Friday, February 10, 2012

A Visit with Bob Sanchez

by Jean Henry Mead

Bob Sanchez and his wife retired to Las Cruces, New Mexico, from where they take frequent RV trips. The fomer Massachusetts technical writer has written five novels and had three agents. One small publisher, Fjord Press, was interested in publishing his novel, Little Mountain, but went out of business instead. Bob then self-published three novels, When Pigs Fly, Getting Lucky, and Little Mountain. The first is a comic road trip, the others conventional murder mysteries.

Bob will be featured in the soon-to-be-released book, The Mystery Writers, with Sue Grafton, Lawrence Block and other well known and bestselling mystery writers.

Bob, why did you decide to publish independently after employing three agents?

Many people told me they were surprised my work didn’t sell to royalty publishers, and I felt confident my novels deserved publication. I became impatient with the long process involved in seeking the approval of agents and publishers who were all complete strangers. Rather than spend the rest of my life hoping to see my work in print, I decided to publish and take my chances. Given the general reputation of self-publishing, that wasn’t an easy decision at first.

Do you place your own books online or hire someone to do it for you?

When Pigs Fly went online using iUniverse as an intermediary. I e-published Getting Lucky and Little Mountain myself.

Now that indie publishing has become popular, would you accept a contract from a royalty publisher if one was offered, or do you prefer having control over your own books?

A royalty publisher won’t offer me a contract, because I won’t look for one. Should an offer fall out of the blue I’d consider it, but I do enjoy having control over the process.

How did your first novel, When Pigs Fly, come about?

I wanted to write a funny novel. My earlier efforts had been serious stories set in the mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts, but after my wife and I vacationed in Arizona a couple of times, I thought it would be fun to move my hero to the Tucson area. A couple of Arizona friends helped vet the geographical details.

What’s the most difficult aspect of self publishing?

Knowing when your book is ready. Agents and editors perform a critical service by weeding out work that isn’t ready for prime time. On the other hand, some good material gets left behind too. It’s difficult to be objective about your own work, so you have to get trustworthy and competent peer critiques. Also, you are responsible for everything from proofreading to marketing. That’s a tough range of skills to master.

I noticed that you also provide readers with print copies. Who has done your printing and have you been satisfied with your books and getting them online?
iUniverse published my first two novels, and I published Little Mountain using Amazon’s CreateSpace. I will not go back to iUniverse because they are too expensive and maintain too much control. For example, they insisted on my charging $9.99 for an e-book.

Do you promote your books in brick and mortar stores or strictly online?

Other than a few book signings, I don’t promote in bookstores. I tried that, and it took much too much time and energy. Mind you, I live in the Southwest, where everything is spread out making indie book tours unprofitable. So I am experimenting with mainly online marketing.

How much time do you spend networking and promoting your books?
So far just a few hours per week, but I plan to do more.

Tell us about your latest release and how well it has done?

Little Mountain is my most serious work yet and stars a Cambodian-American cop who must solve a vicious murder that brings back haunting memories of the Khmer Rouge genocide.

Advice to aspiring indie authors?

You are completely responsible for the quality of your work right down to the smallest detail. Ask peers to critique your work but remember that you are the final judge. Take all comments as suggestions, then you decide. Spelling, capitalization, and grammar all matter, though. Get those right. Double- and triple-check everything. Hire a reasonably priced artist to design your cover.

Thanks, Bob.

You can visit Bob at his blogsite:,
His books are available at


L. Diane Wolfe said...

You won't be offered a contract because you're not looking - makes sense to me, Bob.

Morgan Mandel said...

Great tips, Bob. In my case it wasn't double and triple check, but quadruple and octagonal, or whatever else you can call it. It's amazing how stuff can be wrong when you think it's right. Still, it's worth the effort to produce a quality product.

I haven't read your other books yet, but so far am having fun reading Getting Lucky. You P.I. guy's outlook is very humorous.

Morgan Mandel

Steven J. Wangsness said...

Interesting interview, thanks. It mirrors some of the feelings I had as I approached the decision to e-pub my mystery Tainted Souls. I'd still rather have had it come out between cloth covers, but between the publishing industry's current conniption fits and the interminable agenting process, in the end I think I've done the right thing.

Marketing the book is hard. I've got no brilliant ideas on that score. With a paper book, I had an idea for an independent, cheapo book tour. But no brilliance in figuring out how to promote a digital book that exists only in cyberspace. I'd really be interested in hearing from anyone who's come up with one!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I congratulate you. I went with small publishers for some of the same reasons that you mentioned.


Mark Troy said...

Best of luck with the books. Neither path is a sure one to success. Both paths are tough.