JK Mikals, author of A Chip in Time, has found the self-publishing process enjoyable and educational. She discusses how she listed all the marketing tasks she wanted to use and which methods ended up on that list.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
Unkempt, lonely and full of self-pity after her recent divorce, the last thing on Cybele’s agenda is saving the world. But saving the world is exactly what the Goddess of Time insists that she do. Dead bodies are multiplying in Xanadu and the surrounding loco-weed filled mountains. Fertility gods are reluctant to mate. And worst of all, her only supplier for the Sacred Brine Shrimp so key to all godly technologies (and addictions) has run mad and can no longer supply them. So when the goddess finds the naïve but well-meaning Cybele through a cosmic computer glitch, she is desperate enough to snatch the girl into the Akashic Records. There, an appalled Cybele is equipped with special cameras and a crew of ghosts, told to re-arrange certain life sequences for different outcomes and to film her efforts to prevent future rewrites. She is to give the head fertility god an attitude adjustment and then repair the time warp – she is to save the world. If you like sci-fi, fantasy and/or romance novels, don’t take it all too seriously and like to laugh, you’ll love this book.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
I’ve always been a do-it-yourselfer. If I can possibly get my hands dirty with a process, then that’s for me. If I were a guy and had been born 50 years sooner, I would have done the freighter-around-the-world thing just so I could have that background for writing. I have really enjoyed learning how to publish and market.
3. Have you been traditionally published?
Hee. I guess you could say so. When I was a freshman in high school my brother found an essay I had written about our grandfather. I guess Bro thought it was pretty good, because he sent it off to Readers Digest. And they apparently also thought it was decent, because they published it in The Most Unforgettable Character section and sent him a check for $25. He never breathed a word until we were both in our forties. I was also privileged to write and edit a stack of computer instruction books, and a whole lot of software specs. As to novels, Chip is my first finished child and I obviously chose the indie route.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
Self-publishing has been loads of fun for me. I published on Smashwords.com and on Amazon.com and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
Well, let’s see, first I devoured as many how-to e-books on the subject as I thought I could stomach, then I made a giant list of things to do. So I put all the tasks into a spreadsheet, marked them for priority, let the computer reorganize them and started clicking off completed tasks. That would include writing the bio and setting up my Amazon author page, my “elevator speech,” and making a video trailer for the book – boy! Was that fun! I sent out a few press releases and have made the usual “if you read it, won’t you please review it?” begs. So far the readers who write back are either raving fans or tell me to eat dung and die. They take no middle ground.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Well, I have intended to get around to making lists on Amazon, but just can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
That when your book leaves the nest, your work has just begun.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I would start marketing even before the book was out! For instance, permit me to plug my upcoming second novel, Panamá!
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?
What’s been done can be done. Get some books on it and make a list. Then do the tasks on the list. “If you stop, so will your sales,” she said, sadly.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I’m living in Panamá now and enjoying my karmic connection (I was born here, then adopted and hauled away, but now I’m back). The idea for a sort of Mark Twain type story just came tumbling out. I have so enjoyed his books and the sly way he has with “faint praise.” Some elements of my journey here and the stories of some of the people I have met are so surreal and perfectly suited to gross exaggeration that I couldn’t resist. Of course, I’ll mix and match and make sure no one finds him/herself in the book. That wouldn’t be kind.
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?
As a (gentle) satirist, it is my duty to rustle.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
Right now it’s just book, singular. But I enjoyed making the book trailer video so much that readers can count on seeing one for each new book. (Upcoming: Panamá!). A link to the video for A Chip in Time is on my author page on Amazon. And I have a blog (JK Mikals Musings, jkmikals.blogspot.com), which I try to feed at least once a week. However, for the past couple of months my internet situation has been seriously underwhelming, so, so has my posting. My poor little blog is starving. But I do drop observations and vignettes there, some of which will doubtless later find their way into a book. For the rest of it, I tend to be a very private person (downright secretive, some say) –”a woman of great mystery,” according to one of my friends. I find that a very inspiring description, if possibly a bit unfortunate as far as marketing goes. But I continue to wear large, slightly ridiculous, concealing hats, lurk non-judgmentally at the edge of conversations, sigh deeply over dead bugs and avoid crowds. And this is my cue to murmur, “I just can’t help it,” blink twice, and beam at you for no apparent reason.