Tag Archives: ITW

Money for Something and Clicks for Free

Recently, I was visiting my hometown of Huntington, WV and my brother who is in the music business told me a story. I’d heard similar stories over the past few years, but this was the first one I had been told from someone with direct, first-hand knowledge. My brother, who we will call Brian (because that’s his name) told me about the bassist of a up-and-coming hard rock band. It was a band I had heard of and they were played frequently on my favorite radio station, SiriusXM Octane. Not only had this band been busy touring, but they had been touring on ShipRocked which is an incredibly popular event.

The band was really doing well. They were gaining fans.

They were… usually sleeping in a van in various Walmart parking lots.

They were… usually broke.

They were… soon to be without a bassist. It turned out he recently quit the band and moved home with his mother.

Those in the music industry are experiencing the same issues as most of those in the writing business. Streaming music sites and the proliferation of self-publishing have taken a toll on these industries as the supply is larger than the demand and the available content has been diluted. This isn’t to disparage those who place their music on streaming services or self-publish. This ability to get one’s work out into the public is fantastic and should continue.

However, a side-effect of these changes are that it is harder than ever for writers to make a living and the same goes for musicians. If a novelist sells 10,000 copies of a book, she is lucky to make $20,000 and there is no guarantee that income will continue for any real duration of time. Musicians face similar struggles. This article from 2016 gives a detailed breakdown of what a Metal band makes and has to spend if they play to 500 people per night.  It’s not pretty.

http://www.metalinjection.net/its-just-business/detailed-breakdown-of-how-much-a-band-earns-spends-playing-to-500-people-a-night

While writers and musicians have it tough, musicians have an extra burden because most of the money they do make is from touring. For those with families or who don’t want to live out of vans, urinate into a jug, and shower at truck stops, the lifestyle is less than ideal.

For writers, books tours are nice but not essential. But even with sales, fame and fortune may be elusive. My friend Wendy Tyson recently wrote a column on a site I contribute to called The Thrill Begins. In the piece, she explains what it’s like for writers when expectations meet reality. 

Again, not a pretty picture. Or at least not the rock star life some think may think successful writers may lead. By many measures, I’m a successful novelist and like 95% of the writers I know, I have a full-time job not related to writing. Out of the other 5%, I’d say 4% are retired and 1% (or less) are famous.

For all but the absolute biggest rock stars, the days of private jets and huge mansions are over.

For all but the most popular writers, the days of huge publishing contracts filled with massive advances are gone.

It’s all a trade-off. Is the trade-off worth it? It’s up to the consumers to decide.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in October 2017! Preorder now!

Buy it on Amazon!

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.image1 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

On The Thrill Begins – Shutting Places Down Like Eliot Ness

Many of you may not know this, but my road to publication came with some major potholes. As part of the Tough Times series on The Thrill Begins, I explain how I started to feel Untouchable – in a very bad way.

http://thrillbegins.com/2017/05/11/shutting-down-places-like-eliot-ness/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

Former Pittsburgh narcotics detective Trevor Galloway has been hired to look into the year-old homicide of a prominent businessman who was gunned down on his estate in Central Pennsylvania. When Galloway arrives, he determines the murder could have only been committed by someone extremely skilled in two areas: Skiing and shooting. He believes the assailant should not be too difficult to identify given the great amount of skill and athleticism needed to pull off the attack. When he discovers the victim’s property is next door to a biathlon training camp, the situation becomes significantly more complicated.

Galloway makes plenty of enemies as he sifts through stories about lucrative land deals, possible drug connections, and uncovers evidence suggesting the homicide may have been elaborate suicide. As he attempts to navigate through an unfamiliar rural landscape, he does his best not to succumb to an old drug addiction, or become confused by one of his occasional hallucinations. Oh, and a Pittsburgh drug gang enforcer known as The Lithuanian—if he’s even real—is tracking Galloway and wants to take his eyes. Galloway would rather keep those.

In Bolt Action Remedy, the typically quiet streets of Washaway Township, Pennsylvania become the epicenter of a mystery involving elite athletes and old grudges. For Galloway, the problems keep piling up and somebody out there believes problems should be dealt with by employing the most permanent of remedies.

AVAILABLE NOW!

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

COVER REVEAL – Chalk’s Outline by J.J. Hensley

My third novel, Chalk’s Outline is scheduled for release in February 2016 through Bad Day Books, an imprint of Assent Publishing.  I’ve teamed up with the awesome book bloggers The Book Wheel and Running ‘N’ Reading for this cover reveal/interview/giveaway event.  Check this out!

