S.P. Jayaraj knows the hard work it takes to make it as a self-published author. Find out how he uses book fairs and Patreon to attract more readers.
1. Tell me briefly about your book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My book is a story about Gradni, a young elf orphan boy who blames dragons for all the pitfalls in his life. He is determined to destroy them, but he struggles on this journey when he learns that the dragons are not the villains he was brought up to believe. It is a coming of age story in a high fantasy world that is influenced by global mythologies.
2. How have your sales been?
Initial sales were pretty decent considering that I’m still learning about how to market this book in a way that suits me.
3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Tell me more about that and how you got into it.
I did initially start sending my book out to agents, and though I got some positive responses, ultimately agents did not think it was a good fit for them. I understand that an agent really needs to feel a unique connection with a book to be able to represent it. I wonder if part of the problem was the vastness of the world that the story is set in which might have seemed overly ambitious and thus hard to trust which I do understand. I could have continued to look for an agent and believe that I might have found one that way; however, I wanted to get this book out there into the world so that I could work on following it up with more stories of Adijari.
4. What are some of the pros and cons of self-publishing you’ve experienced?
Well it’s a lot of work doing self-publishing! Even producing the work, getting it edited and formatted properly is all on you. Then after publication, without any machine behind you, you need to become that machine. I’m still constructing that machine. The pros are that although all the responsibility is mine, it is all truly mine, and there is a high just from thinking about that. With the world I am building with each new story, I can make it into anything I want, and that includes handpicking other people to be part of the world creative process. I’m still young at this, but the possibilities right now to share the world of Adijari, from creation to consumption, are boundless.
5. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I’ve got my Facebook group, my mailing list, my Twitter, and now my Instagram. To get the initial money to publish this book professionally, which included hiring a stellar artist for the cover, I crowdfunded the book. People who supported the crowd funding project got a book a result, which gave me a pool of readers right off the bat which I appreciate.
6. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
Up until now, my best results have come from book fairs. I guess I have a good personality for that, but I do also have some experience speaking to a crowd so it was the technique I was most excited about. I’m definitely exploring others and feel like I have yet to find my niche. Truly, the trick is to not give up on finding out your shtick, the method of marketing that you enjoy doing that is also successful.
7. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
Having said that I had some success at a book fair, I’ve also been to a couple badly organized ones that weren’t worth any writer’s time, so now I’m careful to not fall into those traps again.
8. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
I’ve had people come to me now after reading my book, and we get to chat about it. It’s uplifting and I can talk about it as the writer, but also as a fan. I’ll say things like ‘Yeah, I can’t believe he did that either, what was he thinking?’ Even though this is something I’ve always wanted to do, I underestimated how uplifting it is. It charges me to know that people are not only reading my book but are invested in it. It makes me happy that I published it.
9. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I would have asked for more money in the initial crowdfunding campaign. I underestimated how much this book would mean to people. Because I asked for the bare minimum to publish it, the roll-out of books to people once it was published was much slower than it should have been. It also would have forced me to create a stronger marketing campaign right from the get-go to have a larger group of people who were invested from the beginning.
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?
I’m definitely in this group myself and will be diving deep into this website to see what everyone else has said to this question. I’ll say that you should prepare to spend some money on marketing your book; don’t just do the bare bone minimum to get your book published. If you believe in your book, then have faith that what you spend on marketing it will be better for you in the long run.
11. What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m writing A Gathering at Ayeshastra, a much longer and more intense story on Patreon. This story dives deeper into the multiple cultures and races and magic that you only get a taste of in The Secret of the Zipacna Dragons. In T.S.o.Z.D. I focused on the mythology of the dragons of Adijari. Many readers of that book are surprised and even upset that A Gathering at Ayeshastra doesn’t have any dragons in it, but by focusing on the different magical people that were introduced in T.S.o.Z.D. this story has much more magic, culture, and politics. I would not have been able to write this second novel without writing the first one.
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 have been creating stories within the world of Adijari for years and will never ever stop, and if you come with me on a journey through it, it will change your perspective on the power and accessibility of new-age fantasy.
13. How can readers learn more about your books?
The best way is through my Patreon site.
The first 100 or so pages of A Gathering at Ayeshastra are free to read, and there are a couple of poems and essays that are free to read as well. I will always produce some things that are free for everyone, but you would have to become a member to really dive into my work and discover Adijari through robust characters and storytelling.