By 1997, when he was 70, Warren Adler had already released 27 novels and had 12 of them optioned for film adaptations, including the blockbuster The War of the Roses (1981) and Private Lies (1991). Despite this incredible success, Adler became frustrated with the practices of traditional publishing and was drawn to the future possibilities of digital publishing. In 1998, to be a pioneer of e-book publishing, he founded Stonehouse Press, dedicated exclusively to his own works. In acquiring the rights to his complete backlist, Adler has spent years taking control of every aspect of his work. Today, he continues to be a vocal advocate for digital innovations and independent publishing with the release and marketing of new novels and his community-based online forum Writers of the World.
What has kept you focused on writing all these years?
I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since I was 16 years old, and that urge has never faded. When I published my first novel by a tiny publisher, I quit business interests and devoted the next half-century to writing novels, short stories, essays, poems, and plays.
Can you tell us a little bit about the next book you have planned?
Heart of Gold is my forthcoming novel being released this April. It’s about a man and a woman who come together to confront experiences, memories, and possessions inherited from the Holocaust. I am also working on other plays and busy with the production of The War of the Roses as a play, which is headed to Broadway.
What first led you to want to self-publish?
Just listen to the lyrics of the famous song sung by Frank Sinatra, “My Way.” I chose to do it “my way,” find my own destiny and not be subject to the whims of others. I can’t write formula genre fiction. I need to write in many fictional voices. Technology offered me the gift of independence and self-sovereignty, and I jumped at it.
What were some of your early hopes for digital publishing?
Basically I had one goal in mind: to keep my authorial name alive beyond my lifetime. My books will never go out of print, and I can write, publish, and market at my own pace without ever having to wait on the traditional publishing world and its outdated and inefficient business plan. I write what I choose to write and look beyond this moment in time, believing in my gut that my books will continue to be read and discovered in the future.
Has the world of e-books become what you expected?
What surprises me most in the world of e-books is discovering the astounding desire of so many people to express themselves in novels, short stories, memoirs, and in multiple genres. I never expected to be confronted with such a vast array of aspiring authors.
Since you founded Stonehouse, how have you seen indie publishing change?
I have been both very right and very wrong in the way the digital book publishing business is playing out. I was right to believe that technology was a disrupter to the traditional publishing business. What I was wrong about was not realizing how many millions of books would be on offer and never “go out of print”…or how cunning, creative, and aggressive Amazon would be in creating its marketing algorithms and seeking market domination.
What would be your advice for today’s writers considering self-publishing?
Never give up. Never, never, never. It may be impractical, unwise, foolish, pure madness, but if you truly believe in yourself, your talent, your ideas, your calling, your personal mission, why not, as Lewis Carroll wrote, “go on until the end, and then stop.”
Rhett Morgan is a writer and translator currently based in Paris.