Saturday, July 16, 2011


Let me tell you everything I know about Rick Murcer.  He lives in Michigan with his wife and blind black lab, "Max."  He has two grown kids and three grandkids.  Oh, and he has two of the hottest Kindle books out there.  The Manny Williams thrillers are both running up the charts--the first one, "Caribbean Moon," is currently #27 on the bestseller list for all Kindle books.  We're talking almost a million books avaliable and Indie author Rick Murcer has two in the top 100 in sales.  Who is this guy?  I have no idea.  Honestly.  But I kept seeing his name show up on my book page--people who were buying my book were buying his as well.  Finally, I asked him to answer a few questions for me and it turns out he's a genuinely nice guy.  He seemed humble and appreciative and boy it's hard not to root for an Indie writer like that, huh?

So folks, let me introduce Rick Murcer:

1- You seem to have come from another planet and taken over the Amazon Kindle bestseller list. Can you tell us what brought you to Indie publishing?

LOL.  My wife thinks the same thing...regarding the other planet.

I actually was published in 2003 in Writers Journal for a story called Herb's Home Run. My best friend had died from a massive heart attack at age 42, and we hadn't talked much during the previous year. I wrote the story to cope with my grief, I guess, but he and I used to talk about spiritual things and I was hoping Herb had that resolved. After Herb's Home Run was published, I thought maybe I had something to offer so I did the first draft of Caribbean Moon in about four months, but only played at finishing it for a few years. Then I lost my job, couldn't find another, and decided I'd bettter do something productive. After numerous edits, I released Caribbean Moon in March of this year. The Indie thing had tremendous appeal to me because of the control it offered. I can write what I want, when I want.

2- Did you attempt having your work published through traditional channels first?

Not really, much to my wife's chagrin. I sent 13 query letters and had a couple of nice responses, but decided waiting until 2012 to get something published was, well, plain silly. God willing, I'll have at least four ebooks out this year. That would've never happened in the traditional world.

3- You obviously have some serious writing skills--where did you develop them?

This question is very humbling to me. I still think I have much to learn. I've always been a good storyteller...ask my Mom. :)...and I love books. When I was a kid, I read every comic book I could get my hands on, plus sports books, and the Hardy Boys, Doc Savage, etc. Then I picked up reading again a little later in life. King, Koontz, Patterson, and Noel Hynd tell great stories. I simply love to read a good story. Combine that love of story with the fact that I've dealt with people since the beginning of my work life (car sales, collections, marketing, management, to name a few) and it equals a certain curiosity about human nature. What we want, what we need, what scares us, what completes us, and where we are going when this life is over. I just love people; each one of us is so unique! So, I've turned those life experinces into character-driven novels, and I hope folks can identify. The technical side of writing is a little more difficult, but my wife is a professional proofreader/editor and she is a tremendous teacher. Even though I'm stubborn, I guess we got some of it right.

4- What have you done to market your Manny Williams thrillers and what did you find most effective?

Marketing is a strength for me and I based mine on one principle; find your audience. If you can't define and contact your audience, how will they ever know who you are and what you do? Since Caribbean Moon's setting is a cruise ship in paradise, I posted at every cruise ship forum and blog I could locate. I tried to think where I would go If I were searching for this kind of read, and went there. Most cruisers are voracious readers, so that was a plus for me. I did the other things: Facebook, Twitter, posting on forums, and those all helped some. I also wasn't shy about telling my 300 e-mail contacts about my new adventure, and many responded with their support...and subsequent surprise on how much they enjoyed the book. The old saying about a prophet not being accepted in his own home was certainly on my mind, but my friends and family were amazing and I thank them, again. I'd like to mention Amazon here as well. Once I started making some sales, Amazon's list system came into play...very powerful mojo that has been a tremendous boost.

5- What is your overall goal as an Indie author and what do you see the future of publishing looking like in 5 years? 
The first part of this question is a tough one. I want to be able to make a good living so that I can continue to write stories that people can escape to. I want to leave my kids and grandkids with something more than memories, and ultimately, do what God wants me to do to help wherever I can. I'm convinced our rapid success has to do with being blessed far beyond my expectations so we can give back. There are so many folks hurting right now, and our desire to help is almost overwhelming. I know, a little corny these days, but if we don't help lighten the fears of others and help to offer them hope, what's the point of being here?

Whew! Publishing in the next five years, huh? I'll draw on my business background and simply say that things will never be the same for traditional, or Indies, ever again. I don't think HC or paperback books will ever disappear, but the Big Six will have to figure out how to compete with the proliferation of e-books, and also the pricing. I read once where it takes five miles to turn a cruise ship around, meaning changing direction for something so large takes time and space. Traditional publishing may have to move faster than that. I also believe you'll see more and more offers to Indies for traditional contracts, and many will live in both worlds. New publishers like Thomas and Mercer and their bold new contract system will become the norm and authors will finally get the majority of profits for their work, instead of 15-17%. I've never hammered the traditional system, but evolution is inevitable and they need to get there.

When I first got into the business, someone, another author, told me that if the book is good, readers will find you, if not, maybe you should consider doing something else. I'm mentioning that to say that time is a great equalizer and I actually believe the number of Indies will decrease.

