Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview: Charles S. Weinblatt - Jacob’s Courage: A Holocaust Love Story

Jacob’s Courage: A Holocaust Love Story  by Charles S. Weinblatt (2007, Mazo Publishers, Jerusalem Israel) a tender love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria.  This thrilling novel explores the dazzling beauty of young love, powerful faith and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are murdered.  Portions of the book are based upon pogroms visited upon my 102-year-old mother and her family in Russia.  It is a commanding coming-of-age love story. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

About The Book, The Art Of Writing & The Author:

Jacob’s Courage is a tender love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria.  This thrilling novel explores the dazzling beauty of young love, powerful faith and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are murdered.  Portions of the book are based upon pogroms visited upon my 102-year-old mother and her family in Russia.  It is a commanding coming-of-age love story. You can read some of the reviews and see the video trailer here: http://jacobscourage.wordpress.com/Jacob’s Courage  is available in globally print and as an e-book, as well as from my publisher, Mazo Publishers.  Currently ranked #5 at Amazon under “products tagged Holocaust for popularity,” the novel resides in Holocaust museums throughout the world, including Yad Vashem and the USHMM.  Two film companies have expressed an interest in the movie rights.  Reviews include Jewish Book World and the Association of Jewish LibrariesJacob’s Courage has been required reading for high school students.  It’s a powerful love story and a thrilling piece of historical fiction.  As one Holocaust center director stated, At the end of the read one feels both hope and admiration for the human spirit.”

What is the Jewish related theme in your book? Young Jewish lovers and their families struggle to survive during the Holocaust. Some survive; but only because of the power of their faith, love and courage.
Is writing a full-time job for you? If not what else do you do? I am a happily retired university administrator. Having had to retire at age 51 on disability, I’ve turned to writing and found success with writing and with the book’s sales success.
How many books have you self-published or have been published in the traditional manner? I have produced five books, four of which have been published. I was trade published for Jacob’s Courage and for Job Seeking Skills for Students (1987, Kendall-Hunt Publishing). My SP books include Runaway Ducks (2011, Smashwords) and Book Marketing 101 (2009, Smashwords).

Why do you write? Writing (communication) is arguably my only viable skill. I’m terrible with math and dangerous with tools. But I’m pretty good with people. So, in retirement I write. I find the experience rewarding and a viable catharsis.

When you are writing something new do you ask someone's opinion about it? I do not ask for opinions. Is that wrong? Oh crap. I just asked for an opinion!

When you write do you need absolute concentration and quiet? Not at all. I typically write with classical music playing, or with other environmental distractions Do you believe or have you experienced "writer's block"? If so, when and why? I’ve never had “writer’s block.” That being said, some day it flows sweetly more than other days. When that occurs, I tend to focus more on research or editing.

Do you incorporate incidents from your own personal life into your works? I tend to incorporate aspects of my personality and a few incidents into characters, especially a protagonist. However, those incidents are rare.

Do you write what you think the public wants to read or what you feel to be your inner-expression? Thankfully, I write as a hobby. I do not need to derive readers or income from it. It’s a hobby, not a career. So I have the luxury of writing what I like, not what I think the public might enjoy.

If you did Self-Publish why did you do it? I self-published two e-books. One was a children’s book and the other a self-help book for writers who wish to promote their books. In both cases, it was an exploratory effort in a new market. I prefer using a traditional publisher for many reasons, not the least of which is their capacity to distribute, market and sell books in retail stores globally. Almost half of all books today are still sold on a store shelf. If you don’t use a traditional publisher, you’ll have a lot of expensive work to do. Trade publishers also represent your book at key international book fairs, conferences and conventions. And they have channels for the best reviews from the most compelling and persuasive sources in the genre.

If you did or do have an agent, without naming them, tell us your experience on getting the agent and if you are satisfied. I currently do not have an agent. In fact, I was successfully published traditionally twice without an agent. Of course, agents can open new doors. But it can be at least as difficult to find an agent as it is a publisher. So, I devote some time to both searches. I had an agent who turned out to be a fraud. Thankfully, one of his employees told me about it and I lost nothing. I am somewhat more selective now.

