Posted By Stephen England on November 14, 2014
Stephen England: It’s my unique pleasure to sit down today and interview a man who is not only a brilliantly talented author, but someone I consider a personal friend. Welcome aboard, Robert—it’s great to have you with us here on Stephenwrites.
Robert Bidinotto: Thanks so much for this opportunity to chat with you and your readers, my friend.
SE: You and I first met in 2010, at a political rally where we were both speaking. It wasn’t until the following year that we re-connected—to find that we had both become independent authors in the meantime, with the launches of Pandora’s Grave and HUNTER coming only weeks apart. What was the path to publishing like for you?
RB: It’s been a wild ride, Stephen, filled with unlikely surprises and unexpected pleasures. I confess that I didn’t anticipate my late-life career change from writing and editing nonfiction, to writing thriller novels. Since I was young, I harbored fantasies of trying my hand at fiction, but two things always stopped me.
First, I just didn’t have the confidence. For a nonfiction author of political-social commentary and reviews, the prospect of crafting plots, dialogue, and characterization was way outside my comfort zone. Fiction writing requires completely different skill sets, and I honestly didn’t think I possessed them.
Second, I was deterred by what I knew about traditional publishing. I knew that it would take a long time—if ever—to get an agent and a publisher. I’d also been burned during a previous nonfiction book negotiation, where I wasted a year jumping through hoops and doing everything required of me—only to have the plug pulled by the publisher at the end, and then being dumped by my agent. And I knew about publishers’ onerous contract terms, which virtually guaranteed that even if I did get published, I almost certainly wouldn’t be able to make a living at it.
SE: Indeed, such prospects would serve as a strong deterrent. What served to move you past all of that?
RB: My fear was offset when I lost my magazine editor job. And my hesitation over the state of publishing was overcome when I learned about exciting new self-publishing options, and the huge successes of some “indie” authors. So, in early 2010, with nothing to lose, I took the plunge and started writing HUNTER in earnest.
I self-published it in the summer of 2011. After five months of decent sales, Amazon listed it in a post-Thanksgiving promotion, named it an “editors’ pick,” and gave it spotlight treatment. It immediately soared up the Kindle bestseller list to #4, becoming the #1 title in “Mysteries & Thrillers” and also a Wall Street Journal “Top 10 Fiction Ebook.”
SE: I remember that Sunday very well—watching HUNTER’s rankings was like watching the launch of the moon rocket. (more…)