When Pigs Fly: Meet Author Bob Sanchez

I got acquainted with Bob Sanchez through an on-line Blog Book Tour group and I’ve watched and listened as he went through the process of publishing his books through Amazon’s CreateSpace program. I just finished reading When Pigs Fly, a zany, “Three Stooges” or “Keystone Kops” type of adventure that takes you on a cross country chase from Massachusetts to Arizona.

His second book is Getting Lucky, a missing persons case, in which Pigs’ retired cop Mack Durgin is resurrected in the character of Clay Webster, Private Investigator. In Little Mountain, Sambath Long,  a Cambodian refugee, is now an American homicide cop. Sam’s investigation of a brutal murder unearths painful memories that threaten to tear his own life apart.

Welcome, Bob, and congratulations on your three books. What made you decide to become your own publisher with CreateSpace?

Thanks for honoring me with an interview, Heidi. I’d started writing novels around 1990 and found three agents over the years. None sold any of my books, though, so I eventually decided to get my books published and let readers decide if they were good enough.

Can you share briefly your publishing experience with CreateSpace?

Initially I published with iUniverse, which turned out to be a mixed bag. They charged too much for publication and controlled pricing. They put out a good product, though.

CreateSpace doesn’t charge for publication, and they let the author set the price.

What advice would you give anyone who wants to try this route?

Don’t cut corners. Be sure your novel is the absolute best you can make it. Get several competent critiques, and hire an editor. You’ll also need a professional-looking cover. Don’t settle for someone’s template.

Do you have a background in writing or is this something you’ve undertaken as a second career? Have you been published elsewhere?

Yes and yes. Technical writing was my second career, and novel-writing was a hobby that allowed me to express myself creatively. A few of my short stories have been published over the years, I’ve sold non-fiction to several magazines, and I write book reviews as well.

Why do you write, what is it that makes you do it?

It’s what I’m best at. Lord knows I can’t play a piano, fly a plane, or write a computer program. And although I make a few dollars writing, the ego boost from readers’ comments keeps me going even more. Once a woman wrote me saying her mom had recently died, and she consoled her father by reading When Pigs Fly to him. That email was worth—oh, about a million dollars to me.

I’ll bet that was!

Your three books seem to have a common thread in that they’re all about solving crimes. How do they differ?

Another common thread is that they all have a tie-in to Lowell, Massachusetts, a city near where I used to live. They differ in their level of seriousness as well as in their genre. When Pigs Fly is a comic road trip, Getting Lucky is a noir P.I. novel, and Little Mountain is a police procedural with a strong ethnic angle.

Where did the idea for When Pigs Fly come from? (You do caution that this is not a children’s book)

It began with the serious premise of FedEx showing up at a man’s door and delivering an urn with his brother’s ashes. That didn’t get far, and I set it aside. A couple of years later, I remembered it when I wanted to write a comic novel. The story’s javelina didn’t even appear until the second draft, though. But then what to call it? When Pigs Fly fit best, but it sounded like a children’s book. Referring to a scene in the book, a friend suggested the title Asses to Ashes. I will be forever grateful to iUniverse for saying they hated that.

What do you do to market your books and what has worked the best?

I used to do book signings, but never sold many copies. So I reissued all of my titles as ebooks and promote them on Twitter. In general that works well, though there seems to be a July-August slump. I tell people my novels are good summer reads, but maybe no one wants to bring a Kindle to the beach.

Do you have a life’s philosophy and does it translate to your writing?

The Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. I try to make my main characters follow that principle.

If you could have dinner with six people, alive or dead, who would they be?

My goodness, why would I want to have dinner with a dead person? Oh, I get what you mean. Let’s set aside family, who would be my first choice. I would like to break bread with Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jesus Christ, Marie Curie, Groucho Marx, and Mika Brzezinski, all at once. Can you imagine the stimulating conversation? Groucho would of course be there to deflate egos and lighten things up now and then, while Mika would be asking lots of good questions.

Now THAT would be a fun and interesting dinner party! Thank you for joining me today, Bob.

Bob Sanchez’s books are all available on his Amazon author page and his free short story collection is available on Smashwords. You can read his Blog, The Funny News Leader, and follow Bob on Twitter: @desertwriter and Facebook .