When you market your book what path did you chose? Why? And what has not worked out for you and what has worked for you? I have an inexpensive e-book about author marketing and promotion here: "Book Marketing 101" ($1.99, Amazon http://tiny.cc/na2go and Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/2595. You can attend key international book fairs, market through catalog distribution, via e-mail and fax blasts, generate media publicity, arrange book tours, create a web site landing page and a Facebook fan page, solicit compelling reviews and arrange book tours and bookstore signings. You can contact local newspapers, magazines and on-line blogs in order to solicit articles and reviews for your book. You can contact local bookstores to arrange for book signings and tours, as well as local radio, TV and print interviews. You can sell books on your own through local organizations. You can obtain reviews and interviews about your book. One of the fastest ways to solicit business for your book is through the media. Since you require positive reviews to sell your book, newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and book clubs are a great place to start. When you encounter serious interest, send them a review copy. If your publisher runs out of review copies, send them the e-book as a review copy, or ask them to purchase a preview version for electronic readers. Select a landing page that can present widespread valuable data about your book to visitors, including the video trailer, persuasive reviews, published articles, information about your other books plus a link to TV, radio, magazine and newspaper articles about you and your writing career.  Select your landing page carefully.  It should also offer a wealth of feedback to you about who visited the page. You’ll want to know who visited the page, from where (referring address) and what they did on your site.  You’ll want to know who found your landing page, so that you can contact them with valuable information.  Such statistics are important to your future marketing.  For viral marketing, use Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, Wordpress, BlogSpot, Goodreads or Facebook and begin building your page.

How much time do you spend on marketing your own work? I devote about 20-30 hours per week to marketing my books. Frankly, it’s not enough. But I review books for several organizations, including The New York Journal of Books. So, I always have a stack of books to read and review. That’s in addition to writing and researching my next books. For someone who is retired, I find myself very busy.

If you self-published tell us in order the route you went, e.g. Kindle to Print to Smashwords or whatever you did. I self published with Smashwords and Kindle (KDP) almost simultaneously. I receive terrific royalty checks from Smashwords, but not from Amazon (KDP).With a premium membership at Smashwords, they will format all of your books for every type of e-reader, tablet or smart-phone for free. I highly value my relationship with Smashwords.

Which publishing sources would your recommend? And which would you not recommend? I could fill several pages with this question. But I’ll reduce my answer to this. There are two iconic sources to determine if a publisher or a literary agent might be a fraud or conducting a scam. They are: Predators & Editors (http://pred-ed.com/) and Writer Beware (http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/alerts/). Use them. They can save you from being a scam victim and losing thousands of dollars.

How much time and effort did you put into the cover of your book? LOL Thankfully, my daughter is a professional artist. She has plenty of experience with designing book covers. That is very lucky for me.

If you are a Kindle publisher, did you join KDP Select and if so what were experiences there and how would you judge it? I haven’t joined “select” yet. Frankly, I’m receiving excellent royalties from Smashwords.

Exactly what formats is your book in? (Nook, Paper, Kindle, Sony, Ipad..etc and etc.) Thanks to my Smashwords premium membership, my books are sold in every possible format for all e-readers, tablets and smart-phones, including Amazon, Apple, Diesel, Kobo, Sony Scrollmotion, Barnes & Noble, Baker-Taylor, etc.

How did you decide on the price of your book? Include decisions if applicable for E-book and Print books. Or tell us how your publisher decided. My publishers decided on the price. One book was a short fiction how-to book on job seeking skills. The other was an epic fictional account of young Jewish lovers who became Holocaust victims and their families. I think that my publishers prices the books as well as they could. The Holocaust book, Jacob’s Courage, is 524 pages, which certainly costs more to produce than a 200-page fiction. I priced my two self-published books as low as possible (“Book Marketing 101” sells for $2 and the children’s book (Runaway Ducks) is $3. Again, I don’t write for income. I don’t need more money. So, I try to keep the e-books competitive. What advice would you give other authors or other people starting out? Construct web sites and blogs that can be used to attract the public to your book and accomplish the sale with a few mouse clicks. Distribute reviews, articles and related information by creating several attractive and concise web pages, by using appropriate key words in those web sites to attract search engines and by implementing an effective e-mail marketing campaign. You can accomplish all of this right from your own computer - and it is virtually cost free. Marketing a book can be time consuming and frustrating. But do not count on your publisher to accomplish everything, particularly if you are a new author. Be willing to implement your own marketing campaign with web sites, blogs, by writing articles and with an effective e-mail blitz. The harder your effort, the larger your royalty checks will become.

