When Diane Schochet befriended another writer who in turn started her own publishing company, she was able to publish her book and see her literary dreams realized. Diane talks about her book, the specific marketing tools she uses, and a tip that worked for her son’s book as well.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book.
Cog Stone Dreams is about Dessa and her mystical, magical, humorous love story. It is about the bow and arrow murder she witnesses, 9,000 years of history she encounters in her dreams, and includes Jewish themes and the perfection, degradation and restoration of wetlands in California.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
I’m not an indie writer. A couple of years ago, I took an online advanced UCLA novel writing class. A classmate liked my writing. I liked hers. We met and became friends. Then in 2011 she informed me that she was becoming a publisher. Her deceased aunt, Carol Fenner, had left her literary collection to my friend. Carol, who had won Newberry awards, a Coretta Scott King award and two other awards, had one book that hadn’t been published. My classmate decided to publish her book, my Cog Stone Dreams book, and some books that she had written, and opened Red Phoenix Books.
Doctor Claudia Alexander, my publisher at Red Phoenix Books, is a scientist. She says my genre is environmental fiction. But I’m not a scientist so I say my book is Jewish magical realism. (Think Isaac Bashevis Singer. I’m aiming high.) However, the environment may be a better selling point. The story is mostly set on Southern California wetlands. Amazon.com puts books about wetlands in their Lakes and Ponds category. Today the Kindle Edition of Cog Stone Dreams is the number 17 bestselling and the number 1 best rated in the Lakes and Pond category. It has been among the top three Lakes and Ponds book for three months now.
3. Have you been traditionally published?
Yes. Non-fiction articles in magazines.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
I love being published.
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 been on one radio program. It was lots of fun and I have no idea if it helped with sales. However, the host, Cyrus Webb, read my book and gave me a five star review on Amazon, a lovely bonus! I’m trying to get on more radio programs. (There are lists of radio stations on the internet.)
I emailed everybody I ever met and told them the book has been published. Any time I can think of anything new about the book such as blog interviews I email again. Every time I do this I garner a few more sales.
I also tell strangers I meet I’ve written a book. This has also resulted in sales.
I’ve told people in local book clubs about the book. The first book discussion will be in September. The second in October.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Lots of people who read Cog Stone Dreams told me they loved it, couldn’t put it down. So I asked them to write a review. Then I waited. Then I asked again. From now on I’ll only ask strangers to write reviews.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
That it takes more time and money than I counted on. I plan to pay for publicity but I’m not sure what I want and what’s the best way to go about it.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I wish I had gotten more reviews before the book was published. I see the big guys like the New York Times and library reviewers ask for the book four months before publication. Quentin Academy is my novel in progress and I’m mentioning it everywhere.
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?
Mention your book everywhere you can long before it comes out. Buy bookmarks and hand them out to book stores. (My son, Stephen Schochet, the author of Hollywood Stories, drove around Southern California, handing out bookmarks to book stores. It helped his sales.)
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on Quentin Academy, my next novel.
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?
I’m a bare bones story teller with morals.
12. How can readers learn more about Cog Stone Dreams?
Here are my links: