Lance Leuven

It’s not every day that someone decides to take a cross-country journey, blog about it, then turn that blog into a book.  But British author Lance Leuven has done just, and as a new writer he shares what he’s already learned.

1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

Well it all started with a rash decision after the pub, really.  I was at home pondering my upcoming 30th birthday when I concluded that there wasn’t really anything stopping me from doing something I’d been thinking about for a while.  So the next day I walked into work, quit my job, and then handed in notice on my flat.  My plan was to spend the summer traveling the length and breadth of the UK. I compiled a list of things to see and do and lastly decided to write a blog of my experiences for my friends to follow.  With my long list of tasks to complete my trip became quite a rip-roaring gallivant across the nation encompassing a vast amount of what the UK has to offer.  This, combined with the inevitable bad luck, misadventures and disasters, led me to think that maybe others might enjoy sharing my story, so I decided to publish the blog.

2. How have your sales been?

Well I only published a couple of weeks ago so fairly slow so far.  Due to the nature of the book my first task is to reach the right audience.  Being not simply a genre-specific novel or travel guide or anything straightforward means that reaching the people who’d be interested in its “niche” nature is my first and biggest challenge!

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Jonathan Lister and Kevin Fuhrman

Authors Jonathan Lister and Kevin Fuhrman are set to release a self-published urban fantasy, Welcome to Demos, in January.  I recently corresponded with Jonathan to learn more about the book and how he and Kevin are building buzz around it.

1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

“Welcome to Demos” is in that urban fantasy vein.  It’s a story about family interactions in a supernatural world where werewolves have lived openly with humans since before recorded history. Basically, we’re looking at the real-life implications of supernatural beings without the “coming out party.”  Everybody’s here, everyone knows it, to the next scene we go.

This story came about from what we saw as a lack of strong male leads in the market.  Our characters aren’t bemoaning their existences, they’re living them and struggling to achieve goals – with some police corruption, gun shot wounds, mysticism and coffee thrown in.

2. How have your sales been?

We recently announced our release date of January 1, 2012.  Kevin’s joked that the interest we’ve generated so far is kind of shocking to him.  In his words: “The Urban Fantasy genre is full of talented and prolific authors and the idea of something we’ve created standing out enough to get this kind of response is a shock to my normally pessimistic nature.”

3. Describe your experience with traditional publishers and how it compares to self-publishing.

From my perspective publishing with a traditional house and then going independent, it’s completely different – 100 percent control is scary, exciting, tiresome and really rewarding all at the same time.  We shopped “Welcome to Demos” to agents at first and we’d get requests for pages only to be turned away without much feedback.  If anything, this teaches us an agent isn’t a mandatory part of the process.

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Gini Graham Scott

Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D., owner of Changemakers Productions, has vast experience in writing, publishing, and film, as well as consulting and marketing work.  I decided to talk with her about her background in these areas and how indie authors can market themselves and their brands.

1. You’ve written over 50 books. Tell me briefly about some of them.

My books range in subject matter based on what I have been interested in at the time. Some of my earlier books deal with social issues and lifestyles, then with marketing and sales, after that creativity, success, resolving conflict, and personal and professional development, improving relationships in the workplace, and most recently with promotion, using the social media, and writing and producing indie films.

The most recent, coming out Nov. 29, is The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film, based on my experience in writing, producing, and sometimes directing over four dozen of these.  I also started my own publishing company, Changemakers Publishing, which features mostly self-help and popular business books.  The two most popular ones are The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn to Promote Your Business or Yourself and The Truth About Lying.

2. How have your sales been?

Some of my most popular books have sold 10,000-20,000 copies, such as Mind Power: Picture Your Way To Success; The Empowered Mind: How to Harness the Creative Force Within You; and Success in MLM, Network Marketing, and Personal Selling.

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Osayi Osar-Emokpae

I was surprised recently to learn that I was not the only person where I work to recently self-publish a book.  That’s when I met Osayi Osar-Emokpae through a mutual friend.  I decided to find out more about Osayi’s book, Impossible is Stupid, and her experience with self-publishing.  So what better way than one of my interviews?

1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

It’s Thanksgiving Day as I sit here responding to this interview question. The plan was to go to the gym in my apartment, then come back and respond to this email, but my plan didn’t quite work out that way.  On the way from the gym I was stopped by a random woman in my apartment. She asked me to escort her and her boyfriend to her apartment because she was nervous that he was violent. He seemed harmless, and I didn’t want to get involved, but I asked God, and felt Him telling me to go with her.

When we got to her apartment he kept talking about how peaceful he was, and I could see the tears streaming down his face, and all I could think was how did I get myself into this mess?  If anything, at least I would be a witness for him to prove that he did not hurt her. So one minute he is telling her that he can’t believe she brought me into their situation, and the next minute I hear her screaming and he had her in a grip hold and was punching her in the face, pummeling her as hard as he could.  I could see blood, arms flailing and things getting knocked around. And all I heard was screaming and more screaming.

I did the only thing I could, I quickly walked away and called 911 as fast as my fingers would allow me.

While talking to the police I found out that she was 40 years old, she had started dating the man in August of this year, and they started living together not long after that.  Not only was he unemployed, but he had a record…for assault!

And it is for women like these that I wrote this book.  There are women out there who are dating men just because they feel like they need to have a man.  There are women out there dating men who leave them stranded after they become pregnant (another story for another day).  There are women out there married and miserable because they felt they absolutely had to marry the first thing that came along.

So I wrote this book, and I keep writing because women need to know that they are valuable, and that living a fulfilled life without a man is not impossible.  I wrote this book to show that beating loneliness and depression as a single woman is not impossible.  As a matter of fact, Impossible is Stupid!

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Amy Cross

British author Amy Cross stays busy these days, churning out new books and constantly generating story ideas.  In this interview she discusses her projects and explains her straightforward approach to marketing.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

The Dark Season books are about a girl, Sophie, who meets a boy, Patrick.  The boy turns out to be the last vampire on Earth, and he’s completely mute, and he’s the last vampire because he killed all the other vampires.  So that’s the starting point.  I’ve never been a big fan of vampire novels in general, but I wanted to see if I could come up with an interesting central relationship that I can explore over multiple volumes.  I’d like to publish 22 volumes a year, as if it’s a network TV series.  But I suspect exhaustion will limit it to 13 a year, as if it’s on cable.

Apart from Dark Season, I’m also working on other books.  I self-published a collection of erotic short stories titled Love Stories?, and a comic family drama titled At War With the Hamptons.  The latter was a chance to experiment, so I pulled together some stuff I’d written over the years and I beat it into a semi-coherent narrative about a family who, collectively, spend 50 years grieving over the death of one person.  Some parts of it are quite experimental.  I like playing with form and structure, but it’s still a comedy, honest!

2. How have your sales been?

The vampire books have been averaging 1 or 2 sales a day, and the book of erotic short stories has been doing slightly better.  I expected to sell maybe one a week, so I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be.  I don’t know how that compares to other beginners, but I’m happy for now.  At War With the Hamptons has only been up for a short time and so far no one’s given it a shot, but I hope it’ll sell at least one copy in the next week.

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Carol Newsome

Carol Newsome is the author of A Shot in the Bark (A Dog Park Mystery).  Here she discusses her unique book and how important it is for new writers to make a great first impression.

1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

It’s about an artist, Lia, who’s friends with a serial killer and doesn’t know it.  When her writer boyfriend dies under suspicious circumstances, the dog park and its motley crew of denizens is the focus of the investigation.  Of course the handsome detective, Peter, crushes madly on Lia.  She’s struggling with questions about her relationship with the deceased.  Secrets come to light in Peter’s pursuit of the truth, and that complicates things.  And you’ve got this serial killer working to stay one step ahead of the investigation.