Sincerely,
J.J. Hensley

Cover reveal: http://www.thebookwheelblog.com/j-j-hensley-new-book-and-interview/

Win a copy of Measure Twice:  http://www.runningnreading.com/?p=6221

file000598171861

 

 

Answering the Tough Questions While Smacking Some Mockingbirds

Here is my latest column for the International Thriller Writers page, The Thrill Begins.  Enjoy. 

http://thrillbegins.com/2015/11/12/answering-the-tough-questions-while-smacking-some-mockingbirds/

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

 

How Pitching a Novel Is Like Being in the Secret Service

For seven years, I had the pleasure of being a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. During that time, I conducted a variety of criminal investigations involving counterfeiting, check fraud, wire fraud, and even cell phone cloning. However, much of what I did included the duties that most people associate with the agency – protection. For more than four of my seven years with the USSS, I was based in Washington D.C. which is not only our nation’s capital, but the protection capital of the world. I learned many lessons while working assignments protecting the President, Vice President, and visiting heads of state. One of those lessons was that most protection assignments involve common factors. Those factors are:

  • Standing
  • Waiting
  • Uncertainty
  • Risk
  • Being Ready to React
  • Periods of Discomfort
  • Relief When it’s Over

Currently, I’m a crime fiction writer and I was lucky enough to have found some success, particularly with my first novel, RESOLVE, which was a Thriller Awards finalist in 2014. The Thriller Awards are hosted by the International Thriller Writers (ITW) organization, a group to which I happen to belong. Each year, they host a wonderful conference called Thrillerfest and a component of that event is called Pitchfest. Pitchfest is an opportunity for writers to make a verbal pitch to literary agents in the hopes that the agent will request to see your latest manuscript and subsequently wish to represent you. As my previous agent closed up shop, I decided to take my latest work to Pitchfest in an effort to land an agent.

Approximately 50 literary agents and some publishers were set up among several rooms at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. Writers flooded the rooms, lined up, and pitched to whatever agents were partial to their particular genre or writing style. As the event went on, I discovered several things were involved in working my way through Pitchfest.  Such as:

  • Standing
  • Waiting
  • Uncertainty
  • Risk
  • Being Ready to React
  • Periods of Discomfort
  • Relief When It’s Over

Sound familiar?

ITW does an outstanding job of organizing the event, but by its nature, one will be standing for long periods of time. The event is over two hours long, and it would be impossible to get the opportunity to speak to every agent (nor would you want to since some would not represent your type of manuscript). So, a great deal of time is spent standing and waiting.
I’m fairly certain none of the literary agents had plans to put a bullet in my chest, but I discovered there was a certain amount of risk involved.

Knowing you will only get to speak to eight or nine agents, you have to have a strategy and do a risk assessment to determine how to get to your high-priority representatives. While there is an inherent amount of uncertainty in the process, you can better your odds by having a solid plan and avoiding going down the wrong path.  For instance, if you write paranormal and you make a poor decision by standing in line for an agent who is not looking for paranormal manuscripts, then you have wasted a huge amount of time that could have been used to approach someone who loves paranormal novels.

You have to be able to react on a moment’s notice. Perhaps you are in a long line and you suddenly notice an agent on your priority list has a much shorter line. You may have to jump ship and bolt across the room. Additionally, some agents will ask you questions about your book. One would be wise to be able to answer questions about something he or she wrote. This is why, just as in law enforcement, preparation and training are the keys to success. Hopefully, you have spent weeks preparing for multiple contingencies and have trained yourself to answer questions about yourself and your writing.

Hey, dozens – if not hundreds – of people are stuffed into these rooms. Air conditioning can only do so much and there will be some discomfort. Nervous writers are sometimes shoulder to shoulder with each other and everyone is talking. It’s hot and nobody wants to take a break, out of fear of missing out on talking to a great agent. Many writers (like me) dress up a little for the occasion, which means a sport coat or suit jacket. If I would have added a ballistic vest under the dress shirt, it would have been déjà vu all over again.

Few things felt better than when I’d watch Air Force One take off. Someone on the radio would say the words, “Wheels Up” and I’d know I’d done all I could have and now I could let my guard down a little. I had the same feeling at the end of Pitchfest. I’d performed as well as I could and nobody died (I think). Assuming some of the agents asked for samples of your work, it could still be weeks or months before you find out if one wants to represent you and take your manuscript to various publishers. But, you have to allow yourself a moment of relief. You can’t put the gas pedal to the floor all of the time. Maybe that’s why ITW gives you tickets for two free drinks to use at a reception the evening after Pitchfest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Writers of all levels – from first-time novelists to madly famous authors – mingle about and enjoy the company. For a couple of hours, hundreds of people with incredibly creative minds come together to talk about anything and everything.

If you look carefully, you will notice that those who took part in Pitchfest all have cloud bubbles above their heads. In that comic strip thought bubble, you’ll likely see two words: “Wheels Up”.

Have you attended Pitchfest, or a similar event? What are your thoughts?  Comment below!

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover