Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Interview of Dennis Gelbaum

There is an author out there just like me – maybe it's you? Wanna know what writers really go through and what drives them to keep going and going and going? Read my interview!

Author: Dennis Gelbaum
Book: ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ and “Something About Going Home’
See the book trailer at :

Dennis Gelbaum
Quote to live by:
“When You Have The Chance – Dance.”

Dennis Gelbaum is an International award winning Creative Director, Writer, Producer and Director and is The Managing Director, Partner of TRIBE Pictures, Chatham, NJ. He has worked with clients all over the world, directing hundreds of commercials, music videos, live multi-media events and concert productions, multi-media interactive presentations, in-store promotions and museum exhibits, corporate films and hours of long/short form programming for broadcast and web based/mobile/podcast content.

Dennis’ most recent projects include directing a promo introducing ‘Mixed Messages’ for the new Nintendo DSI, directing promos for Nintendo’s ‘Animal Crossing’, producing a fundraising film for Worldfund, writing and directing a multi-media campaign for Special Olympics Texas to “erase the ‘r’ word” and creating and co-directing a web based series, “Get Fit With Alyson”, starring Alyson Stoner (‘Cheaper By The Dozen’ and Disney’s ‘Camp Rock’) and sponsored by Nintendo. The series encourages kids to exercise and make choices to live a healthier lifestyle.

Dennis is a published author, (“Something About Going Home” and ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’) and an inventor of the Buddy Light Illuminated Safety Leash, featured at The Sharper Image and many retail/specialty outlets. Dennis received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from American University and established the NAVARAC Scholarship...an annual contribution providing funds, services and resources to students to complete film/video/multi-media projects.


Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title (s) of your book (s)?
I have published – self-published – two books. In 2006, I published a book of poetry with illustrations by Christina Qualiana. In December 2008, I published my first novel, ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ - a story with more twists and turns than a double helix.

What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
My first book was a collection of short stories ‘In The Lion’s Den’. I started writing when I was about ten years old and continued to add to the collection until I was seventeen – when my father died. I never thought about publishing the stories. The writing process, although I didn’t know it at the time actually helped me get through a lot when I was growing up. So, I didn’t need to get it published. It was way too private and personal. I was also writing poetry at the time and continued to write poetry into my forties - until my best friend John died. (You can’t make this stuff up – really you can’t.) That poetry turned into ‘Something About Going Home’. I published the book when I connected with Christina Qualiana. She read each poem once and created an original illustration for each - that helped bring my poetry to life. It was an incredible experience.

For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
For ‘Something About Going Home’ everyone told me it was almost impossible to get a book of poetry published. I sent out hundreds of letters and samples of the illustrations. I could not believe that I could not hook up with one publisher who saw the merit of the work. Even if the poetry wasn’t the greatest – and I never claimed it was – the combination of Christina’s artwork and the poetry made for an incredible, engaging experience. I decided after receiving my one-hundredth rejection (I have kept everyone…) to self publish. It was the best decision I ever made. I wanted this book published in the worst way – and self-publishing was my only option at the time. My plan is to turn each poem into a short film and create a unique multi-media experience.

How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Rejections suck! How does it feel? It feels horrible. It feels like someone has determined that you are not worthy…that your work is not worthy. That your work isn’t worthy of being published and that no one would be willing to buy it and/or read it. OK, that’s a bit out there. But it is true. Being rejected hurts. But you have to take the personal stuff and put it away. There are so many reasons why your book isn’t published. I get that. I get how important it is to find the right publisher, the right agent to get it to the right publisher. Publishers are looking for something specific. And unless you have exactly what they are looking for at exactly that moment that they are reading your query letter or looking at your materials, the ‘right’ connection is never made. I did an incredible amount of research to find the right publisher and the right agent. I’m smart. I figured that the process could not be that difficult. I was so wrong. But I did not give up. I decided to sell publish ‘Something About Going Home’ because I wanted to see it published. Did I overcome the blows? No. It still hurts. But I have learned to deal with it and I get some satisfaction every time someone purchases my book and writes me to tell me how I touched them, how I made them feel, how they connected with me and the poetry and the

With ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt” I followed the same path – researching agents and publishers. The emotional approach was a bit different because I wrote the book first as a screenplay – and then I decided to convert the script into a novel – because I thought it would be easier to sell a script if it was based on a published novel. I gave myself thirty days to get connected and when that didn’t happen, I decided to self-publish. I am very proud of the book. It’s character driven with lots of twists and turns. It’s so real many readers have asked me if the book is based on a true story or not. I have packed the book with a lot of ‘real’ details and information - articles to support my theories. It challenges the reader to make a lot of decisions for themselves about what’s real or not real, what’s true or not true.

