About Bill

I am probably the last person in the world who would end up writing a fictional book. Granted, my father wrote several ceramics textbooks and articles. So, if there was ever a writing plan for, it should have non-fictional Electrical Engineering. Every electrical engineer knows the Schottky diode and the Zener diode. Now there is the superconducting Conrad diode! Well, life does not always follow the expected path.
English was never easy for me, and my early scholastic days were tough. However, a fantastic invention saved me. Computers! Our first computer was a Wang PC-S3-3, which supported their proprietary but excellent word processor, Wang Writer (very creative name). We also had the Wang Diablo 620 printer with a massive daisy wheel. We could hear it printing from every corner of our house and across the street. The upside was that the text looked immaculate compared to dot-matrix printers.
A few years later, my father purchased the DOS 8088-emulation card for our Wang. This allowed us to run MS-DOS programs such as Office Writer which was like DOS WordPerfect. Later, he upgraded the printer to an HP LaserJet II. So much quieter. These early word processors were a miracle for my English. Finally, I could write without a pencil, typewriter or White Out.
With this new ability, my struggle with English became manageable, and in the ninth-grade, my teacher Mr. Olpin, inspired my English ability.
After High School, I attended college at WPI in Worcester, Massachusetts, with a degree in Electrical Engineering and a minor in English. As you know, Electrical Engineering is the best kind of engineering! It took five years to get a four-year degree. Why? I had some issues…
If you ever meet a WPI graduate, ask them what a snowflake is. I got two snowflakes back-to-back. This sucked! But I still graduated. Three of my roommates and three of my friends did not.
The college offered a fantastic opportunity, a creative writing class. I enjoyed the course, but writing for fun was not be in my future.
After college, I had several jobs. Why so many? There were a few unpleasant work situations, but mainly, the companies left me when their project/contracts ended. Being a full-time electrical engineer was a lot of fun. Why? Electronics make sense on every level. An excellent design is beautiful, and I enjoy seeing it working.
I have always created stories to amuse myself while going to sleep. The majority was about me having a big adventure. Later, they became more elaborate, but I saw no reason to write them down.
Six years ago, I was hiking during unemployment and decided to write a book. Why? My bonkers mind had been inventing stories for years, and I thought this would be a quick path to cash. My first story was about a 500-year-old woman. I called my book A Graceful Interview to name the main character, Grace. Catch the excellent pun?
My mother reviewed the book several times, and I located a professional editor to polish it. They both liked the premise, and I thought the story was great. I expected that publishing the book would be a simple matter. Find a publisher’s website and upload the book. They would read my story, love it, and I would collect a check. Simple, right?
It turns out that publishers do not accept “un-represented manuscripts.” (Books are called manuscripts? I know that now.) Instead, publishers only work through “book representatives” (book agent). So, I began looking for a fine book representative for my excellent manuscript. However, that is when I ran into a wall. Book representatives require 20%+ of the profit. Some even wanted $2,000 to look at the book. The entire experience was a big letdown, and I did not know what to do.
My dream of publishing almost died, but when I asked my professional editor for help, she recommended a fantastic book representative. Yay! I contacted Bethany, and it turns out that she was not a “book representative.” Instead, she was a “self-publisher helper.” I was about to say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” but Bethany explained her service and made an interesting argument to self-publish. Chiefly, self-publishing was a more straightforward path with a better chance of success (profit).
We began making A Graceful Interview a successful book. The process started with a pre-edit. Bethany read my book (she was okay with calling my work a book and not a manuscript) and had a bunch of suggestions. A big problem was that my story had a narrow perspective, which meant I did not write for the reader. After thinking about the issue, I understood the problem and made many changes. Then, the book went through an intense edit that uncovered severe problems, and the result was a “tighter” story, but the plot was identical.
The next step was choosing the title. The solid “A Graceful Interview” was excellent, but Bethany thought differently. I am not a publishing expert, and I respected her opinion. Here are my alternate titles:

Surviving Grace
Finding Grace
Saving Grace
Stepping Towards Immortality
Grace the Immortal
Interviewing an Immortal
Experiencing Immortality
Gruesome Grace
Guts and Grace
Recording the Harvest
Selected
Selected for Harvest
You Will Do
Gracefully Immortal
A Step Towards Immortality (song with this title)
A Grave Misfortune
Deadly Biography
The Author and the Immortal
The Forever Interview
Authoring Immortality
The Immortal Grace
Forever Grace (book with this title)
Biography of an Immortal (book and article with this title)
Learning to be Immortal
A Step Toward Immortality
How to Interview an Immortal (I liked the movie How to Train Your Dragon)

I settled on Interviewing Immortality and \it took some time to get used to the new title. Incidentally, I recently located a book called “Interviewing for Immortality.” Funny coincidence. After settling on the title, we worked on the cover. Initially, I had wanted to use this image:

While the image looked cool, it was copyrighted. If you do not recognize the image, it is a pastel/water painting by acclaimed Japanese animator Yoshitaka Amano from the movie Angel’s Egg.
When I first saw the finished cover, it was terrific, but there were two unexpected issues. First, create a good book description (blurb) and get reviews. A book blurb sounds easy. A quick summary. Done! No, it is a careful dance around select plot points combined with a sales pitch. The effort took over two weeks, and I learned a lot from Bethany.
Getting reviews proved nearly impossible. I do not have many friends, fame, or an online presence. So, how would I ever convince somebody to buy my book? There were four options:
1) Pay for reviews. The least expensive one was $99 for a 200-word review. Most websites wanted $2,000+. These sites stated you could still get an awful review after paying them. Plus, they would still publish the negative review!
2) Beg/pay “book bloggers” to review your work. I found this option to be an endless black hole that only wasted my time.
3) I located four sites that accepted books for review. Yay! I sent my book to all four, and one said they might look at it. Fail!
4) Have your friends/family/yourself write a review. All the authors strongly did not recommend this practice for many reasons. The main one is that if you get caught, readers will despise you.
I chose the $99 option but disliked the review because it read cold and disjointed.
The last steps were a final self-edit, format for publishing, develop a website, and upload it to Amazon. And the rest? I live in San Diego and am happily married to a wonderful daughter.

Bill Conrad.
November 2023
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