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  • Medford author finds out writing books is easy part

  • Buzz Thielemann may be the chief executive officer of a solar energy business in Medford, but he's always dreamed of writing his own books.
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  • Buzz Thielemann may be the chief executive officer of a solar energy business in Medford, but he's always dreamed of writing his own books.
    Now that he's done it with a sci-fi thriller about a man who develops infrared night vision, Thielemann has discovered that writing the book may have been the easy part. Getting it in the hands of readers has proven much tougher.
    Despite publishing the book more than a year ago on Kindle and other e-book sites, along with some hard copy versions, Thielemann is still looking for the marketing miracle that will move it beyond the enthusiastic readership of friends and family.
    Toying with a $25,000 infrared camera at his energy-auditing RHT Energy Solutions, Thielemann confesses he's fascinated with applications outside what we can normally see on the electromagnetic spectrum.
    His 2004 novel, "The Hunt for Owl Eyes," details the adventures of protagonist Brian Miller, a dropout from a rock-n-roll band who winds up in possession of a drug that gives people night vision. It also makes him the target of terrorists who are after the drug.
    As a first-time author, Thielemann says it's nice to be in print — publishing on-demand with Amazon's CreateSpace — but now he's learned some of the hard lessons of the publishing world: Not only do you have to create interesting characters and story lines, you also have to figure out everything from what font to use to how to get connected with a publisher and how to let readers know your book exists.
    "You have to ask yourself, 'Why am I doing this?'"‰" says Thielemann. "If it's to do a memoir of your dad to pass out a few copies, then fine. That's easy. If your name is George Bush, it can be crap, and it's going to sell. But if that's not your name, you need a good marketing plan. That's the real challenge."
    There are a lot of basics the first-time writer must master. First of all, he says, the book has to be well-edited and polished, then the author has to connect with a publisher who has the experience and network to market it well. Be prepared, Thielemann warns, to pay most of the production costs.
    "Writing the story is the small part," he says. "I loved writing it. I would close my eyes and let 'er rip. I'd do it for two-plus hours at a time, early in the morning. You start to think like your characters and develop multiple personalities, like a Sybil. Plus, I did a lot of research to get all the details right."
    Thielemann has 15 five-star reviews on Kindle, with one even suggesting it should be a movie. He has sold a couple hundred e-books at $2.99 each.
    But good reviews on Kindle don't necessarily translate into sales success. It takes connections, a smart approach and maybe a bit of luck.
    Publisher Steve Scholl of White Cloud Press in Ashland says the challenge is exacerbated for self-published authors. Many bookstores are leery of dealing with them, simply due to their large numbers, and prefer to use distributors.
    Anyone with dreams of connecting with one of the "Big Six" publishers in New York will need an agent, Scholl says, but it's possible to approach medium and small presses.
    "Still, you need a killer book proposal, and that can take three months to write," says Scholl. "You also need to research publishers to find a good fit with your book. I get 20 proposals a week, and 15 of them are not appropriate for us. The authors clearly haven't researched what we publish. Authors usually don't do their homework."
    Marketing aside, Thielemann certainly did his homework in writing his book — in fact, the research involved working on homes.
    A sociology graduate of University of Oregon, Thielemann, 67, had a long career with Pacific Power as a sales manager and in technical services. His interest in infrared technology came from using it to scan homes and buildings to determine hot spots, where insulation had thinned and energy was leaking.
    His company, RHT Energy Solutions, is 70 percent solar-powered and was rated number 38 on Oregon Business Magazine's list of Best Green Companies. It also made its list of Best Places to Work.
    In his work, Thielemann uses a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) camera, which, as he demonstrates, can take an image of your body or the room and show what's hot and what's not.
    That technology triggered the idea for his book. Now he's looking for new ideas to trigger more interest — and more buyers — for his written work.
    John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.
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