By Sean Tuohy
This is a first for Writer’s Bone (no, we did not learn what healthy diet means). We got to interview this Friday’s Badass Writer of the Week!
Bob Mayer is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, a best-selling author of the Green Beret and Area 51 series, and has started his own publishing company called Cool Gus Publishing. What makes Bob a true badass writer in the eyes of the Writer’s Bone crew—besides the fact he shares the same job as Rambo—is the fact that he is always looking ahead. Mayer embraced the new world of e-book publishing and proved it could be a successful market. Also, using the skills he learned while in the Special Forces, Mayer published Write It Forward, a guide for new authors who are interested in navigating the e-book publishing world.
We know, we know, we wanted him to teach authors how to shoot a bow and arrow too, but maybe we can convince him to do that for his next book.
Writer’s Bone: Did you always know you'd become a writer, or was it something you discovered later in life?
Bob Mayer: I always read a lot. I think that’s the best preparation for becoming a writer. I lived in books as a child. I wrote a lot of technical stuff and orders in the military, but it was only when I moved to the Orient to study martial arts that I began writing. It was more out of a sense of wanting to tell a story than thinking about getting published.
Writer’s Bone: Besides the military background, what do you and your hero David Riley have in common?
BM: We’re both from the Bronx and from lower-middle-class families. We both used the military as a way up and out. His mode of leadership also mimics what mine is.
Writer’s Bone: What are some misconceptions that people have about the new e-book market?
BM: They think it’s easy. It’s gotten tougher with each passing month as more and more books get loaded. Also, there is so much more to it than just doing a cover and formatting and uploading a book. There’s an art to promoting books and gaining readers.
Writer’s Bone: What do you recommend to authors new to the e-book market?
BM: Focus on series. And don’t worry about promoting until you have at least three books out there. That will also weed out a lot of your competition as most people will quit after one book if they don’t see immediate results.
Writer’s Bone: Where did the idea for Cool Gus Publishing come about and how has it evolved over time?
BM: When Jen Talty approached me about bringing out my backlist, I realized we needed to think bigger than that. Once we established the capability to do this, we brought on other authors. However, we’re staying small because you can only focus on a handful of authors. We want to do right by a few authors, not try to make a little off a lot.
Writer’s Bone: What is one positive for standard publishing and one positive for e-book pubishing?
BM: Traditional publishing is almost always better for a new writer because you will get some exposure. Not much, but more than you can do on your own. However, unless you get extremely lucky, focus on moving past it down the line.
For publishing on your own, you have complete control, but you also have complete responsibility. Your success or failure rests on your shoulders. I look at that as a positive, but it can overwhelm some people.
Writer’s Bone: Tell us a little about Write it Forward. What kind of response have you gotten from writers who have read the book and followed your strategies?
BM: I have taken the strategies we used to succeed in Special Forces and applied them to being an author. While authors tend to be creative, we also have to run a business and have a career plan. Most don’t. Those who do have a stronger chance to succeed. The number one thing required to succeed is to set a long term goal and doing whatever it takes to succeed. Most writers don’t even have that long term, or strategic goal. Thus the odds of succeeding are not very good.
Writer’s Bone: Is there anything you miss about being in the Army?
BM: The camaraderie. In Special Forces, we had an elite and unique group of soldiers. It was great working with people you could trust with your life.
Writer’s Bone: Can you please tell us one random fact about yourself?
BM: I have two yellow labs: Gus and Becca. My company is named after Cool Gus (which is Gus when he wears his sunglasses).