Monday, May 5, 2014

Straight From the Mouth of 'Immortality' Kevin Bohacz

Kevin Bohacz is the bestselling novelist of Immortality and a prolific lucid dreamer! He is also a writer for national computer magazines, founder and president of two high technology corporations, a scientist and engineer for over 35 years, and the inventor of an advanced electric car system - the ESE Engine System. He was also a short order cook for I-Hop, flipped burgers at McDonalds, and delivered Chicken Delight. All of those careers and more are behind him now that he is a full time storyteller, a catcher of dreams… and he want’s to thank you for reading his stories which has made all this possible.

Amazon Link to Book:

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

For me personally the answer is simple. Why does a bird fly or a fish swim? It is the essence of their being. Writing is my essence, my passion. It is my very life. I never have writer’s block. To me writing is like breathing—it is vital sustenance for my soul.

My first novel, Dream Dancers was published in 1993. My second novel, Immortality was published in 2007. Three years after Immortality became a bestseller, writing literally saved my life. I was widowed at a young age. My wife, my best friend of 17 years died in my arms while we looked into each other’s eyes. In the time that followed when I was drowning in grief I could hear my wife whispering to me, “Write my love… Write.” So I wrote. I wrote so hard that my arms grew sore. I wrote so hard that I gave myself tendonitis but the pain in my arms did not slow me a bit. My writing saved me from grief that was dark enough to crush the life from me. I completed my third novel, Ghost of the Gods in an amazingly short period of time while also simultaneously working on two other new novels.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

I am very fortunate that I get to earn a living doing something that I would do for free… and in fact did for free for many years before I was published. So getting to write is the huge perk. The big demand is helping my agent market the books to publishers or publishing it myself which means I get to where every hat imaginable. I am spoiled. I only want to do the writing thing. My wife, Mazelle was my partner in crime, my partner in everything. She was my manager, my muse, my editor, and more. She did all the hard stuff of running the business, which was easy for her, and I did all the easy stuff of writing, which was hard for her. We were a perfect team!

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

My first novel, Dream Dancers was conventionally published in 1993 in a deal closed by the agent I had at that time. In 2003 when Immortality was completed I assumed I would be able to get it published since I was already a published author. I soon found myself waist deep in rejection notices from both agents and publishers. All the rejection notices basically said, “We are sure this is a wonderful book but we don’t have the time to read a long manuscript by an obscure author.”

I knew Immortality was a timely, entertaining, and marketable novel. Some extremely successful literary professionals including more than one famous writer had read it and told me they loved it. So here I was a published author unable to open a single door into the major publishing houses. Three years later I had reached the point where I either had to give up or publish it myself. Back in 2006 self-publishing carried the stigma of failure but I had no choice. I knew in my gut Immortality was a fantastic story. So I started a small publishing company, hired an offset-printer, and proceeded to manufacture and sell Immortality.

In 2007 Immortality took off becoming a bestseller. Using my bestseller success as bait, I was able to sign with an agent who had represented a smattering of NYTime’s bestsellers. My agent proceeded to shop Immortality to all the big publishing houses. My wife, Mazelle and I were deliriously thrilled. This time the responses from publishers were very different from when Immortality was unpublished and I was un-agented. Across the board the feedback was surprisingly similar, “We love the book but who are you?”

What the publishers were really saying was I had no massive following. I did not have a million readers chanting in unison, “We want to buy more books by you…”

Fast forward to 2010, Immortality was still selling very much like it was in 2008, constantly hitting the top 10 of its genre and never falling below the top 50. In fact 2010 and half of 2011 was one of my best grossing periods ever. By now my agent had done all he could and given up six months prior in 2009. He loved Immortality and was very frustrated and baffled by his inability to close a deal. It was then that I was contacted out of nowhere by a veteran NYC agent who was a senior member in a super-agent firm. This agent told me they had read Immortality and loved it! This agent was convinced they could sell the book. Mazelle and I were wildly excited and told the agent to go for it. This new agent got the book read by a different group of more senior editors. This time the responses really threw me. The feedback I got was essentially, “We love the book but why should we buy it when you have already sold the heck out of it?”

At this point I felt like I just could not win. Years ago I didn’t have a big enough following, and now that I had a following, it seemed the publishers wanted something more. They wanted an unpublished book. I explained that 95% of the copies of Immortality had been sold on Amazon, which meant that I had tapped less than 50% of the potential market for a book in this genre. So while it was a bestseller, the lion’s share of the meat was still on this bone yet no publisher was interested in the feast. With fractional market penetration I had made a pile of money but there was many times more to be made if a big publisher would get behind the book. Yet it now felt like with regard to attracting a publisher, success was my worst enemy.

