Monday, February 8, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Brian Bennudriti: 'Market early on social media'

Brian Bennudriti has degrees in Physics and Business. He’s taken a nuclear reactor critical, piloted a destroyer, slept in the Omani desert, negotiated multi-million dollar acquisitions, run two companies, provided strategic and management consulting across the United States and traveled around the world in every hemisphere. He’s a plankowner on the aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman and has made a lifetime study of religious beliefs and mythology. Brian lives in Kansas City with his wife, two children, two dogs and a lizard. His first book, Tearing Down The Statues, was published in 2015.

For More Information
  • Visit Brian Bennudriti’s website.
  • Connect with Brian  on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Brian at Goodreads.
About the Book:

Title: Tearing Down the Statues
Author: Brian Bennudriti
Publisher: Grailrunner Publishing
Pages: 344
Genre: Science Fiction

Misling is a Recorder, having perfect memory and expected to help build a seamless record of history. That’s what the Salt Mystic taught us two thousand years ago when she came stumbling from the flats with her visions. Unfortunately he’s probably the worst Recorder ever. So when he meets a joker with an incredible secret, the two of them are soon on the run from swarming lunatics and towering assault troops in the heart of a city under siege.

As it has for three generations, the horrible Talgo family is the spark of this swelling world war; and their wily generals and scheming counselors clash their fleets in battles of shrieking steel-entrained tornados, cannonballs of lightning, and tanks the size of cities. But it’s the joker’s secret that is the most powerful weapon of all…a trigger set by the Salt Mystic herself in myth, to save the world from itself.

For More Information

  • Tearing Down the Statues is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

One thing that makes books like Asimov’s, ‘Foundation’ or ‘Dune’ or the ‘Dark Tower’ series or even Homer’s, ‘Odyssey’ so electric for me is this idea of an over-arching religion or philosophy hovering like a thundercloud on top of everything. Like a parade of other folks, I think Jung and Joseph Campbell raised some timeless and powerful horses for us all to ride; and it only makes sense for us to learn from the horse whisperers. Is that too much metaphor? Anyway, I’ve spent much of my life digging in to the fundamentals of Greek, Hindu, Celtic and Norse myth because those resonate most with me. One day, someone should really give the summer blockbuster treatment to, ‘The Mahabharata’ or ‘The Ulster Cycle’ – I’d love to see a mouth-foaming Cuchulain turning around inside his own skin and spraying blood in the heat of battle. I also especially spent time reading early Christian church writers like Eusebius, Clement, Origen and Justin to understand what it feels like when the world turns upside down. In its guts, ‘Tearing Down The Statues’ keeps precious all those influences above; and the poor people therein are living in a culture getting absolutely ripped apart.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

If you could stage a conversation between me now and the version of me that finished this novel back at the turn of the year going into 2015 at a rainy beach in Maine, we’d probably argue with each other because of how much I’ve learned and grown up regarding the publishing business. I submitted to a number of publishing houses directly and to a number of literary agents specializing in Science Fiction and had some very nice compliments made though no one took the next step. At the beginning of seriously trying to sell a book, I thought Amazon reviews were sacred and real, that publishers do everything for you, that being in a brick and mortar bookstore is just part of the timeline of being published, and that a book’s merit and its merit alone are what determine its success. All crap, unfortunately, at least in my experience. So I started Grailrunner Publishing for myself and maybe a small select group of fellow authors to leverage Adobe software, Print On Demand houses like Createspace and Ingram Spark, audiobook collaboration services like ACX and other wonders of the modern world to just shove our way in. Who should have won that argument though? Hard to answer which route is best because the publishing business is a steaming mess in drastic need of consolidation and standards. I’m happy with the call to self-publish though.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

There’s a special place in heaven for people who can visualize a book cover and make a jpg that looks that way. In my case, I did it myself with Adobe Indesign and Photoshop, and some licensed images from the stock site, Fotolia. Then once I had the cover and interior text, I used Calibre software which is free to make the conversions for whatever format any particular channel needed. It’s incredibly easy to do – the most time consuming part is making the table of contents work.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

Another learning point for me, because I had the regular mass market paperback format in my mind at the beginning, is that the larger 6”x9” format is more widely accepted and expected than I’d thought. Scanning Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and looking at Createspace and Ingram recommendations, a few visits to some physical stores, and I pretty much knew what price point I’d start at, though I overshot a bit and failed to consider an unknown author trying to get noticed with the first in a series should lower the price a bit.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

I took the book live on Amazon and Barnes & Noble at the end of October in order to try and capitalize on holiday shopping and the leisure time folks would have sitting by fires to troll around looking for good things to read.

