Going for It: Rapid Reinvention

Spotlight on author Morgan Bramlet

Morgan Bramlet, 48, of McLean, senior director of branding and video for the American College of Cardiology, is author of "Virtual Death: A Cyber Thriller."

I admire anyone who can hold down a full time job, manage a marriage and family and write a book. I have several friends who have written books and have had the good fortune to talk to many authors over my years in journalism. They are focused, good at multitasking, committed and extremely motivated.

Case in point: Morgan. He is married to Eileen, a public relations consultant, and they have two children. He is very active in the McLean community as a youth volunteer and coach. He's a first degree black belt in tae kwon do. With all that, he managed to write and self-publish a book in a year. He's already well into his second book. I talked to him recently about his career, life and writing. He motivated me to step out there. You will learn something from his journey as well.

What do you do?
In my day job, I'm the senior director for branding, creative and video production for the American College of Cardiology, an association representing 37,000 cardiovascular professionals--the heart doctors.

Tell me a little about your background?
I have more than 20 years of marketing, advertising and video & film production, working on both the client side and agency side. In the 90s and early 2000s, I specialized mostly in high technology marketing, with a focus on telecommunications, software and biotechnology.

Why were you driven to write this novel?
I think just about every creative person would say that they are primarily driven in order to have their voice heard or their story told. I'm no different. There are always ideas, concepts and bits and pieces of stories swirling around in my head. The trick is to pluck one of those ideas, examine it, give shape to it, and see where it goes from there. In essence, I am compelled to work toward being an interesting storyteller. So while I've been able to be successful in my chosen field and work at a job that I truly love, I'm also driven to tell my stories to a broad audience.

What do you think was the smartest move you made?
I think the smartest thing I did was to publish the novel myself. Initially when I was shopping the novel through traditional channels, there had been a tremendous amount of interest, but also a number of starts and stops. At one point, it was set to be represented by the William Morris Agency. But the publishing market is fickle, especially with "new writers," and it takes months or even years sometimes for a publisher to make a decision. It can be an incredibly frustrating process. In going the self publishing route, I took the fate of this novel out of the hands of others and put it into my own.

What was the biggest obstacle that you faced in deciding to go that route?
There is still a stigma about self publishing versus traditional publishing channels, but that is quickly going away as more and more talented writers buck the system and more quality work gets out into the marketplace. Today readers have more book choices available than ever. This is one reason why the larger publishers and movie producers are beginning to pick up more and more material that started off on the self published route.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing?
The biggest challenge is always going to be finding the time. I have a family and a demanding career, so my writing hours are usually between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. or so.

What did you like most about working on the novel?
Interestingly enough, the thing I liked most about the adventure was researching. When I was doing the research, I spoke, corresponded, and chatted online with a number of neuroscientists, technologists and futurists to put together the basic theory for the technology that is at the center of the novel. The "Virtuality" system described in the novel is theoretically feasible given a few more advances in computing and neuroscience, which makes the prospect very exciting.

What did you like the least?
I think any writer will tell you that the worst part of writing is the rewriting. A novel is never ever finished, it is instead "done."

Tomorrow, Morgan will talk about developing his story and characters and offer suggestions on how you can get started reinventing yourself as an author.

By

Avis Thomas-Lester

 |  June 29, 2010; 8:26 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Chris Brown's reinvention ploy | Next: More with author Morgan Bramlet

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I know the challenges of self-publishing are still many. While it has become easier to get a book produced, marketing and selling it are still difficult. Agents and traditional publishers still frown on self-publishing.
Meantime, Amazon continues to forge ahead with e-books. Barnes and Noble is now opening up more to the idea.
Still new novels can't find spaces on the shelves of big book sellers. Kudos to those who don't give up.
I am trying my own advertising by giving readers the first five chapters of my book free at www.luckycinda.com.
I am also tweeting the chapters on twitter at @penabook.
Time will tell if any of this works.

