This past year the FBI’s website turned 20 years old, and Leslie Ibsen Rogge is highlighted as the first of the FBI’s Top Ten wanted criminals to be caught using the website. Here is the FBI’s article about their accomplishment.
New Book “Heist and High” is Released Today!
Watch ABC’s 20/20 Tonight, 6/21/13
Watch the full story of his elaborate heist and the way the case was cracked on “20/20″ TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.
Heist and High
by Anthony Curcio
Monday, July 23rd – Sunday, July 29th, 2012
There will be a cool True Crime Blog Tour that is starting today and will run through this coming weekend that is sponsored by the website Women Condemned and the host Kelly Sons http://www.thewomancondemned.com/. Kelly became interested in true crime and prison reform some years and supports true crime authors.
Come check out the blogs by famous True Crime Authors:
Gary King – http://www.garycking.com/blog.htm
R Barri Flowers – http://www.rbarriflowers.com/Blog.html
Bonnie Kernene – http://mylifeofcrime.wordpress.com/
Check out all four blogs all week long as the authors will guest post and be available for questions. Don’t forget to share this with your friends, and feel free to comment and get personal about the authors books!
Don’t forget to stop by Goodreads and enter to win a copy of my first book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber – http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/enter_choose_address/26038-wanted-gentleman-bank-robber-the-true-story-of-leslie-ibsen-rogge-one. The drawing ends on July 31st!
How many book review blogs and websites do you know of? My list has grown leaps and bounds, in the hundreds, and I’m sure I haven’t even touched the surface. When they say, “It’s a big ocean out there and I’m a little fish!” boy do they mean it! Most times I can’t even begin to see the land or the bottom, and it looks dark as night. I wonder how to find all the possible reviewers that would be happy to give me some publicity in exchange for a copy of my book. Then I get a buzz in my pants.
The new buzz that I’ve found that works is my phone going off telling me I have a new email. The email is to my Gmail account from the great Mr. Google himself telling me it found something on the internet I might want to be aware of. I set up my Google Alerts to find book reviewers in my genre, and it finds an s-ton of true crime book reviews for me. I don’t know of any other tool that works as well as Google Alerts to help me find book reviewers on the internet.
When I get a buzz in my pants I check to see what the hyperlink is that Mr. Google sent me. If the link looks suspect, that’s my gut saying, “Follow this and I will send you to spam hell!” I pretend that I didn’t see that one. Most though are pretty good stuff and look legit, so I forward these on to my book email account to read later when I get my 5 minutes in front of the computer between the kids shouting at me and my day job needing something that is on fire. When I carve out my 5 minutes I chase the lead to the site. Here is where the Google Alert magic happens. A lot of times the reviewers have their preferences, and although most seem to be Young Adult or Romance or Romantic Werewolves a lot of them are also interested in biographies or true crime (my life labels). If it’s a blog finding the contact info for the blogger can be like finding Waldo and being color blind, but if it’s a web site then I cut and paste my pre-written, super-intro hook into an email and hit the send button, light a candle (even though I’m not Catholic) and pray for a reply. A lot of the small reviewers are super sweet whether they are interested in your book or not, so most will reply whether they want a copy or not. I’ve found most will want a copy if your genre fits their listed book likes, but only about half actually give you a review. Perhaps they simply didn’t like the book and are afraid to post a negative review or perhaps they are overwhelmed by authors like me who beg reviewers for the free press? Not sure, but it’s worth the money risk if you catch a reviewer with your book-hook lure, and if your set up it can be start to finish in the 5 minutes.
There are other ways to find reviewers on the net that don’t include a buzz in your pants. One way is to network and friend the bigger authors in your genre on Facebook. If these bigger authors, and I don’t mean weight, are active on Facebook they will post their book reviews on the social media. This is a direct link to a reviewer that may be interested in your work as well. I thank them for this coat-ride, I like their posts, I share their posts with my friends to help pay them back in some way, and I think they appreciate this assuming they are paying attention. In order for this to be affective you have to convince your spouse that networking on Facebook is a productive exercise and that you weren’t looking at their friend’s photos. I have mine convinced!
