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.
Were you ever afraid of boredom more than the unknown? Did tedium and predictability, those bywords so often associated with the responsibility of adulthood, give you pause for a moment, and inspire you to do the unexpected? Meet Alexander Armstrong: seventeen years old, poised to graduate high school and preparing for the comprehensive education and career laid out by his parents. That is until, fueled by an immature desire for adventure, he stole away one night and hopped a train for Vancouver where, in a fit of teenage pique, he signed up for service in the United Nations Off-World Legion.
Eight weeks later, as he jumps from the bed of a transport truck into the mud of the colony of Samsara, twenty light years from Earth, Alexander is confronted not by a sterile and deliberately planned colony of his dreams but by a world of transplanted tribes, warlords, and refugees. It is a world where the tundra camel and steamboat reign supreme over the trackless steppes and mountainous lakes and rivers; where pirates, Chinese Tongs, Kazakh bandits, and Gliesiun warriors pale before the presence of his decuria leader, Subedar Angus Motshwega, better known throughout the Legion as MacShaka the Tartan Zulu.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
To be honest, I was motivated by what often felt like insurmountable odds in getting my book to print. Agents, publishers, awards, and no end of luck seemed to be the factors I needed to bring my books to print, so I opted, after a course at the local college, to take the e-book approach.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
I have only had a poem published in a Canadian anthology. I tended to write more than market, since I spent much of my time over the last decade away with the Royal Canadian Navy. It’s only recently with a shore posting that I have had the time to concentrate on marketing my books.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
I have enjoyed it so far, though success is very limited. It’s a great learning experience where every week I learn more about marketing, be it blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and now I’m exploring e-book trailers.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
So far I’ve begun blogging, Facebook, and Twitter, though I’m not sure I’ve had too much success yet. I’m looking hard at an e-book trailer for YouTube and so far I’ve got one roughed out – now I’m looking at the expenses of the licensing fees for the music and images.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I tried Facebook ads but had little to show for the expense. Frankly, I could spend a similar amount on an e-book trailer that would have more longevity.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Well, I knew the marketing side would take a lot of work, I just didn’t imagine how much work. Nearly 75/25 is marketing/writing and I’m not sure if I should be bumping that up to 85%.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I think I would investigate the marketing side and do more pre-marketing. I have done some pre-marketing, but I need to work on a more comprehensive strategy.
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 and try everything. Facebook ads, Google ads, all the different social media, blogging… everything. Sit down, figure out what you want everyone to know about your work and start feeding it out to the public – enough to whet their appetites and not much more.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on the sequel to my first full-length novel, Europa Rising, which is titled Jupiter Rising. As well, I have sequels in the work for my novella, The Scarlet Bastards. Currently, Fremantle Frey is with my editor and I hope to have it out before the end of the month. I have two more, The Tong Fort and The Cardinal of Gleann Ceallach in the works with hope to have both by the end of the summer. A full-length novel, tentatively called Samsara, is about 75% done and I’m aiming for next Christmas (if my editor can keep up).
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?
That’s a hard one to answer, because the two books are very different – one is a hard sci-fi military series while the other is a first person humourous sci-fi adventure. I guess the common theme is that the books take a what I see as a realistic and gritty approach to life in space and on the distant colonies.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?