JD Rhoades has had a pretty decent career as a print novelist. Starting in 2004 with The Devil’s Right Hand, he launched the Jack Keller series. Most recently, he released Lawyers, Guns, and Money, a standalone thriller, as an ebook original. He took a few moments to tell us about his experiences in the ebook realm.
You put out your first epubbed novel, Storm Surge, last year. What brought you to that decision?
first went out to traditional publishers in late 2008. As you may remember, things were in a state of complete panic then in a lot of industries, publishing included, and I got a lot of the “we really like this, but not enough to buy in this godawful market” rejections. Soon after that, my agent stopped returning phone calls or responding to e-mails and finally suggested I get someone else because he was “laser focused”–but only on expanding the careers of people who already had contracts. So I was pretty bummed. But with some help from my good friends Tasha Alexander and Kristy Kiernan, I got another agent and started writing again. But I still really liked Storm Surge
and wanted people to read it. Then I started hearing about how well people like Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch were doing with e-pubbing and decided to give it a shot.
Unfortunately, the first time, I did everything wrong. Lousy proofreading, lousy formatting, lousy cover that I threw together in GIMP–it got some good feedback and sold a few, but not many. So I studied up, found a really good cover designer, and put it back out. It’s ticking along nicely now.
You followed it up with Lawyers, Guns, and Money (Love that title, btw.) So obviously, you’re doing something right.
We can hope. That’s a book that really means a lot to me. I wanted to do a “legal thriller” that’s at least a little more accurate about the way actual lawyers talk and think. There’s still some artistic license, naturally, but on the whole, I’m really happy with it. And since, I’m told, none of the bigs think anyone buys legal thrillers any more (despite empirical evidence to the contrary), I decided to let the market make the call.
What has your agent’s role been in this endeavor?
She still wants to see me get a contract with one of the bigs, but she’s been very encouraging about the e-publishing. .
You also brought out the first Jack Keller novel as an ebook. Any plans to bring the other books out electronically?
They’re out now. And for a limited time, the Keller novels are only .99!
Does print play a role in your future plans?
Sure. My watchword has always been “diversify.” Someone wants to come along and cross my palm with silver, that’s just fine with me, especially if they’re willing to do the actual work of promoting.
What’s in the pipeline for you?
Something completely different. it’s a vampire/zombie/sci-fi revenge epic featuring the characters from a short story called “Behind Every Man” which I did for Spinetingler magazine a while back: http://www.spinetinglermag.com/winter2006story9.htm.
The short pitch goes like this: The last member of a special ops unit of genetically engineered vampires is out for revenge on the people who betrayed her people and ordered their execution. I think of it as a little Firefly, a little Kill Bill, a little spaghetti western, but with vampires, werewolves, and, of course, zombies. I have no idea how or where it’ll find a home, but I’m having a hell of a lot of fun with it.
Have you considered doing a nonfiction political book – print or electronic – along the lines of your newspaper column?
I have, but you know, when I look at old collections of people’s newspaper columns–like, say, Carl Hiassen’s or George F. Will’s–they just seem so dated. Like the stories they comment on, they’re of a particular time and place. Plus, you can get them online for free.