By Liz Hartman, 6/5/2012
(Article originally published on www.PublishersWeekly.com)
Warren Adler has achieved more than most writers could dream of—he has sold 12 of his books to the movies, including the blockbuster hit The War of the Roses. But at 84, he’s still hungry for more. “I have a tremendous need to keep writing. I’m not going to go into the wilderness without a fight,” he declares in a firm and steady voice that belies his octogenarian status. “A lot of guys that started out with me in publishing novels have disappeared from the scene,” he adds. “I’m like a long distance runner—I just keep at it.”
Adler’s 33rd book, The Serpent’s Bite (Stonehouse Press, dist. by Greenleaf Book Group, Sept.), returns to the themes that earned Adler the title “the master of dysfunction.” Set in the isolated wilds of Yellowstone Park, an aging father, George Temple, embarks on a nostalgic horse trek to reconcile with his estranged adult children. George, a wealthy man, had cut them off financially after they squandered millions on massive failures.
What’s new about this book is the experimental approach Adler has taken to publish and market it—what he calls “an expensive experiment.” Adler is determined to find a better way to promote books. To that end, 12 years ago he established his own publishing company, Stonehouse Press, and bought back all his books from all his publishers (about 20 at the time). Now he’s going even further. For the publication of The Serpent’s Bite he has contracted with a trio of outside companies: Media Connect (formerly Planned Television Arts) for publicity, Verso Advertising for advertising, and BookLamp.org, an analytic search engine that matches readers to books.
Adler thinks it may be the first time an author has hired such an extensive team of outside parties. “I’m still trying to figure it out,” he says. “I’m not sure that I have the answer, but I sure as hell am trying.” Even here at BEA, Adler is combining the tried-and-true with the new. He is signing galleys of The Serpent’s Bite today, at 1 p.m., at Table 15 in the autographing area, as well as doing an e-book signing with Autography (DZ2235).
Adler has never been afraid of new technologies. He calls himself “a big fan of electronic publishing” and gave one of the first talks about the new technology at the Las Vegas electronics show when the Sony Reader was introduced years ago. Then, a year and half ago, he tried a “weird experiment,” as he describes it. He published, electronically only, five novels simultaneously with Amazon. Although Adler describes the result as “frankly disappointing,” he was pleased that the experiment received a lot of publicity.
And maybe this book will land on the New York Times bestseller list, something that has heretofore eluded Adler. Asked if a quest for the Times list might be a motivating force for the full-court, $300,000 marketing campaign, his answer is an emphatic “no.” “I made plenty of dough—that’s not my issue. I’m after beyond my lifetime. I would love more and more people to read my books and see what I’m all about and why I think my books are, well, important. Otherwise, why write them?”