Bestselling Author David Liss Talks Writing and Selling Books to Random House

David Liss is the author six novels, most recently The Devil’s Company. He has five previous bestselling novel: A Conspiracy of Paper, winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, The Coffee Trader, A Spectacle of Corruption, The Ethical Assassin and The Whiskey Rebels. In 2008, at the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Bali, Indonesia, he was named an Artist for Integrity by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. No one is really sure why he should receive this honor or what it means, but it very possibly makes him the Bono of historical fiction. David Liss' novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and children, and can be reached via his web page: davidliss.com, which features his endlessly fascinating and edifying blog. You can also contact David Liss on Facebook.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, David. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing?

David: I’ve been writing my whole life. My first clear memory of trying to write fiction is in the second grade. On a more professional level, I published my first novel in 2000, and I’ve been writing full time ever since.

Your latest book, The Devil’s Company, is your sixth book with Random House. Can you take us from step A to step B and tell us how that happened?


David: When I was trying to sell my first book, I was lucky enough to be connected to my agent, Liz Darhansoff, through a mutual friend. I knew very little about the business back then, but now I realize there are lots of ways for an agent to present a novel, and my agent did a terrific job of creating interest in my manuscript. She sent it out to about 15 editors, and we had serious interest from five. I was living in New York City at the time, and I actually had the truly strange experience of going around to each of these editors and speaking with them. I was in grad school then, and making extra money as an office temp, so it was hard for me to convince myself that my real function at these meetings was not to get everyone coffee. I think I could have been very happy with each of these editors at each of these houses, but I ended up going with Random House for a number of reasons, and I’ve been there ever since.

Any setbacks along the way?

David: Nothing major. I know people who have bounced from house to house as imprints undergo the turmoil for which the industry is famous – especially in hard economic times. I have heard a lot of horror stories, and I know I’m very lucky to be at the same first-rate imprint where I started out. My original editor left – twice, in fact. The first time to work for a major Hollywood producer, and the second time to start his own imprint. My new editor, Jennifer Hershey, does a fantastic job, however, and actually edits, which is an unusual thing these days. I’ve just signed a new two-book deal with Random House, so obviously I am quite happy there.

Going back to your first book, what was it like to find out you not only were not only about to be published for the first time, but it was Random House?


David: I was thrilled. When I wrote A Conspiracy of Paper, I didn’t know the book would be taken so seriously, or that I would end up being one of those lucky writers whose work appeals to both mainstream and genre readers. Having the book accepted by a prestigious imprint really meant a great deal to me.

Can you tell us some things Random House is doing for you promotion-wise?

David: Realistically speaking, promotion for a sixth book is always going to look very different than promotion for a first book. My last novel came out only nine months ago, so I won’t be doing a lengthy book tour this time around. Publicity for The Devil’s Company is going to focus on coverage in both traditional media outlets and on the internet. We’ve also been sending out early copies to readers on several internet sites to create buzz.

I’ve always been curious – did Random House give you a personal publicist or did you get one on your own?

David: I’ve always worked with Random House publicity, and they are very thorough.

In your own opinion, what should authors do as far as promotions on their own?

David: I think that really depends on the author. I happen to enjoying going out and meeting readers, speaking in public, and interacting with readers on various internet sites. I love connecting with fans through portals like Goodreads and Facebook, and now through my blog. Other people may be more private or may guard their time more jealously, and other modes of promotion will work better. If you are not having a good time, then interacting with readers won’t get you much.

Thank you so much for this interview, David. I know my readers will really benefit from your knowledge about the publishing business from the author’s point of view. What’s next for you?

David: I will be publishing my first comic book with Marvel this September: Daring Mystery Comics Annual #1, featuring a super-cool Golden Age character, the Phantom Reporter. I am also hard at work on my next novel, which is set during the Luddite uprising in 1811- 1812 and deals with the Industrial Revolution, romanticism, and practitioners of traditional English folk magic.

Thank you again, David, and I wish you much success!
Powered by Blogger.