peeps: Robert Ellis
It’s always interesting when a traditional international bestselling author joins the indie publishing ranks. Authors like Robert Ellis, the man who gave us crime novels Access to Power, The Dead Room, City of Fire, The Lost Witness and Murder Season, critically acclaimed work that’s been translated into ten languages and read in over thirty-five countries.
His website just goes quickly through his background — “Born in Philadelphia, Robert moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a writer, producer, and director in film, television, and advertising…” — but his Wikipedia entry gives us a more intriguing “tell” on why the man writes what he writes.
Apparently, the memory of a young woman’s murder near his home when he was a boy haunted him, and he developed an interest in crime fiction, feeding and influencing his imagination with the works of notables like Hitchcock, Doyle and Dashiel Hammett, creator of Sam Spade. Fast forward to his early career in film and TV, and this little Wikipedia snippet:
By his own account, everything changed for Ellis when he was assigned the task of gathering surveillance footage of a mobster running for political office in a New Jersey ghetto. While Ellis and a collaborator hid on the third floor of a parking garage with a long-lens camera, the subject walked outside, stepped away from the building, looked straight up at the lens and froze. Says Ellis, ‘He thought the camera was a rifle. For a split second, he thought he was dead. And in a single instant, I realized that the horrific world Dashiell Hammett described so perfectly was alive and well and always would be.’ Ellis began working on Access to Power, the screenplay that would later become his first novel, the following day.
How Robert Got Started Self-Publishing
Robert heard word of authors doing very well self-publishing Amazon Kindle ebooks. At the time, he was in the middle of a three book deal with St. Martin’s, and had just regained the rights to his first two books, Access to Power and The Dead Room, from Kensington. After talking it over with his agent, putting them out on the Kindle himself “seemed like the perfect solution for me at just the right time,” he says.
Both books previously did well as mass market paperbacks. The Dead Room in particular. “But I never expected the reaction this book received when it came online as a Kindle ebook,” Robert reports. “Within five days, The Dead Room had gone viral, and suddenly all my other books were alive. I think self-publishing on Amazon is a terrific opportunity for any writer.”
Self-Publishing Tips and Observations
- “Make sure you’re telling a story that’s worth telling, and make sure that it’s the best story you can tell. Show it to your friends. When you’re ready, hire a professional editor or story consultant and take their advice to heart. Once you’ve completed a final draft, hire a professional copy editor. Believe me, a good editor is an author’s best friend!”
- “Your book jacket is the first thing a potential reader will see of your work. Review other jackets from books in your genre in the Kindle Store and make a list of your ten favorites. Then go to the TOP 100 list in the Kindle Store and see which jackets stand out the most when reduced in size. Now you know what works and why! A good jacket, like a good movie poster, is a sign that says, ‘Look at me! I’m over here!'”
- “You’ve written your book and now you’re trying to sell it as a Kindle ebook. Once a potential reader finds your work and looks at the jacket, they’re going to skim through the description. Go back to books of the same genre, pick your five favorite, and read the descriptions. Study the tone and style of the writing. Notice that there is a sense of who the hero is, a sense of what he or she is up against, and what the stakes are if he or she loses to their opponent. Remember, you’re looking at the description of a book that you read and liked. The jacket and description are probably the reasons you bought it.”
“Most important of all, have fun!”