D.E. Funk is a new author who recently released her first novel, Silent Rage. And full disclosure: she is my cousin! In this interview, she explains why she chose indie publishing over traditional, and why having a professional editor makes a difference.
1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My book is called Silent Rage and is about the birth of a serial killer. It details the home life of a juvenile, Russell, who ends up discovering the power he has over others through violence. There is only one female in his life who shows any concern about him. Libby Teach is currently a middle school teacher (name makes sense as you read the book) who is at work on her graduate degree which will enable her to become a behavioral therapist who specializes in juveniles. The book is not a juvenile read. There are real crimes and serious issues tackled in the pages.
I was motivated to write for a couple of reasons. First, I love to read and thought why not? I know what I like and don’t like and could surely write one as well. Second, I believe a lot of crimes could be prevented by early intervention such as behavioral or mental health courses taught to middle school aged kids. They face a lot of tough situations and don’t have the skills to address them. Maybe I can make a difference using writing as a platform.
2. How have your sales been?
That is a bit hard to know but I think the first day was decent. I do not know the numbers at the moment.
3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Have you sought an agent or any work with traditional publishers? If not, why not? If so, what has been your experience?
I did not seek out a publisher. By the time I was finished and had the edited version I had spent a fair amount of money and was ready to start earning on the book. I heard stories about publishers wanting thousands of dollars up front and did not want to have to pay that. In all of my research on publishing it seems that ebooks are the way to go. If there’s an app for your phone then that’s where you want your book to be.
4. How, more specifically, have you liked self-publishing so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.
For the most part I have liked self-publishing. Once the book is there it is easy to make any changes to your manuscript and you can order proofs etc. My husband has been the one to handle the uploading and he says the first time you go through the steps it is time consuming. He also set up a website for me which has been another time-consuming task and one that needs frequent attention for various reasons. The biggest obstacle to self-publishing is probably the time you have to devote to social media for marketing. We are learning as we go and the second book will be much easier. As an aside for you Kris, I think being an agent who handles the media aspect and even a bit of guidance through self-publishing is the way to go. The big houses are going to have to change with the market and offer more options for self-publishing and ebooks. They offer some social media but it is costly to get someone to do what is basically free for most people.
5. Talk a little more about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your book. Which ones have been most successful?
Instagram is the way to go, followed by Facebook. But I hear people are trending away from Facebook. I ask my millennial children what they use and my college students and all of them are more into Instagram and Snapchat. Think Kim Kardashian. I do not want to set up a Snapchat for my author self at this point so I am using Instagram and Facebook – which, by the way, offers “boosts” for certain posts for a small fee ($15-20) and they reach another 15,000 people. I plan to do that soon.
6. Are there any marketing techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Probably too soon to say on this one. However, one thing to note is that the key words you use to describe your book are very important in getting people to find it. For example, my book is a crime thriller. By using those key words I put myself in a category with 54,000+ books. We are tweaking those words to get the number of books down so that my book can more easily be discovered.
7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
You really are your own publisher. If you don’t check everything about your book then no one else will. I believe paying for an editor is important. That person catches mistakes and helps you reword weak areas and really makes a huge difference in the book. I find myself reading other books and noticing things and thinking “they didn’t pay for an editor!”
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your first book, what would it be?
Start sooner. I had a timeline that I pushed myself to make and did it, but I would have liked to have more time to proof a copy, for instance. I didn’t want to miss the holiday sales which also played a part in my decision to self-publish. The traditional route would have taken much longer and frankly I was ready to move on.
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?
Just remember the words of Winston Churchill…Never give up. Never! Never! Never! That being said, use as much social media as you can to get the word out. Add hashtags to your posts. I didn’t even know about that until I was talking to the girl who did my cover (Patti) and she told me about using hashtags to get more people looking at my posts. For example, on Instagram when I post a picture of my book I can add #crimeread or #crime or #femaleheroine. Just search hashtags you think may work for you and see what shows up.
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
I am working on the second book in my Rage series. I have Russell all grown up and out of the juvenile detention center and he’s looking for someone to simply accept him. When girls don’t treat him like he wants or thinks he deserves, he gets rid of them. He became a serial killer in Silent Rage and perfects his art in the second one. I have some twists planned and I also will weave some other crime into the book to keep readers interested and guessing. I have three planned for the Rage series and I have a big twist planned for the final book. Then I guess I’ll start another book or series.
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?
Crime writer who keeps the reader captivated as well as wondering what will happen next.
12. How can readers learn more about your books?
Follow me on Facebook @defunk and Instagram @defunk, and on my website, defunk.net, where links to my book can be found as well.