Jerry Knaak stays busy not only writing, but building a community around his work. Read about the numerous marketing and promotion methods he uses.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest book is called The Dark Terror, the third in a probable trilogy. My 12-year-old son came up with the title. It tells the continuing story of Elizabeth Danae Rubis, a newly-minted vampire who has been terrorizing the San Francisco Bay Area as she adjusts to her new existence.
2. How have your sales been?
Sales can always be better. As a new author I am constantly seeking ways to grow my audience.
3. You began your writing career later in life than many authors. Talk a little about this.
I have been writing professionally for 25 years or so, but mostly in sports. I started a blog almost six years ago. Writing isn’t new to me. I was the editor of my high school newspaper; I wrote for the cruise book when I was in the Navy; and I became a journalist and sports writer. I tried my hand at a few short stories but they have been lost to the wind. Vampires have always intrigued me and I fell in love with the genre at an early age. I always figured that if I ever wrote a novel, it would be about vampires.
I started the first book in 2011 but set it aside after some negative feedback. I really didn’t know what I was doing. In January 2016, I picked it back up again, rewrote it from the first person perspective and it took off. After complaining that I always felt like I was late to the dance (on trends, literature, music, etc.), my best friend told me: “Because you’re worried about what time the dance started.”
4. You’ve use traditional publishing for your books. Why did you choose this over self-publishing?
Funny. Although I have been writing most of my adult life, circumstances had me questioning my abilities. I needed the validation. I needed someone outside of my circle to tell me my writing was good.
5. What are some of the pros and cons of traditional publishing you’ve experienced.
The pros are simple. All you have to do is write the book, synopsis and query letter. Granted some people receive dozens of rejections from agents and small publishers. But once you are offered a contract, the publishing of the book is handled – cover design, editing, formatting, printing, placement for sale, etc.
Cons? There is a process and a pipeline with other authors and books so you don’t release your book immediately like you would when you self-publish. You have to slot in with the other titles so you may not get to release your book when you want to. This isn’t really a complaint, more of “it is what it is.”
6. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I have teamed up with other authors in my publisher’s stable for a couple of panel discussions – one at a Barnes & Noble and the other at the San Francisco ComiCon. I’ve also opened lines of communication with various media outlets, literary events, genre-specific events, etc. The panel discussions helped reach new readers. The other efforts are in their infancy.
7. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
I have a website, Facebook author page, Facebook group for close supporters, an Instagram author account, Twitter, Pinterest, and a YouTube channel. I offer a newsletter with sign-ups through my website. I have tried, on a small scale, promoted Tweets and boosted Facebook posts. I also belong to several book promotion groups on Facebook. I send out press releases and media advisories to local newspapers, as well as postcards to bookstores. I’ve done radio and TV interviews. I submit my novels for awards when I can. However, the most successful technique for me has been book signing events at Barnes & Noble and local indie bookstores. Aside from the pre-sale for my debut novel, nothing has moved more books in bursts better than book signings.
8. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I remain cautiously optimistic about paid social media. I have just scratched the surface and I’d like to experiment more. I have yet to join any professional writers associations. I plan to in the new year. The newsletter is probably the one thing I’ll probably discontinue unless I get an influx of subscribers.
9. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
I learned how fortunate I am to have gotten picked up on my first and only query. So many people go through so many rejections, even some of the most successful authors of all time. I felt like I had written a good book but serendipity put me with my publisher at that moment in time.
10. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
This is a tough question. I feel like I did quite a few things right. I finished three novels, technically scored two contracts that resulted in the publishing of the three books, so I am not sure if I would have done anything differently.
11. 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?
Build a social media base and have a marketing plan worked out well before your book ever hits the street. Develop a public relations calendar. Create a media contact list. Figure out where to get your book reviewed. Newspapers are difficult, find book review bloggers. Look for podcasts that would like to interview you. Seek out relationships with your local bookstores. I did this but I didn’t go far or deep enough. Also, figure out and find your audience. This is probably the hardest thing to do. Develop a brand.
12. What other projects are you currently working on?
My first two novels are on sale now – The Dark Truth and The Dark Descent – with The Dark Terror due out March 18, 2019. I have something special planned for the launch event but details are still being worked out. I have a couple of ideas for my next fiction project. I host a personal podcast and I plan on dedicating more time to that, as well as to my personal blog.
13. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?
Author of thrillers and chillers.
14. How can readers learn more about your books?