Actually, it was over a year and a half between signing the contract and publication! I was originally scheduled for Fall 2011, but it got pushed back to Spring 2012. While the delay was a bit frustrating because I had planned some bridge tournaments to go with an autumnal launch, I am very pleased with the final result, which was much improved by the editing process.
Normally for nonfiction you submit a proposal that includes a synopsis, table of contents, target audience analysis, marketing plan and a sample chapter. I waited until I had a complete book before I put together my proposal. I checked all my bridge books to see who the publishers were and Master Point Press kept coming up. I sent the proposal by mail and a few days later received an email request for the rest of the manuscript.
Does Master Point Press help authors promote their books? Do you think that nonfiction promotion is any different than it is for fiction?
The key to any creative promotion is platform. Nonfiction has an advantage over fiction, or art for that matter, in that the subject matter helps define the platform. In my case, since I am not one of the Grand Poobahs of bridge, my platform is essentially that I wrote the book I wished I had read when I was an Intermediate/Novice bridge player. The fact that I am now a Silver Life Master demonstrates I moved past the I/N ranks.
Master Point Press takes care of getting reviews and placing ads in the American Contract Bridge League’s monthly magazine. (I was pleased to see my book advertised on the inside front cover of the March magazine.)
Will you promote your book at tournaments in which you compete?
There are two audiences for promoting One Trick at a Time. The first is to bridge players directly. I’ve arranged to be a speaker at several upcoming tournaments. Before the evening games, tournaments often offer a 20-30 minute mini-lesson by a “celebrity.” I have several lessons I have developed, and I use them to teach something useful and also to illustrate my self-deprecating sense of humor. If they like the lesson, they’ll like the book.
The other important group of influencers is bridge teachers who recommend books for their students. I was scheduled to attend the American Bridge Teachers Association meeting in March, but my wife was hospitalized, so I had to cancel. Maybe next year.
You are obviously a game player. Has using strategy helped you in life? Has it helped in writing mystery?
Those are interesting questions. There is a branch of mathematics based on game theory that I would love to say helped me have a successful business career, but that would be something of a large stretch. I think the proverb that “all work and no play makes Jack(son) a dull boy” has been useful for me to keep in mind in both life and in my writing. When I have come to a problem (work, life or writing) taking a break and playing a game allows my brain to mull things over without pressure and come up with a solution on its own.
The other thing I should mention is that early on, playing games taught me that regardless of innate talent, the taxicab driver’s line about the way to Carnegie Hall being “practice, practice, practice,” applies to anything I want to do well, and that includes writing.
BAD POLICY, for which you won the Evan Marshall Fiction Makeover Contest last year, is the first in your Seamus McCree series. What is the hook of this series?
Each book has a mystery/suspense as its plot line, but I wrote the Seamus McCree novels to explore values. Seamus McCree is a decent and nonviolent person, albeit a bit odd. In Bad Policy Seamus must wrestle with his inner demons when his family is threatened.
Is Seamus a game player?
Yes, but more as backstory than as a major character trait. It comes up from time-to-time in repartee between Seamus and his son, Paddy.
Bad Policy has two main sets: The greater Cincinnati area and Boston. Boston gave roots to the man (and the story) and Cincinnati reflects his maturity (staid Midwesterner). Oh, and I happened to live in Cincinnati at the time I started writing the Seamus McCree novels.
Have you queried the BAD POLICY manuscript?
I spent over a year trying to find an agent. I am ramping up to try small presses.
What is the sequel to BAD POLICY?
Cabin Fever is the next Seamus McCree novel. It is set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Seamus is a Good Samaritan and it naturally goes downhill from there until he solves the mystery. It is just about ready to query agents.
Any other books in your future, fiction or nonfiction?
I started a dystopian novel set in the late 21st century that explores a world in which corporations are the government. I had about 30,000 words written when I realized I had started the story in the wrong place and that I needed to understand the world I was creating a bit better before going back to it. I’m looking forward to working on that this summer.
I also started an “over-the-shoulder” book of bridge problems for Intermediates. I’ve been teaching a lot of classes and enjoy that more than writing the book, so it’s on hold for now.
And I have a large file of short story ideas…
I’m hoping reincarnation is feasible…