John Laurence Betcher is one of a new breed of authors. He chose to place his literary career in his own hands. But Mr. Betcher didn’t enter into the risks lightly or foolhardily. With a cum laude English degree and Juris doctorate, Mr. Betcher is well versed and skilled enough to intelligently make his mark in this world previously controlled by agents and publishers. His latest novel, “The 19th Element,” recently went into international distribution. Reviewers consistently praise his writing, including comparisons to Robert Parker’s wit, and Vince Flynn’s action.

John Laurence Betcher is one of a new breed of authors. He chose to place his literary career in his own hands.

But Betcher didn’t enter into the risks lightly or foolhardily. With a cum laude English degree and Juris doctorate, Betcher is well versed and skilled enough to intelligently make his mark in this world previously controlled by agents and publishers.

His latest novel, “The 19th Element,” recently went into international distribution. Reviewers consistently praise his writing, including comparisons to Robert Parker’s wit, and Vince Flynn’s action.

Betcher’s first book, “The Little Black Book of Volleyball Coaching,” is a far cry from the action packed adventure series featuring charismatic hero James “Beck” Becker, the third installment of which is expected to be released later this year.

Follow Betcher at www.johnbetcher.com

Q. Why dive headlong into the turbulent waters of self-publication in both formats of e-books and hard copies? I should mention here, your novels actually have waiting lists in libraries.

A. All publication waters are turbulent these days. I chose the route to publication where I held the most control of the boat.

I knew the only way to publish “The Little Black Book” was self-publishing. It’s such a niche market, no traditional publisher would have been interested.

So when it came to my suspense/thriller novels, I already had a good chunk of self-publishing experience under my belt. I knew how to design and lay out a book, list it on Amazon and convert it into Kindle format. But the improvements in Print On Demand quality and pricing really made the decision easy. Instead of warehousing and shipping books all over the place, I can accomplish printing and delivery seamlessly through my POD printer, CreateSpace.  

The industry now generates more self-published titles each year than traditionally-published ones. Amazon sells more e-books than the paper variety.

Traditional publishers now require new authors to do most of their own marketing and promotion.

I knew I could write and publish a book, and would have to market the book anyway ... why not retain creative and strategic control and higher royalties?

Q. What took you from volleyball to action/adventure stories?

A. Coaching Volleyball Magazine featured my picture and an article on their cover for the April/May, 2009 issue.  

I had been involved with youth volleyball in my home town. Writing volleyball articles for Coaching Volleyball was a natural offshoot of the experiences I saw play out in the world of volleyball. 

One night, my wife lamented she was running out of good mysteries and thrillers to read. She suggested I spend some of my new-found leisure trying to fix that situation.

Intrigued, I dove in, and haven’t looked back since.

Q. Did the pitfalls of marketing come as a surprise, or had you conducted sufficient research early on in order to avoid many of the mistakes novice self-pubbed authors seem to make?

A. The pitfalls and challenges of marketing were known to me. But that doesn’t mean I avoided mistakes. By and large, I’m pleased with my marketing strategies to date. But it is early in a long race. There are also a few things I wouldn’t repeat if I had them to do over.

I’d certainly develop my Web presence and social networking more completely before I released my book. I’m just now getting to where I want to be on Twitter, with 2,000 followers. My blog is still in its early stages. My first version of an author website was also a DIY job. I’m satisfied with it now – at least at my current scale of operations. I may upgrade again if things really take off.
So I was prepared. And I learned. And I still made mistakes. And I continue learning. The industry is still in flux. Only time will tell which strategies will truly work. Right now, I advise authors to employ as many low-cost marketing approaches as possible.

Q. What books or stories first caught your attention and gave you pause to believe you would like to write?

A. I am a huge fan of the late Robert B. Parker ... particularly his Spenser Detective Series. His taut prose, enjoyable characters, keen wit and gift for keeping the plot moving have inspired me more than I can say.

Q. For those who think they would like to write a book, what advice can you offer?

A. Give it a try. Expect it to take a very long time.

Begin wherever seems best. Then write until you have reached an end. Write whether you feel inspired or not. You can always fix it later.

When your first draft is done, know you have just begun. Work with it until every part is the best it can be. No one writes a good book – they re-write one.

And once the book is done ... hey, you’ve written a book. And no one can take that away from you.

“Out of the Closet,” a romantic comedy by DA Kentner’s alter ego, KevaD, is available on DA’s blog, dakentner.blogspot.com and on nobleromance.com.