Saturday, October 8, 2011

Indie Insider - Robert Bidinotto

How many hours a week do you spend writing? Editing? Procrastinating?

It can take me a long period of advance research and preparation before I’m ready to begin writing. During that time, my schedule is haphazard. But when I’m in the middle of the writing itself and “in the zone,” I don’t watch the clock. I have no fixed schedule. I aim for a certain amount of output, rather than time per day spent in front of the computer. Sometimes I’ll write into the wee hours, get up at a weird time the next day, then start another marathon session. In the last weeks of writing HUNTER, I was in a complete fog. My wife sometimes had to remind me to eat. It’s crazy, and I’m not recommending my m.o. to anyone else!

The only threat to my productivity comes from the Internet. It’s so easy to get distracted into “research” that seems important at the time, but really isn’t. I recommend keeping your Web browser closed while you write.

What are three resources/web sites are indispensable for authors?

I follow about a half a dozen savvy bloggers religiously—the ones who are plugged in to all aspects of the indie/self-publishing world. They include Robin Sullivan, Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Bob Mayer, David Gaughran, and a lawyer who goes by the name “Passive Guy.” I would hate to exclude any of them from my regular reading, but the three who give me the most personally useful advice are probably Robin Sullivan (, Dean Wesley Smith (, and Bob Mayer (

How long does it take you to create a book from start to finish on average?

The idea for the unique hero of HUNTER had been rolling around in my brain for years, since perhaps 2004, and initially I developed a completely different story about him. But in November 2009, I had an idea for this novel, a much better way to introduce Dylan Hunter to the world. It took about a year and a half from conception to publication. The reason was the overwhelming complexity of the backstory, interweaving subplots, timeline, and specialized research.
I began the actual writing in early 2010 and proceeded in fits and starts until the fall, when I set a firm deadline to complete the novel by my next birthday—June 5, 2011. Well, I printed out the final pages of the manuscript at 11 p.m. on June 4. The magic of setting a deadline!

Where do you get your ebooks formatted?

I found a fine formatter for both the print and ebook edition—a gentleman from the U.K. named Nick Ambrose, at Nick is fast, competent, cooperative, and reasonable.

How are your book covers designed?

I knew that I wanted a “noir” look for HUNTER. So, I went online and researched cover designers to find those who had produced imagery akin to what I had imagined. I found a young designer, Allen Chiu, who seemed creative and capable. He also proved to be extremely reasonable in his rates. And he knocked it out of the park. The cover for HUNTER has generated a lot of praise and comment.

What do you do when you get writers block?

The main trick is to get myself typing, Patricia. Once I start doing that, things begin to flow. But to jump-start the process, I often go back to what I’d written during the previous writing session and start to edit or polish it. When I reach the end of the previous day’s work, I usually find that I’m in the groove and able to continue.

Another thing I do—which “seat-of-the-pants” writers don’t—is to meticulously plot and outline the story in advance. If you know where you’re going in the next chapter or scene, it’s much easier to begin a writing session without the scary feeling of facing a blank screen and wondering what to type next.

Do you use a professional editor, critique partners, or beta readers? Briefly describe your process.

I don’t share my work while I’m writing it. I don’t want to be second-guessed or to become self-conscious. Only when I’m done and happy with the result do I share the work around. Because I’ve also been a professional editor, I knew the manuscript would be in pretty decent shape. Still, nobody can objectively edit or even proofread his own work.

So, once done, I enlisted about a dozen highly literate friends as beta readers. I chose a demographically diverse group that included people with editing and proofing skills; some experts in topics discussed in the book; but mostly thriller fans—my target readership. Their input was invaluable in finding a host of errors, large and small, that my tired eyes missed. They also gave me feedback about matters of pacing and technical issues. By the time they were done with their comments, the book didn’t even need a professional editor or proofreader.

Which is the most important social media platform and why? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, or any other one you use.

To be honest, Patricia, I’m still experimenting. Facebook was helpful initially in getting out the word about HUNTER. I can’t gauge the impact of Twitter, because I just don’t know how many readers have come from that source. I’m also a regular on Kindle Boards. I haven’t exploited Goodreads or LinkedIn that much, yet.

The big problem with social networking is that it’s too easy to be reaching people other than your book’s target market of readers. Sure, it’s nice to have a thousand Twitter followers, for example; but if most of those people are writers in other genres, not readers in your own genre, then it won’t lead to lots of sales. Recently, I’ve been trying to more tightly focus my promotional efforts on HUNTER’s target readership: fans of thrillers and of romantic suspense.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just a bit about my debut thriller, if I may, Patricia. HUNTER draws upon my past research as a “true crime” investigative journalist for Reader’s Digest. It’s is a parable of justice, in the form of an action-packed vigilante crime thriller. It also draws elements from spy mysteries, and it has a sizzling romance at its heart, too.

The story is set during a wave of vigilante killings in our nation’s capital. A crusading freelance journalist with a mysterious past, Dylan Hunter, is working to expose dangerous leniency in the criminal justice system. At the same time, Annie Woods, a beautiful CIA security investigator, is trying to track down the assassin of an Agency traitor.

The paths of these two idealistic loners converge in the wake of a savage act of criminal violence against mutual friends. And they fall passionately in love. But they don’t know that the secrets they’re hiding from each other are pushing them toward a shattering day of reckoning—or that a terrifying predator is stalking them both.

I’m delighted with the incredible reader response to my novel—over sixty 5-star raves on Amazon, and reviewers have loved it, too. I hope your own readers check it out on Amazon, where it’s available both as a paperback and as an ebook. They can also get ebook editions for the Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and other ereaders at those sites, and at Smashwords.


Barnes & Noble:


My blog, “The Vigilante Author”:

Thanks for the opportunity to visit with your friends, Patricia.

Would you like to see your own book here on Indie Insider?


  1. I LOVED this book, and recommended it to all my friends, too. Nice to see it receiving some of the attention it deserves!

  2. I have been getting back into reading thrillers and mystery stories, but not the newer ones. Rather, the classics. Lots of Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Patricia Highsmith, and I just finished a book by Somerset Maugham. So, I came to Bidinotto's book not knowing what to expect, and it really riveted me. I read it in three days flat, and considering I've a three and a six year old to dote on, that's record time!

  3. Great interview, and thanks Robert for the useful advice! Will visit some of your recommended links now!


    Join me in the Trick or Treat Spooktacular! Could you help make the Grand Prize a brand new Kindle Touch?

  4. Rose and Robert -- many thanks for your kind comments. I'm delighted that you enjoyed "HUNTER" so much. I hope you'll like the sequel, as well.

    J.C. -- Glad that some of the things I said may be of use to you as a writer. The bloggers I linked to are among the smartest, most successful indie authors and publishers in the business. I also hope you give "HUNTER" a look (you can preview it at the links). If you do read it, please let me know what you think, okay?