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Alan Kennedy-Shaffer served as a regional field director for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia. Educated at Yale University and William & Mary Law School, Kennedy-Shaffer is the author of Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq. Kennedy-Shaffer’s writings have also appeared in The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Patriot-News, the Daily Press, and the Virginia Gazette. Alan lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
You can visit Alan on the web at www.alankennedy-shaffer.com.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Alan. 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)?
The Obama Revolution, published by Phoenix Books, is my second book. My first book, Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq, was published in 2006.
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, Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq, was published in 2006 by Universal Publishers.
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?
For my first book, I received lots of rejection letters. I’m not sure how many—you just have to throw them away and remain optimistic.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Rejection letters are never fun. The key is not to dwell on them. Move on. And keep writing.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Denial and Deception: A Study of the Bush Administration’s Rhetorical Case for Invading Iraq was published by Universal Publishers. I was looking for an academic non-fiction publisher.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
Being published can be rather exciting. I celebrated by drinking Margaritas with my friends.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
Promoting a book involves reaching out to your family and friends first. I also contacted some of my friends in the newspaper industry.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
Yes. My latest book, The Obama Revolution, has much broader appeal and is much more readable than my first book. Writing is a process—we all get better with experience.
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?
Having become a published author at age 22, I don’t think I could have sped up the process. I learned, however, that publishing requires writing, marketing, and promotion.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
My greatest accomplishments have come in tandem: helping Barack Obama become the 44th President of the United States and writing the first in-the-trenches book about the campaign.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Train conductor. Or maybe governor.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
Having the opportunity to write about my experiences and observations is the best thing about being an author. I am always looking for new material.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Train conductor. Or maybe governor. Seriously, I love politics.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Never give up. That is the only way that movements grow and dreams become reality. Just ask President Obama.