Saturday, 12 October 2013

Peter G. Pollak, author of Last Stop on Desolation Ridge

Last Stop on Desolation Ridge by Peter G. Pollak is available for Kindle from Amazon:
US: Last Stop on Desolation Ridge
UK: Last Stop on Desolation Ridge

Last Stop On Desolation Ridge by Peter G. Pollak
Last Stop on Desolation Ridge by Peter G. Pollak

Can you imagine how you'd feel if you woke up with no memory but knowledge certain that someone wants you dead? That's what Logan Gifford had to deal with when rescued from a gully on a desolate road in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. You'll hang on every word as you follow his attempt to stay alive and recover his past.

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Author Quiz interviews Peter G. Pollak...

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work as an author.
After retiring from the company I founded, I decided to try to finish one of the dozen or so novels I'd started, but never gotten very far on. The half dozen people I sent copies to offered encouragement, so I self-published The Expendable Man, a political thriller, which is still my top-selling novel, in 2011. I followed that the next year with Making the Grade, a police procedural featuring a protagonist who has just been named the first female detective on her squad and, early in 2013, with a suspense novel, Last Stop on Desolation Ridge. I'll release another police procedural whose hero is a retired cop this fall, but I'm also working on an heroic fantasy epic which I hope to sell to a publisher when it's completed.

If you were to write a novel outside your usual genre, which genre would you like to experiment with and why?
It seems in the past that writers specialized in one genre or another, but I haven't felt confined to stick to one genre, perhaps because my reading tastes are so eclectic. As a young man, I read a lot of science fiction, and I read classics in literature courses in college and dabbled in mysteries, literary fiction and historical fiction over the years. But I found I really enjoy multi-volume fantasies, such as Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. So, while having written two suspense and two crime novels, I'm putting most of my effort into completing a fantasy series. I hope that will show my best writing and most creative story telling.

Would your book, The Expendable Man, work best as a movie adaptation or as a TV series?
Many readers of The Expendable Man have told me it would make a great movie and I agree. The story has several attractive visual memes, including being set for part of the story in Turkmenistan, an exotic virtually unknown land north of Iraq and Iran.  My second novel, Making the Grade, might work well as a TV series except that it takes place about 15 years ago when women were just breaking into leading roles in police work. That theme might not have the same appeal today, but I'd let someone more in touch with those things than I make that decision.

Are any of your characters based on yourself and if so, to what degree, and do you find it easier or more difficult to write characters based on yourself?
None of my characters are based on my life for a very good reason. If I were to write about myself I would want to do it in the form of an autobiography so that I could be as factual and as honest as possible. All of my fictional characters, however, represent parts of me since I have created them, given them certain physical characteristics, given them a view of the world and their place in it, given them behavioral and speech patterns, etc. It's my belief that the more I put of myself into my characters, the better my story should be. That's what distinguishes characters that work from those based on stereotypes or someone else's story.

What do you think stimulates sales the most; positive reviews or advertising?

The short answer to which stimulates sales the most––positive reviews or advertising––is it depends. Certainly positive reviews help for online sales, but not unless you have enough of them to influence those readers who make their buying decision on whether a book has garnered enough reviews for them to take a chance on.  Success from advertising is always dependent on where your ad is placed and the message in the ad. I have not used advertising for my books because they are targeted at general readers and I can't afford to advertise on sites like Amazon or Goodreads.  In general what has worked best for me has been outreach to people who know me through social media and personal appearances (book store signings and talks).

How do you see the publishing industry changing over the next few years?
Funny you should ask. I've been following a hot debate on this topic on Linked-In that was touched off by a piece by Seth Godin who argues print books are going to continue to lose ground to e-books. I agree with Godin. The cost structure of traditional publishing and bookstores cannot be sustained in their current incarnation. That doesn't mean all bookstores will disappear or publishing houses will cease to exist. It just means e-books read on e-readers will continue to garner a larger portion of the market. For authors that's not necessarily a bad thing in part because you can buy an e-reader for the cost of half a dozen hardcover print books. That means the audience for our books is growing worldwide and we can expect new and exciting channels to enable us to get our books into the hands of those who want them.

What strategy do you use for getting reviews?
I have worked hard to try to get people to review my books in part because I believe most readers will say positive things that may influence other readers. I also want to increase the number of reviews I've earned for each book since I believe that influences sales. That said, I haven't been very successful. In terms of getting Average Mary Reader to write a review, it's hard because she may not feel competent to write a Book Review. The word review implies expertise, the NY Times Book section, etc. In terms of getting people who write a lot of reviews to read my book, the results have also been mixed. I bought a listing of reviewers and contacted a couple dozen asking for reviews without one hit, but through social media, I've had a few successes with people who review for Goodreads and Amazon. I've also tried to convince newspapers where I live to review my books, but they still resist reviewing self-published books. In sum, this is one of the drawbacks to self-publishing. I'm not ready to pay for reviews. So I'll just keep experimenting and hopefully the quality of my books will help me reach my goals.

Would you rather sell 1,000 books at $10 or 2,000 books at $1? What gives you the greater sense of satisfaction--overall earnings or overalls sales?
I'm fortunate in that I don't have to earn a living via my writing. Therefore, my goal is to get my book into as many hands as I can with the belief that people who like one of my books will want to read the others. That doesn't mean, I give my books away for nothing. I believe authors should be paid if they are providing something the reader values.  Pricing, of course, is a major issue and it's nice that authors have now been included in the equation.  As I use CreateSpace for print, I price those books close to the minimum price CS sets for each book; for e-books, I've concluded that $2.99 is the right price to maximize sales and royalties.

What advice would you give to a new author who has just finished writing their first novel and is unsure as to what steps to take next?
Too many young writers think they are the next J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins when in truth they don't know where their writing stands in relation to other writers. Therefore, it is crucial IMHO that beginning writers share their writing with as many people as possible before they declare a work "finished". I suggest joining a critique group that meets at least monthly, submitting chapters to Scribophile, YouWriteOn or other online critique sites, attending writers conferences, taking classes (online or in person), and/or finding a published writer, lit. professor, retired editor or anyone with some experience and expertise to help them evaluate what they've written. Equally critical is the need to read widely, especially in the genre they are writing in. Finally, I would not put all my eggs in one book. After you're happy with your first effort, start on your next book while you're getting feedback on the first. The more you write, assuming you're paying attention, the better a writer you'll become.

Why would you recommend The Expendable Man, Making the Grade, and Last Stop on Desolation Ridge to readers?
Each of my books has a special sause that readers seem to enjoy.  The Expendable Man finds my protagonist in a fight for his life against the power of big government; Shannon Lynch, the lead character in Making the Grade, has to overcome her doubts and those of her colleagues--a situation many of us face in real life, and Last Stop on Desolation Ridge is about a man who though left for dead and who has lost his memory, must find a way to survive when he knows someone is out to kill him. In other words, my novels while plot driven are also character centered. Readers identify with those characters and tell me they can't put the books down. Readers can find all three in paperback and e-book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the Apple I-book store and can learn more about me and my writing, as well as sign up for my blog and my e-newsletter at my website @  I'll also accept your invitation to be friends on Linked-In, Goodreads and Facebook as well as follow your twitter feed if you'll follow mine.

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Thanks for your comments, Peter, and good luck with your writing.

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Here's a scene in chapter one of The Expendable Man:

Potter was standing in front of Secretary of State Stone’s desk with her immediate report, Andy Lomantano. During the meeting that took place before he escorted Potter to Stone’s office, the most attractive option Lomantano proposed for her next posting was the U.S. Embassy in Outer Mongolia. Potter wasn’t sure there was such an embassy.

“The sale of this system jeopardizes Defense’s surveillance flights out of Uzbekistan over Iran and the region’s other West-loving countries,” Stone was saying. “So my lovelies, the deal must be stopped, cancelled, killed. Capisce?”

“Understood,” Lomantano said. “But … but, on what grounds?”

“I don’t care on what grounds,” Stone replied her voice rising. “Let me be very clear. You not only need to kill the deal, but you need to do so in a way that can’t be traced back to the U.S. government or to this agency. Got it?”

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Peter G. Pollak pictured in Yellowstone National Park
Discover more about Peter G. Pollak at his website and blog:
Peter G. Pollak
Write or Wrong Blog

Free samples of each book are available on Peter's website and as well on Amazon.

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Follow Peter G. Pollak on twitter and facebook:
Twitter: @petergpollak
Facebook: Peter G. Pollak

You can also find each of the facebook pages devoted to Peter's novels by searching on the book titles.

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Peter G. Pollak's books are available for Kindle from Amazon.
Last Stop on Desolation Ridge
The Expendable Man
Making the Grade
Last Stop on Desolation Ridge
The Expendable Man
Making the Grade

And from Barnes & Noble for Nook owners:
The Expendable Man
Making the Grade
Last Stop on Desolation Ridge

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