Author Spotlight: Rolf Margenau

See full issue for 2016 08-01

If you had a writing motto what would it be?
Taking freshman Latin in high school I came across "Per aspira ad astra" , which translates as "through hardships to the stars." I liked both the word play and the sentiment. If I had a writing motto, that would be it.

Writing well is not easy. Crafting a sentence is like producing delicate pottery from a lump of clay. Assembling a paragraph is like balancing the elements needed to construct a solid and beautiful bridge. And then, of course, there is character, plot, dialog, and the need to eliminate everything that doesn't drive the story forward. Hardships, yes. And some day I hope to reach the stars.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

From my life experiences and reading. Great writers from the Elizabethans through contemporaries are a gold mine of ideas--if you absorb their stories and let your mind wander. For example, becoming a Master Gardener during one of my retirement phases, combined with my love of Shakespearean comedies and the glories of nature, formed the basis for Master Gardener, a novel about fighting big agriculture and saving the monarch butterfly.

What is one interesting fact about you?

That's a tough one. If I admit there is something interesting about me, I'd be bragging. If I can' t find anything interesting, I'm a nebbish. So, not knowing which you would find interesting, here are two things.

For about ten years, my wife and/or one of my three daughters and I, vacationed by trekking high mountains, climbing over passes as high as 18,000 feet and camping out with views overlooking some of the most amazing and beautiful scenes on earth. Some of that is recreated in my High Andes Book (see above--inspiration).

I have collected antique cars for over 40 years and am now down to one. It is a 1932 Chrysler CL convertible coupe that my grandsons and I pilot through the country roads of Tewksbury, NJ.

Have you learned anything from the self publishing process and would you do anything differently next time?
Indie publishing is the most direct, personally controllable, and financially rewarding publishing process for new writers. That is, of course, if you do it correctly and use expert helpers in the form of editors, graphic artists, and listen to successful writers. I much prefer the creative process of writing to the drudgery of marketing my books, so I had to learn to suck it up and put in the time to actually promote my books.

Next time? I'd search for a magic lamp and get a genie to do all that grunt work!

What has been your most successful marketing strategy?

There is no single perfect marketing strategy. You have to grub for reviews, employ top book promotion sites (like Underground Book Reviews), work Facebook, twitter, and other social media sites, enter contests, do local book signings and engage in numerous other things that take you away from writing. Remember what I said about hardships?

For me the most important of all these strategies have been gathering reviews and paid Facebook promotions.

What is the best kept secret you have found in regard to indie publishing?

Two: 1) indie publishing actually works, and 2) for every available bookstore shelf space, there are 100 to 1,000 or more titles competing for that space. If you actually make it on that shelf, hearty congratulations!

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