Thomas Sullivan has turned his driver’s ed teaching experience into a writing endeavor with his book, Life in the Slow Lane. In this interview he discusses how he’s used blog radio and audiobooks as part of his marketing strategy.
1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
I taught driver education for a third rate company in Oregon. We used aging cars that broke down and had far too few instructors for our volume of students. We actually had one car from the Dirty Harry era, an ancient Chevy Malibu with a “Three-On-The-Tree” shifter attached to the steering column. My book is about trying to be a good teacher amidst all the confusion and chaos that enveloped the situation.
At first I just jotted down episodes to fill time gaps between lessons. But then I realized that I was in an industry that affects millions of kids and parents each year, and they were increasingly being taught by shady companies like the one I worked for as public schools bowed out of doing the teaching. And no one seemed to be writing about this strange shift happening in a big part of teenage education. So part of my motivation was expository, to shed some light on a little-known industry. The other reason is that the kids always reacted to ridiculous situations with humor and grace, and I wanted to celebrate that quality in my own peculiar way.
2. How have your sales been?
Pretty slow, but steady. The key seems to involve “getting the word out,” which I’ve been doing a lot of lately.
3. You have not been traditionally published. Why?
At first I tried the traditional route (i.e. NY agents and publishers) and found a bit of interest. But I think my style of humor works better with smaller, non-traditional publishers less restricted by the urge to appeal to the broadest audience possible. The folks at Uncial Press and Cool Beat Audiobooks are quite funny and gave me a lot of latitude in how I wrote the book.