Why not? Google Alerts is completely free, quick and very effective. Google Google Alerts and it will take you right to where you want to go. I have no negative feedback to report other than sometimes Google Alerts go into Spam in Gmail (irony), and if you make sure your moderately intelligent phone is on vibrate you get the full experience. The alerts just keep coming in, and I assume they will for years. Book sales are linked to book marketing, and this is one way to keep the marketing going for years without a lot of work and dollars leaving the echoing bank account so you can work on the next best seller!
by Dane Batty
Monday, October 31, 2011
Guest Post by Jacqueline Church Simonds
It’s not easy to be a self-publisher, or an unknown author. Sometimes it seems as if the whole book industry is deliberately against you. It’s hard to get reviews—and then someone gives you a negative review! What do you do?
Sit down, take a deep breath, and examine what’s happening without your old pal, ego.
I am an editor and book packager. About 2 years ago, I did a book for a client, called Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber: The True Story of Leslie Ibsen Rogge, One of the FBI’s Most Elusive Criminals. It’s about his bank robber uncle who never used a gun, but eluded the FBI for 30 years. Rogge was the first fugitive caught via the Internet… and all because he fixed some kid’s computer! It was sort of a fun book to work on.
My client did all the steps to try and make the book a success: he sent out the book for pre‑publication reviews (Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus, ForeWord Book Reviews), he did loads of marketing—both the old fashioned sort and social media. He got a little traction with true crime reviewers and bloggers. But there was nothing big; nothing national. Fortunately, he was stubborn and wanted to continue. Last Summer, I reminded him of what I told him originally: “The book will cease to sell the day you stop marketing it.”
So he kept at it. He had a very professional-looking book trailer done. He sent the book to book awards—and was undaunted when they gave him a “finalist” award, rather than a medal. And still he kept submitting the book to new reviewers he discovered, created new press releases to dovetail with current events, and learned new ways to get people to notice his book.
After a long hard slog when nothing seemed to be working, the author is just about to sign a movie option (which means he will receive $X for the right to make it into a movie—which isn’t guaranteed. After 3 years, if the movie isn’t made, rights revert back to the author, but he doesn’t have to pay back the money).
Eighteen months after he launched the book, Publisher’s Weekly posted a review about it. And it’s a real stinger. http://www.publishersweekly.com/978‑0‑615‑26845‑3. It relentlessly bashes the book—not on its merits, but about the favorable treatment of the criminal (Les Rogge is in a Supermax prison now, 10 years into a 75 year sentence. He’s 69).
Wisely, the author not only is unfazed by the criticism, he is widely pointing out the national press he’s receiving.
And he’s right to be pleased at a book the reviewer hated so much, she had to share her revulsion with the world. Because that is a reaction, too. We can’t always get warm and fuzzy love from reviewers. Sometimes the negative is just fine. In this case, the reviewer was showing a clear preference for a type of book that this is not. I often see author/publishers get their noses out of joint over an unfavorable review. Unless there’s actual libel/slander, you should let it roll off your back. Everyone can read the review and see the writer’s agenda. Trust your audience to see the same thing.
Now if the criticism is that the book is full of typos, logic flaws and falsehoods, THOSE you should take to heart.
Here’s the kicker to the story: the author got a call from a film rights agent, saying they’d seen the Publisher’s Weekly review and asking if rights available. It didn’t matter to the agent that the review was bad. It mattered that the reviewer had a strong reaction. The author will probably receive other queries from other sources, too.
Jacqueline Church Simonds is a book shepherd/publishing consultant and distributor. Her company, Beagle Bay, Inc (www.beaglebay.com), has been publishing award-winning books for 12 years. She is the author of the historical novel, Captain Mary, Buccaneer, which has also been published in Italy and Russia.
Every book and every author needs a great testimonial from someone high up in the book subject’s niche, or you need one from someone famous or an industry leader to speak on your behalf. Every author knows this, so this is why I reached out to George Jung for my testimonial.
About 9 years before my biography of legendary bank robber, and uncle, Leslie Ibsen Rogge was published I watched the movie Blow with Johnny Depp. I was as intrigued as anybody with the movie, but for me it was for my own reasons. I realized that the man Depp was portraying was actually George Jung, the man who developed the cocaine market in the US in the 80’s, but what was clear was that George was the same kind of man as Leslie Rogge. He was just in a different industry. They were both very smart, non-violent criminals who turned their talents to illegal industries and lived illegal lifestyles. Both had stunning criminal careers, and both ended up in federal prison. The movie and the book Blow was an inspiration.
