Victor Dandridge is a cartoonist at heart, and channels his creative energies through his publishing outfit, Vantage:Inhouse Productions. Find out the surprisingly simple marketing methods that work for him, and why he doesn’t like doing public readings of his work.
1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.
The end of the world began eight minutes ago. You didn’t know, you can’t stop it, and now the end is here. What story would the last eight minutes tell of you?
2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?
I’ve been a fan of comics since I was a kid and have always wanted to work in the industry, initially with the goal of being an artist. And through the years, I started writing my own stories for the comic universe I had created and things just spiraled from there. I’ve been a part of the small-press comic community for some years and took the opportunity to challenge myself by writing something different. With my roots already being so tied to self-publishing, it was only natural to pursue doing even a novel that way.
3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?
No, my plan has always been to establish myself on my own a bit more before I attempt to go traditional. I want to see what I can amass on my own so if I did decide to try something more mainstream, I know what I’m bringing to the table.
4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?
I love self-publishing! While there’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, with no one else to specifically rely on, there’s a huge amount of freedom and creativity that I get to play with on a regular basis. Its cathartic, especially being able to switch between caped superheroes to end-of-the-world slice-of-life pieces.
5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?
I’m just getting my footing using social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote myself; after a year, I still feel like I’m a novice, henpecking an idea here and there. But the best technique I think I’ve used is just allowing people to read my work. That word-of-mouth engine is still the best in getting anyone to do much of anything, even in this digital age.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I won’t do a reading from my book. I know that’s the tradition that a lot of writers follow, particularly at book signings and such. But with this book in particular, I want the reader to find their own place in each story and how they read it is too important to that for me to read to them. I don’t want my inflections to overshadow their reactions.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
There’s a simple joy in just finishing. I didn’t know that when I started. I figured, you make something, you try to sell it and if it hits, then you feel that wave. But actually sitting down, planning to make something and doing it, having something to claim as your own; that’s your first reward.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I would’ve started sooner! I’ve had some of these stories bouncing around in my head for years, always waiting for “when I grew up” to tell them. There’s no age limit or restraint to putting your work out.
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?
Think outside the box. There are tried and true methods to a lot of things, some you should follow; but if you’re going to find your voice, both as a writer and a marketer, you’ve gotta try something strange some times. And don’t think the most expensive route is always the best; you’ll be surprised how far going grass-roots will get you.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
I’m always working, it seems, currently on finishing the first volume of my web-comic Origins Unknown (Jacob Newell, art), completing the urban, hero-noir series, The Samaritan (Ren McKinzie, art) and The Trouble w/Love (Harold Edge, art). I’m already working on the second volume of 8 Mins, while also working on my sci-fi hero epic, The Grand Commander and the Green Lantern homage, SPECTRUM.
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?
Vantage:Inhouse Productions is the bridge between small-press publishing and the mainstream; big ideas pursued with a lot of heart.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?