Cerynn McCain favors the control authors have with self-publishing. Here she talks about the challenges of networking as well as one marketing technique she avoids.
1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
A brief blurb about the book: In a world where the Àraid have been nearly forgotten, The General remembers. He knows there are still a few hiding. He’s just waiting for one to reveal themselves so he can wipe them out.
Christa knows this. She knows he’s watching her. She knows she needs to keep up the facade of being human. For years staying hidden has been easy, but something has changed. The General lost something valuable, and Christa now must keep it out of his grasp. But how far is she willing to bend before she has no choice but to reveal her powers and risk him finding them?
I started writing it right after my best friend moved away. I was a rather lonely person after that, and the characters I created in the story really helped me get through, so I decided to publish it hoping it might help others as well.
2. How have your sales been?
Honestly? I try not to look. I published it because I loved it. I’m worried if I start checking my sales I’ll start obsessing about the numbers and not focus on continuing the story for me, rather than for publicity.
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 with traditional publishing?
I did try to get an agent for a while, I queried about 20 agents. However, I think I sabotaged myself because I’m not good at pitching my book. I love it. I stand by it. I have a very hard time telling other people they will love it because not everyone loves the same stuff so I had a really hard time writing my query. Also a lot of agents don’t want
to pick up first time authors writing the first book in a series because they worry I won’t finish the series. I plan to query again after the full series is out. A long shot, I know, but I might as well try.
4. What are some of the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Pros: it’s so very easy. I have complete control on most aspects. I picked my own cover. I picked my price (to a point; Amazon does have a minimum price I can set). And I don’t have to fight with someone about what should and shouldn’t be included. (My story is rather dark and deals with a few taboo subjects).
Cons: I have to market myself. I’ve already mentioned this is something I’m bad at and hate doing. People don’t always take self-published books seriously. There’s a stigma that it won’t be very good because it’s self-published, which isn’t correct.
5. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I haven’t really done any. I’m at a complete loss at how to network, and when I reach out and ask, most of the answers are confusing. I’m not very good on social media, and don’t know how to advertise or anything. Like I said…major con. I have joined a few writing groups on Facebook which have been very helpful in writing the next book, but not as much with advertising. I have met many great authors through that, though.
6. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
I don’t really have a good answer for that. I did ask my library to buy my book, and they bought a few copies. That puts the book in front of the reader for free, and it’s gotten checked out a few times.
7. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I don’t pay for Facebook ads. Most people say they don’t really work, and I can’t afford to pay for advertising unless I know it’ll work.
8. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
Writing a good pitch would be very hard. When I started out I thought that would be the easiest part. No. There’s so much that needs to be hinted at, but not revealed, in the blurbs. It’s really hard to make it sound interesting enough to convince someone to buy it, without giving away too much.
9. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I’d get an agent. I’m not capable of marketing myself. But like I said, agents are nervous about first time authors doing a series, and once the whole series is done I’ll try for an agent again.
10. New authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books, whether they go the indie or traditional publishing route. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Make friends that can help you. Sometimes asking another author to read your book, and then give you suggestions for the blurbs helps. They see things you don’t.
11. What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the second book in my series. It’s so very close to finished. I’ve started the draft for the third in the series as well. I also have three stand-alone books started. One is an adult fantasy, one YA (probably) and the third is a possible Juvenile book. My pastor’s daughter really wanted to read my first book (which is way too dark for a child) so I’m trying to write a book that she’d be able to read.
12. 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 take magic, and power over souls, past the breaking point, and then try to patch up the shattered pieces.
13. How can readers learn more about your books?
I’m working on creating a website. But for now I’m on Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram (in three accounts @cerynnmccain, @the_inhibited_artist, and @an_inhibited_author). I post snippets of my writing, as well as teasers for upcoming books there. And also just reach out! Message me on Facebook or Instagram, ask questions, nerd out about how much you love the story, anything. I love communicating with my readers.