I’d like to welcome indie author Robert Covelli to the blog. Robert contacted me a while back and asked if I would do a spot for him and his book, Black Sheep…it took me a while to get to it, but better late than never :). I haven’t read Robert’s book but I love the look of the cover, and I’m always open to shining the light on indie authors. So without further ado, let’s let Robert talk about his book and writing a bit.
What got you writing?
My parents were teachers, and there were lots of books and discussions in my house. I’ve wanted to write since I was a little guy. I’ve always read a lot, and my Dad was big on the Truth (say that in a deep and manly voice). I loved nature; and, as my mind developed, my body developed in sports and girls and the whole shebang. Fiction and poetry were natural expressions of my becoming.
Tell us about Black Sheep. What’s it about, and where did you get the idea?
I started out to write a mystery in order to make money, and I discovered that I didn’t like my characters. They were sneaky, violent and mean. But I’m a liberal guy, and I knew what conditions in their lives inclined them toward crime. I felt no obligation to excuse their meanness, but I knew that those conditions reflected American culture. Now, my parents were Depression kids. My Dad grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood in Buffalo, where my book is set, and, frankly, I like Mafia stories. I saw how to use this particular Mafia story for my purposes; I could dramatize how crime serves business and political interests in our country. I could also oppose that kind of corruption with a liberal, people’s, political movement, like Occupy, which included an economy of fairness. My plot follows that arc. My hero is the son of the first member of a Mafia family to leave the life of crime (this is fun trivia: I got my title from a movie named Prince of the City. The main character is a cop, and he happens to come from a Mafia family. In the course of the story, one of his cousins teases him, telling him that everybody called him the black sheep of their family). In my story, my hero’s parents were involved in radical politics in the 60s. They saw that corporations were going to take over many things in America, likely including organized crime. My hero grasps what’s happening when he hears about a new operation building hybrid cars, bringing jobs to a depressed city in the Rust Belt, and a political movement that seeks to elect a progressive as Mayor. Meanwhile, the established Mafia, servile to rich people, shows a keen interest in new money in town, at the same time that a younger bunch of bad guys, who are newly released from prison and the product of economic policies that left cities like Buffalo in ruins, want to return crime to the street. It’s an exciting story, and it’s timely to say the least.
I noticed you have a review from a NYT bestselling author–any secret on how you got this? Were you scared he might not like the book?
I’m always scared that reviewers might not like the book, but Michael Levin, the man who wrote that blurb, edited an early draft of Black Sheep. He understood what I was trying to do, and he liked it. He’s also an accomplished writer, published by major houses, and he knows what writers face in our efforts to succeed. He’s a very generous man. I recommend his website, Business Ghost, for people who want to write business books.
What do you like about writing? Anything you hate?
I love to write. I don’t find it agonizing or any of the rest of what some people call it. It’s my art. It’s my liberation. What I hate is finding out that I haven’t done something well and I have to rewrite. These words will shock writers: what’s painful about writing is baring your soul and being rejected.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve started an outline for a new book. I want to discipline myself by means of the outline, focus on it, stick to it, and develop the story along the lines that I lay down. It’ll be easier to write. The story concerns sustainability and the possibilities of a green economy.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned so far about marketing?
I wish I could offer tested, useful advice to writers, but I’ve only just started. The kind of work you’re doing, Renée, should be indispensable, and I suspect it will help, but I’ll have to see. There are lots of gurus with wonderful ideas, and all of them may work, because the Internet is so wide open for the moment. I add the disclaimer for the moment because I can’t know how large organizations might try to control openness. Many are trying hard. But I’ve corresponded with gurus who swear by social media, while others insisted that social media are secondary to blogs that are the new reviewers. Reviewers have assured me that reviews don’t sell books, but when I asked why people continued to write, publish and read reviews, I didn’t get answers. I don’t know. I have to find out. I’ve found people who’ll blast a zillion tweets to many followers on several accounts for a reasonable fee, which can’t hurt. Another woman will send notice to libraries, bookstores and reviewers for a bit more, but who knows? If I find keys that unlock doors to treasures, I’ll gladly share them, but my guess is that the quality of the book will sell it. Writers have a lot of opportunities to put their books in front of readers, and I wish everyone much success. What I hope most is that all this freedom produces books that move readers profoundly, open readers’ minds, inspire readers’ imaginations, and last.
Thanks Robert! I appreciate your insights and I agree that we as indie authors have a lot of avenues in front of us, but who knows what works…what sells a book for one author doesn’t for another. We just have to persevere and produce quality writings. I wish you all the best. Hey everyone, check out Robert’s book, Black Sheep, and help him by liking and tagging the book.