Paul Mila, author and underwater photographer, makes the ocean an integral part of his writing. Although he uses social media, he also makes presentations at trade shows and speaks before groups to market his book. He discusses this and a host of other techniques he suggests.
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.
Dangerous Waters is the perfect book if you’re looking for an enjoyable, easy beach read while relaxing under a coconut palm. Appealing to divers and non-divers alike, the story is a fast-paced, action-adventure thriller about a young woman’s struggle to overcome adversity. Dangerous Waters has all the ingredients for a gripping undersea adventure: ferocious sharks, friendly dolphins, nefarious criminals, and enough chemistry between an athletic, sexy heroine and a bold, yet sensitive, hero to spark romance in the steamy Caribbean.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
I accidentally fell into the indie class as a result of deciding to forge ahead despite rejection from the traditional publishing channels.
My philosophy: I’d rather be self-published than non-published.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
Nope. Why not? It’s not for lack of trying, since I sent numerous query letters to agents for each of my three novels before deciding to self-publish. Who knows why the traditional community of agents and publishers rejects authors and manuscripts? They have many reasons.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
Self-publishing has been both wonderfully rewarding, and also extremely frustrating.
Rewarding because of the many unsolicited e-mails I’ve received from readers who enjoy my books, and from the incredibly interesting people I have met, and with whom I have become friends, along my literary journey.
Frustrating because you are continually fighting the never-ending credibility battle: convincing bookstore to carry your books, convincing reviewers to review your self-published book, convincing people to buy your book.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
I’ve tried several things: Speaking to groups about my books, which includes presentations to dive clubs, libraries, conservation organizations like Sierra Club, etc.
Appearing at trade shows and having a booth. Writing a monthly newsletter. Maintaining a web site. Producing marketing materials such as bookmarks, business cards, postcards, posters, etc. Sending out well-timed and sharply focused press releases. Publishing in the e-book space. Networking on social media.
All have met with varying degrees of success. Difficult to pick one, but probably the most payoff: website, marketing materials, converting my books to e-book format.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Some people advised giving away books to attract other readers. I found this to be expensive, and not worth the effort. Most people put a zero value on what they get for free.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
I’ve learned that writing is the easy part; marketing is the tough part. You really must become a shameless promoter, which can be a difficult role if that’s not your personality.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Can’t really think of anything different, but there’s probably something I’m forgetting.
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?
Stay positive in the face of rejection. In most cases it’s a business decision so don’t take it personally. Don’t give up; set realistic expectations; make as many contacts as possible; look for opportunities to be as visible as possible. Pick other people’s brains for how they market their books.
Also: Keep writing! I can see a significant improvement in my writing from my first book to my third, and hopefully my fourth. Like anything else, the more you do something the more proficient you become.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
Currently polishing up the draft on the fourth novel in my series, before starting yet again on the gruling agent query process, and close to finishing a draft of a non-fiction book which I’m co-authoring with another writer, Judith Hemenway. Working title, Bubbles Up!
FYI, not a random coincidence that Judy’s last name sounds very similar to that of a well-known deceased author. She is related, but somewhere along the way one branch of her family changed the spelling of their name.
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?
Dive Into Adventure, which is the tag line on my logo, a dolphin reading a book held in its fluke.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
Visit my website, milabooks.com, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.