I’m a big fan of mysteries.  One thing I’ve noticed about our dog park is that people rendezvous in the parking lot and don’t think anyone is watching, but all of us doggie parents don’t have anything better to do than pay attention to who comes and goes, and speculate on what they’re up to.  I’ve been saying for years that we needed to have a dog park mystery.  So it was in the back of my head that this would be a fun thing to do.

I was motivated to start my book after an acquaintance asked me to help him edit his thriller.  There was a lot to like about the manuscript, but he was trying to write popular fiction, and he’s not a popular fiction kind of guy.  He thinks it’s junk.  He had a passive aggressive approach to feedback which showed up in his manuscript.  What could have been a nifty book was turning into a mess.  I wound up wanting to kill him.

So I quit his project, picked up a pen and took him out.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been steadily growing since I published in September.  Right now I’m averaging 2 sales a day.  Knock on wood.

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Kim Wolterman

Kim Wolterman is a non-fiction author and focuses much of her work on writing about historical research.  In this interview she talks about her books, what you should do before you finish your book, and what led her ultimately to starting her own publishing company.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

Like a lot of people, writing a book was on my list of things to do.  But I always thought that my first one would be a book for children on the topic of composting.  My husband and I owned a large commercial composting facility, and I frequently went into classrooms to talk about the composting process.  There are no up-to-date books for children on this topic.  But sometimes our books speak to us and demand to be written.  That is what happened with my first book, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)?  Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home.  While researching the history of our home in order to obtain a century home plaque I became very frustrated with the fact that the records in St. Louis County are scattered here, there, and everywhere.  I kept wishing for a guide to help me understand where all the documents are located, and where else to look, when I hit a brick wall.  Since there was none available I decided to write a book to help other researchers in this area.

When I approached traditional publishing companies with my book proposal, I was told that my audience was too narrow.  Even the local publishing company in my community wanted my book to be broader.  But I knew that if I made the book generic for all house researchers, then people in St. Louis County would still struggle to find the resources here.  So I wrote it my way and made the decision to start my own publishing company in order to get the book published.

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Shel Horowitz

Shel Horowitz has worn many hats – consultant, copywriter, author, speaker.  In this wide-ranging interview he touches on numerous topics including marketing, the art of self-publishing, networking – and, of course, his books.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

I’m fortunate that I have a gift for explaining complex concepts in clear, simple language – and that I love doing this.  I’ve been writing professionally since the 1970s, and writing books is an outgrowth of the many articles I’ve written.  When I have something to share that would be way too big for an article, a book makes sense.  I’ve done it eight times so far.

The ones still in print:

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson (the Guerrilla Marketing man): a guide to marketing in the green marketplace, including many advanced yet easy/inexpensive techniques for marketing in general.

Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, a whole book on marketing books.

Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World, one of the best Marketing 101 primers out there.

The first two offer large bonus packages, by the way – things other people have offered so as to reach my audience. The Guerrilla book has $2000 worth.  It’s a good strategy.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales are modest, but the important thing is that the right people buy.  People buy my books and then hire me as a marketing consultant and copywriter, as a publishing consultant or as a speaker.

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Sandy Hill

Sandy Hill is the author of Tangled Threads.  In this interview she discusses her book along with her marketing efforts to book clubs and success with word-of-mouth marketing.

1. Tell me about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

Tangled Threads is a historical novel set in an 1890s North Carolina cotton mill village and briefly in a nursing home in Virginia in 1957.  It tells the story of two lifelong enemies whose lives intertwine through the years until one woman calls the other back to the village to share a secret.  It’s about forgiveness and how we want to end our lives.

2. How have your sales been?

Considering I so far have no website or blog and don’t tweet but am relying mainly on word of mouth, I’m satisfied.  Slow but steady.

3. You’ve successfully sold books by reaching out to book clubs.  How does one go about doing this?

First, I included book club discussion in the back and mentioned that it was good for book clubs in my Amazon tags and on my business cards.  Then I asked women I know in book clubs if their club might like me to speak.  Club members could read the first chapter online at Amazon for free and see my style, which reassured them about the quality of a self-published work.  Slowly, word is spreading as club members mail a copy of the novel to friends in other states.

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