Interview with Rich Leder

What are you working on next?
I'm finishing another standalone called "Let There Be Linda." It's a dark comedy about two estranged brothers living in the San Fernando Valley who bring their dead mother back to life to clean up the mess they've made of things. As you're already surmising, that can't be a good idea--Monty Python meets Quentin Tarantino. When that novel is done, I'll write the third book in the "McCall & Company" series. All I can tell you about that one is Kate and her eccentric crew are in it up to their necks in lawyers and love and bars and bookies. Oh yeah, and the corporate killer who murdered Kate's father is playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. Kate's the mouse. After that, another standalone, and then another McCall. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh man. So many. Too many. Richard Ford. John Irving. Donald Westlake. Phillip Roth. Sue Grafton. Carl Hiaasen. Janet Evanovich. John D. MacDonald. Edgar Allan Poe. Elmore Leonard. Raymond Chandler. Lawrence Block. Agatha Christie. James Elroy. Robert B. Parker...
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have so many books to write and read, so many new friends to meet, so much great food to eat, so many movies to see, so many places to go, so many mysteries to unwind, so many corners to turn, so many lessons to learn, an awesome wife and three children to enjoy and love and cherish…and the clock is ticking, brothers and sisters. I don't want to miss a moment. For me, every minute of every day is a chance to create something special or make someone laugh out loud or laugh out loud myself or do those things all at the same time.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I swim most mornings as soon as I get up. And if I don't swim, I walk hard and fast for four miles. If I don't get my head right first thing, the rest of my day is tough sledding. I love to read. I go to galleries. I hang with my wife. I meet friends for lunch. I talk about writing. I text my kids. I go to ballgames. That all sounds swell, but a lot of the time I'm writing because that's what I like to do best.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Many of the books I discover come from recommendations by my friends. I also frequent several review sites and book blogs. If I come across a strong review on a site I like, that's a book I'll consider. And Amazon and Apple send emails of books I'll look into if they strike a chord. But if a friend of mine, someone whose tastes and opinions I know and trust, says that they've found a book I have to read, then that's a book I'm going to read.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was nine, I wrote a funny story about a mean-spirited, bully teacher who got his legs chopped off by a train over the weekend and had to go to back to school on Monday the same size as the kids in his class. Inexplicably, his feet remained neatly attached to his body and he could walk the halls the same way he had walked them on Friday, just a lot shorter. We produced it as a play in a neighborhood garage. It was hilarious--and the first sign that my sense of humor was a tad skewed.

When I was 12, I wrote a variety show that we produced in class. It was all skits. Very Laugh In.

My first script of consequence was called The Lemon Grove. It was produced as a television film for CBS, who changed the title to A Season of Hope.

My first novel was Juggler, Porn Star, Monkey Wrench. It's available at Smashwords, all the Smashwords pathways, and Amazon.

In retrospect, before I could write, my army men had backstories. My mother says I was born this way.
What is your writing process?
I don't have a set time each day that I write. My life is too full of crazy for that. It's enough for me to know that at some point I'll be sitting down and crafting sentences for three or four hours. Maybe that's late morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, or midnight. All those times work for me.

Now, to get to the point where I'm internally questing for a four-hour block of writing time, I need a fully formed beat sheet that moves my story causally from the first chapter to the last chapter. I take my time with the beat sheet because my sense of direction is suspect, and I get lost without a map.

Now, to get to the point where I want to take my time and create a beat sheet, I need a story idea I have roughed out just enough to know that it wants to be a book. I'm pretty strict about the roughing out part. Not every story idea wants to be a book. To learn the truth, I call them on the carpet, my story ideas, to make sure before I begin the long and arduous task of beating out a book that they really want to be one.

Now, to get to the point where I'm calling my story ideas on the carpet, I have to stumble upon a story idea that I think is awesome or cool or hilarious or dark or all of them rolled into one. I don't know what process I go through to get these ideas. Somewhere in the universe, there's a demented dispatcher of inspiration who sends me the most outrageous characters and plot lines in the garage.

That's all I can think of. Where the heck else could this stuff come from?
How do you approach cover design?
I'm a novelist now, but I was a filmmaker for 20 years. I'm still a filmmaker. I'm visual. I know what I see. But I'm not a graphic artist. In fact, at the top of the list of the things that I am not sits graphic artist, so I hire a cover designer--after reviewing their covers and reading their philosophies and contemplating their financial formulas. If the designer's work resonates with me, with what I see in my mind's eye, then I hire them to create my cover.

I write an accurate but not too lengthly description of the book that captures the tone and rhythm, that introduces the lead characters and locations, that delivers the basic plot line. And I talk about the image in my head. I tend to like a single thought on the cover as opposed to multiple thoughts, and I discuss the thought I'm feeling and want the cover to express and the image that represents that thought and expression, which is usually primal to the book, and then I get the hell out of the way and let the artist be the artist.

