My most recent book is No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool from McGraw-Hill
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m originally Boston. I went to college at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana where I learned to hate snow enough that upon graduation I immediately moved to California.
I’ve been writing for almost thirty years. My first book, a novel entitled, “Legend” was first published in 1988. It sold so few copies it made the UPI’s “Ten Most Underrated” list for the year along with the New York Knicks (who never even made the playoffs) and a Meryl Streep movie about a dingo that ate a baby.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote “Legend” because a had something I wanted to say. The same was true of my most recent book, “No Lie”; my book, as well “Filling the Glass” and every other book I’ve ever written. If I was in it for the money…Well, there are many easier ways to make money.
How did you choose the title?
“Legend” just seemed the most appropriate name for the story since the book was about the clash of myth and reality.
“Filling the Glass” was suggested by my literary agent while we were discussing what I wanted to cover in the book. The subtitle was originally “How to Succeed in Business Without Selling Out.” At the last minute, right before the book was to go to press, I got a panicked call from the editor saying the marketing department insisted on changing the title because “we
simply can’t have a title with the same word used twice.” It took me 10 minute to figure out they were talking about the OUT in “without” and the OUT after “selling OUT” as the same word.
Faced with such brilliant input along with the obvious fact that we needed the marketing department behind the book, the editor and I quickly appropriated “The Skeptic’s Guide to Positive Thinking” from a chapter title.
“Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool” was my original title for “No Lie.” The McGraw-Hill marketing people suggested changing it to “No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool.” Marketing people do sometimes know what they’re doing.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
“Legend” took years to find a publisher. I overcame that obstacle by submitting the manuscript to every publisher and editor on the planet at least once and to some of them several times.
On the other hand, the only obstacle to getting “No Lie” published was picking up the phone. An acquisitions editor at McGraw-Hill had read an interview with me and called me up asking if I’d do a book for them. Being a writer can get easier over time.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I always wanted to be a writer. It was years before I actually wanted to write. And it was a rough transition getting to that point.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes, I sit my butt in the chair in front of the computer first thing in the morning and write. I break for breakfast and for lunch, then knock off at the end of the day.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Once I know who a character is, I can figure out what he or she should be called. In life, people aren’t necessarily named appropriately but in novels names are one more tool for building character.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I’ve learned something from every book I’ve ever written. Mostly that I’m not as good a writer as I’d like to be. But then again, no decent writer ever is.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d have started speaking earlier. Not only does it help in getting books published and in selling copies of those books, it’s a great break from the solitude of writing.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I read everything, with an emphasis on fiction. I admire both Marcel Proust and John Grisham; William Shakespeare and Stephen King. It’s important to have something to say. But the more gripping and entertaining you can be while you’re saying it, the more likely you are to get it read.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
At the moment, I’m plotting out another novel.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Here’s the best piece of writing advice I ever received, one I share whenever I speak at writers conferences.
When it comes to motivation, forget inspiration. Sit your butt down and write. Treat it as a profession, as a job and you can master the necessary skills. Wait for inspiration and you’ll still be waiting while those willing to put in the time are getting published.
The inconvenient truth of writing is that if you want to succeed as a writer you’ve got to want it badly enough that you’ll want do all the things necessary to make it happen. If you don’t want to do those things-the first and foremost of which is putting in your time–maybe you don’t really want to be a writer.
Amateurs get writers block. Professionals write.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
It depends on the book. But every book I write I write with a particular reader in mind. If you don’t know your reader, how are you ever going to reach him or her.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
All my books are on Amazon.com of course. And, though it’s primarily geared for speaking clients, there’s a lot more about my books and far more about me than any sane person ever wanted to know on my website, www.barrymaher.com. They can also sign up for my free monthly newsletter there.