Friday, August 28, 2015

Interview on The Eastern Shore Podcast

Brock Winstead interviewed me for The Eastern Shore, one of my favorite podcasts that focuses on creativity, new ways of thinking, and Oakland. As a fan of the show, it was really fun to come on as a guest.

Brock actually lives a few blocks away so I walked over to his place and we recorded in his living room. We talked about the creative process, research, and personal history behind my novels. If you haven't yet checked out The Eastern Shore, I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

In Brock's words:
"Eliot Peper is the author of the Uncommon Stock trilogy, a series of thrillers set in the world of tech startups and venture capital. They tell the story of Mara Winkle and her company Mozaik, which makes financial fraud detection software. Over the course of the trilogy, Mara and her team must handle not only the challenges of growing the business, but also a deadly conspiracy that wants to murder them because of what and whom their software threatens to expose. Eliot and I talked about how he came to writing, why the startup world seemed like a good setting for thrillers, and how he navigated the business of publishing and marketing books as a first-time, unknown author -- plus a lot more."
You can listen to the full episode here:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: The Water Knife

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is a Tarantino-worthy thrill ride through a near-future American Southwest ravaged by drought and climate change. It follows a journalist with a death wish, a desperate Texan refugee, and a professional assassin water-rights-hunter as they fight to survive and uncover the dark political machinations shaping their world. Bacigalupi won the Hugo and Nebula awards for The Windup Girl in 2008 and he comes back swinging in this disturbing tour-de-force.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Dr. Evil's Milk Run

I was thrilled when Brad Feld agreed to host this post about the lessons I learned over the course of writing my last three novels. The article focuses on cybersecurity and vulnerabilities in our public and financials institutions and is based on interviews with technologists, international money laundering investigators, and federal special agents. You can read it here:

Brad is a leading venture capital investor at Foundry Group, cofounder of Techstars, and author of the classic, Venture Deals. He was was also the first reader of the first book, published Version 1.0 and the Power Play through FG Press, and has been an enormous champion of The Uncommon Series along the way. Over the past few years he's become a true friend and his support and encouragement have been key motivators for my writing efforts.

That made working up this post particularly fun. I was shocked by what the research behind the books turned up. The organizations charged with protecting our most sensitive data are incredibly insecure. The regulators who are supposed to police them are often clueless. Flawed software architecture is often the core culprit and there doesn't appear to be enough political will to seriously address the issue.

I'm interested to hear what you think. It's an area in desperate need of creative problem solving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

7 Ways Growing Your Startup Is Like Writing A Novel

I was honored when Jon Nastor asked me to work on this story for Entrepreneur with him. He challenged me to dig deep into my experience with startups and creative writing in order to distill some lessons that founders might be able to learn from novelists.

The exercise was a lot of fun, particularly because my books are about a pair of startup founders (I know, meta). It turns out that artists and business leaders have more in common than we think.

You can find the full article here:

Jon and I met through his excellent Hack the Entrepreneur podcast. I've joined him as a guest on the show to talk about optimizing for discomfort and other life hacks, you can listen to the episode here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Uncommon Stock: Exit Strategy launches today!

Drum roll...

Uncommon Stock: Exit Strategy is here at last! Mozaik is the fastest-growing startup in America and the envy of the Silicon Valley. But just as Mara and her team are rocketing towards their IPO, the conspiracy that's been haunting them since day one swoops in for the kill. I've got a feeling you're going to love the conclusion to The Uncommon Series and I can't wait to hear what you think. You can find it right here in digital or paperback formats:

To be honest, I can't quite believe the day has finally arrived. It seems like no time at all since I sat down and started writing Version 1.0. Over the course of the trilogy, I really got to know Mara, James, Lars, and the rest of the cast. They started out as fragile figments of imagination and have changed and evolved until they started making decisions that surprised me. That was one of the most magical parts of the creative process.

Another unexpected, magical part of the process has been getting to know you. It still feels incredible to me that other people enjoy reading the stories I sit down to write. Nothing is more validating to an author than seeing the story come alive in the imagination of readers. Without you, books do nothing but collect dust.

You're a diverse bunch. I've heard from readers in Kenya, Ireland, Germany, Lebanon, India, Canada, Turkey, and across the US. Many of you share Mara's entrepreneurial resolve and James's creative brilliance. It's an honor getting to know you better. I couldn't be more giddy about the community that has grown around The Uncommon Series.

Books are a group effort and all of you have contributed to these stories as editors, beta readers, technical experts, and champions. I've consistently eschewed traditional publishing and promotional paths. That's because I try to think like a reader. I don't find new books on fancy billboards or via sophisticated marketing schemes. In fact, there's only one way I discover new books: recommendations from friends.

I don't have a publicist. That's how I know all the success these stories have found so far is thanks to YOU. It makes a world of difference every time you write an Amazon review, gift a copy to a friend, mention the story at happy hour, post a selfie with the cover, forward the newsletter to a colleague, or share the story on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/Goodreads/Product Hunt etc. It may feel insignificant, but the impact is incredible. That's how the trilogy has climbed to #1 in its category on Amazon. That's how we've earned critical acclaim from industry leaders and tastemakers. So let's pull out all the stops as Exit Strategy is finally released into the wild. Share with wild abandon. Word of mouth is how good books find new readers.

Thank you for making this such an incredible journey. The act of writing books (or making anything) is fraught with pain, frustration, and existential crisis. It is so, so, so easy to give up along the way. Having friends and readers like you is an unbelievable boon. Your support gives me the energy I need to press on through a tough rough draft. Your enthusiasm gives me the inspiration I need to dream up new stories. That's why the first thing I did when we sent Exit Strategy off to the printers was... start a new novel :). Don't worry you'll here more about it in the months to come.

Once again, you can find Exit Strategy here:

I still can't fathom that the trilogy is finally complete and I look forward to getting your take on the story.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Are Humans the Key to Discovery in a World of Digital Abundance?

I wrote a column for Xconomy about how the internet has changed the way we discover new stuff (books, songs, movies, news, etc.). The shift has been far more fundamental than most people realize. For example, the vast majority of traffic to The New York Times comes not through their front page but through social referrals, i.e. us sharing stories on Facebook/Twitter/etc.

The digital landscape makes curation far more democratic. This is wreaking havoc on legacy business models (record labels, publishers, newspapers, etc.) but is very exciting for the next generation of creatives.

In a fun twist, new services like Product Hunt Books (which launches today) and Apple Music are building platforms to enable more efficient human curation, so we're not left stranded with the current standard of algorithmic mediocrity embedded in Pandora, Google News feeds, and Amazon also-boughts.

Excited to hear your thoughts on the trend. You can read the full article here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What authors actually think of Amazon’s ‘Pay-Per-Page’ Model

Warning: geeking out about the books business for a moment. Last month Amazon changed its policies for how it pays out authors who participate in the Kindle Unlimited program. It caused a major media ruckus.

At first I was very concerned, especially because Uncommon Stock: Version 1.0 is in the program. Then I did my research and discovered that the uproar was nothing more than hot air.

Check out this article from Reedsy for a balanced perspective on the situation from a wide spectrum of authors: