because he could get a bigger piece of the publishing pie, especially on his traditionally-published books that went out of print. Even luminary Stephen King experimented with self-publishing a few years back.
A new trend is emerging as traditional publishers go digital. Currently, a self-published author could get their work in front of more people as an eBook than a printed book. This is still true, but as more and more traditional publishers go digital, they can offer both – significant eBook exposure as well as print book distribution. They will take a larger piece of the pie, but if your work is selling well, it is worth going with a traditional publisher.
Here’s the Amanda Hocking story from The New York Times.
If any writer proved that modern self-publishing could be a pretty sweet deal, it was Amanda Hocking.
Amanda Hocking, who has self-published nine books.
In the past year Ms. Hocking, a 26-year-old from Minnesota, became an indie heroine in the literary world for publishing nine books that sold a total of more than one million copies, nearly all of them in e-book form, earning almost $2 million for her efforts.
But for Ms. Hocking, self-publishing has had its limits. On Thursday she announced that she had sold a four-book series to St. Martin’s Press, ending a frenzied weeklong auction that involved nearly every major publisher in the business, including Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.
St. Martin’s, part of Macmillan, paid more than $2 million for the world English rights to the “Watersong” series, Ms. Hocking’s latest books in the young-adult paranormal genre. >more
As more and more authors turn to self-publishing, a new trend is emerging that may benefit publishers as well as authors.
According to an article in The Star-Telegram online written by Alex Pham of The Los Angeles Times,
“Joe Konrath can’t wait for his books to go out of print.
When that happens, the 40-year-old crime novelist plans to reclaim the copyrights from his publisher, Hyperion Books, and self-publish them on Amazon.com, Apple’s iBooks and other online outlets. That way he’ll be able to collect 70 percent of the sale price, compared with the 6 to 18 percent he receives from Hyperion.
As for future novels, Konrath plans to self-publish all of them in digital form without having to leave his house in Schaumburg, Ill.
‘I doubt I’ll ever have another traditional print deal,’ said the author of Whiskey Sour, Bloody Mary and other titles. ‘I can earn more money on my own.'”
Mr. Pham goes on to write, “It’s difficult to gauge just how many authors are dumping their publishing houses to self-publish online, though for now, the overall share remains small. But hardly a month goes by without a well-known writer taking the leap or declaring an intention to do so.”
However, Mr. Konrath is one of the exceptions to successful self-publishing because his fan base was primarily created by the marketing and distribution efforts of traditional publishing houses.
Does that mean an author needs to be published by a traditional publishing house to be successful later in self-publishing?
Not at all.
As an aspiring or first-book author who is relatively unknown, you need to market your work to where people seek, read, recommend and review books – in social media: Facebook, Twitter, NING, Linkedin, Foursquare, Goodreads, and all the other social networking sites out there.
There is only one problem. By the time you learn how to effectively market your work on all the social media, you may be in an old-age home especially if you are not so computer savvy. Besides, when would you have time to write another book?
Most authors just want to write. They don’t want to wear six or seven hats and be the marketing guru, the sales superstar or the promotional genius.
This is where publishers can get their own surf board and ride the same wave as Mr. Konrath. But some are just standing up on their boards, others are knelling and most don’t even see the social media wave.
Publishers can offer social networking services, electronic distribution and all the perks of traditional publishing to authors in digital and electronic form. This is a wave that is coming whether publishers like it or not so the best strategy is to make sure to have a surf board and to look out over the horizon. This publisher is certainly standing on his surf board poised to ride the next giant wave.
I am not surprised that Google will launch it’s own electronic book venture called Google Editions. After all, why were they scanning every book ever published into digital form?
The Wall Street Journal and numerous other major publications, blogs and websites reported that Google is now nearing the launch of its massive new ebook venture and they hope to launch this year.
Instead of building another boat to navigate the ebook waters, they are diving into the water and going with the flow. Google says its books will not be tied to one particular device like a Kindle or iPad, but their books will be accessible from any device with an Internet connection.
Google is not running against the current trying to sell their own reading device with its own ebook store. Instead, they are the current ready to sell books to any device, in any format as long as those devices have a connection to the Internet.
And they won’t have just one web site where you have to go to buy their books, they will have unlimited websites paying commissions to anyone who directs traffic to a Google Editions book using the same model as their Google ads.
And some observers think they may have a competitive advantage over the other Titans in the electronic book publishing market.
It will be interesting to see which Titan comes out on top: Amazon, Apple or Google.
Take a look at the video for more – Rex Crum talks with Amir Efrati of the Wall Street Journal about what Google’s entry means for the online book market.
by Manisha on November 12, 2010
Market research firm Forrester has estimated e-book sales to touch the 1 billion mark by end 2010 in US and to triple by 2015!
Although only 7% of the 4000 people surveyed by Forrester actually read e-books these few are probably the most important ones reading 41% of their books in the digital form and buying books by the heaps.
In what might be viewed as a pat on the back for Kindle, it has surfaced as the most popular e-reader (32%), followed by Apple iPhone, Sony e-reader and Dell notebook and finishing a close second to the ubiquitous laptop in the Forrester findings.
Doing 66% of their reading in the digital form, Kindle users have emerged as the most avid e-book patriots and as if on a cue Kindle has already announced the flipping of its revenue sharing agreement with its publishers which we covered right here for you.
The findings could be a wake-up call for the tentative publisher yet to decide on whether to go digital with his next publication-the writing seems clear on the wall though-and before paperback becomes old hat it’s time to cash in on the promising prospect of e-books as unveiled by Forrester.
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Not hard to believe when you consider the Kindle was the first mass-market ebook reader and the iPad is really a computing tablet with an ebook reader.
The iPad appeals to a larger market segment overall, but a smaller segment who just want the device to read ebooks.
Our own titles show sales on the Kindle, the Nook and the Kobo and none so far on the iPad.
Here’s the post from TNW.
By Alex Wilhelm on August 22nd, 2010
If you follow the ebook market you were likely stunned this June when Steve Jobs claimed to have captured 22% of the electronic book market overnight with the release of iBooks and iPad. Many of us who watch this market with carefuleyes were leery of the numbers that Jobs was tossing around, they sounded too good to be true. more>
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