An AM&P member-turned-novelist shares
what heís learned about publishing a first book.
By Carla Kalogeridis
member Rick Pullenís first novel, Naked
Ambition (Kindle Press) has sold over 12,000 copies since its release
earlier this year and recently hit number-one in thriller novel sales on
Amazon. Pullen, editor in chief of The Council of Insurance Agents &
Brokersí award-winning magazine Leaderís
Edge and a former AM&P board
member, has signed with literary agent John Talbot of Talbot Fortune Agency for
his second novel.
The story is a
political thriller about a Republican presidential candidate opposed by his own
party. (Interestingly enough, Pullen worked on the novel for several years,
long before the current presidential race took shape.) "This thriller offers an
intricate puzzle with a few surprises and some strategic power grabs as a
hardened journalist pursues the story of his career,Ē says Kirkus Reviews.
I figured Signature had better catch up with Rick
before he gets too big to talk to us anymore.
Signature: Have you learned anything from writing and
creating content for Leaderís Edge
that you were able to apply to your novel writing?
Pullen: I learned how to write by editing otherís
copy. I knew what they were trying to say, so I just made sure they did. The
best way to learn how to write is to read, read, read in the genre you want to
write. Then edit other peopleís work. The first will enable you to get a handle
on their style of writing. The second will show you how to dissect and dig deep
into how writing is really done.
Signature: Is there anything youíve
learned about storytelling from writing your novel that you will implement in
future stories for Leaderís Edge?
Pullen: I work on my writers to create a narrative
in their stories as often as possible. Start with an anecdote that explains a
larger issue. I also press for great writing in the first five paragraphs.
After that, I figure, theyíve captured the reader.
Signature: Are you going to quit
associations and do this full-time?
Pullen: No, definitely not. When I retire, then I
can do it full-time. The good news is Iím going to make back all the money Iíve
invested in it ó about $20,000 ó by the end of this year.
I try to write three to four hours a day
because now I have to write one a year. It took me five years to write Naked Ambition. It was kind of long ó
360 pages or 109,000 words. Most thrillers are 90,000 words.
Signature: What advice do you have
for AM&P members who might want to publish a novel?
Pullen: Write the best thing you can possibly
write. The barrier to entry is so hard.
I finished my book in Fall 2014 and thought
it was done and ready to publish. It got turned down by dozens of agents ó 38
times. Obviously, I suck at query letters. I donít think most of them even read
That didnít feel right to me, though, so I
sent it to an editor who spent three months doing a line-by-line edit. I
accepted almost all of her edits. Finally, I got it into the hands of someone
who reads for her brother who is an agent. By 3:00 in the afternoon, she
contacted me and said she loved it. That was the turning point.
So my advice is to get your name out there.
Break out any way that you can. Itís about a lot of networking and meeting
people. Somewhere along the way, youíll meet the right person.
Carla Kalogeridis is editorial director and publisher of Signature magazine.