My experience is that it takes several drafts to nail it down, which means it takes time. Sometimes a lot of time.

My experience is also that if I've articulated the emotionality of my vision, then the result will be worth it.

And so it is. I love my covers.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
As of this writing, end of August 2014, I'm a self-pubbing newbie. (I've been a working, produced screenwriter for many years, so I'm not a newbie when it comes to being a professional writer.) My three funny books drop on Sunday, September 7. So no marketing techniques have been effective yet as far as self publishing goes.

However, I have other business interests, and I've have landed quite firmly on what I believe is the most effective way to reach the widest audience in the most focused fashion. I believe this because I have seen it successfully implemented. I've built businesses this way. I know it works.

To publish and promote my books--and to promote me as an indie author--I founded Laugh Riot Press, a genre-specific, social media marketing and self-publishing company composed (one day soon) of an active community of indie authors who utilize LRP as an awesome digital hub, another landing in their online portfolio, and a place to participate in and benefit from our year-round social media marketing movement.

At Laugh Riot Press, we believe a 12-month/52-week, genre-specific, social media marketing strategy is the most effective way to forge a long-term marketplace presence and reach the largest number of readers looking for funny books.

LRP has a daily voice on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. And we’re adding new platforms as they gain strength, numbers, and importance. We’re posting and commenting and sharing every day. Social media is our business. We’re everywhere writers need to be and everywhere readers are looking for books.

Which is good for writers because there’s a significant and growing number of online bookstores and reading apps you may not know about. Plenty of readers use these apps, and it’s important to connect with every reader possible. Laugh Riot Press is in all these places -- Wattpad, Uncovered Books, Bublish, aerbook, BookBub, and Bookish, to name a few. When writers join LRP, they don’t have to spend hours upon hours discovering these outlets, learning how to use them, and managing and monitoring them. LRP does the legwork and busy work for them.

This kind of daily marketing activity would be overwhelmingly time consuming for any one writer to undertake. There was no way I could do it and still write books, for instance. But I knew it was the most effective way for me to reach the greatest number of readers. That's why I founded Laugh Riot Press, so writers, including me, would get the most explosive social media marketing exposure possible and still have time to do what they really want to do and must do if they're to be successful: write more books.

What Mark (Coker) says about distribution is also true for social media marketing. I'm paraphrasing: All eggs in one basket = risky business.

That's why I'm here with my books at Smashwords. That's why I founded Laugh Riot Press.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
During my year of a dozen rejections by the Traditional Publishing Empire--not so many in the grand scheme of things but more than enough for my impatience ass--I began to resent the idea that some person I didn't know had the power to decide whether or not my funny books were worthy of release, worthy of being read by people looking for a book to make them laugh out loud. A friend mentioned Smashwords to me, and my intensive self-publishing education began.

It didn't take long to change horses in midstream, thus blowing that tired axiom out of the water, so to speak.

I wanted control. I wanted to touch every part of the publishing process. I wanted my books to be mine. The money became secondary. The adventure, the excitement, the rush of self-pubbing became my primary motivation.

My agent encouraged me. My wife encouraged me. My friends encouraged me.

I hired my own editor. I hired my own formatter. I hired my own cover artist. I set my own prices. I chose my own release date. I decided where my books would be distributed. I created Laugh Riot Press, a social media marketing and self-publlishing company.

My novel writing life is up to me. I've already succeeded. I already feel fulfilled.
Is there is something about you that would surprise us?
I know more or less everything there is to know about wedding planning. I really do.
Published 2014-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

McCall & Company: Emboozlement
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 124,910. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
The hilarious third book in Rich Leder's New York City murder mystery series features Kate McCall and her crew in it up to their necks this time. No way she lives through this one.
Juggler, Porn Star, Monkey Wrench
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 108,760. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire, Fiction » Romance » General
At the end of his personal and professional rope, following a two-year estrangement from his juggler wife, Hollywood screenwriter Mark Manilow comes to terms with the end of his marriage while trying unsuccessfully to break up with his preposterous porn star girlfriend and falls in love with a beautiful Chinese elementary school teacher, all while being hired to adapt the phone book into a movie.
McCall & Company: Swollen Identity
Series: McCall & Company, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 106,690. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
Beautiful Billionaire Socialite. Cold-Blooded Corporate Killer. McCall & Company Back In Business. Kate McCall re-assembles the eccentric tenants of her New York City brownstone and her histrionic acting troupe to help her crack her case, and also her father's murder, and is confronted by demonic twins, accosted by counterfeiters, arrested for impersonating a hooker, and followed by hilarity.
McCall & Company: Workman's Complication
Series: McCall & Company, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 98,650. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
Way Off Broadway Actress. Murdered PI Father. New Day Job. Kate McCall assembles the eccentric tenants of her New York City brownstone and her histrionic acting troupe to help her crack her cases, including her father's murder. Murder, mystery, mayhem, and hilarity follow her to a midtown insurance company where one policy really was a matter of life and death.