H.P. Stephenson/Kathryn Tedrick

H.P. Stephenson and Kathryn Tedrick are the authors of War of the Staffs: Quest for the Staff of Adaman.  In this interview, they discuss why they use blogging and social media – and why they advise against using a marketing firm.

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

A powerful vampire wizard named Taza is brought through the void by Adois, a vengeful goddess who lends him her staff so that he can take over the planet, Muira, and turn it from good to evil.  He convinces a race of dark elves to take on the cloak of vampirism, but his careful planning is jeopardized when Prince Tarquin is born to fulfill a prophecy.  Tarquin, however, cannot succeed alone, and when Morganna, an Illanni noble woman, threatens Taza’s plans, she prevents her cousin from destroying the prophecy.

Tarquin is sent to the dwarvan militia to learn combat and survival skills by joining an elite group of soldiers known as the Borderers. He is championed by the wizard, Celedant, who begins his search for the Staff of Adaman – the only object capable of defeating the Staff of Adois.

Book one of the trilogy, The Quest for the Staff of Adaman, begins with the search for the first of two pieces of the ancient staff as Taza’s assassins hunt the prince to thwart the prophecy.  Tarquin, however, is not the only target.  Celedant must confront not only assassins, but powerful and dangerous creatures that Taza brings through the void to destroy him and the growing resistance among the dwarves, wood elves, and high elves.  But first, Celedant must take the final test to become a Master Wizard.  If he passes, he will be able to battle the Staff of Adois and the monster that wields it.  If he fails, not only will the world be overrun by evil, but Celedant will be lost in the Dragon’s Tear for all eternity.

[We] both love epic fantasy and have always wanted to develop our own series.

2. You’ve not worked with a traditional publisher.  Why?

We tried to go the traditional route, but although several seemed interested, they didn’t want to take a risk, or else did not handle epic fantasy.  So with so many people self-publishing e-books, etc., we decided to give it a try.

3. You’ve been self-publishing for a while.  How have you liked it so far?

This is our first self-published.  However, marketing the book ourselves, unfortunately, isn’t our forte.  Kathryn is so busy as a ghost writer, as well as working on our stuff, that she doesn’t have the time that marketing demands.  And I am also pretty busy and it is difficult to find the time needed.  If you are willing and able to put the time into marketing your book,  you can find it very rewarding.

4. What sort of marketing techniques have you used to sell your books, and which ones have been most successful?

We initially paid a marketing firm for a four-week campaign.  Presently, we are mostly using blogs.  Blog as much as you can so you can get a good reputation among the bloggers using your particular site and genre.  This is a lot cheaper and targets directly to a predisposed audience.  Use outlets such as Facebook and LinkedIn to spread the word about book.  There are many blogs on LinkedIn that cater to authors and offer some really good advice.  We are presently getting good results with Facebook and LinkedIn.

5. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

We haven’t done any book signings since the book is POD or e-book but we probably need to.  We would not use a marketing firm in the future.  To begin with, a marketing firm costs a lot of money, and there is no guarantee that it will reach your target audience.

6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

Trying to market is extremely difficult.  It is time-consuming, but once you get the hang of blogging it can be quite fun.  Also, there are a lot of authors out there, and they are more than willing to share advice and past experiences.

7. Independent authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers.  What advice do you have for an indie author just starting out?

Never let the marketing of the book get you down.  You have to have tough skin to deal with agents but with a little effort and time you can market your book.  Remember you are the author, and know your book inside and out.  Now go and tell the world about it using whatever means are at your disposal.

8. What projects are you currently working on?

Books two and three of the War of the Staffs’ trilogy.  Kathryn is working on two books for a Hollywood film director, and Steve is working on a book about the SC Humane Society and a sci-fi book.

9. How can readers learn more about your books?