P.B. Dillon, sci-fi author from New Zealand, turned away from traditional publishing after a bad experience. He discusses that and which methods he now uses as an indie author.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
The Mage-Wrought Warrior is a fantasy series, the first two books of which are Mage-Wrought and Urgitwoods. It’s the story of Lito, a hero like no other. Given life by Garvin, he must struggle against impossible odds to save the life of Tyrealla, Garvin’s daughter – all the while wrestling with the riddle of his own existence.
It won’t be easy: they’re about to be attacked by the Kelits, fierce warriors who paint themselves blue and file their teeth. Their leader is a Dark Mage who will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal. The Dark Mage seeks immortality – which he believes he can gain through the use of a jewel that forms part of Tyrealla’s favorite necklace.
Added to this are the complications that Lord Cirovan believes Lito was made to protect him; Tyrealla treats him as if he were repulsive; and, because of how he came into being, Lito doubts that he qualifies as fully human.
Will Lito be able to help defeat the invading Kelits? Will he be able to save Tyrealla from the Dark Mage? Will he win her over, or learn to accept who and what he is?
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
Publishing has changed. There’s no mystery to it any more. If you are online, you have access to all the tools you need – and unless they think they’re on to a major bestseller, I’m not sure traditional publishing offers any additional value.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
Yes. I was hugely naive and thought it was the right thing to do at the start of my career. It took ages; attracting an agent/publisher from New Zealand (where I live) isn’t easy, partly because of the geographic separation which should mean nothing but does. And then, when I finally got my book deal, I realized that I no longer had control over the cover, the editing, or even the book title – and was still expected to do all the marketing myself.
It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Turned me away from writing for a number of years.
As soon as the rights reverted to me I decided to start doing it myself. That was mid-way through last year. Now I’m in control and can do things my way, and it’s much better – and I’ve already sold more copies than the traditional publisher did.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
It’s been great – although gaining momentum from a standing start isn’t easy.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
At the moment, I’m trying Kindle Select. One of my books has just peaked at number 1837 on the list of best Kindle sellers. Not a great achievement (looking for number 1!) but that book has only been out for a few days. It’ll be interesting to see if it goes any higher, slips back or stays around about the same.
I’ve got a bunch of other ideas to put into practice as well, but I already know I’ve done it all backwards. As you’ve no doubt heard a million times before, the idea is to build a platform first, then publish. Unfortunately, I still have a day job, and prefer to spend what free time I have actually writing.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Adwords. There’s no guarantee that a click will turn into a sale – and not much point in spending potentially many times more than I’d make for that sale.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
The tools that you expect to work often just don’t, Amazon’s Kindle conversion tool being a prime example. You won’t believe the difficulty I had to get that thing to work; I wrote a blog post about it.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I haven’t yet really figured out what works and what doesn’t. I’ll get back to you.
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?
Start building your online network now. Not later. And make sure you get in touch with as many people who can be useful as possible (but in a nice way!).
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I’m one of those people who has always got multiple projects on the go at once. The ones I’m most passionate about include a sci-fi novella about a man turning into a dragon, a heroic fantasy series about the lone survivor of a civilization wiped out by an invading race, and a sequel to one of my earlier books.
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?
Magical, well-written (I’ve won a number of awards), original fantasy, leaning towards the heroic, and idea-based sci-fi.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
My website (pbdillon.com) has a synopsis of each, and Amazon offers samples:
Mage-Wrought and Urgitwoods.
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