Joyce Godwin Grubbs has a knack for turning real life tragedy into fiction with her set of suspense novels. She explains why working in groups and with writers’ co-ops has been her chosen method of marketing.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.
Jason’s Love is W.A.R. (Suspense): Sgt. Jason Hammer returned to the Army to serve his country believing his best friend, Sgt. Kendall Bruce, would continue in the Army as well: the two were to be ‘lifers’. He was stunned when his re-upping party before deployment to Afghanistan coincided with her going away party. Her plan: to go into hiding to avoid prosecution for a felony. The saga of military family and personal family are in conflict as the soldiers reveal the good, bad and sacrificial in the lives of today’s military. The camaraderie, love and loss of today’s soldiers is epitomized by Sgt. Hammer and his example of what is best in our volunteer army and all that it means to be “Army Strong” – even with feet of clay.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
My mistake was saving my body of work for retirement and thinking publishing would be my project. I soon found that the interested publishers had date projections for my novels (seven at that time) that would extend until I was possibly senile or dead! I also had control issues with editors who when told the novels contained real cases fictionalized into suspense books (to protect identities) would tell me after reading the content, “This would never happen.” I would have to remind them they were “real cases fictionalized, so it had already happened.”
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
I withdrew my works from consideration to self publish; then later independently published through an organization. “The Trula Godwin Project” puts high risk victims underground and maintains an underground mail system for victims. It is a good fit as I write about strong women and their issues and this organization was begun posthumously to recognize the life of a pioneer policewoman who went from victim to survivor.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
I have mastered it to the point I mentor people through the process so they don’t fall victim to vanity presses and literary snake oil marketers. The “Greyhound Lady Walking” suspense series has eleven suspense novels on Kindle e-books and five are in print with plans to bring six more into print in 2012-2013.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
There is no question that book signings are always successful and I have found outlets such as Home Grown Books (of the Ozarks), a great business model (similar to an authors’ co-op) which places books in tourist areas and boutiques. The co-op is run by authors, for author book outlets. I am a big fan of group signings (fairs, farmers’ markets, etc.) and of course traditional opportunities are good. I just like the hands-on events as I may sell three to five of the in-print books to one buyer who wants to get them to share. I have also had people stand in front of me to download my Amazon e-books.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I do not pay for marketing agents: I use custom postcards set for mailing/and for book signings. I donate a limited number of novels to specific charities. I know that it costs (generally) a publisher $150,000 to bring out a new author’s first book. With the downturn of the economy, the first place they cut was advances, and second was marketing. The author is expected to market on his/her own (which I actually think is a good thing). However, in this economy, everyone has learned to make their money off the backs of the authors by the time the agent, publisher, marketer, shipper, etc., all take their cuts, as well as the outlets. If I’m going to go out there and sign books and do the marketing, I deserve the lion’s share of the royalties/profits.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
That great printing companies are out there to do an excellent job for fair pay and that excellent graphic artists can do great book covers for $20 an hour (no more $200 or $600 covers for struggling writers). That freelance editors are reasonable and available in abundance.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Start when I was younger: create a co-op of authors to publish and market books, creatively drawing on the marketing talent around me, and marry an editor I could control!
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?
Network! Do unto other authors as you would have them do unto you. Praise them on your social networks, show their works along with yours. Create group book signings; group marketing opportunities; group information exchanges. What benefits one, can benefit all. Give as good as you get and never settle!
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on two biographies: One a major crime story. I was contacted by Annabelle Kindig to do her story which was in Boulder, Colorado, where she was kidnapped on her 11th birthday (with her girlfriend) after her birthday party, driven to Sunshine Canyon, stripped, raped, then shot twice and left for dead. Her friend Jessica did not survive.
The book follows the extraordinary survivor to age 50 and the 40th year of MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) in Boulder. The second biography is of sex crime expert Trula Ann Godwin: Pioneer policewoman, survivor and poet. Decorated for heroism, one of the top five policewomen nationally, and inducted into the Iowa Women’s Archives of Most Influential Women. I am also polishing my first young adult suspense book.
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?
“Readers of the Greyhound Lady Walking series will walk on the wild side, privy to the protection of the street people and shadow agents of Twyner Security”.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?