Posted by: fearless74 | July 3, 2010 10:57 AM
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Helpful thread, but would be great if someone could summarize the economics of 'self-publishing'. What volume of sales, through what channels (e.g. Kindle vs. print-on-demand) does it take to generate what kind of net income for a self-published novel? How much up-front investment is realistically required? Congrats to all those who've had success!

Posted by: jbh3 | June 30, 2010 9:25 PM
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As another self-published author, I have to agree with the statement that "A novel is never ever finished, it is instead "done."
However, one of the wonderful aspects of self-publishing is the ability to update the work, especially when it is published in eBook format. My thriller, Self Arrest, is available on both Kindle and in print from Amazon and I have been able to make minor updates to the text with very quick turnaround and almost no cost to myself. In a traditional publishing model, with large print runs, the typos live forever.

Posted by: williamesmont | June 30, 2010 7:13 PM
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I'm another DC area author who self-published my first novel. I got it placed in Barnes and Noble and found my best success in putting it on Kindle. By the grace of God and with a lot of work, it was recently acquired by Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal with an option for a third. I couldn't get an agent or a publisher until after I self-published and started getting a lot of really great reviews and put the book on Kindle and got lots of sales and kicked up the word of mouth a notch. It's been a great experience.

I would like to say there are a lot of misconceptions about self-publishing. For instance, print-on-demand is just a method a printing based on Toyota's just-in-time production, which means you print the book as its ordered. Publishers and self-publishers can use that technology. Self publishing means that you bear the expense of printing your book. Even if you pay iUniverse to do it, you have self-published but you've used a middle man instead of doing it yourself. I cover many self publishing issues and misconceptions on my blog at CheapIndieAuthor.blogspot

Posted by: AuthorKLBrady | June 30, 2010 6:33 PM
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I'm another DC area author who self-published my first novel. I got it placed in Barnes and Noble and found my best success in putting it on Kindle. By the grace of God and with a lot of work, it was recently acquired by Simon & Schuster in a two-book deal with an option for a third. I couldn't get an agent or a publisher until after I self-published and started getting a lot of really great reviews and put the book on Kindle and got lots of sales and kicked up the word of mouth a notch. It's been a great experience.

I would like to say there are a lot of misconceptions about self-publishing. For instance, print-on-demand is just a method a printing based on Toyota's just-in-time production, which means you print the book as its ordered. Publishers and self-publishers can use that technology. Self publishing means that you bear the expense of printing your book. Even if you pay iUniverse to do it, you have self-published but you've used a middle man instead of doing it yourself. I cover many self publishing issues and misconceptions on my blog at CheapIndieAuthor.blogspot

Posted by: AuthorKLBrady | June 30, 2010 6:33 PM
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A good friend of mine self-published a very authoritative book on Cybewarfare, but his writing differed, radically, from conventional texts on the subject. I am currently writing a book review on it and I am torn because it is a very well researched and written book, but the vast majority of texts in this field are academic. This book, however, provides no citations, no references and there is no bibliography, instead much of the information has been gathered through insider knowledge, which he also does not reference. What he has done, therefore, is make a subject that is normally droll into a vibrant topic, but the mainstream publishers won't touch it.

Self-publishing enabled a much needed subject to be covered in a non-traditional fashion, providing a clear, well written handbook for Cyber Commanders...

Posted by: joelhar1 | June 30, 2010 2:03 PM
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The article should explain the differences between "self publishing" and "print on demand." While I was writing my memoir and researching publishing options we learned that the print on demand model delivers 35% or more to the author, as opposed to the 7-8% from traditional publishers. They are the equivalent of the buggy whip manufacturers, they just don't know it yet. I went with Amazon's affiliate Book Surge, that is now Create Space. Customers click and buy on Amazon, a book is printed and in their hands in 2-3 days. It's true you lose business by not having your book in stores, but the answer to that is to keep marketing! Just know you'll have to become your own publicist and be focused -but there are plenty of ways to learn how. I'm proud of White House Story, a Democratic Memoir and my other projects. http://www.WhiteHouseBook.com

Posted by: Bajagirl | June 30, 2010 1:06 PM
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Most of what the publisher adds is promotion and marketing. Not much else. You can always pay a third party to handle this for you. If you don't think your work is worth the risk, why would a publisher?

