Rick Murcer: Indie’s Newest Best Seller

Interview with Rick Murcer:

AHE: Rick, you seem to have come out of nowhere to have two books land near the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.  Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your life as a writer?

RM: I actually was published in 2003 in Writers Journal for a story called “Herb’s Home Run”. My best friend had died from a massive heart attack at age 42, and we hadn’t talked much during the previous year. I wrote the story to cope with my grief, I guess, but he and I used to talk about spiritual things and I was hoping Herb had that resolved.

After “Herb’s Home Run” was published, I thought maybe I had something to offer, so I did the first draft of “Caribbean Moon” in about four months, but only played at finishing it for a few years. Then I lost my job, couldn’t find another, and decided I’d bettter do something productive. After numerous edits, I released “Caribbean Moon” in late March of this year.  So far so good! 🙂

AHE: Did you originally try to find a traditional publisher?

RM: Not really. I sent a few query letters and got a couple of nice comments, but I thought the process too slow and didn’t pursue it.

AHE: So at what point did you decide to go indie?

RM: After reading a few blogs of successful indies, and being convinced that it was the right thing for me, I dove into the deep end.

AHE: What do you think are the major differences between trad and indie publishing?  Advantages and disadvantages for each?

RM: I think there are several thing to address here, but I’ll only talk about two..okay, maybe three.

I think the traditional side offers great exposure, expertise, opportunites to sell foreign rights (although I’ve been approached by a couple foreign publishers), and movie deals. All good stuff. The great thing about the indie world is the freedom to write, release, and market whenever and whatever…the American way for sure. Also the money is MUCH better as an indie if you can get something going. I think the pay structure for authors under the traditional model is a downside and should be addressed by the Big 6.

I’ve never really been one that cared for seeing my books in a bookstore. It would be nice, but I’m motivated by the freedom.

AHE: Do you market and/or promote your books in a particular way?

RM: Marketing is a strength for me, and I based mine on one principle; find your audience.

If you can’t define and contact your audience, how will they ever know who you are and what you do? Since “Caribbean Moon’s” setting is a cruise ship in paradise, I posted at every cruise ship forum and blog I could locate. I tried to think where I would go If I were searching for this kind of read, and went there. Most cruisers are voracious readers, so that was a plus for me. I did the other things: Facebook, Twitter, posting on forums, and those all helped some. I also wasn’t shy about telling my 300 e-mail contacts about my new adventure, and many responded with their support…and subsequent surprise on how much they enjoyed the book. The old saying about a prophet not being accepted in his own home was certainly on my mind, but my friends and family were amazing and I thank them, again.

I’d like to mention Amazon here as well. Once I started making some sales and ended up on Amazon’s lists, their powerful mojo took over.

AHE: Since your books’ success, have you been approached by a trad publisher and/or an Amazon imprint?

RM: Not actually. Three agents, four independent publishers, four copyeditors, two foreign publishers, and a partridge in a pear tree…but no trad deals.

AHE: What do you think of Amazon’s new Thomas & Mercer imprint?  They seem to be scooping up many of the most successful indie authors at the moment.  Would you sign with them if you were approached?

RM: I love what Thomas and Mercer are doing.  They have a unique opportunity mainly because of Amazon, which may be the best adverstising orgnaization in all of publishing, to take the print world by storm. Well, every deal has to be right for all parties concerned, but I would most definitely consider them. I owe much to Amazon, so part of my heart is certainly there.

AHE: What do you think has made your books such a success?

RM: I’m not too good at this kind of thing because I have much to learn, but I get 20 to 40 e-mails a day regarding the books, and the vast majority talk about the characters. I tried to write a book that went against the flow of most police procedurals/thrillers in that I wanted a protagonist that was a brilliant cop, flawed for sure, but who loved his wife and family and held a high moral standard…kind of like a hot boy scout thing. Manny seems to hit that button. When combined with a crazy, crass, but lovable partner, Sophie Lee, and a bad guy everyone wants to hate, I think we came up with a pretty good character-driven novel that could give you nightmares one moment, but make you laugh out loud the next.

AHE: Do you have a favorite book and/or character (of your own)?  If so, which one?

RM: I love Sophie! No inhibitions, no PC thoughts ever run through her brain…but she’s a great cop and a loyal partner, with a few secrets of her own.

AHE: What’s ahead for you, writing/publishing-wise?

RM: “Emerald Moon” will be out in September (the third in the first Manny Williams trilogy), then I have a supernatural thriller, “Seer”, that should be out in November…then a couple of short things–“The Temple Prostitute” and a book for authors. Then we go to work on the next set of Manny Williams books, going back to the Caribbean in “Caribbean Rain.” And, if I can squeeze it in…I’m going to revise and finish my first novel, “Berserker,” a horror/sci-fi mix based on some Norse mythology.  Dang! I need a nap just looking at this stuff, but I’ve never been more excited about the prospects of my professional life.

AHE: There are many changes happening in publishing right now.  Any predictions on where things are going as far as indie vs. trad, ebooks vs print?

RM: Maybe a couple, but let me say this first;  I LOVE books. I don’t think they’ll ever go out of print…if that happened, I’d be a mess. Having said that, technology isn’t going away, and we all know the numbers bear that out… right now, e-books are king, like it or not.

I think one thing that indie publishing has done is to put the decision making, in terms of what books the reader wants to read,  in the hands of the masses, where it belongs. E-readers allow that on a huge scale and I, for one, am grateful. I do think the number of indie authors will decrease over time. It takes a lot of effort to write a book, and if it doesn’t sell, then  maybe writers will find other gigs. I also wonder if organizations like Amazon and B&N will eventually put out some guidelines for submitting work. Not content so much as cover quality and some editing procedures. We’ll see.

AHE: Finally, what are you reading right now?

RM: Oh, Man…too many things. Dean Koontz’s Frankenstien series, J. Carson Black’s Laura Cardinal series. I met an author from England, Tim Ellis, and immediately enjoyed his Parrish and Richard novels…and each day I read the greatest book ever written…the Bible.

Thx!