Do you consider yourself a success in writing, a wannabe, a failure or just misunderstood? A publisher picked up two of my books, including my debut novel. Many people have told me that my SP book on author promotion and marketing  is very helpful. To that extent, I am far more successful than I ever  imagined possible.

Excluding free giveaways (such as KDP) - have you ever made it into the top 100 of a list and stayed there for over 2 weeks? I don’t check lists. Jacob’s Courage has vacillated on the Amazon sales chart from about 80K up to 1M. For the past year or two, Jacob’s Courage’ has been ranked #5 for books tagged “Holocaust” for “popularity. It has also been ranked in the top 15-20 for books tagged “Romance novel.”  

Name one thing you absolutely hate about the publishing and writing world. I do not hate anything about the publishing and writing world. I try to learn how to play the game successfully. But I do not compete for success. I just write and serve it to the public as best I can.

Name one thing you love about the publishing and writing world. I love the opportunity to publish traditionally and to self-publish. I love the chance to learn how to promote my books. Mostly, I just love being able to write and to place my writing in full public view. I never imagined growing up that I would be a published author, especially for an epic novel.

What is your ultimate dream in writing and having your books published? My ultimate dream would be to become a best-selling author. But I have already exceeded my dreams. Just being trade-published twice has been an experience far beyond my dreams. I recently completed a poignant science fiction novel. My current task is finding a publisher for it.

Add anything else here you feel is pertinent to your book. There are a hundred things pertinent to Jacob’s Courage. It tells the story of the Holocaust from ground zero. The fact that many of my maternal extended family perished in the Holocaust made the project that much more urgent and necessary.Jacob’s Courage rises like a phoenix from the ashes of my ancestors. Unless you have lived through the Holocaust, one cannot really imagine the depth of daily terror, mindless brutality and degradation. One cannot imagine how it feels to starve to death or to be forced into cruel slave labor. One cannot imagine how it feels to have everyone that you have known and loved murdered. Hitler not only wanted to exterminate all Jews; he wanted to erase the memory of Judaism from the world’s recollection. ButJacob’s Courage is also a tender coming-of-age love story, filled with the thrill and excitement of powerful love. Thus the novel explores the very worst and best of human nature and the dynamic power of the human spirit. Just visit http://jacobscourage.wordpress.com/.

Author Articles/Interviews
BookBuzzr: http://tiny.cc/377uk 
Jewish Literary Review Interview: http://tiny.cc/mnxga
Wandering Educators: http://tiny.cc/f7bsv
Joey Pinkney Interview: http://tiny.cc/3k4wp
Morgen Bailey: http://tiny.cc/dgmkq
Toledo Blade: http://tiny.cc/ce2fa
Toledo Free Press November 2010: http://tiny.cc/vd09m
Friday Author Interview Series: http://tiny.cc/44qn9
Thoughtful Reflections: http://tiny.cc/d85wx

Blogs & Web Sites
Author Summary: http://tiny.cc/4sndi
My blog on writing and publishing: http://tiny.cc/ewmbj
New York Journal of Books Reviewer Page: http://tiny.cc/ikni1
Smashwords: http://tiny.cc/lbvpv

Barnes & Noble:  http://tiny.cc/fic1g
Synopsis & Video Book Trailer: http://tiny.cc/yyf7t

Wix Author Page:  http://tiny.cc/4sndi
Smashwords: http://tiny.cc/lbvpv

Books by Ted William Gross

If you wish to purchase the books at Smashwords click here.

1 comment:

Jenifar said...

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