An Interview With Author Darren Paltrowitz
Darren Paltrowitz's writing has appeared in dozens of national outlets and his weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" series currently airs via all key podcast outlets and 40+ television stations. His forthcoming third book, "DLR Book: How David Lee Roth Changed The World," is currently in the works for Backbeat Books. His website is https://paltrowitz.journoportfolio.com
Author Darren Paltrowitz with Gene Simmons (in a 7-11 in Niagara Falls, NY).
Note From Literary Agent Lee Sobel: Working with Darren has been fun and very productive. He's been open to my suggestions and repping his "DLR Book" went from a discussion with him about how I could sell his idea to his writing a great proposal to a very quick sale. I only wish every project I took on went as smoothly.
How many books have you written that were published and how did you become a published author?
"DLR Book: How David Lee Roth Changed The World" will be my third book overall. I became a published author the first two times via self-publishing, and this forthcoming third time via Mr. Lee Sobel selling the book to a great publisher. But I have otherwise written thousands of published articles, have released hundreds of podcast episodes, and over 100 weekly episodes of my TV series.
Without burning any bridges, what are some of the best and worst experiences you've had with the book publishing business?
Coming from a music business background -- and having done related work that tied in with film, television, theatrical, commercial and literary projects at times -- I find a lot of the book publishing business to be its own unique beast. That is both for better and for worse. Worse, primarily, because of the long lead times and the lack of innovation within the majority of publishers.
Other entertainment-related fields have done better when it comes to embracing emerging technologies. I also find editors within the book world to often be as troubling as A&R people can be within the music world, telling you what "can't" be done, just because it's not what they like. On a brighter note, it is still a lot more prestigious to "sell a book" than it is to "make an album."
What makes a good literary agent and what do you expect them to do for you?
I'm just going to go ahead and describe what it's been like working with you, Lee. You are prompt and responsive. You actually read what I send you and offer great feedback. You are quality-oriented. You are well-connected.
Before you and I started working together, I had spoken with other agents about "DLR Book." One of them sounded almost as enthusiastic as you were, but the questions she asked me on the
phone call made it clear that she didn't read my proposal closely. As I think I told you once or twice, you only need 1 literary agent and 1 book publisher to "get" what it is you are doing. And I am glad to be working with Backbeat Books via you.
Where do you see the book publishing business going in the future? Will there still be book stores? Will people buy less and less physical books?
I compare physical book sales to vinyl sales within the musical realm. Some people buy it just to have it, because they collect it and love to display what they have, even if they never open the particular media. Other people like physically holding the product and could never imagine consuming digital content. Other fields of entertainment have gone almost entirely digital, but not the book publishing world.
I don't have the absolute answer for where things are going, but my hunch is that we will see more "loss-leader"-type book publishers pop up, where a top person in the company is willing to off-set some company profits with books. Sort of like how Disney+, Amazon and Apple are companies that make money from something besides their streaming content, yet the streaming content is what keeps them "cool." BMG seems to do that by putting out books related to music catalogs they have an interest in, for example. But these sorts of businesses tend to close up shop when there are too many quarters or years of unprofitability.
If you could change anything about the book business, what would it be?
Aside from the long lead times... As a writer who often interviews authors, I will outwardly say that most of the publishing companies I have dealt with have awful publicists. People who don't "get it" when it comes to how to treat writers, which outlets are the ones that they should be seeking coverage in, etc. Tons of stories I could give you where a publicist asks you if you want to interview one of their authors, you say yes, and they never get back to you with availability -- or reply to your follow-ups. Or thank you or
send you further pitches after you wind up getting an interview with them and send the coverage that kindly names the book and publisher.
"So which publicists are the best to deal with as a writer?" For me, within the entertainment world, people representing heavy metal and hard rock bands generally "get it" -- they are often fans who got into the field because they love it so much. In the culinary world, usually the beer and spirits publicists are cool, responsive and happy to send you free swag. It'd be nice to see more book-related publicists implementing techniques from other fields for the sake of engaging writers more effectively.
If you could impart any wisdom to would-be authors about getting their first book published, what would you tell them to try to help them?
Get a great literary agent. If you have that and listen to their feedback on creating a readable book proposal, your odds of landing a worthwhile book deal are high. If you do land a book deal, expect to not only work hard, but to dip into your own pocket for related costs and take a lot of direction. It may be your name on the book, but in a way, it's not "your" book, since there is going to be a lot of compromise.
Beyond that, it's a long-term play. It not only takes a lot of time to pitch, sell and write a book, but if all goes well, you will be doing press steadily for at least a few months. And a lot of interviews are going to ask you about what else you are working on. In other words, you just poured your heart and soul into a book, and the person speaking with you has the "audacity" to ask what's next. Well, what's next?
What's your upcoming book about?
David Lee Roth, the founding frontman of Van Halen. Many see him as one of the greatest frontmen in rock history, if not the greatest, and I've been a big fan most of my life. But there is a lot more to Diamond Dave than the hit songs and flashy clothing, which this book gets into. Long story short, there are a lot of unfinished and/or unreleased projects, and he worked with and knew a lot more people than you may have realized.
What's been the biggest challenge of writing your upcoming book?
Initially it was getting people who knew "the real story" to speak on the record. Convincing them that it was worthwhile to speak with me for a book that didn't have a confirmed release date. Then, as I spoke with more and more people related to the book, it became figuring out how I was going to fit close to 50 years of a career into a book.
Finally, what's the best way to learn more about you?
I'm @Paltrowitz on most of the social media platforms. Put my name in quotes, "Darren Paltrowitz," in YouTube and you'll see a lot of my videos. Always happy to engage with people who "get it" -- glad to moderate or host events if you've got those, too.