George A. Bernstein is the retired President of a Chicago appliance manufacturing company, now living in south Florida. Able to retire early and looking for something to do besides play golf, he leaned on a life-time flair for storytelling and turned to writing novels. He spent years attending writing seminars and conferences, learning to polish his work and developing a strong “voice.” Bernstein is acclaimed by his peers as a superb wordsmith.
His first novel, Trapped, was a winner in a small Indie publisher’s “Next Great American Novel” contest, and received high praise, gaining many mostly 5-star reviews at Amazon (reaching their “Top 100”) and Goodreads. His 2nd novel, A 3rd Time to Die (A paranormal Romantic Suspense) has also garnered mostly 5-Star & 4-Star reviews, with one reader likening him to the best, less “spooky” works of Dean Koontz & Stephen King.
The Prom Dress Killer is the third of his Detective Al Warner Suspense series, with the first, Death’s Angel, and the second, Born to Die, already garnering rave reviews. Bernstein has the fourth Warner novel already in the works, to be published in late 2017. Readers have likened Bernstein’s Detective Al Warner to Patterson’s Alex Cross.
Bernstein works with professional editors to ensure his novels meets his own rigorous standards, and all of his books are currently published by small indie press, GnD Publishing LLC, in which he has an interest.
Bernstein is also a “World-class” fly-fisherman, setting a baker’s dozen IGFA World Records, mostly on fly-rods, and has published Toothy Critters Love Flies, the complete book on fly-fishing for pike & musky.
Thanks for letting us interrogate you! Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?
When I was able to retire fairly early, writing a novel just seemed like the thing to do. I don’t love golf or playing cards, and I’ve always been an imaginative story teller. That’s a skill I used as a kid to avoid trouble at home. Typically for me, I set out to get educated, knowing just a flair for writing wouldn’t be enough. So I attended several writers’ conferences and a few top seminars, and in the process learned how to style riveting fiction and develop a unique “voice.” If I set out to do something, I plan on doing it very well.
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?
The perks certainly aren’t money for most of us. Only one author in about 10,000 makes 6-figures. The pleasure comes from your readers telling you how wonderful the story was; that they couldn’t put it down; that they loved the ending so much, they reread it three times; that they love how colorfully expressive my prose are. The demands are on the author’s time, especially after the novel is finished and promotion begins … a thing most at which most authors are woefully lacking. Family activities often get ignored.
Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?
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?
My first novel, Trapped, was originally published by small traditional publisher, TAG Publishers LLC, after being selected as their “Next Great American Novel.” It took twenty years, numerous rewrites, and about 100 rejections before being recognized as a quality work. My Detective Al Warner series is published by small indie publisher, GnD Publishing LLC, as are all my novels now.
Every author dreams of be published by a major house, but it’s not what it used to be. The pros are you may get an advance of a few thousand dollars, which is likely all the money that the book will ever make. Of course there are exceptions, but there are so many new books coming on the market – many self-published – that competition is fierce. The big houses offer very little in the way of promotion now – not even for big names. And the author seldom earns more than about 8% of a sale, after his agent’s cut. And these publishers DO require the author to have an agent, a daunting task in itself.
A self-published author on sites like Amazon makes about 35% per print book, and up to 70% on a Kindle, but unless the author is a media whiz with a big following and lots of skill in promotion (few authors are) they may never sell even 100 copies over the life of their work.
And my wife constantly harasses me about spending too much time on the computer, but once I’m into writing a novel, I’m hooked.
In writing your book, how did you deal with the phone ringing, your family needing dinner or your boss calling you saying you’re late?
My wife handles dinner, and I’m retired so I don’t have a boss. No, wait! I guess she’s the boss. The best I can do is say, “Yes, dear.”
What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?
When I entered one of my novels in a writers’ conference contest and got a rating from the two preliminary judges of 48 & 49 out of a possible 50 points, getting me into the “finals.” Then the finals judge only gave me 35 points, criticizing most of the things the other judges said I did superbly. I guess that’s why Baskin & Robbins makes 31 flavors, but it was really weird.
How about the social networks? Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?
I‘ve tried several virtual book tours that sold a few books. I’ve used several twitter blast services that say they blast up to 750,000 readers, and didn’t see a single sale. I go on blogs and post articles, I have my own blog site, which I’m mostly too busy writing to post to. Same with Facebook. But unless an independent author can pique the interest of some bloggers who begin a snowball effect, no matter how good your book is, sales are hard to come by.
Book sales. Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)? How are you making the sales happen for you?
See the answer above. All my novels have “Best Seller” type readers’ response, comparing my work with the biggest and best, like Patterson, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz, but the world hasn’t, in general, heard them yet. Now I’m working with Maryglen McCombs, atop fiction publicist, who I hope will help bring the recognition my readers think I deserve.
What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?
That I caught my 13th International Game Fish Association World record in northern Canada, a 27.5 pound fly-rod “tippet class” pike, and I’m going back this fall, looking for her mother. My non-fiction book, Toothy Critters Love Flies, details how to catch pike & musky on flies - a truly exciting sport.
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?
That it’s fun, and keeps me alert and interested, and my imagination free to go wherever it wants, with no fetters. I can dream up characters that I become one with, feeling their joy and their pain … but luckily, not their fear, because, unlike them, I know it’s going to be okay in the end … mostly J
Title: THE PROM DRESS KILLER
Author: George A Bernstein
Publisher: GnD Publishing
Find out more on Amazon
Beneath the blazing sun and sizzling streets of Miami, a cold-blooded killer is at work. His victims? Young, auburn-haired women—four, so far—kidnapped and murdered. These victims show no signs of trauma, but all bear the distinct hallmarks of a serial killer. And this serial killer leaves behind a sickening calling card: each victim is found clad in a prom dress.
Homicide detective Al Warner is on the case but this killer has left shockingly few clues, leaving Warner with more questions than answers. Why were these girls taken…and then killed? Is this psychopath intent on killing redheads, and why? What, if anything, connects the victims? Why were the bodies arranged in peaceful repose, wearing prom dresses? How does that square with his leaving these carefully-arranged bodies in dark alleyways, discarding them as if they’re trash? And how long until this killer strikes again?
Sadly, one question is answered quickly when promising young attorney Elke Sorenstan captures the killer’s deadly attention and becomes the fifth victim. All signs say the killer is escalating—and that can mean only one thing: the killer is bound to strike again, and soon. With the stakes mounting and every tick of the clock marking that fine line between life and death, Al Warner doggedly pursues the ruthless killer before another victim falls prey. Warner’s worst fears are realized when newly-minted Realtor Shelly Weitz finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Al Warner will have to act fast: the clock is ticking in this deadly game…and Shelly Weitz is dangerously close to dancing with the devil himself—a dance that will surely be her last. But as Detective Warner gets closer to stopping the madman behind these murders, he’ll risk losing everything—including his life.
A mesmerizing Miami mystery that ratchets up the suspense from page one, The Prom Dress Killer will leave readers breathless. Resplendent with pulse-pounding action, nail-biting suspense and unexpected twists, turns and surprises, The Prom Dress Killer is an outstanding new mystery that takes readers on a high-octane quest to catch a killer. George A Bernstein has crafted an eerily real, masterfully- plotted mystery that delivers thrills and chills from beginning to end.