Hi Bob. It's been a long time since we last talked, what's happened since then?
I’ve launched my Time Patrol series and it’s doing very well.
What's your view on the publishing industry?
We’ve come almost full circle. Things have leveled out to an extent, but it’s not going to stay static. The big names are doing well, as always. I think the crunch is on the midlist. A midlist writer who is only traditionally published is facing a hard time ahead.
After writing so many books over the years, what inspires you to write (besides paying the bills of course)?
It’s the best job ever. I really enjoy the topics I write about and my character.
Being a graduate and former member of the green berets, What has, if anything, helped you from those days as a writer?
I employ Special Operations characters in all my books. The Time Patrol are almost all former Special Operations people who were recruited into an earlier series, Nightstalkers, and now are the Time Patrol. So I can use my experience to make the characters realistic along with their experiences.
There has been a number of great writers from Joseph Heller to George Orwell who have fought or served in wars including yourself. Why do you think so many former service men have become writers?
A desire to express what they’ve experienced. I think the opposite is a problem these days: too many thriller writers with no military experience who write unrealistic scenarios and characters; especially when they’re also pushing their political agenda.
Most people can say what's great about writing, is there anything you don't like about writing?
The hardest part about being a writer, is the actual writing. It’s easy to get distracted with so many other things going on and running a business. But butt-in-chair, undistracted time is the hardest.
What, in your opinion, makes a good or great writer?
I think that’s relative for everyone. I think the ability to make people feel and think. That’s key.
Do you have a writing process?
It’s evolved over the years. I let it flow more now. After having written over 70 books, I trust my instincts. It will come if I let it, so I try to worry less and also outline less. I let it come naturally.
Being both a publisher and author must leave a lot on your plate, how do you manage to succeed in two demanding roles?
I work pretty much all the time. But I enjoy it so that’s all right.
Having experienced both sides of industry as a publisher and writer, what, in your opinion, is the tougher role?
Both are hard and inter-connected. I think that’s why being a hybrid author is good. You know both sides of the industry. I think knowing only the author part puts one at a disadvantage in today’s marketplace.
What would you say has played a key role in your success so far?
Willingness to change. To do things differently. The #1 key to success is setting a long term goal and be willing to do whatever it takes to get there. If something doesn’t work, change.
The last time we talked I asked you about Amazon's effect on publishing industry and you were quite positive about it. What's your position on Amazon now?
I think Amazon is great for authors and for publishers. So far. That isn’t to say things can’t change. I know people feel eBooks have leveled off and bookstores are fine, but sadly, that isn’t true. The eBook is taking more and more of the market share. The only company that can possibly challenge Amazon in that market is Apple and their online store leaves a lot to be desired although it is getting better.
At Cool Gus we’re looking for just one or two bestselling traditionally published authors who want to try being hybrid. Not so much for the money, although royalty rates are so much better, but for creative control.
Do you see the increased interest and budgets expended on video based storytelling as a threat to book publishing?
No. It’s a different medium. We do a lot of video now for marketing, but mainly to expand our metadata presence.
Final Question: What do you think is the future of the written word?
I think story-telling in a variety of modes will always be around. The written word will always be around.