Bob Sanchez was born in New Orleans, grew up and worked in Massachusetts, and lives with his wife and two cats in New Mexico. Bob has published three novels: When Pigs Fly, Getting Lucky, and Little Mountain. He actively participates in several writers’ groups, edits nonfiction reviews for The Internet Review of Books, and maintains or contributes to several blogs.

The Real Secret to Twitter

I’m featuring a guest post by Penny Sansevieri, one of the top marketing “gurus” of today.

by Penny C. Sansevieri

If you’ve ever been impressed by the number of followers someone has on Twitter, I have a newsflash for you: it doesn’t matter. The thing is, you can buy followers (no, I’m not kidding) sort of like buying mailing lists. How effective is buying followers? Well, let me ask you: How effective was the last mailing list you bought? Whatever your answer is I can guarantee you that buying Twitter followers will be far less effective. Why? Because social media does not favor automation, it favors engagement, interaction, and yes, being social.

You might be interested in knowing someone’s Twitter-reach or you might be trying to determine if your campaign is effective. Here are some key things to look at when measuring anyone’s Twitter-success:

1)      How active is the person on Twitter?

2)      How relevant to their market are their updates? For example did a mystery author just tell you she’s washing her cat?

3)      How much do they broadcast vs. communicate?

4)      How often are they retweeted?

5)      How many Twitter lists are they on?

One of the best ways to determine if your Twitter campaign is effective – or someone else’s – is by gauging how often they are retweeted. Retweeting is an important factor in Twitter, possibly the most significant means to determine an effective Twitter person from an ineffective one. In fact, Twitter popularity lists aren’t based on the amount of followers but rather on the amount of activity in a campaign. When I recently pulled up a list of the top 10 Twitter-ers in Southern California, I  found that many in the top 10 didn’t even break 10,000 followers.

How can you determine how active an account is? There are a few services that you might want to look into. The first is Retweet Rank (retweetrank.com). This service shows you (by user) how much someone has been retweeted as well as their most popular retweeted posts.

Twitter Analyzer (twitteranalyzer.com) is another great tool for determining how far tweets have traveled. You can isolate a user or a particular Twitter-stream. Very useful site!

How can you increase your tweet-ability? Here are a few tips to help you grow your Twitter campaign:

1)      Know what your followers want: the first piece sounds simple but could take you the most amount of time. Candidly, it took me three months to finally get a handle on what my followers wanted and what seemed to rank high on the retweeting scale. If you don’t know what your followers want, try following popular people in your market and see what they are posting about. Use this as a guideline to help you dig deeper into what your market wants.

2)      Share useful advice: now that you’ve determined what your followers want to see on Twitter, make sure the information you are sharing is helpful. I know this sounds like an oxymoron. If you’ve determined what your followers want of course what you tweet on will be helpful, right? Wrong. Ask yourself what they need, not what you think they want. There is a big difference.

3)      Don’t overtweet: OK, full confession, I’ve been guilty of this from time to time but now I’ve found a good balance of between 4 and 5 posts a day. This may be a metric that works for you, but you’ll need to determine that on your own. How do you know? If people start unfollowing you the reason may because you are overtweeting.

4)      Balance broadcasting with communicating: this is a biggie for many of us. It’s important to use any social media tool like a telephone. You would never call someone and just blast them with information, right? You’ll give them something, wait for a response and then respond to their question and so a discussion ensues. Use social media as you would a telephone: communicate, don’t broadcast.

5)      Comment on current events that relate to your industry: becoming the go-to person for everything related to your industry is what most of us aspire to. Keeping apprised of what’s going on in your industry is important and then, sharing the highlights or most significant items with your followers will go a long way toward growing your popularity.

6)      Recommend helpful resources: much like current events, you want to offer helpful resources to your followers. This might not be appropriate to every market, but for the majority of us this works very well. Again, the more you can become a resource the more you will grow your popularity on Twitter or, for that matter, any social media site.

Many people hop onto Twitter thinking it’s a numbers game when it really isn’t. You can have a Twitter-tribe of millions and not gain the same kind of social media success that you would with only 1,000 followers. The wisdom of the crowd knows that it’s not always the size of the audience that matters but how engaged they are in you and your message. Find the balance that works for. You’ll be glad you did.

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., teaches self-publishing and social media marketing as an adjunct professor at NYU and is the author of five books, including Red Hot Internet Publicity. To learn about her books or her promotional services, including The Virtual Author Tour™, visit www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 9:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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