Skip forward 8 years and I’m putting the final touches on the edited book, and I decide to put a hand-written letter in the mail to George Jung. I introduced myself, told him that his story paralleled my uncle’s story, they were active in the same decades, they were the same age, they had similar friends and they only differed in their industry of choice. I offered him a review copy if he was interested, and he accepted in only a way George Jung would by writing a poetic response that indicated that Les and George were seemingly brothers and pirates. He said pirates need to stick together, and he agreed this story needed to be told. I sent him a book, and since prisoners have a bit of time on their hands I believe he read it the day he got it. Within a few days I received a poem/testimonial for the book that was glowing. I managed to understand enough of it to know that he respected Les, enjoyed the story, enjoyed my writing and wanted to see the story told. For the next few weeks I widdled the 3 pages down to one sentence and slapped the words on the back cover, front and center. I had an industry leader, a famous crime figure’s testimonial on the cover, and the book had its final touches. When the final version came out I sent him a copy with his words draped, and I thanked him for his time and wished him luck in his remaining 4 years on his sentence.
A few weeks later I received another letter from my new famous friend. I then realized I was pen pals with two of the biggest criminals in US history. If my phones weren’t tapped before they sure are now! This letter told me that he liked my book so much that he now wanted to turn it into a movie, and he thinks that Depp should play Leslie. This was a fun letter. We just shook our heads and said, “Sure! Let’s do it!” I always knew that my book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber would make a great movie, so perhaps this was my ticket to Hollywood. Wanted had all the makings of a movie with action, love, smarts, it spanned decades and took the FBI decades to get close, so if George could indeed entice Depp to be involved then this was absolutely worth my time to pursue. As it turned out George was indeed friends with Depp still and occasionally talked to Depps’s sister, but it turned out to be too good to be true. I talked to George a few times on the phone during the process, and he was apologetic. It was worth the attempt.
One great thing that came out of my relationship with George was meeting a friend of his on the outside who introduced me to a well-established screenwriter in NYC by the name of Peter Himmelstein. Peter has a few movies in theatres that he wrote or wrote and directed with his last movie Peep World, and Peter ended up really liking the Wanted and eventually taking on the project. We received a half dozen interested calls regarding the movie rights from screenwriters, producers and agents that didn’t turn out, but we currently are negotiating an option for the book and the script with another Hollywood producer as I write this with nothing in ink yet. At least we are actively playing the game. The script is currently called Bankrobber.
It’s fun to know celebrities even if they are infamous. There is something about notoriety that elevates these people to hero status even when they haven’t done anything close to heroism. Even so you can’t help but smile when you get a letter from a celebrity directed right to you. I reached out with a simple letter with the intensions of finding a famous crime figure to give a blurb about my book, and I ended up being pen pals with the man who was personal friends with Pablo Escobar and made over $200 million dollars selling weed and cocaine and being the drug-father of the US. This was a bit more than I expected. I asked for a testimonial and got a Kingpin.
The recent Oregonian article about the Barefoot Bandit was interesting to me.
I have heard of this kid who thieved barefoot and eluded authorities in creative ways, and my wife asks me, “Why did he commit those crimes?” After completing a 10-year biography on Leslie Rogge, who robbed banks for nearly two decades, I still didn’t have an answer for her. I just shrugged my shoulders in ignorance and smiled and said, “I don’t know.”
This Barefoot kid seemed to be similar to Les in many ways, lack of shoes aside, and it appears to me that running in an era of technology isn’t as easy as it was 30 years ago since Barefoot’s career was brief. Perhaps Les’s bank robbery career would have been brief if he were eluding authorities in this day and age? There seems to be comparisons between the ingenuity of the crimes and get aways between these two criminals. There also has to be a similar mindset or psychological reason that enable very smart people to lead an alternative lifestyle without much remorse, and I’d be interested in hearing some hypothesis on what makes these people tick.
I look forward to reading about Barefoot’s story. I know the reasons why Les turned to robbing banks, and I have my own ideas on why his conscience let him follow through with his ideas. I’d like to compare these two individuals and their backgrounds growing up. Anybody out there a psychologist in criminal justice? Let me know your thoughts and post a comment!