Today, three years later I now have a new amazing NYC agent from a top firm who has closed deals for other indie authors in exactly the same “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” predicament as me. I have received glowing critical reviews, including Publisher’s Weekly who has awarded STARRED reviews to both Immortality and Ghost of the Gods. There is interest from Holly Wood in making Immortality into a movie. I have every confidence that this time we’ll succeed in finally getting a solid publishing deal.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

I think my previous answer is pretty much the answer to this one too. The publishing business seems to be relegating a lot of talented people to the giant sucking sound of the black hole caused by the “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” predicament.

A.     We don’t want to consider your unpublished book because you are nobody.
B.     We don’t want to buy your successful self-pub book because you do not have a big enough following.
C.     We don’t want to buy your very successful book because it is too successful already.

I don’t pretend to know the reasons why the publishing business is the way it is… I think a lot of it has to do with the chaos that e-books brought. To some extend we are seeing a slow motion repeat of what happened to the music industry when the iPod showed up. Publishing was an old fashion business where they famously nurtured unknown talent because it was in their best interest to do so. Now it feels like a business that is chasing the blockbuster and ignoring almost everything else.

To me personally it feels like that old saying about banks: They only want to loan you money when you don’t need it!

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

Sorry, not much dirt here! I hate to tell you but my small family was totally supportive. As I mentioned, Mazelle was my partner in everything. By choice we never had children, so it was she and I against the world. Mazelle was my biggest cheerleader and even though she is gone from this material plane I feel her cheering me on from some other place that is like a dream.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

That had to be when Immortality became a bestseller on Amazon. In 2007 shortly after it was released Immortality took off. The paperback edition hit bestseller status on Amazon then a kindle edition was released in 2008. By the summer of 2008 Immortality was constantly ranking #1 in a whole slew of the bestselling genre categories under Amazon Kindle. It also had a consistent overall ranking across all books and genres of better than #500, and many times hit #255 or better for weeks at a time. In concert, the print edition continued to sell briskly and was constantly ranked in the top 25 in many genres.

This tangible confirmation of my writing took awhile to fully sink in. My wife, Mazelle was proud of me and constantly kept telling me so but it really took a couple of years for me to realize that I had done it and that I could make a living as a writer. Immortality stayed on the bestseller lists from 2007 through 2013, which was a very long run.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

Immortality was published in 2007 before social networking had the big effect it now has on books. So Immortality was already a bestseller by the time the social networking scene really became a force to be reckoned with. In a very real sense, as shocking as this may sound, I am a newbie to the social networking scene! I setup my author’s Facebook page only a year ago. I setup a personal Facebook page at the same time because I had to in order to create the author’s page. I deeply regret being so late to the party and feel I have a lot of catching up to do. My wife became ill with pancreatic cancer late in 2009 and she left on December 30, 2010. After she was gone I was lost and the last thing I was interested in was social networking. So I have gone from having a bestseller that generated sales without me having to do a thing, to four years later pulling my head from the sand and finding an entirely new world. When Immortality was published, marketing was 99% paid advertising, and unlike for nonfiction novels, it was not all that effective for fiction.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

It’s one part inertia from the bestseller universe of Immortality and one part doing everything I can possibly imagine to get attention drawn to my new book, the sequel Ghost of the Gods. I am maniacal and I will try almost anything as long as it seems plausible. If it works I’ll keep doing it and if not then I’ll stop. I have great critical reviews including STARRED reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and high praise from Kirkus. I have some advertisements which are running but more to attract publishers than readers. I have held the Kindle price of Immortality down to $0.99 and have a match book deal going where you get the Kindle for free if you buy the paperback. I will not keep the price this low for too much longer and plan to bring the Kindle price back up to $2.99 in the near future. The same is true for Ghost of the Gods. The initial low introductory price will go up in the near future.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

Hey, publisher!… Yes, you, there in that tall building… Would you please buy my bestselling books! People love them and there is still plenty of money to be made and I promise to feed you more books over the years so you can make a lot more money. I just want to write. The money does not matter to me. I only have so many years before I leave this world and I have something like a million books I want to write, and every day I have to spend publishing and running a business is a day that I am not writing. So lets dance until the music stops… Shall we?

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I get to spend luxuriously long periods of time doing nothing but writing. It’s like getting to eat dessert first every day. For me writing and dreaming are one in the same. So I am literally getting paid to dream. How can you beat that? Right now I am on a writer’s quest. Almost everything I own is in storage or given away. I have simplified my life. I have sold our home and so I am homeless. For many months I have been wandering up and down the California coast living in magical oceanfront vacation homes for a month at a time looking for the best place to dream and write. I have been letting intuition lead me from place to place. I find that my intuition is far more reliable than my left brain in these decisions. This quest is exciting, creative, and beyond my comfort zone. I feel I am in one sense homeless and in another sense at home. I am uprooted... and this is all very good.... very creative. Pushing beyond my comfort zone causes all sorts of emotions to bubble up to the surface and those emotions are then infused into the written pages of my stories.

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