J.R. Hauptman has been a professional pilot for nearly a
half century. Barely twenty years old, he began as a military pilot and
for almost two years he flew combat support missions in the Viet Nam
War. Upon leaving military service he was hired by a major airline and
was initially based on the West Coast. His flying career was
interrupted by the turmoil that racked the airline industry during the
early days of deregulation. In the interim, he worked as a travel
agent, a stockbroker and even trained dogs and horses. In the late
nineteen-eighties, he returned to aviation, flying jet charters and air
freight. He concluded his career flying corporate jets and now lives in
Florida. He is completing his second work, a non-fictional social
commentary and surfs every day, waves or not. You can visit his website
Thank you for this interview, J.R. Can you tell us where you got the inspiration for writing your latest book, The Target: Love, Death and Airline Deregulation?
The inspiration came from my personal experience as an Army Aviator in Viet Nam and flying as a professional pilot for the passenger airlines, in jet airfreight and corporate aviation, as well as working as a securities and insurance broker, travel agent, tax preparer and other odd jobs I performed between flying jobs just to make ends meet. It is based on the turmoil that resulted during the first years of Airline Deregulation and the disastrous effects it had on the airlines and the people who worked in that industry. It is directly linked to current events of today where deregulation of the securities and banking industries has lead to the nearly total breakdown of our economic system.
Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?
Yes it is, and as I will mention later, I wrote the first three chapters of the book some twenty-odd years ago and on the advice of a do-it-yourself "Guide to New Authors," I set out to nail down an agent and a publisher for my book. I sent out thirty-some query letters and in time, I received about twenty rejections in reply, which I completely expected. I was surprised, though, that at least two of the agents were highly indignant that I would dare to write a novel about a disgruntled ex-employee who would set out to whack his former boss. I guessed that they hadn´t heard of murder mysteries. More correctly, I have since learned that my mistake was in not screening those agents for their preferred genre. This was some time after the stock market Crash of ´87 and with my securities career in shambles, it became necessary for me to return to flying to pay the bills. I knew I had a great concept for a story but in reality, I had no idea how it would end. As it turned out, the experiences I gained over the next years of working with fly-by-night jet charters, airfreight and corporate jet operators, offered me a wealth of material to integrate into my story and I plodded on, completing an outline and fleshing it out. By the time my book was nearly ready for market, the concept of self-publishing was in full bloom and I pursued that angle. It was apparent that the mainstream publishers would not consider a first time author and to my surprise, I was even rejected by one rather prominent firm that specialized in self-publishing. They feared the potential liability from any airline executive who might feel libeled by my novel. I am grateful that Xlibris agreed to take on my project but I must point out that this approach is not without its pitfalls and the learning curve is steep and painful for all of us, especially when we choose to go it alone. I then set out once again to find an agent who could possibly market my book to the major publishers. This time I sent out six-hundred or so queries to literary agents I found on every list I could get my hands on, once again making the mistake of failing to focus on those who would choose to promote books within my particular writing genre. I am eternally grateful to the two respondents whose rejection replies carried the nearly identical notes that said, "J.R., what you need is not a publi-sher; what you need is a publi-cist!" This time I found a PR firm that promoted books and this lesson was enjoyable but very expensive. The people I worked with were quite good and I enjoyed the radio interviews, but partly due to the current recession and the shortness and expense of the campaign, it didn´t sell any books. I only wish that I had contacted my old airline comrade and accomplished novelist in his own right, J.A. "Jerry" Hunsinger, a bit sooner. Jerry, whose series of novels on the Vikings in America, "Axe of Iron", is to be found at www.VinlandPublishing.com, had learned the same expensive lesson with the same publicist a few months prior. He recommended that I contact Dorothy Thompson and check out her "Pump Up Your Book Promotion" internet book tours. I did and the rest, as they say folks, is "History about to be made!"
How has Xlibris been to work with?
On the whole it has been very good, but I must point out that self-publishing has its own learning curve and it seems we all are learning it together. All the services are there but the first-timer like me has to sometimes painfully figure out which services are required at a particular time. In my case, it would have been much better for me to use their proofing and editing services, at least for the first run. One of the problems with Xlibris is that most of their services and contact personnel are located out-of-country. I don´t think I trusted their editing services enough because of the use of foreign nationals. Let me say that everyone at Xlibris I have dealt with has been extremely nice, polite and eager to please, but sometimes the language skills are just not there. On the other hand, I am confident that my decision not to use their promotion and sales services was correct. Although they claim to have some new programs, most seem to be based on massive email blasts and catalog listings.
Do you have an agent?
At the present, Dorothy Thompson is serving in her current role.
Can you tell us how long it took you to write your book and also how long it took from the time Xlibris sent the contract and the time it was released?
In calendar time, it was twenty years, but you have to consider that this book was entirely based on my life experiences over that period. Had I waited till the end of the period and then completed the story line and outline, it could have probably been completed in two to three years of focused writing for me as a first time writer! Also, during those twenty years I had to make a living, by performing some pretty hairy jet flying.
The reasonable time for Xlibris to bring the book to market is six months. The wild card here is proofing and editing. You can pay the professional editor now or pay through the nose later. Fumbling through the process with amateurs is a waste of time and money. When my next book is professionally edited and complete, I feel confident that we could have it on the internet market within ninety days of contract signing and have printed copies on hand for personal sales and promotion in another three weeks.
Do you have any words of inspiration from other writers who would like to be wearing your shoes?
Just do it! Find the material you love and write about it. There are at least three sources for material: life experiences, research and imagination. I am old enough to have lived through "interesting times" and it "ain´t over yet!" Historical research provides the nearly infinite number of stories of us humans on God´s Earth for you to tell and retell. Imagination allows us to make it all up, if we like and as an aside, writing science fiction, although not my bag, will even allow you to escape the bounds of history and fact! Be professional by using all three sources to polish your skills and become a writer by writing! Blogs are a great venue for us but use caution. You can´t depend on your opinion alone! Research pays off here; journalistic fact finding will go a long way in establishing your credibility.
I understand that you are touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotion in July and August via a virtual book tour. Can you tell us all why you chose a virtual book tour to promote your book online?
Jerry Hunsinger convinced me when he sent a copy of the review of his "Axe of Iron" in the print version of the Chicago Tribune. Now we can´t all be guaranteed of a great spot in the "Trib," but with a virtual tour we tap into what seems to be the infinite potential of the internet. The skeptic should try this: Google J.A. Hunsinger or J.R. Hauptman. Neither of us has made the Times Best Sellers yet but you will definitely find "The Target" and "Axe of Iron" and our little publishing companies will probably pop up too. My tour hasn´t even started and the other day I found a review on a site I had never hear of.
What´s next for you?
Two major works: one is political and will require more extensive research. It will be built around the concept of "The Constitutional Commonwealth and Twenty-First Century Populism" and based on the writings of the early twentieth century conservative, Reinhold Niebuhr, as well as the modern writers, Ron Paul and Andrew Basevich. The other will be titled, "Romancing the Grey Lady; Surfing the Atlantic and Greeting Certainty." It will be very personal and will contemplate how we can live our lives to the fullest in our remaining days on this Earth.
Thank you for this interview, J.R. Can you tell us how we can find out more about you and your new book?
I certainly can. Go our personal website, www.caddispublishing.com/ which was used for the initial test marketing to current and retired airline workers. We offer the airline discount and autographed copies to all of our internet friends and personal referrals. Author notes are also located there. Reviews are now posted on Amazon and the other major internet marketing sites. It has my pleasure to appear here and I thank you for this opportunity.