How did you choose your cover?

My wife would roll her eyes at this – she probably still has nightmares of saying, ‘That’s terrible, sweetheart’ or ‘I like that one, but you’ll probably ignore me’ for the endless stock images off various services I put in front of her for days on end. At the grocery store and drugstore, I’d drag her over to the racks and ask her to pick out a cover that stood out, then quiz her tediously on why that one, what got her attention?

Quick story on this one: there is a fantastic painting of a mountain city with dirigibles and a thunderous, ominous feel to it that I wanted so for the cover so badly I could taste it. Was perfect, like the guy had read the book. The problem was, I couldn’t find the title or artist anywhere – this piece just splintered out to a gazillion wallpaper sites for free downloads but never with attribution. I finally found the artist is a Romanian guy named, Sorin Bechira who is amazing. Since it’s murky for me now whether something that widely available is public domain; and since Sorin wasn’t willing to offer any license for commercial use, I had to drop it. What a great image though!

Anyway, I used Indesign to make the skeleton of the cover for 6”x9” format – there are lots of things I learned here about the perils of calculating spine width – and built the type in Photoshop with a fantastic concrete texture to resonate with the ‘statues’ in the title. The image I selected had wonderful warm colors, along with a bridge in a fantastic city setting. A particularly pivotal scene occurs in my book on a bridge at nighttime, so I was pretty pleased with how that turned out.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

I revised constantly as I went along. I wish I could reread the book for pleasure since I enjoy the people in it like friends and purposefully crafted imagery like a Hollywood movie; but I still see things I’d reword or freshen up.
What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I haven’t heard or read folks having an experience like mine, so maybe I’m just dumb. I set up a giveaway on Goodreads to try and make a splash. Man, was I thrilled with the number of people who signed up for that and who marked it as something ‘to read’. Then I spent way too much shipping the free copies out to remote burgs all over the country, only to see second-hand copies start popping up almost immediately on Amazon. I’ll guess the majority of people signing up for my giveaway were used bookstores selling at lower price points than me. Silver lining is in there, sure; but ugh.

Overall, I don’t see how you can avoid giving away copies to reviewers, blog hosts, friends and family, and independent bookstores. It’s necessary and good and you should do it.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

1.      Edit the daylights out of it. I reviewed a book for a guy who had maybe a hundred positive reviews already on Amazon; and-I’m not kidding here, he switched randomly from first person to third person, even within chapters. At one point, he even labeled the switch to, ‘Narrator Perspective’ when he wanted to knock the main character unconscious! My head hurts when I see things like that. It makes you look unprofessional and soils the self-published market.
2.      Stay away from the book for a few days and purge yourself – go read a couple other books that make you happy. Then read yours again with as much objectivity as you can and condense down the theme and the bleeding edge of it, the selling point that makes you different from whatever’s gone before you, and capture that in a single line. That can go on the cover as well as be the lightning bolt for your sales pitch.
3.      Market early on social media and among your friends and family. I suppose it can’t be said enough that forcing the world to take notice of you is difficult in a crowded field. Do something audacious before you go live so people are waiting.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

1.      Get friendly on social media and on blogs that specialize in your genre. Use free sites like Copromote to amplify your impact.
2.      Hire a promoter or a number of promoters, like ‘Pump Up Your Book’. If you’re going to spend, spend on marketing.
3.      Start writing the next one. Don’t get lost in the noise of the business side and forget why you did this to begin with. If feels wonderful to drag yourself out of that sometimes and just sit down with some characters you’re brother or sister to, so you can make them suffer and die for your entertainment.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

‘Tearing Down The Statues’ tells a large story about a culture suffering from echoes of the generations who’d come before. A mystic philosopher who’d come stumbling from the salt flats long ago left impossible tripwires in the myths and stories these people tell each other that can literally seize control of events; and the first novel only shows you the possibilities. There will be at least two more books in order to see the clash of these tripwires and the resulting fallout. I’m thrilled about all this – it really came to life for me like someone else was writing it at times. I could almost smell the sweat and ozone.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

I love a book with conspiracies and people with secrets that say enigmatic, wise things. I especially appreciate dialogue that sounds like something people would actually say and not lubrication for a squeaky plot, but that’s funny even in terrifying situations. I like to be scared sometimes, that the author is really going to do it – they’re really going to kill this person or let that happen. If I can get novel, breakthrough ideas or technology or a slick new way for people to clash with each other, it’s gravy. Since I love all those things, it’s how I write. Give it a shot!

Join in Salt Mystic combat. Change the world.
‘Tearing Down The Statues’

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