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Taking Chances Part 4 of 4: Adventures of the Ghillie Suit

Taking Chances Part 4 of 4

“Adventures of the Ghillie Suit”

I’m sure you can think of a movie you love that was based on a book, but on the other hand, I’m sure you can name some movies that aren’t as good as the books. And even one or two you wish had never been made. It happens. I think THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by Thomas Harris is a classic example of how to do it right.

Although somewhat different, but in the same train of thought, I thought it would interesting to take a new kind of chance. Why not try a video series promoting the Nathan McBride series?

Since Sheila English (Circle of Seven Productions) is a good friend and colleague, and together we came up with a plan to create an episodic web series as opposed to a traditional book trailer. Sheila’s worked with most of the publishers in New York and she’s produced a highly successful web series for #1 NY Times bestselling author Christine Feehan. But, my idea wasn’t to do a series touting my books, but to do something fun and humorous with the goal of introducing people to my website and social media pages.

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The series is called, “The Adventures of the Ghillie Suit.” It’s a fun and whimsical story of a young man who’s reading the Nathan McBride series and comes up with a great idea. The audience was tasked with figuring out what he’s trying to do by analyzing clues contained in the video episodes.

I turned Sheila loose to write the script, direct the videos, and market the series. She masterfully created scenes in the videos that have elements from the books subtlety placed throughout the sets. She hired actor/model Scott Nova and his wife Lesley Verbus to star in the six-episodes. It was a significant financial investment, but I’d not seen anything done exactly like this, so it was worth taking the chance.

Once the episodes were completed, we shared them with my publisher. The marketing team at Thomas & Mercer was so impressed with the professional quality and overall entertainment value, the publishing team helped promote the series—exactly what I’d hoped would happen. Not only did it give the Nathan McBride series more exposure through Thomas & Mercer’s sphere of influence, but Circle of Seven also released it to its huge distribution base.

The video series was well received, but did it have a direct influence on sales? Yes. But increasing sales wasn’t the primary reason I had the series produced. It was produced to show my publisher that I’m willing to invest in my own career. I don’t expect APub to do all the heavy lifting. It was also a gift to my readers, a fun way for them to see a lighter side of an otherwise intense thriller series.


Seeing the video series led me to thinking about the silver screen, so I was amazed at the synchronicity when Scott Miller of the Trident Media Group called me. We talked about the viability of pursing a film rights deal for the Nathan McBride series. Scott and I had worked together in the past and I felt quite comfortable working with him again.

Scott approached Jon Cassir of CAA (Creative Artist Agency) the same agent who sold the book-to-film rights for THE MARTIAN. A few weeks later, I was thrilled to hear Jon loved the series and wanted to represent it.martian-150x150 - Taking Chances Part 4 of 4: Adventures of the Ghillie Suit

Many people have expressed interest in seeing Nathan McBride on television or the silver screen, and with Jon Cassir representing the series, it’s a whole lot closer to becoming a reality. Whether or not one or more of the books becomes the basis for a TV series or a film, I feel the experience of working with Jon and Scott is invaluable. I’m a good listener, especially when the subject of the conversation is outside my comfort zone—and Hollywood fits the bill. I have no idea how Hollywood works and can’t devote the time it would take to learn Hollywood’s unique and celebrated culture. That’s Jon’s role, he’s firmly plugged in.

I hope this blog series has inspired you be unafraid and take chances. Without a doubt, your experiences are, or will be, different and I invite you to share them. Be sure to always calculate the pros and cons and be able to live with your worst case scenario. Don’t risk money you can’t afford. You should always be prepared for frustration, but you should be equally prepared for success!


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Andrew PetersonTaking Chances Part 4 of 4: Adventures of the Ghillie Suit

Taking Chances Part 3 of 4: To Serial or not to Serial

Taking Chances Part 3 of 4

“To Serial or not to Serial”

Every new chance you take is an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. Some of those opportunities come from your publisher. Thomas & Mercer approached me with an idea to release my third book, OPTION TO KILL, as a serial novel. The book would be released in episodic format every two weeks, similar to the classic serials of yore.

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It was a big leap of faith.

