PART 2 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER
Q: In Part 1 of this interview I asked you to predict the next 10 years for humanity. How about we scale it down a tad. With the publishing game in complete upheaval right now, what do you predict for it a decade on?
Bernard: Let me just go on record here and say that the authors protesting Amazon are sell-outs, enslaved to their corporate masters. I’m not saying that to be controversial, either. They are sell-outs who have a master/slave mentality and are shilling for big business. I love Stephen King, but he’s a sell out. King loves indie film, to the point that he’s responsible for bringing the Evil Dead film franchise into the mainstream, but you never hear him say a single word about indie authors. Why is that? Why is it that independent film and music is celebrated by their respective industries, but independent authors are slandered? It’s elitism at the highest levels. Shameful behavior. But I can understand why the super agents and big publishing houses are terrified. They can’t compete with us. We do it faster, cheaper, and better than they do. In ten years, the debate won’t matter because traditional publishing will cease to exist.
Q: I belong to a group of writers on Facebook called The Dragon’s Rocketship. They’re a great bunch. But I still see posts on there from members who are doing it all the old-fashioned way. Submitting to a publisher or agent, waiting while their work sits on a slush pile. Do you think these are people who just don’t know enough about independent publishing?
Bernard: this is something that took me a long time to understand, but I get it now. The fact is, not everybody can do this. It’s a lot of work. Indie authors/publishers are responsible for much more than just writing. We need to edit, format, design, publicize, and manage existing titles. Some people simply aren’t cut out for that. I am not an advocate for independent publishing any more. It’s not my job to convince you to take ownership of your own career and future. I’ll tell you one time, “Hey, listen, the world is round.” I’m not going to explain why it is, or how I know it, or convince you it’s true. There will always be people standing there with their knees knocking together, afraid of falling over the edge of the world.
Q: Tell us about The Manifesto for Independent Publishing. Why did you write it and, now that it’s been out for a little while, do you feel you’ve gotten through to enough people or is it all falling on deaf ears?
Bernard: it’s out there for people who want the information. The book got lost in the sea of other books claiming to give you the key to mass fortunes by self-publishing. Most of the people who write guides to publishing, etc, don’t write anything else. That is the only book of its kind you’ll ever see from me. I’m a working author, not a guru.
Q: As independent authors we’re facing an uphill battle from the start. What must every indie do to produce a high-quality book that can challenge those published by the Big Five? What’s essential?
Bernard: My opinion is, if you’re going to charge people money for something, it better be decent quality. Think of all the reading options people have. They decided to read you instead of Hemingway, or Faulkner, or Rowling. They picked you, and by God you’d better make it worth their time. That means re-writing, editing, formatting, and proofreading. Have I always gotten it right? No. But I try to, and I’m getting better at it everyday. One of the benefits of indie publishing is we can give people a lot of value for a little money. Much better than big publishing can, anyway.
Q: You’ve used the analogy before of stepping into the ring with the heavyweights of publishing. Do you still feel that way? And is it just the publishers themselves or is it also those who continue to support that way of doing things?
Bernard: I visualize things in terms of fighting. Or training to fight. Ali always said that fights are won long before you enter the ring. They are won in the gym and won on the road, at five in the morning when no one can see. To me, that represents those times in the middle of the night when I wake up thinking of a scene, and I give up sleep to write it down. That represents those times I stay at home writing and formatting when every one else is out having fun. I’m a hungry, hungry competitor and I came to win. Is the opponent big publishing? Is it the mainstream authors mocking us? Is it my own sense of fatigue or fear of failure? Yes. All of it. My job is to hit as hard as I can and keep fighting. It’s up to the readers to decide who wins.
Q: Tell us about the Way of the Warrior project.
Bernard: it’s my personal view of law enforcement and how to apply it. I’m not a criminologist and none of what I say is meant for academia. It was written for cops who are looking for direction, or inspiration, or maybe a little guidance.
Q: How’s that been received by readers and fellow law enforcers?
Bernard: extremely well. The reviews speak for themselves, but I also get emails and phone calls on a regular basis. The fact that police departments and training officers are using my book to instruct new recruits blows me away. There’s a big debate right now on how militarized American police are becoming. A very valid debate, actually. WOTW is directed at the individual officer and hopefully an encouragement to serve the public, not the system.
Q: Back to writing itself – for readers who’ve yet to pick up any of your work, where would you suggest they start? What’s a great introduction to Bernard Schaffer?
Bernard: it depends. I’ve reached a level now where I can offer you products in whatever category you prefer. My personal favorite is The Girl From Tenerife. Of course, that’s one of my least read books.
Q: I love your Superbia books. You have a new short story due out, correct? Tell us about that and how it ties in with the rest of Superbia.
Bernard: it’s a prequel to the first book and brings back Detective Vic Ajax. Vic is a complicated character for me. He’s me, or at least an aspect of me, that I purposely avoid. Vic is my wounded, tormented, true believer who would rather die than compromise what he thinks is right. Ultimately, he paid the price for that in the first book. Because of his early departure, there’s a lot about him we don’t know. This sheds a little light on Vic, but also reveals a hidden character to the series who is finally showing up. One that will be back, in a big way.
Q: Do Superbia and Way of the Warrior complement one another?
Bernard: Superbia is the shadow world of Way of the Warrior. In Superbia, the only people who know anything are the grunts. It’s fiction, no matter how much reality I inject into it. It shows you what can happen when we let it get out of control. WOTW is a good start to the conversation about how law enforcement professionals can stay on track.
Q: For readers who’ve followed your work for a long time (myself included), and for those who are about to make the discovery, what’s next for you? What does 2015 hold instore?
Bernard: at last count I had something like 30 titles to finish before I’d completed all my current projects. I’m at work every day trying to bring things up to speed. I have a few incomplete series out there that I have to deal with.
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