Author Stephen Schochet is a professional tour guide in Hollywood who years ago began collecting little-known, humorous anecdotes to tell to his customers. His new book Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes About the Stars and Legends of the Movies! The book contains a timeless treasure trove of colorful vignettes featuring an amazing all-star cast of icons including John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Shirley Temple, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Errol Flynn, and many others both past and contemporary. Tim Sika, host of the radio show Celluloid Dreams on KSJS in San Jose has called Stephen, “The best storyteller about Hollywood we have ever heard.” Available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or wherever books are sold. For more information go to http://www.hollywoodstories.com
Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Stephen. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
A: I have been a self-published author for about thirteen years.
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
A: It was actually an audio book called Tales of Hollywood: Hear the Origins of Hollywood! The finished product was completed several years before it was published, simply because I didn’t know anything about publishing, ISBN numbers etc.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
A: None, it was self-published. I did get rejected by a few distributers.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
A: As time went on they had a little less sting. Once you get your book into the marketplace the goal becomes getting publicity, and you better be prepared to be rejected in that setting as well, and just push on. Walt Disney at the height of his fame was telling family members the story of The Shaggy Dog; his sister-in-law kept heckling him, saying what a stupid idea it was so negativity will always come your way when you put your art out there. The key in my opinion is to get useful constructive criticism during the development phase and if you are going the publishing route express your willingness to do some marketing.
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
A: My company is called Hollywood Stories Publishing. I just have an entrepreneurial way of looking at things; it never really occurred to me to go to a publisher.
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
A: I celebrated when I got my audio books into Barnes & Noble; to actually have distribution was a thrill; Of course that’s when the work really begins.
Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
A: Before I did anything, I let everybody know that I had this really entertaining product coming out. I also let my tour groups know that I had made a really fun cassette, on the first day I sold four. If you can get some immediate cash flow with the people directly in front of you; it helps to give you confidence to move on and put yourself out there more, do things like approach reviewers, TV and radio stations.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to publication?
A: No, but I would’ve researched self-publishing more. In the end though, if you have a marketable product, it comes down to elbow grease. You should always, ALWAYS have your business cards to let people know how to get your book if it comes up in conversation.
Q: Have you been published since and how have you grown as an author?
A: Both my other products the audio book Fascinating Walt Disney: Hear How Walt Disney’s Dreams Came True and my current book Hollywood Stories: Short, Entertaining Anecdotes about the Stars and Legends of the Movies are self-published. My writing has gotten more economical as time has gone on.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to be published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
A: The biggest mistake I made actually was when I raised the price of the book and didn’t change the bar code; that caused all sorts of glitches at Barnes & Noble and lead to quite a few returns; I lost my distributer and it took me a long time to sell everything back. Published or self-published you need to familiarize yourself with the industry. Of course, now you have the e-books, with them you never have to worry about excess inventory.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since being published?
A: Just people letting me know how much they have enjoyed the work especially the new book Hollywood Stories. Just hearing how much fun people are having reading it, it is great; which doesn’t mean pandering to the reader should be your first priority. I was asked by a friend what is the magical means to get someone to buy your work; I told him in my opinion it was more important that when they do buy it, they really enjoy it.
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
A: Probably something in broadcasting; when I was kid I wanted to be an NBA player or sing in a famous band; I think I’m better suited for what I do now.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
A: Well I always could’ve written about my basketball career; I’m fine with where I am.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
A: Hopefully healthy and with more creative and entrepreneurial accomplishments.
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
A: Test your work on those you trust to give you constructive feedback before you put it out there.