Las Vegas true crime author Dennis N. Griffin began writing in 1996, following a 20-year career in investigations and law enforcement in New York State. He currently has six fiction and three non-fiction books published. His non-fictions are about Las Vegas police and organized crime history. His latest release (July 1, 2007) is CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness. You can visit his website here.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Dennis. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
My first book was The Morgue in 1996. I ended up self-publishing after compiling a stack of 30 or so rejections and just missing getting grabbed in an agent scam.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
The rejections and scams depressed and frustrated me to say the least. I was on the verge of throwing in the towel when I was solicited by a self-publishing services provider. I signed on and that was the beginning of my education into the other critical aspect of the business: marketing. My book was published by 1stBooks (now AuthorHouse). They were in the process of expanding their operation from only producing e-books to include printed and bound books. Their solicitation offered print books for only a $75 setup fee.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
When 1stBooks sent me my two free author copies I was euphoric. To celebrate I took some family members and close friends out to dinner and bought a bottle of champagne for a toast.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
My first promo efforts were directed to trying to schedule book store signings. That’s when I learned that self-published and/or POD authors have an uphill battle in getting events scheduled or their books stocked in the brick and mortar stores, especially the chains.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Even knowing what I know now, I probably would have gone the same route due to beginning my writing career lateer in life. I felt that I couldn’t keep going the query-submission-rejection route month after month seeking a traditional publisher. Had I started earlier, I might have thought differently.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
(See answer #1 re: publishing history) I believe that my career turned the corner when I switched from writing fiction to non-fiction. I’m very comfortable researching and writing police and organized crime history.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I should have done the necessary research before or at least in conjunction with writing the manuscript. It may not have changed the road I traveled, but it would have prepared me for what to expect. I wouldn’t have wasted time and effort querying publishers that didn’t handle my genre. I would have understood the drawbacks self-published/POD authors have to overcome. I would have been preparing for the next steps before the manuscript was finished rather than scrambling to catch up afterward.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I think the success of my latest book, CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness, is the highlight of my writing career so far. Seeing the book ranked on Amazon’s bestseller lists in multiple categories has been a real thrill for me.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Writing is a second career for me. I truly enjoyed my days in law enforcement and investigations. My current non-fiction efforts allow me to stay in touch with my previous life in many respects, giving me the best of both worlds.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
My advice to aspiring authors is to do your homework. Determine what you want to accomplish as a writer. Become familiar with the business you’re getting into and ask yourself if you’re willing to make the commitment in time and energy to become a success. If you decide to self-publish, don’t produce an inferior book just because you don’t have the publisher’s editor checking your work. Do your research and have the manuscript edited by a professional. Produce a book you’ll be proud to have people read. Quality work will never hurt you; it can only help to enhance your reputation. And don’t give up. There will be disappointments and down days. Don’t let them beat you. Your perseverance and professionalism will be rewarded in the end.