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Kindle Author Interview: Ken Lang

Ken Lang, author of Walking Among the Dead, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Walking Among the Dead?

KEN LANG: Walking Among the Dead, a true crime book, is a unique book that captures some of my most memorable homicide investigations while working as a detective in the unit. What makes this book stand out from the rest is its novel format, enabling the reader to be immersed in the crime scenes and the ensuing investigations. Fans have enjoyed experiencing the events firsthand and going 'behind the scenes' (i.e. homicide office, autopsy room, and states attorney's office) in the investigation.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

KEN LANG: True crime and novel readers alike would enjoy this book.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

KEN LANG: Actually, I stumbled onto my writing talents. I've always been the 'artistic' or 'creative' type. My experience as a forensic artist gives evidence of such. While volunteering to help a friend who was hosting a story telling conference near my home town, I had the chance to meet Delaware author and ghostwriter, John Riddle (founder of I Love to Write Day). My initial inquiry to John concerned how to make income writing online content for law enforcement websites. However, when he learned about my 20 years of experience in law enforcement, 15 as a detective investigating rapes, robberies, and murders, he quickly steered me towards writing true crime books. With a little direction, I was off to the races and found that I really enjoyed writing about my cases.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

KEN LANG: Considering this is my first book, and I have never written anything like this before in my life, I selected and briefly outlined each case I wanted to use in the book. "Third floor apartment, ex-girlfriend shoots ex-boyfriend after sex, ex-girlfriend stages evidence, police respond to scene" might have been the extent of the outlining I did for the first case. I decided to open the book by placing the reader just outside the building as the trees swayed in the night's breeze, then move them into the bedroom as the girl-friend is lying on the bed contemplating if the 'time was right.'

As I typed the first draft I let the creative juices flow, pausing only to fix spelling and grammatical errors while I took a moment to think about the next set of events. There were days I could knock out an entire chapter and there were days where I struggled just to finish one page.

After taking a break from the action, I go back and start cleaning up—checking my spelling, grammar, tenses, and continuity of the story. When I finish a chapter and am happy with it, I send it off to my editor (my wife, Michele) who gives the red pen a pretty decent workout. 

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

KEN LANG: Funny, while growing up, reading wasn't a favorite pastime. But in more recent years I enjoy reading a great deal of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tom Clancy, and Stephen Ambrose—I'm a huge fan of World War II history books!

Since becoming a writer, I've been delving into works by James Patterson, John Grisham, and Dan Brown. These are all authors who have inspired me to start a crime based novel series after finishing my current homicide series.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

KEN LANG: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. His level of creativity is beyond anything I have ever experienced. To create a world with diverse groups of people, each having their own language and culture, then intermingling them together in such a storyline—incredible!

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

KEN LANG: While writing my book, I took time to start preparing my marketing by assembling email lists of family, friends, local media outlets, and co-workers. I also learned about the importance of social media groups and using them to promote my book. In 2008, Twitter maintained 14 employees. Today they employee over 400 employees! Needless to say, you can find me on Twitter @DetKenLang, sharing my writing experience and promoting the book.  Other social media outlets, such as Facebook, have become a prevalent aspect in my promotional campaign.

Additionally, I bought a domain name with the title of the book and created a webpage within my website for the book. In designing my website (www.kenlangstudios.com), I was careful to include certain features such as an author page, press room, contact page, and a free excerpt of the book that users could download.

When the ebook was released on March 5, 2011, I unveiled the website and tapped into all of the social media resources by sending messages and a press release over the networks and through my emails.

I also realized the importance of press releases and created a simple press release that included a picture of the book cover. Though there are tons of websites available for authors to send out free press releases, I found that my time was more valuable for writing. I decided to send the release out through the services of PRWeb (www.PRWeb.com). To date, my press release has received over 646,000 impressions on websites with 767 reads. These "reads" are worldwide, including the Unites States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, China, and Australia.

Recently, my marketing efforts have included contacting local newspapers and blog hosts. The reporter at my local paper (The Cecil Whig) decided to write a human interest story about my experience as a detective who has authored and published a book. The article is scheduled to be featured in an upcoming "Accent" section within the next few weeks.

My next stop on the promotional highway is to seek out blog talk radio shows for interviews and then to secure a softcover version of the book through BookLocker.com that will enable me to to schedule speaking engagements and book signings here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

KEN LANG: Why not? As we have seen in the music industry, indie-musicians are taking advantage of all that the Information Age has to offer. Consequently, major record labels are folding and big named artists are going 'indie.'

That same tide is now washing through the publishing industry as we are seeing indie authors rise up to such successful plateaus that publishers can't even approach them with a comparable offer.

Also, the benefits of being an indie-author allow me the freedom to write what I want, when I want, how I want, at my pace, under my conditions.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

KEN LANG: Do it! And don't let anything hold you back. However, before you click the 'submit' button, be sure that you've done your homework. Not only do you need to be proactive about your marketing, but you need to be MORE proactive about editing your book. With Walking Among the Dead I thought that the editing rigors we had put the book through was sufficient. That was until I had realized that my spell/grammar checking program was set to the bare bones—and I had already published the first version on Kindle. Ugh! After three grueling days of correcting comma usage, compound words, hyphenated words, and passive voice errors...a lesson well learned! 

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Lang is a 22 year law enforcement veteran from the State of Maryland. He has served the last 15 years as a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Section where Sex Crimes, Robbery, and Homicide investigations have become his forte. A decorated officer, Ken has been awarded the William J. Simms Memorial Award, was named 1997 Officer of the Year by the Optimist Club, has been issued three unit citations, a Chief’s Award, and was the recipient of 14 letters of appreciation for outstanding service as recognized by distinguished members of government and civilians alike.

In addition to his current investigative assignment, Ken is also an active Forensic Artist, providing Maryland police agencies with composite sketches, post-mortem and age-enhancement drawings, and skull reconstructions in a variety of ongoing investigations.

It was in March of 2010 when Ken accidentally discovered his writing talents. While volunteering at a storytelling conference, Ken met Delaware author and ghostwriter, John Riddle, founder of I Love to Write Day, and the two conversed about ways in which Ken could make income writing online content for law enforcement websites. But when John learned about Ken's vast experience in the Criminal Investigation Division, investigating rapes, robberies, and murders, he encouraged Ken to seriously consider writing true crime books based on those experiences.

By March of the following year, Ken acted on the advice and released his ebook version of Walking Among the Dead: True Stories from a Homicide Detective through Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Smashwords. Ken is currently working  on the two followup books Standing in Deaths Shadow: More True Stories from a Homicide Detective and Death Comes Uninvited: The Last Pages from a Homicide Detective's Notebook.

Ken currently resides in North East, Maryland with his wife, Michele, and three children.

Visit his website, read his blog, and find him on facebook, and follow him on twitter.

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