Name: Randy Overbeck
Book Title: Blood on the Chesapeake
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Ghost Story
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
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?
Randy: I have always been a writer, though not in a creative vein until the last decade or so. In my work life as a teacher and school leader, I was tasked with a great many writing assignments—lesson plans, assessments, newsletters, long range plans, newspaper articles, grant applications, just to name a few. I found I enjoyed these tasks and, based on feedback and performance reviews, was quite good at them. So I decided I’d like to try my hand at writing what I wanted to write, rather than only for work. I began writing fiction, using the people I worked with as inspiration for my characters and what I saw happen in the real world as a jumping off point for my narratives. My novels were born, though not until after a good many fits and starts.
Is this your first book?
Randy: Definitely not. I have two complete novels “in the drawer.” Neither is good enough for publishing, at least yet. I also have one novel published, Leave No Child Behind, a thriller about a terrorist takeover of a high school in the Midwest and the teacher who stands up to the intruders. It was published by another small press, Heroic Teacher Press, and won the 2011 Silver Award for Thriller of the Year from ReadersFavorite.com and I’m quite proud of it. I’m hoping Blood on the Chesapeake does even better.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Randy: I decided to go again with a small press, The Wild Rose Press. Like most authors, I had hoped to land a strong agent, who in turn could land a contract for the book (or in this case the series) with a major publisher. I did my research and worked the process for about a year. Several agents expressed interest and requested full manuscripts to review, but none ended up making the commitment. I received several emails with “I really like the book, but I’m not in love with it.” So I also did my research on small presses and submitted to a few who I thought might have an interest. Three responded positively and I decided to go with The Wild Rose Press.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Randy: I’ll be happy to share my experience this far—no copies have been sold yet—and, of course, My earlier experience with the small press on my first novel had been quite positive. In deciding for Blood, I had read a number of good reports on TWRP before I submitted to them and had talked to other authors who had been published by TWRP. They had a good reputation in the field, especially with emerging authors, and, for the most part, my experience has borne that out. They have been easy to work with and have been respectful and positive in our interactions. I’ve been especially impressed with the quickness of their responses in communication. In working with other small presses and agents, it was not unusual to wait weeks and even months for a reply, but TWRP has been quick from the first contact. This attention to my numerous questions and queries has been immediate and polite. I’ve even had conversations with the president and the head of marketing. Of course, I get very little support on the promotion and marketing of my novel, but I pretty much expected that. Successful authors at major firms have shared with me that even they receive very little support in marketing any more. So I went out and found a great marketing consultant and hired her to assist my efforts. So far, it’s been good. Stay tuned and ask me in a year. Of course, it goes without mentioning that you have less control over such things as print, cover art, audio versions, etc, when you sign with a publishing company than if you go alone. It’s been a fair trade off in my mind.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Randy: I learned how critically important it is that your manuscript is in the best possible shape it is. Of course, I mean free from errors, typos, misspellings, etc. But it should also be the best from point of view of language, characters, dialogue and plot. Second, authors need to go into publishing recognizing that, in today’s crowded literary landscape, they have to work hard to promote and get there book out there, in order to have any chance at any reader success. One thing I’ve learned from the numerous writing conferences I’ve attended is that there are MANY published authors whose work is quite good and who get barely a notice. (Of course, there are also many writers whose work out there is not very good as well.) The point is that you, as an author, need to get comfortable with working even harder after the novel is published, than you had to do to get it published in the first place.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Randy: Overall, yes. I have friends and colleagues who have gone the self-publishing route and have been quite happy and sometimes successful using that venue. But I’ve been very pleased with my two trips through the publishing world via small press. Overall, TWRP has been easy to work with and their reps have listened to my concerns, even though I didn’t always get the answer I wanted. If an author’s works fit their criteria, I’d suggest they explore this avenue to see if it’s right for them.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Randy: Many writers say that writing is a solitary act, just you and the computer. While I can’t argue with that, I need to add that my writing would never have risen above the minimum without help from outside. I’ve participated in several really good writing conferences—Killer Nashville, Midwest Writers’ Conference, Sluethfest—and have found these experiences invaluable for “priming the pump” and getting me to think beyond my boundaries. Not to mention all the connections I’ve made with fellow writers. But I have found the greatest asset to my writing has been my regular participation in a really great writing group. These fellow writers have been both kind and cruel to my words and my writing has grown as a result.
About the book:
Wilshire, Maryland seems like the perfect shore town on the Chesapeake Bay—quiet, scenic, charming—and promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world—with the OCD scars to prove it—he does NOT want to get involved. But when the desperate ghost hounds him, Darrell concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.