By Dane Batty
Tropical destinations with their sandy beaches and laid back attitudes are a great place for escape. That’s what honeymooners, snowbirds and stressed-out office workers think, but criminals find a more literal meaning and a place to blend in among a world of strangers whether on land or at sea.
Leslie Ibsen Rogge, whose back story reads as part action packed chase adventure and part relaxing travelogue, was an expert bank robber who robbed nearly 30 banks and netted over $2 million dollars. You almost forget that the sun drenched man with a beer in hand is on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List and not just another carefree vacationer. Rogge’s days in the Navy gave him experience with sailing which he used to travel extensively around Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, Jamaica and even Portugal, and he traveled by land throughout Florida, Mexico and even settled in Guatemala. Rogge was also very mechanically inclined and could work odd jobs working on machinery, automobiles and household needs as a handyman in just about any sunny port town.
In a place where being an out-of-towner is the norm, criminals can find a welcome space and room for anonymity and a place to blend in. “The Caymans were beautiful.” Rogge recalls, “We anchored right off Georgetown’s Seven-Mile Beach in front of all the fine hotels. They didn’t really mind. The sight of sailboats anchored off their hotels did nothing but add charm, so some even welcomed us with free showers and beach rights.” Rogge also found Gulf coastal towns in the south to be a place where people tended to mind their own business and where an easy-going lifestyle let a criminal blend in without many questions.
Some find refuge outside the long arm of the law in exotic and far away locals. In lands where pirates and expatriates roam free from rules criminals from all walks of like can feel as if they have freedom from pressures without being that far from civilization and supplies. For Rogge, the FBI was never far behind. In Guatemala, Les was finally captured. He now spends his days behind bars, in sunny Texas.
Les Rogge was capture number 423 in 1995 after eluding the FBI for nearly a decade as #7 on their Top Ten List. After settling in Guatemala Les was discovered when he helped hook up a young boy’s computer to the internet, and he had no idea that the boy would eventually go on to identify Rogge through a picture he came across on the FBI’s website. Rogge became the first Top Ten criminal to be apprehended due to the internet, and at the time he was the only non-violent criminal on the list.
Les has served 15 years of his sentence at the Federal Pen in Beaumont, TX, and at the age of 71 he is due to be released in 2047. During his two decade crime spree Les traveled with his wife Judy and they are still married today.
Coming to the end of the 2011 book award season, Wanted picked up a 3rd finalist award! The Indie Book Awards gave Wanted a Finalist award for their Biography category. Thanks Next Generation! Here is a list of all the winners:
If anyone is attending the Next Generation Indie Book Awards ceremony during the Book Expo of America, and you have a camera in hand, can you shoot a picture of my book as a finalist in the Biography Award when it’s given? I have cancelled my NY trip this year but wanted to see it on the big screen!
I would appreciate a picture very much! Thanks!
The FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitive’s List Turns 60
While One of Its Success Stories Celebrates Birthdays Behind Bars.
Just a few days after Leslie Rogge spent his 70th birthday in prison, the FBI was having its own birthday party of sorts. They were celebrating the 60th anniversary of the birth of the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. Created in 1950, the list has led to the capture of over 460 people. Rogge is one of over 491 people who have made the list.
In his new book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, author Dane Batty goes inside the FBI’s extensive chase of Rogge, who robbed nearly 30 banks and got away with over $2 million dollars, throughout the United States and across several different countries. In a unique behind the scenes look, he uncovers Rogge’s evasion tactics and the FBI’s tactics in bringing him into custody.
As could be expected, Rogge’s reflections on his capture and making the Top Ten list are not cause for celebration. “It may sound like I’m bitter, but really, I knew what would happen if they caught up with me. It still baffles me why they got so upset. No one was ever hurt or harmed, and I landed on the Top Ten—the first time they put someone on it with no violence.”
The FBI credits the list for aiding in their search efforts through heightened media attention and public awareness. The FBI’s own podcast radio show Inside the FBI cites Rogge’s case as an example of the list’s success. “Leslie Rogge is an interesting one. Leslie Rogge was the first person to be apprehended as the result of the Internet, and he was captured down in Guatemala.”
When the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List turns 70 in 2020, Rogge will be 80 and have 27 years left in prison. He is due to be released on February 10th, 2047.