When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
In both cases, I connected with Booksurge. I did considerable research and decided that going the Print On Demand (POD) route was a good one and made sense. Booksure is also connected to Amazon, so I know I would get some good coverage. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the experience. There were times when my expectations were not met. I wanted my hand held a bit more. Mistakes were made that could have been avoided. A few times I felt like I was dealing with an auto salesman – they wanted to sell me more and more options. I wanted to publish my book. They wanted to sell me rust proofing and an extended warranty.

How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I felt great when I received a box with 20 copies of my first book. It was delivered to my front door. I brought the box into my den and looked at it for a few minutes. I had seen the Author’s Proof, so I knew what the book was going to look like. I took a deep breath and gently opened the box. I removed one of the books, held it in my hands, opened the cover and read the dedication page. Seconds later I reached for a tissue to wipe the tears from eyes. I had seen a dream come true. It felt amazing. At that moment in time it didn’t matter to me if no one was ever going to buy the book or read the book. It really didn’t matter at the time. Whenever I see the book on my shelf, I still have to touch it and look at it and open the pages. I love seeing it in print. I enjoyed a nice dinner at home with Valerie, my wife to celebrate the arrival of my first book.

The feelings I get for ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ are a bit different. I loved seeing the book printed. I designed the cover and it came out exactly how I wanted it to. The book feels like a book. It reads like a book. It is a book. 526 pages long! And it will make for a great movie. I look at it often and open it up and reach a few pages. I am, for the most part, happy with it. I have taken one copy and written notes on many pages – things I might have written differently. I tell the story often to friends and family – and each time I do, I realize I left something out of the book and wish I could go back and add some more stuff. That’s why I am now writing the sequel. Val and I went out for a dinner to celebrate. But I tend to celebrate internally. It wasn’t so much about getting my books published as it was about finishing them. Do I want to be a best selling author - sure I do. Do I wish I had my books published by a ‘real’ publisher – yeah, OK – maybe that gives an author some credibility that you don’t get when you self-publish.

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I started a website for each book, set up blogs, sent out press releases, got interviewed, connected with friends and family, just got the word out any way I could. I spend an hour a day looking for additional ways to get my book in front of readers and publishers. The effort never stops.

If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
I don’t know what else I could have done differently to get the attention of publishers and/or literary agents. It is very competitive out there and the risks are high for a publisher to work with an unpublished author. But when you look at the success of many authors, and they all started out unpublished, you have to wonder how did they do it? Why were they lucky and I wasn’t? Are they better writers? Maybe. But I’m not sure.

Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I grow as an author every day. I think about my next book, the sequel to ‘Beyond Reasonable Doubt’ and ‘Dolphin Boy, a children’s book and interactive multi-media experience I am developing. I love to write. I love to talk about my writing to others. When I talk about my writing my passion is contagious. People connect with my stories. I like that feeling. I like seeing that connection in their eyes and hearing it their voices.

Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I don’t now what I could have done to speed things up. I did the research. I really did. I spent hundreds of hours writing letters, making telephone calls, and trying to connect with the people I thought I could connect with. But it was not my fulltime job so I never gave it one hundred percent. It was a passion, a hobby. And maybe that is what I would have done differently. I always thought I could juggle and multi-task with the best of ‘em. But in this case, maybe if I had given it my all, 100 percent of the time, stayed focused and determined and a bit relentless in my pursuit, it might have been different. I am really not sure. As far as making mistakes, except for being impatient, I’m not sure I made too many mistakes. But then I never do.

What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Receiving my first royalty check and not cashing it. It’s still sitting on my desk. That was not easy. But seriously, being published, even self-published was a great accomplishment. Finishing my books, getting them published made me whole. Giving the books to my wife, my kids and my Mom, seeing their reactions, made me complete.

If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do.

Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I have combined all my worlds to be the person I am. I have great accomplishments behind me and a fantastic journey ahead of me.

How do you see yourself in ten years?
Older, by ten years!

Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Write. Write. Write.

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