The ideas just keep flowing for author Val M Karren. His debut novel, The Deceit of Riches, is about an American student in Russia who gets mixed up in shady goings ons, but this book is only the tip of the iceberg for Karren. He's already working on another book. "I haven’t been able to write fast enough. I don’t know what it was or why I have to do it. I’m possessed maybe?"
Check out his full Author Interview below!
1. List the titles of your published books (include publisher and year published) and your author website/Facebook page links.
The Deceit of Riches
Self-published under the imprint Fly by Night Press
Released: October 5, 2017
2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from? Include the synopsis.
I started writing this (first) book in January 2017. I had played around with many elements of the story in short story forms for years. The idea of the plot of the novel catalyzed when I learned a good friend of mine from that period I lived in Russia was a CIA spy. I asked myself the question ‘Why was he there as a spy?’ ‘What would have happened had I stayed a bit longer?’ And then, the plot just fell into place, weaving truth and fiction in one grand speculation. In the end, the whole book COULD be true. I keep learning new details that make me think I was pretty close to the truth -- it's just that nobody will ever confirm it.
A senior Russian military engineer is murdered. Is it espionage or treason? In the modern Russian revolution, corruption and hidden agendas in both government and industry have replaced law and order. When Peter Turner, an American student uncovers a murderous shadow network of extortion, money laundering and espionage he must get out of Russia before the KGB and gangsters silence him for good. When morals become relative, and all choices are dangerous, self-preservation is no longer intuitive.
3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?
Self-doubt. Why would anybody want to read this? My writing sucks! I don't know anything about the publishing world. No book agent will every pick me up.
4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?
I honestly don’t remember. I do remember a feeling I had of being amazed that I had produced something truly unique and was excited to launch into the world. It was a very fulfilling emotion.
5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?
Ohhh...the editing process. My eyes will never be the same. I nearly threw the whole book out I got so frustrated about the typos that sprung up like weeds, over and over, no matter how many times I went over it, they just kept popping up. I will happily pay somebody else to do the entire proofing and editing for me next time..(Carrie?)
6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?
I found the rewriting process to be insincere. I found it contrived, but necessary. I know it made the story better and I'm glad I did it, but I didn’t like it.
7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?
Yes. Great feedback, great suggestion, great constructive criticism and a whole lot of encouragement. I took a number of their suggestions and put them directly into a few sections that had to be rewritten.
8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?
The cover design was a joint effort. The photograph used was an original photo I took on Red Square in Moscow on 5 January, 1995. My designer wife put it all together in a way that made it very attractive for a book cover. It is a very special creation to me and I am confident that this was the ONLY cover that would have fit the book.
9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?
I tried impatiently with Kindle Scout to get noticed and have Amazon publish and market the e-book version. Good experience although it was unsuccessful. The book had to be released in October 2017 to commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution. I went ahead using Kindle's Direct Publishing platform to meet that goal and have been very happy with the support and the product that Amazon offers through this service. Not a bad word to say about it.
10. How have you marketed your first book?
How haven't I? Facebook, emails, website blogs, book reviews, author interviews in newspapers, book events/signings, approached bookstores for consignment opportunities, Amazon.com etc. I live and breathe marketing this work.
11. How was the initial feedback from readers?
I refused to read the first reviews. Didn’t even watch for them. I was so sure everybody was going to shred me and my story and everything in it. But I was very wrong. The good reviews from people I do not know are golden, but the constructive criticism from writers and avid readers I know and respect has been even more valuable. I prefer suggestion to 5 star reviews, because I don’t deserve 5 stars yet. One has to earn those! I’m glad people enjoy the story enough to give me wonderful reviews, but I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to be considered a great writer that deserves 5 stars. (That is my goal.)
12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?
I had the goal of distributing 1000 copies in the first year and we are right on track! I am pleased. I feel that in the second year sales are going to go “hog wild.”
13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?
No, even split. I like selling the ebook better because I earn more money on an ebook, but I like seeing people with the book and being asked to sign it. It’s a little ego trip each time...
14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?
Oh my...I did set the pricing and tried to make the books as accessible as possible to as many people as possible in order to be read and get reviews and to get my name and my work known, even in the smallest of circles.
15. What made you decide to write more books? How were those experiences (writing/editing) compared with your first book? Did you do anything differently?
Once the pump was primed, once the stories started building themselves, I haven’t been able to write fast enough. I don’t know what it was or why I have to do it. I’m possessed maybe? I don’t know how to answer that question. I am enjoying the creative process much more with the second book I have started and can feel myself improving and growing as a storyteller, as a writer, as an author.
16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?
17. When did you consider yourself a "writer"?
I am still waiting for that feeling. I feel still that I am defrauding the entire book reading community by putting my name on a book or telling people that I am an author when they ask what I do for work.
18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?
I wrote The Deceit of Riches in the mornings before a swing shift at my paying job from 7AM-11Am for four months straight including 8 to 10 hours on Saturdays. When I’m not at computer I carry a notebook with me where my ideas are written down, and I’m always working on a plot, a scene and dialogue. When I’m not doing that I am watching documentaries or reading about the topic. I will go visit locations where the scenes will be set, sometimes to far away places (Ukraine, Romania, Sicily) I am always working on a story, even when I’m at my day job. Always observing and listening to people and how they speak, tells jokes, get angry. I make notes all day long. What motivates me to write? The dream of being free of my day job!
19. What do aspiring authors ask you?
How do you find the time to write?
20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?
Show up ready to work everyday. That book isn’t going to write itself.