I'm actually thinking of starting a self-publishing cooperative for local writers. I have worked the publication process from start to finish earlier in life (including manning the printing presses). None of this is difficult, especially in the year 2010. If you are interested, you can contact bkp6@georgetown.edu.

Best wishes to my fellow part-time novelists!

Posted by: Wallenstein | June 30, 2010 11:42 AM
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I chose to self publish for several reasons; some personal and some professional. A major personal reason was that capturing the interest of traditional publishers was not having much success, and time was running out. You see, my father had been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis looked bleak. I wanted to publish my novel and dedicate it to him and my mother before it was too late. Going the traditional publishing route could take years – time we didn’t have. By self-publishing I was able to dedicate my first novel “Chronicles of the HEDGE” to my father and mother. In fact, I was able to publish my second novel, “The Man Who Saved Christmas,” prior to my father’s passing. For that reason alone, self publishing was more than worth the time and effort, it was a gift!

Posted by: lampstand2 | June 30, 2010 9:05 AM
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Ms Thomas-Lester: in paragraph three, I think you meant "case in point."

Posted by: bfparkway | June 30, 2010 8:57 AM
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A few days ago, I read a self-publishing thread on a www.writersdigest.com message board. One user commented that he’d rather his work sit forever in his drawer than to self-publish. Really. He felt self-publishing was THAT demeaning.

It’s true that there is a number of hurried and underdeveloped self-published works out there, but yours doesn’t have to be. I published my novel, Twist, in December 2008 because a. I wanted creative control over the work and b. I thought it would be a great way to learn more about the publishing industry. Instead of using a self-publishing house like iUniverse, I located my own editor, my own book designer, and my own print house.

Do I regret the decision to publish independently? No. Did it take some expensive hard work? Yes. But if I don’t think my work is good enough to spend my own money, who else will?

Angie L. Jennings
www.callmetwist.com

Posted by: lbpavement | June 30, 2010 8:56 AM
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So many of the so-called publishers don't offer any of the cutting-edge marketing services like virtual book tours, video marketing and mini-sites with free sample downloads. Check out the services at
http://beckhamhouse.com/

Posted by: beckham319 | June 30, 2010 8:31 AM
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I'm an author who researched my book for over 20 years. I sent book proposals out for most of those 20 years. My book was about Mozart, but nobody would publish it. Like Morgan, I had lots of near hits, but nothing came through. I had already decided that I would probably have to self-publish.

Research self-publishers's costs; prices vary, though most offer the same services.I used iUniverse because of the low cost, but there are many others. My book looks great, and probably looks the same as if a more expensive company had published it.

Your self-published book can beavailable at Amazon.com, and other online bookstores, and any bookstore can order it for readers. If you self-publish, be prepared to market your book. (This is why getting a publisher is helpful.) I used local newspapers, local bookstores for booksignings, and a website.

Have fun with your creative project! After your book is self-published, you can still send out book prospectus packages to publishers and agents to see if they'll pick it up.

Posted by: auntfanny | June 30, 2010 8:18 AM
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Finished and done. True. That was a two year process.

Posted by: 1911a1 | June 30, 2010 7:41 AM
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I was fortunate in that I didn't have much of a problem getting a publisher to place Ten Ring as an audio book and e-book into the marketplace. The problem was getting the print edition onto shelves. That was a two process. I wish Mr Brown the best of luck.
- josephlcooke.blogspot

Posted by: 1911a1 | June 30, 2010 7:38 AM
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