My guest today is Glenn Ogura, author of the mystery/thriller, Startup. Ogura earned a degree in electrical engineering from Queen’s University in Canada. He is currently the executive vice-president for a New Hampshire-based laser micromachining company. Glenn lives with his wife in California. In addition to his love of writing and talking technology and the study of business ethics, he plays tennis. Startup is his first novel.
Thank you for this interview, Glenn. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I was born in Canada but lived in Europe for six years before settling in the United States for nearly twenty years. When I am not traveling on business, I spend time writing fiction thrillers. I have been writing for thirty years, ever since I attended college at Queen’s University in Canada. I have written a couple of fiction novels, poetry and three act plays. Only in the past year have I gone public and published my first business thriller called STARTUP.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
STARTUP is a story about greed and corruption in California’s Silicon Valley. It addresses the broad issue of morals and ethics in business. Are there any? And what happens to a young man who wants to take the high road but has to deal with the harsh realities of the rich and powerful who do not play by the rules. Can good overcome evil? STARTUP is a classic David versus Goliath story. It is the pursuit of the American Dream against all odds. STARTUP makes you want to cheer for the little guy.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I like to read thrillers so it was natural to write one. My favorite authors are John Grisham and Michael Crichton. STARTUP finds the sweet spot between the legal suspense tales of John Grisham and the science-fiction thrillers of Michael Crichton.
In some ways, my readers and I believe I may have created a new book genre that one major critic, Kirkus Reviews, likened STARTUP to the immensely successful book THE FIRM by John Grisham. STARTUP is not a legal thriller or a science thriller but a business thriller. What is a business thriller? We spend a third of our lives working. The majority of us work for a company. We work for someone who signs our paycheck. In simple terms, a business is a collection of people. Drama unfolds when people are brought together for several hours per day in a compact space, especially when a crisis occurs.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The first draft is the easiest to write and the most fun. Completing the final version is definitely the hardest as every minute detail is magnified. Using a sports analogy, the last yard is the hardest to gain. After the book is published, like all new authors, the challenge is how do make the book stand out over a million other books.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I am self-published by iUniverse but they are owned by the traditional publisher Penguin Random House. I will say that the editorial process at iUniverse is very intensive and the book went through several gates (by my count, five separate edits) before being published. STARTUP did win the Rising Star award which is given to a small percentage of iUniverse authors whose work shows commercial promise.
Was it the right choice for you?
Yes as I was able to publish STARTUP with the freedom and independence afforded to iUniverse authors but received editorial review that is generally reserved for authors who take the traditional publisher path. Most readers of STARTUP comment on how well the book is written. This is a testament to my editors.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Initially I did some local self-promotion and had interviews with the local California newspaper, the Oakley Press, photo opportunities with the mayor of Oakley and author signing at the local Barnes & Noble bookseller. Like most new authors, I reached out to the social media such as Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes&Noble and LibraryThing. After I received a few excellent editorial reviews, I talked with my wife Sheila and we agreed that we needed to go to the next step. We did our research and chose Hollywood publicist Charlie Barrett who was Johnny Carson’s publicist for the Tonight’s Show and has publicized big name movies and books. It was an honor that he agreed to work with me. My wife told me, “If a major critic like Kirkus Reviews compares your book to one of the most popular authors of our time and his most popular book-turned-into movie, then you better get help from the best.”
And so I did.
How is that going for you?
Fantastic. The fact that I am answering questions on your media tour says it all. If someone told me that I would write a book and see it on the shelf at the San Francisco Public Library, I would have said that was impossible. But it happened.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Late last year, I did an author signing at my local Barnes and Noble store in Oakley CA. I owe this event to my Community Relations Manager Shannon Skinner who is a supporter of my book. I can tell you that an author signing is challenging if your name is not a household word. However visitors to the store came up to me and were genuinely curious about STARTUP. It is especially gratifying to see someone buy your work, ask for your autograph and a short time later, see them post an amazing complimentary review on the Barnes and Noble site.
Do you have another job besides writing?
Yes, I am the executive vice-president for a New Hampshire laser micromachining company who manufactures life science products.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Recently I read a great book by Charles Duhigg who wrote the NY Times bestseller POWER OF HABIT. In his book, he explained that the most successful college students did not possess the highest IQ. The most successful students have greater self-discipline and willpower. Just work hard and be persistent. Believe in yourself. In my case, I am exceedingly lucky because I married my best friend who happens to be my beautiful wife who is also my greatest supporter.
What’s next for you?
I am busy at work on my next business thriller. I won’t give too much away but it has to do with today’s troubling healthcare system. Robin Cook meets John Grisham meets Michael Crichton.
Thank you for this interview, Glenn. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
You can find me on the web at www.glennogura.com
You can find STARTUP at most bookseller websites such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iReads and many other bookseller sites. Just google “Glenn Ogura Startup” and you will find me. STARTUP is available in hard cover, soft cover or e-book formats.