P.I. Barrington blends sci-fi and romance in a unique and accessible way with her book Isadora DayStar. Read why she prefers traditional over indie publishing and how she uses reviews in her marketing strategy.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
When drug-addled assassin Isadora DayStar finally snags a major interplanetary killing job, she thinks it will both support her habit and revise her status as the laughingstock of her profession. Instead, she embarks on a journey that brings her face to face with her tortured past.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
First, I think I wanted to see what I could do with a novel that didn’t have too much romance and, more importantly, how people would respond to something darker in sci-fi. Also, I think I wanted more control of what I was writing, how I was promoting it, breaking out of rules of genre and publishing. I wanted something that both men and women would find interesting rather than staying within the usual boundaries of what women read which is mostly romance.
I wanted to bring women to the idea of reading something outside their comfort zone that was still interesting and engaging to them. I also desperately wanted to have men read and respond to my novels too. I thought they would respond positively by the grittiness as opposed to tossing the book thinking “Ugh, romance.” The first man to review it loved it so much he compared it to Gene Roddenberry. I wanted to be free enough to write something commercially viable and attractive to both men and women.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
Both now with Isadora. I personally prefer traditional publishing for several reasons. First you have editors who are generally excellent and are just as committed to making your work a success. They double check your work and let you know what needs to be fixed. I have no problem with that at all. Second, the responsibility of creating cover art for your novels is not on your shoulders and I was blessed with literally the best cover artist in the world for my first trilogy, Future Imperfect. Third, psychologically, you have the security of a publisher behind you, regardless of how much they participate or don’t in your promotional efforts.
I first tried a traditional publisher rather than self-published because I wanted the experience of working with one and for the reasons listed above, including to see if I was good enough for someone to accept my work. I have no complaints about that experience whatsoever. It taught me so much and I’m so appreciative of that. It boosted my professionalism and made me take my writing seriously.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
It’s much more work. As I said, with traditional publishing, you have people who double check everything and help you polish your manuscripts and create your book covers. With self-publishing, you’re responsible for all that. It’s more frustrating doing it yourself, especially trying to stay on top of things on your own. As I said, self-publishing is a lot more work but the freedom you gain with it balances it out for the most part.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
Usually, creating a professional relationship between myself and reviewers works well for me. I approach them personally and try to be as professional as possible at the first contact. I make sure to let them know I am appreciative and I also make sure they know that I want as honest a review as possible. I used to be a newspaper reporter so I still believe in not influencing the press so to speak. Amazingly, that very first man to review my work was completely unsolicited. He got word of it via a Facebook remark, picked it up and loved it—I thanked the person who mentioned it and the reviewer as well.
Courtesy goes a long way. I’m just about to start my very first blog tour this month (April) and I’ve never done one before so I’ll see how that goes—I think it will be pretty positive.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Well, lately I’ve been staying away from big book sites like GoodReads or Shelfari and a lot of group sites. I’m not good at them and it leads to frustration for me. Plus I don’t have the time to devote to them as they need; you really can’t take advantage of what they offer unless you participate regularly. I’m always writing—always. Plus, I’m not a people person so that makes it more difficult too.
7. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
If I’d known people would respond so positively and that you could submit to agents and editors as a debut author, I’d have done that. I thought you had to have all these writing credentials so I went with publishing first. But I’ve seen so many agents and editors who have accepted authors with nothing published before that I regret not researching that first of all.
8. What projects are you currently working on?
I must tell you first off that I am very superstitious about talking about things before they happen—comes from years of working in Hollywood! Let’s see, what can I tell you? I am working on two sci-fi projects (both with definitely more romance than my previous stuff—it’s a major plot line actually) a mystery, and a sci-fi novella I started years ago.
9. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
P.I. Barrington is the brand. Under that banner there are different genres: sci-fi, commercial, horror shorts on occasion, a little bit of romantic-type stuff. P.I. Barrington is the brand that I want people to associate with intense writing; I want it to be instantly recognizable as quality work.
10. How can readers learn more about your books?
They’re available on Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, and DesertBreezePublishing.com. I also have an official website with information at thewordmistresses.com (my sister, Loni Emmert, and I both co-author and write independently).