Mark Jacobs is a freelance writer, martial arts instructor and semi-professional poker player who says he regularly plays for more money than he can afford to lose.
His written work has appeared in publications such as Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health, and TimeOut New York.
The author of the acclaimed instructional text, The Principles of Unarmed Combat, he currently serves as a contributing editor and monthly columnist for Black Belt Magazine. His other books include the detective novel, Pascal’s Wager, and the upcoming boxing saga, A Bittersweet Science.
Thanks to his expertise in martial arts, Mark feels his greatest strength as a writer is evidenced in his action scenes. “It comes from a combination of having grown up reading a lot of thriller and action/adventure novels and having worked as a sports writer, which necessarily involves some careful descriptions of physical action. Also, my ability to procrastinate and put off all writing for as long as possible is a great strength of mine.”
Without reservation, Mark identifies the marketing aspects of being an indie author as the most challenging. “I think many people get involved with writing because they have an artistic sensibility and that almost automatically conflicts with the idea of marketing yourself. And personally, I’m a fairly private person who does not want to be in the spotlight and would rather let my writing speak for itself. But if you want to have any chance of success at being an indie author, it appears you have to bite the bullet and put yourself out there to get noticed.”
Mark says he is not a big social media person but, following on the recommendations of many who are successful, he has acquiesced and ventured into the world of networking. “I’ve joined a number of Yahoo groups, groups on Facebook itself, the main books sites and forums like Goodreads, Librarything, Absolute Write. I’m really not sure what has been most beneficial in terms of marketing so I’ve been trying as wide a variety of possibilities as I can under the assumption if you throw enough stuff out there, one of them is bound to hit something.”
Mark’s impression of the indie author movement is that it is too large and diverse at this time to draw any definitive conclusions. “In a way, I’d say it’s somewhat like the published author industry in that you get a handful of truly talented people trying to break through the mass of noise and get noticed; a number of decent, workmanlike writers who are certainly competent at their craft if not outstanding; and some people who are just not that good. The problem is, it’s on such a large scale right now, it seems very difficult to be able to find those really talented folks. And as we know from the mainstream book industry, big sales are not necessarily an indication of great writing talent.”
His advice to aspiring authors? “Get out now, before it’s too late! Really, I’m sometimes reluctant to encourage aspiring writers because I know from long experience what a brutal and depressing business this can be if you’re seeking to do it as a profession, particularly if you invest a lot of yourself into your writing. If you want to write for fun without aspirations of achieving great success, that’s fine. But only go into the business seriously if you truly burn to be a writer. And if that’s the case, read a lot and write a lot. Then rewrite a lot. Constantly look at your own work in a critical way. Does it read as professionally as the better authors whom you read? If you want to improve, you have to be honest with yourself and able to look at your writing and know what is good and what isn’t.”
Pascal Silver is an action junkie down on his luck. One of the best poker players alive, a losing streak has forced him to take work as a private detective. But when the gorgeous daughter of murdered casino owner “Houston Phil” LaPierre turns to him for help, he finds himself in over his head dealing with the cops, the mob and the enigmatic but beautiful Allegra LaPierre. Now he’ll have to pull off the biggest bluff of his life to come out on top. And even if he does, he’ll still be left with the question “Who killed Phil?” a question only he is shrewd enough to answer.