Kevin Kierstead

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

We are focused on small-time threats in America right now: terrorists, “lone-wolf” scenarios, gangs, etc.  We don’t see a real threat in the way of an entire country attacking us.  China, though, is fully capable of attacking us and they have a massive amount of strength–the only thing holding them back, if they decided to do it, would be the threat of a nuclear strike, so this book ponders what might happen if they could figure out a way around that problem.  Ultimately, though, with that as the background story, this is a story about survival after a devastating tidal wave that was over 100-yards tall.  One young man, one young dog, one young woman and one old man come together in unlikely ways and begin to fight through their struggles together.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Honestly?  I have a problem with authority!  But it wasn’t just that.  I did the whole agent/publisher dance on and off for 20 years.  Back in 1994, when I finished my first novel, I had it accepted by an agency called the Thornton Literary Agency and it was scheduled to be published under the Electric Umbrella but their company went into a hiatus and the rest is history.  That kind of unpredictability along with the growing trend of agents/publishers chasing “what’s hot” vs. looking for new talent in any genre is what pushed me here.  I love nothing more than having total control over my work.  Except for writing.

3. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

It has been difficult.  When I first started doing it, I was excited that my work would be available worldwide.  Back then, I had no idea what really went into self-publishing.  The hardest parts are the editing (without a pro, one must edit several times and have help), the formatting of books for both print and e-book distribution, and marketing.  If you take the three of those together, and you have a few books on the market, it is more than a full-time job; it’s an all-of-your-time job.  Every time I log onto the PC, I go and check sales ranks and do a little promoting before writing or anything else.  Overall, it comes down to control again–nobody is telling me what to do; for that, I’m willing to put in a lot of work.

4. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books.  Which ones have been the most successful?

Just the traditional ones, but the key is repetition.  I use Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, forum comments, e-mails, business cards and a few others.  There is a very fine line to walk, though; promote/repeat too much, and your target audience gets sick of you and kicks you out of their lives.  Promote too little, and you’ll remain an obscure name.

5. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

There are several services that do this but I was using BookBuzzr by Freado which, among other things, allows you to schedule tweets. So I had it set up to promote one of my four books (at the time) about once or twice per week. After reading about how Twitter people were reacting to the automatic posts in general, I vacated that whole practice.

6. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

Vistaprint is probably the cheapest option out there, and their quality is varied, depending on what you order.  For business cards, I recommend or Google “Creative Business Cards” and read some of the top results for ideas; some of those cards are insane!

7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

I learned that there is little glory and lots of work–you have to love writing, and I mean truly love writing, to do this. The chances of you getting rich, with all of the talent out here now, are very low.  If you’re lucky, you’ll rise out of the 89% of authors who will not sell more than 50 books in their entire lives, and you earn some spending money.

8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?

Ask me this in five years, and I’ll probably have an interesting answer, but for now–I actually think I wouldn’t change anything.  I did my research and wrote and edited and rolled my books out into the market.

9. Indie authors face the challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie just starting out?

Build your audience as soon as possible, but you’re going to have very little luck building them up before your first book is finished. Get that first book done, and you have a product to model.  That makes it ten times easier to gain new followers.  Most importantly, as I think most authors would agree, is that you have a great story.  Do us all a favor and write a great, quality story because traditionally published authors largely love to verbally assault the self-publishing and Print-on-Demand industries.  While it’s true that the new self-publishing movement has lead to more typos and terrible design errors, only writers can change this image that big names are labeling us with.

Write a great story, have beta-readers (friends/family/acquaintences that will give you an objective view of your work–not praise you, but point out every potential flaw), edit your entire book no less than three times through, become an expert at cover design or pay somebody to do yours.  Most people look at a terrible cover and say, “Meh, no thanks. Probably an indicator that if he/she didn’t care about the cover, they obviously aren’t interested in presenting something to me, the reader, that is pleasing.”  Yes, people do judge books, at first, by their covers. If you can afford it, hire a very respectable, proven editor, cover designer, and marketing expert. Isn’t your work worth it?  If not, hang on to it, re-write, re-think, re-do.

10. What are you currently working on?

I’m about 22,000 words into my sixth novel (will be the fifth published) which will be released in November; an action-adventure title with a little sci-fi twist, from the People Phenomenal series called Flight Fortemente.  What’s exciting and different about this one is that it is the first book in a series, which I’ve never done, and I’m having a professional artist create all my characters, and I release pictures of my characters one-at-a-time on my Facebook fan page.  They will also be on the cover of the book.  I’ve never done this, but it’s fun and great in so many ways. For one, you build true interest in your upcoming book by giving readers a face to look at while putting a one-paragraph or less description of who that character is below the photo.

While sometimes I like to purposely under-describe my characters so that my readers can come to their own conclusions about what they look like, this one will be decided for them, which will be more concrete and allow them to immediately envision each character’s actions as they are described.  Moreover, I love prison breaks and this book includes an “attempt” (I won’t say whether it is successful or not).  And although you won’t know what this mission that they are training for is until near the end of the book when they actually do it, it’s exciting, fast moving and will end with a major impact on any reader.  There are black characters, female and male characters, and really just a group of common, everyday Americans who come together and hash out a plan to take something from the government and give it to the American people.

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?

Kevin A. Kierstead’s books are accompanied by two truths at all times, which are that the book could actually happen in real life and it will not be cliche, with the ultimate, guiding goal being to have my reader say to himself or herself after finishing one of my books, “That was good/great.  I did not waste my time, it could happen in real life, it was suspenseful, and it hasn’t been done a hundred times already.”

12. How can readers learn more about your books?

My books in print from CreateSpace:

Addy’s Boom and the Blast Frontier (most recent, action-adventure)
The Unbitten Onion (humor, parody)
The Lost Dialogues of Table 18 (humor, general)
Name of Alt (sci-fi)

My books for the Kindle from Amazon

Books for the Nook from Barnes & Noble

E-books for almost any device or to read on the PC

Facebook fan page (occasional contests to win free stuff like pens and bookmarks)

Blog: To Win the Lottery of Words (about writing, life, and the third thing)

Goodreads author profile

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