Serialized fiction surged in popularity during Britain’s Victorian era, but that happened a longtime ago. The question was: could modern-day readers embrace the concept? In the age of fast food, fast cars and fast Internet, could people slow down and enjoy a novel over time, like a good bottle of wine? Many people don’t have large blocks of time to read. They’re busy with work, recreation, and family. I asked myself if these serial installments would appeal to them.

The answer was overwhelmingly no. Very few readers liked the episodic format, in large part because they didn’t fully understand what they’d purchased. It wasn’t a money issue. APub didn’t charge per episode. The book was sold at a huge discount upfront and the episodes automatically downloaded every two weeks.

It seemed our fast-food society wasn’t willing to wait. But I’d taken the chance.

Negative reviews hammered OPTION’s rating. I felt like a punching bag. All of the early one-star reviews criticized the episodic format. I remember an email exchange I had with Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing, in which I said, “Well, I guess the pioneers take the arrows!” He agreed and told me not to worry too much. Still, it was difficult to see. Don’t get me wrong, people liked the book, they just didn’t like the serial format. I responded to every email I received. The best advice I could give them was to wait until all the episodes had downloaded to read it.

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Although the serial novel project couldn’t be called a huge success, I really admire Amazon Publishing for giving it a try, and I’m glad I took part in it. It reflects APub’s forward and innovative thinking.

It was a challenging writing experience, to say the least. OPTION wasn’t a complete book that we broke into episodes. I wrote OPTION as a true serial novel—10,000-word episodes every two weeks. Needless to say, it took a toll on me. Overall, I’m glad I tried it.

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Andrew PetersonTaking Chances Part 3 of 4: To Serial or not to Serial

Taking Chances Part 2 of 4: Self-Publishing and Traditional

Take Chances Part 2 of 4

“Coming full Circle”

Yesterday we talked about how I released my second book in audio format for six months prior to the print release and how that worked for me. Today I’m going to talk about going from traditional publishing, to self-publishing, and back to traditional publishing.

There’s a lot of talk about self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and which is best. I’m here to tell you that “best” is relative to your situation. Both are good choices.

When FIRST TO KILL debuted, it was published by the largest trade paperback house in New York, Dorchester. Unfortunately, those were tumultuous times for the industry and the Dorchester soon succumbed and closed its doors, leaving me without a publisher.

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My agent at that time was Jake Elwell of Harold Ober Associates and he did a good job negotiating with Dorchester. We ended up foregoing the royalties owed to us in exchange for getting my rights back.

Since my second book, FORCED TO KILL, was scheduled to be released as an exclusive audiobook for six months, I was contemplating all my options. After the exclusive period ended, I didn’t want to delay getting FORCED in print, so I opted to self-publish. At the time, it was the right choice for me and I have no regrets. I’ve learned a great deal along the way.

I was fortunate to catch the attention of a newly formed publishing house, Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing Inc.

Alan Turkus made an offer to purchase the rights to the entire Nathan McBride series. Once again, I was faced with some career-changing choices. If I signed with APub, my books wouldn’t be carried by brick and mortar bookstores and they wouldn’t be sold by other eBook retailers. My books would be sold exclusively by Amazon. Weighing my options, I concluded that signing a contract with the world’s largest book retailer outweighed any potential negatives. And there were some risks. Signing with Amazon wasn’t a slam-dunk path to success. I worked very hard to produce the best product I could. It’s a highly competitive industry.Thomas-and-Mercer-300x67 - Taking Chances Part 2 of 4: Self-Publishing and Traditional

In hindsight, it was the right decision top make, but at the time, I didn’t know that with certainty. I took a chance. All of the Nathan McBride books have become #1 Kindle bestsellers in genre subcategories and they’ve all reached the top ten in the entire Kindle store. Amazon Crossing has translated FIRST TO KILL into five languages and other others are in the works.

Self-publishing or going the traditional publishing route is a choice. Weigh what you gain or lose and make the best choice for yourself. Some advice: Don’t be impatient. I believe many authors self publish because they just want to see their books in print. That wasn’t my goal. I wanted to keep the momentum going after the exclusive with ran its course.

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Andrew PetersonTaking Chances Part 2 of 4: Self-Publishing and Traditional