Interview with Bill Larkin
What genre do you write and why?
Crime fiction because it has everything: deceit, lies, mystery, clues, misdirection, violence, moral judgements, dangerous attractions, and characters living through some of the most important days of their lives with stakes that are very high.
Tell us about your latest book.
Bullet in the Blue Sky is about a team of detectives sent to rescue another detective in the aftermath of a major earthquake. Somebody told me the premise has a similarity to Saving Private Ryan, which I think is true. This book evolves into more than a rescue mission and the characters uncover quite a few secrets along the way.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
Getting review copies to a variety of reviewers, social media, mailing list, blog tour, and selected advertising.
What formats is the book available in?
eBook and print available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
What's the best thing about being a writer?
My top five:
- You can work from wherever you want, whenever you want.
- Drinking at a bar is research.
- You get to make people lie, scheme, deceive, steal, kidnap and kill.
- You get to research topics by contacting a variety of professional practitioners will answer questions about all sorts of cool stuff.
- You get to have fun creating something that others enjoy.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Who designed the cover?
James Egan of Bookfly Design. I didn’t not have any strong cover ideas, so we went back and forth then I emailed him a photo taken in Joshua Tree California, where part of the book occurs. It’s near the San Andreas Fault. James placed the lone figure on the broken asphalt, representative of the missing man the team is searching for. It turned out great and I’ve had a lot of positive feedback.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
There are many pro and con arguments to both. Traditional publishing certainly has the prestige and PR muscle, but it’s slow, often unfriendly, requires difficult contracts, offers low royalties, and gives the author limited marketing support along with a loss of control/input.
Indie publishing lets the author choose the team and I enjoy the entrepreneurial aspects of indie. There are a lot of so-so quality self-published books out there, so indie has to live with that perception issue, although that happens on both sides. I just read a newly released traditionally-published bestseller that was hyped and marketed well. When I finished it, I was incredibly disappointed. Some of the writing was top notch, but in the end, all the character background and all the details did not come together in any way that was meaningful.
I explored traditional publishing, and turned down an offer from a small publisher for my first book. I’m sure there are some fantastic literary agents out there, but knowing how both financial brokers and real estate brokers work, as well as agents in Hollywood, my observation is that literary agents tend be a very different. Many have backgrounds in the book business and fine arts educations, but often lack entrepreneurial business skills I see with other types of agents. Literary agents tend to look narrowly for books that fit their particular passion or interest rather than what can potentially sell. Passion is admirable, but at the end of the day, an agent, in the broad sense of the word, should be a hustler, an advocate, and a dealmaker outside of any personal partialities.
A while ago I gave a copy of the manuscript of my new book to an agent and she told me that it could never be traditionally published because it incorporated different points of view. The only acceptable form of POV is universal third-person for a newer author. I reminded her that a large number of published books are written with first person and multiple POV, but her comment was that you have to wait to do that. In other words, the book had to be dialed back to fit the arcane system. I believe in the gatekeeper concept, but I think in its present form, there are pitfalls.
In the long run, the entire business will continue to evolve. Agents need to become more effective gatekeepers and traditional publishers need to update the model. There are hybrid publishing solutions out there and new companies springing up all the time. At some point, a company will figure out the right balance and start to capture a lot of market share. Something more nimble and author-friendly than traditional, meeting a quality standard, reaching influential reviewers, leveraging technology, finding clever ways to connect to readers, offering fair economics to authors and readers and themselves, and putting more good books in the hands of readers.
What are you currently reading?
I recently read Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker. It takes place in Mammoth California where I’ve skied for over 30 years. He did an amazing job researching ski competitions, portraying the town, and populating the book with an interesting cast of characters and family drama. A very enjoyable book.