Name: Robert Wideman
Book Title: Unexpected Prisoner
Genre: Vietnam War POW
Publisher: Graham Publishing Group
Link to book: www.robertwideman.com
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Robert: I decided to become an author because I wanted to leave something permanent for my two sons and six grandchildren, and because I wanted to tell the complete truth about the Vietnam War POW experience. Up until now, the American government has misled the world about what happened in the North Vietnamese prison camps during the Vietnam War. It is time to debunk the propaganda that our government has promoted.
Is this your first book?
Robert: No, I published a master’s thesis about Litton Industries in 1976 for the Naval Postgraduate School as a requirement for a master’s degree.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Robert: I self-published because the few authors I knew said they tried traditional publishing and did not make any money. I also know that it is very hard to get a big house publisher to publish your book. The big boys will also ask you where is your marketing plan. You will respond by asking them where is it because they are getting 90% of the profits. They will in turn tell you that you don’t understand, where is your marketing plan?
I think my publisher told me that a marketing plan would cost $30,000.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Robert: Yes I can. The book design, front and back cover designs, and the interior design went well. However, when it came time to find a printer and distributor things got weird. IngramSpark was my first printer, and amazon was the distributor. Amazon took 55% off the top, which left $7.18. Then the printer took $6.44 a copy, which left me a profit of $.74 a book, and that was before taxes. I thought that was outrageous! On a paperback book that sold for $15.95 the profit was less than one percent. The whole idea of self-publishing was to make more than the typical 10% a traditional publisher sends to you. I felt I had been grossly mislead. Graham publishing group then replaced Ingram Spark with Createspace. That worked out much better because now I receive $4.25 profit per paperback book. I still use IngramSpark for the amazon kindle version and receive 60% of the retail price as profit. I still use IngramSpark to sell on Barnes and Noble. I have no idea what my profit is with Barnes and Noble.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: I have learned that the publishing business it set up for the benefit distributors, printers, and publishers. It is not set up for the benefit of authors.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: I don’t know. If you can find a traditional publisher willing to publish your book I think you might better off going that way in the long run. I was not told about a lot of things when I decided to self publish. I know someone who went with the Naval Institute Press. Naval Institute Press does all the marketing for my friend, and they have set up book signings and talks for him.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Be patient and don’t expect to make money on your first book. I actually think that you will not make any money on your book. You will make money on stuff your book leads you too, like a movie or public speaking.
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About the Book:
When Unexpected Prisoner opens, it’s May 6, 1967 and 23-year-old Lieutenant Robert Wideman is flying a Navy A-4 Skyhawk over Vietnam. At 23, Wideman had already served three and a half years in the Navy—and was only 27 combat days away from heading home to America. But on that cloudless day in May, on a routine bombing run, Wideman’s plane crashed and he fell into enemy hands. Captured and held for six years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, Wideman endured the kind of pain that makes people question humanity. Physical torture, however, was not the biggest challenge he was forced to withstand. In his candid memoir, Unexpected Prisoner, Wideman details the raw, unvarnished tale of how he came to understand the truth behind Jean-Paul Sartre’s words: “Hell is other people.”
A gripping, first-person account that chronicles the six-year period Wideman spent in captivity as a POW, Unexpected Prisoner plunges readers deep into the heart of one of the most protracted, deadliest conflicts in American history: the Vietnam War. Wideman, along with acclaimed memoirist Cara Lopez Lee, has crafted a story that is exquisitely engaging, richly detailed, and wholly captivating. Unexpectedly candid and vibrantly vivid, this moving memoir chronicles a POW’s struggle with enemies and comrades, Vietnamese interrogators and American commanders, lost dreams, and ultimately, himself.
With its eye-opening look at a soldier’s life before, during and after captivity, Unexpected Prisoner presents a uniquely human perspective on war and on conflicts both external and internal. An exceptional story exceptionally well-told, Unexpected Prisoner is a powerful, poignant, often provocative tale about struggle, survival, hope, and redemption.