Paul Jones is a sci-fi writer who draws influence from his own family and lifetime of reading. In this interview he discusses why he’s avoided traditional publishing and which marketing techniques have not worked for him.
1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?
My Epic Fantasy “Ameca J” series is a trilogy that takes place in the fictional world of “Mythrania” and is based on my two daughters. The inspiration comes from a lifetime of reading fantasy and science fiction, and a genuine desire to promote “family” values for my two girls who were always fighting. So the inspiration was, what if it was only the two of them, trapped in an unknown, dangerous world populated by strange and savage creatures? Would the eldest girl step up to the responsibility of keeping the younger safe?
My first “Blake Trubble” novel is a sci-fi/thriller, the idea for which came to me while I was researching the first Ameca J novel, and in particular the Large Hadron Collider experiment situated on the borders of France/Switzerland. As a big fan of the Alien, Predator and John Carpenter’s “Thing” movies, I wanted to create a similar paranoia but this time in a sealed facility 15 miles in diameter and located underground. Throw in two deadly enemies and 400 hostages and an unknown menace, and you have some great ingredients for a classic sci-fi/thriller. Blake Trubble is the name of the main character, a major in the SAS, and allows me to use quite a few cheesy lines, such as “You want trouble, you’ll get it. Major Trubble.”
2. How have your sales been?
Sales are slow. But that is because I’ve self-published and self-promoted, which takes more time to do than actually writing the books themselves.
3. Have you sought a traditional publisher? Why or why not?
I have not sought a traditional publisher. There are several reasons why not, the first of which is the inspirational stories of Amanda Hocking and John Locke, both impressive success stories of people who have self-published and self-promoted. Another reason is I have no patience for writing submissions and synopses; if I’ve just written a hundred thousand word novel, I am not going to try and condense it into two pages for some lazy publisher or agent. Finally, the true judge of a good book should not be a publisher or agent, but rather the public.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
I have mixed feelings on it. It is a very simple thing to do, however the promotion takes an enormous amount of time.
5. What sort of marketing techniques have you used to sell your books, and which ones have been most successful?
Nothing special. For the books I’ve published, which are e-books only, I promote them on various forums, and in some cases provide them free to review sites. It was doing this that got me a rating from the Flamingnet Young Adult review site of “Top Choice” for Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
The only thing I’ve stopped using is the Harper Collins “Authonomy” site, where a budding writer can publish their work for the critical acclaim and backing of their peers, and if they finish in the top 5 in any given month, then they get selected by Harper Collins for review with a view to potential publishing. Unfortunately this does not depend on the quality of the book or how well-written it is, but rather on how long the writer will spend on the site promoting the work and exchanging “back the book” votes. It’s just not doing what it says it should.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Allow plenty of time for marketing.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Not trying a “joint venture” with a publisher, this is just code for you paying them to do what you can do yourself for free.
9. 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?
Research your genre, think about your target market – how are they influenced, where do they congregate – identify this and saturate those areas with your information.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on two, a sequel to Boundary Limit, called “No Boundaries” and a new Ameca J book set three years after the last.
11. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Tense adventures for discerning 21st century readers.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
They can visit any of the following: