Steve Cohen is an award-winning author, travel writer and photographer. His work has appeared in Islands, Outside, Glamour, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and The Washington Post as well as in books published by McGraw-Hill, Grolier and Michelin. He is currently a screenwriter and movie producer in Southern California, where he lives with his wife, son and a hound dog named Lucky.
Thanks for joining us today, Steve. Tell us, how did you come up with the title?
Honestly, I wanted to grab people’s attention. Mission accomplished, I’d say, although many readers think it’s porn or erotica, which it is definitely not. The title is meant as a joke, but I guess you have to be paying just a teeny-weeny bit of attention to get it. It’s no surprise that some folks aren’t paying any attention at all. But then, I guess, the book’s probably not for them, anyway. It’s not about vampires or ninjas, either, sorry.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been a travel writer for a long time. It’s a great life, and worth sharing. The thing is, although I always strive for the truth, there’s a deeper level of truth that isn’t wanted in stories that are published. This book is an effort to get closer to those deeper truths by exploring what really happens to a writer on one fantastic trip after another that most people can only dream about.
How much of the book is realistic?
All of it, I hope. It’s a fictional memoir of a 50 year-old guy in our world. He’s a writer. He has a family and friends. He travels to some pretty exotic places and writes about it, but he’s not a werewolf or a hobbit. It has to seem real, I think.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
It used to be putting it in an envelope and mailing it to a publisher. Now it would be clicking “send.” Yet, although finishing a piece is probably my favorite part, I particularly enjoy the distraction of writing, too, the focus it calls for. It’s a lot like traveling, which is my favorite thing to do, just inside your head and without a security screener groping your nuts — unless that’s also what’s in your head.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
I can change any part of it at any time! It’s an eBook, my first one after publishing more than a dozen books traditionally. I wanted to see what digital publishing was about. In many ways, it’s really amazing. The ability to make changes after a book is published is one of those ways. You can also say whatever you want to say. eBooks are almost magical.
How long did it take to write your latest release?
This book took nearly four years from the start of it. Initially it was a non-fiction book about my travel stories and the behind-the- scenes true stories of what really happened on those trips. I pitched the idea to many agents and got through to quite a few heavy hitters in New York with my pitch, all of whom “loved it” until we hit a snag because I didn’t have a large enough following. Those New York agents were not shy about saying, “You’re just not famous enough for this kind of book.” Ouch. I plowed through a couple of hundred agent queries this way, finally landing one who did nothing with it. She was too busy hustling her own book about slitting her wrists a few times in her teens. I took it as a sign and fired her. After that, the book sat for a few years before I decided to rewrite it as a fictional memoir and publish it as an eBook. That choice was liberating. It came together pretty fast at that point, in around two months.
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
More computer stuff than I ever wanted to know before, that’s for sure. It’s also given me the motivation to become more active in social networks, which has been interesting. Facebook is great for connecting with people and letting them know about the book. Goodreads is filled with readers. Mobileread is an active eBook community. It takes time, but the social networking leads to reviewers and bloggers, such as this site, and the reviewers and bloggers have their own networks, and slowly, the word spreads about a book. It’s like planting a seed and watching it grow, another one of my favorite things to do, by the way.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
That’s a tricky one for me. I tend to go all in with my work. When I’m writing, I’m writing. I’m barely alive, otherwise — slip my food under the door and that sort of thing. Marketing is less intense, but it’s a different head, that’s for sure, and it calls for it’s own forms of attentiveness. You almost have to be more careful about marketing materials than with the book itself. If people like a book, they’ll forgive a mistake in it. Marketing, you say the wrong thing and you lose a potential sale and any goodwill it might generate.
How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?
Reviewers and readers seem to like it a lot. The reviews have been highly flattering, with comparisons to notable authors, including Hunter S. Thompson, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Paul Theroux. That’s pretty lofty company, so I can’t complain about the reviews. Any writer would like more readers, of course, but quite a few readers have gone out of their way to tell me the book made them laugh out loud. That’s about the best compliment any reader could give me.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It’s supposed to be funny. It’s okay to laugh. And one more thing, buy the book. I guarantee you’ll get your funny’s worth. If you want to discuss it, I give funny emails, too, whenever I can.
TRAVEL TO THE G-SPOT — THE GUIDE BOOK
Travel To The G-Spot — The Guide Book is a fictional memoir that combines gritty realism, sharp social satire and hilarious, awkward comedy in a smooth, confident writing style to tell the story of Danny Gladstone, a 50-year-old writer addicted to travel who learns he’s dying and looks back through some of his stories from all over the world to figure out what happened to lead him to this time and place. He’s a character who just wants to do his best, knows that’s often not required, and wonders why that’s okay? It’s a question he thinks more people should be asking themselves and though it’s a little late for Danny, he can still remember Nana Belle, his grandmother, who made his childhood bed and cooked his soft-boiled eggs, saying, “It’s never too late.”
Available at: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes / KoboBooks / Sony / Diesel E-books / Smashwords