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David Morrell is the author of First Blood, the acclaimed novel in which Rambo was created. He has a Ph. D. in literature from Penn State and was a professor in the English department at the University of Iowa. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic spy novel, The Brotherhood of the Rose, the basis for the only television mini-series to be broadcast after a Super Bowl. An Edgar and Anthony finalist, a Macavity and Nero winner, Morrell is a recipient of three Bram Stoker awards from the Horror Writes Association and the prestigious Thriller Master award from International Thriller Writers. Bouchercon (the world's largest crime-fiction convention) gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award. Noted for his research, Morrell spent 30 days in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming for one book and became a private pilot for another. With eighteen million copies in print, his work has been translated into thirty languages. His latest novel is the Victorian mystery/thriller, Ruler of the Night, the final book in a series that includes Murder as a Fine Art and Inspector of the Dead. In an effort to convince readers that they are truly on the harrowing fogbound streets of 1850s London, Morrell devoted several years to historical research, giving himself what he calls "a self-taught doctorate in Victorian culture." Please visit him at: www.davidmorrell.net.

Question:

 

Answer:

1. How would you describe the current state of the traditional bricks-and-mortar bookseller market?

 

In conversations with various bookstores I visited, I have the sense that business is improving after the lean years that followed the 2008 recession. I'm hearing about increased sales and more foot traffic. The general tone is optimistic.

2. Do you believe there is still a bright future for independent bookstores?

 

Absolutely.  A store with informed staff and enthusiastic community events is a destination.

3. What can a bookstore or library do to encourage patrons to pick up a specific book and check it out?

 

When I enter my local public library, there's always a display of books about a specific topic. That always gets my attention.

4. Is there any one marketing idea that you've seen bookstores do that stands out as particularly successful?

 

Some stores told me that they had positive results from a store bookclub in which customers received a discount.

5. Have you ever been to a book signing event and had no one show up?

 

I've had numerous catastrophes, including a hurricane and an electrical blackout, that kept people away from a book store. The reverse has happened also, with plenty of people at a signing but no books. In one case, the warehouse never shipped them. In another case, a flood destroyed the warehouse.

6. How much work do you personally put into promoting your books and events? And how long before do you start promoting?

 

My publisher expects me to do a lot of my own promoting. I'm on twitter, but I prefer my Facebook Author page, which I think of as a salon about books, movies, music, and the arts in general. Readers come to that page for recommendations and literary discussions. They also visit my page for news about what I'm doing. They seem to welcome my remarks about what I'm working on, so I often start promoting a project when I'm halfway through it, telling readers how many pages I write each day and whether the work is coming easily or not. I make this sort of remark occasionally. I show a new cover. I quote from early reviews. The only time I do a "hard sell" is within a month of publication. Readers understand why I need to do that. But I never forget that they visit my Facebook page because of the discussions about books, movies, and music, etc.

7. What are your feelings on authors giving away thousands of copies of their ebooks, hoping it will raise their rank on Amazon? Is this a viable strategy? Or are these authors making a terrible mistake? And why?

 

I myself don't give away my work. I worry that doing so would create the impression that if a reader waits long enough, more free stuff will become available. On average, it takes a year for me to write a book. Why would I give away a year of my life?

8. In a bookstore or library what do you think makes a patron pick up a book and want to take a closer look? Is it the cover, the display, the lighting?

 

All three--but the lighting and display don't matter if the cover isn't attention-getting.

 

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for more from David Morrell and other bestselling authors!