I do believe the public IS the ultimate gatekeeper in this new order and they will answer the questions of quality and readability. Some authors will become discouraged, and I believe, at some point, Amazon, B&N, and others could create some kind of criteria for publishing on their sites. That's just my opinion, however.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I've known Michael McShane for 30 years, back when I would visit him in San Diego and play golf, bet horses, eat dinner, then repeat the next day.  Mike's path to publication is a remarkable one.  The moment he passed his bar exam he opened up a law office.  This isn't a prudent move considering what real estate costs are in San Diego, but Mike wasn't the type to be an employee for a giant law firm.  No, Mike has always lived exactly how he wanted--on his own terms.  So much so that he worked at a local grocery store for three years stocking shelves at night while he developed enough clients to be a full time attorney.  Gutsy.

Finally, after years of fighting other lawyers and judges and preparing for trials where Mike would turn an average citizen into a bumbling, villainous buffoon, he'd had enough.  He gave his secretary three months notice, then closed up his office to write novels full time.  Gutsy.  Especially since this was fifteen years ago and he's just released his first novel, Bum Boulevard, to the world as a Kindle book just this past week.  It's not the first novel he's written, oh no, he's had several going at one time.  I know, I've read much of his work and he's got talent up the wazoo.  This is just the first one the public has ever seen.

I'm posting this because there are so many questions I'd like answered, but he's so elusive.  Maybe in this forum he'll come clean and tell us of his master plan?  You think he'll do anything he doesn't want to do?  Of course not.  But I do know he's a terrific writer and his work deserves a wide audience.

You think I'm exaggerating about his singularity?  Check out his answers:

1- Why did you decide to give up a thriving career as an attorney to write fiction full time?

For me it’s important to continually challenge myself. A good challenge is what keeps me thinking properly. As humans we have a tendency to limit ourselves. We learn a particular skill or job or trade and we keep at it. With so many jobs available to us, the odds of finding the one that really suits us are sky high, particularly when we don’t try that many jobs to begin with. We do something and we continue doing it. It’s probably nothing we ever imagined we’d be doing full time or forever. It just sort of happens that way. Most of us would be far better off doing something else, and doing it would be far better for us. For that reason I decided to make a change, take a chance of falling on my face—and I have, financially. But as far as meeting a challenge and using my time effectively, I do not waste one minute of my day. Writing is that worthwhile an endeavor for me. I know only two other things about writing. First, writing is re-writing. Second, writing truly is its own reward.

2- Since you’ve just released your first book on Amazon, how do you pay the bills?
Loans and the kindness and generosity of friends and family, and the odd law job. Starving to death doesn’t take a whole lot of money. I checked.
3- Most writers dream of the chance to write full time. For someone who’s actually done it, what’s the hardest part of that equation?
Discipline, cutting oneself off from the outside world. I honestly believe that most people are not meant to write full time even though they pine for it. To minimize distractions—Gary can vouch for this—I have no message machine, which people find annoying because I also have no cell phone. I’ve never owned a cell phone. I have a land line, that’s it, and I unplug it a lot. I do not have call waiting, call forwarding or caller ID. I don’t have a Blackberry or a blueberry or a raspberry. I do not have a pager or a Palm Pilot. I’m not on Faceplant or Tweety Pie Bird or Spacebook. I disconnected my doorbell. My television doesn’t work. It’s a 32 inch, 1994 Sony and it’s broken. I do not own an HD television, never have. I also don’t own a laptop. I wrote my first novel in cursive in five spiral notebooks. Later, I bought a personal computer, the best invention since the microwave oven. Most technology, television included, is a distraction for a committed writer. The gadgetry of the modern age offers reasons and excuses not to write. People dream about writing full time, that’s great. Dreaming is fun. Full time writing is a grind, but if you can manage it, if you can discipline yourself and shield yourself from all the temptations brought about by “free” time, you’ll grind yourself some of the most amazing fairy dust ever, and it will show in the stories you tell . . . Best of luck out there. We’re all pulling for you.
4- How did you come up with the idea of a female protagonist for Bum Boulevard and how tough was is to get inside the head of a woman?
We’ve all heard that we’re supposed to write what we know. I think that’s bunk. That’s why I write about women. I don’t know a thing about them except they’ve always been very nice to me. Come to think of it, so have dogs. I’ve made a decision. My next story will be about a woman and her dog. Please, whoever reads this, don’t steal my idea.

5- What do you see the publishing world looking like in 5 years?

Gadgets, gadgets, gadgets. Less paper, more e-readers. They’re going to make an e-reader you don’t have to hold. Holding something is passé, it ties up the hands. It’s archaic. We should be past it by now. They’re going to come up with a neck harness for your e-reader—like a harmonica brace. You’ll be able to watch your e-reader, talk on the phone and throw a football all at the same time. It’ll be fabulous fun, multi-tasking at its finest. Re texting: Biologically, they say we lose what we don’t use, which is why the pinky toe continues getting smaller and smaller. The opposite is also true. If we use it, it gets larger, like the human brain. Following this train of thought, texting is going to make our thumbs so big that we’ll have to carry around cell phones the size of televisions so we’ll be able to hit the proper key pads. If you throw out your mutant thumb to hitch hike, the momentum will carry you into the street. No worries about getting run over. They’ll be using air cars by then. The paved streets will be used strictly by texters wandering mindlessly around like a bunch of big-thumbed Zombies. Remember, you heard it here first.

If you like Mike's story and are interested in checking out his novel, Bum Boulevard, here's the link to his Amazon site: