Anderson O’Donnell specializes in dystopian fiction and constantly feeds his healthy addiction to the art of writing. Anderson talks about making the most of social media and going beyond its superficial uses to enhance his marketing efforts.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
Kingdom is a thrill-a-minute, bio-punk myth that manages to wrestle with the most pressing issues of the new millennium. It’s a novel of tomorrow night, when the big party gets raided by the monsters we’ve been building for the last half-century. Hip and hellish, wild and weird, Tiber City is the dystopian megalopolis into which we will all soon move—whether we know it or not. Toss William Gibson, Andrew Vachss and David Fincher into the petri dish, irradiate them, then infuse the result with Transylvanian meth, and you’ll have some sense of what the reader can expect.
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
Frustration with how risk-adverse the traditional publishing industry has become. I get it: sales margins are razor thin, and the natural inclination, in any industry, is to reduce risk. But for the writing and publishing industry, risk reduction means going all in on books by a recognizable brand name—Snookie, for instance. I mean, that’s their answer…Snookie. But like I said, I can’t blame them.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
No, I haven’t been traditionally published, but not for lack of effort. I sent out query letters to a number of agents and publishing houses, and while Kingdom attracted some interest, nothing panned out. But I received good feedback from a few other traditionally published authors, enough so I decided not to stick the project in the desk drawer. I believe in Kingdom; and I think readers are going to respond to the world I’ve created.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
It’s been a love/hate thing. I love the creativity and the control: You get total say over the artwork, the marketing. People perceive your work exactly as you intend it to be perceived. Of course, you’re also doing all the work, so it can be a grind. And when you have a family and a “real” job (you know, the kind that pays the bills) and you’re still trying to actually write, the marketing aspect can be a challenge. But, I’ve also found that it helped spark ideas for new plots and characters, because you’re considering your work, your world, from a new angle.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
Connecting with bloggers has, without question, been the most successful. Just firing off messages into the Twitterverse is futile; you’ve gotta make personal connections with the people whose support you’re seeking. That’s the point of social media, no? To be social. Goodreads is excellent for this as well.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Don’t spam or harass. And remember, no one is going to see a tweet and think: wow I gotta read that book. There has to be something else there: connection, some reason to pick your book out of the mess of tweets or other social media messages they’ve received that day.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
How many other people were out there, trying to do the same thing. It can be daunting, trying to get your book elevated above all the other crap out there (its not all crap, to be sure; but a lot of it is.) The slush pile has moved online; that’s something I’ve read a lot, and to some degree, its true. Just look at your various social media feeds: everyone is clamoring for your attention, even to the point of giving away their book.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your book, what would it be?
Devote more money to marketing, so I could spend more time writing. After all, I got into writing because I had no choice; it was a compulsion. Anyone who can make the choice to be or not to be a writer is not a writer. No sane person would choose this as their
desired occupation; it’s simply too brutal.
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?
If you are serious about moving forward, get ready to work. And don’t forget to write.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
Exile, which is the working title of the second part of my Tiber City trilogy. Shooting for a summer/fall 2013 release date.
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?
Neo-noir, dystopian fiction.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
Please drop by my website: TiberCityNoir.com. Or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.