J.S. Frankel has enjoyed positive results with traditional publishing. He talks about that here and offers practical advice for using social media.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My latest novel is a YA Fantasy, entitled The Auctioneer. Essentially, it’s a story about a young man, forced by circumstances, to work very far away – in another galaxy. At first, he does what he does for the money. But when he finds out people and planets are being sold, he changes his way of thinking. It’s also a bit of a smackdown to some people in the rich, “I’m entitled” generation.
2. How have your sales been?
Sales? Sales? What are those? Seriously, the marketing of my novels is probably the most challenging aspect of writing. I love writing, but getting the word out and getting people to take a chance on my work is hard.
3. You’ve gone the traditional publishing route. Why did you choose this, and what has been your experience?
I started writing seriously only about six years ago. At that time, I knew very little about self-publishing, and my sister suggested that I try e-book publishers to start with. My experiences, outside of sales, have been good. My covers are well done, my publishers do put the word out, and I have worked with some excellent editors who’ve willingly taught me what they know. All in all, it’s been positive.
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
I’ve networked on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Results-wise, Twitter seems to cast the widest net. I’m writing in the YA genre, a very crowded genre, so I have to ‘brand’ myself and make myself stand out as much as possible. Facebook is excellent for making friends and getting info, but sales-wise, Twitter is better in my experience. I never got much out of LinkedIn.
5. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
A lot of it, as mentioned above, is trying to establish my own brand as a writer. My protagonists are underdogs, and I think that appeals to people. I just have to push that message more. But hey, I’m living the underdog life, just like a lot of others. So when it comes to relating to that status, I’m there. Tweeting, for me, seems to be the most effective. I did pay for a promo service recently, but the jury’s still out on that.
6. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I have stopped bombarding forums with the ole “buy my book” ploy, although I still advertise in them, just not as frequently. It seems that people want to know about authors as much as they want to know about their books, so that means showing a personal side of you. I try to be as personable as possible, but the market is very fickle. It seems to change on a daily basis!
7. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
That you have to be consistent. Writing is important, but marketing yourself is just as, if not more, important once your books come out.
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
Hmm. Good question. I’d probably try marketing to schools and libraries, but that’s very difficult considering the way things are geared now.
9. 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?
Use the social media sites, market yourself as well as your books, connect with others, and see what works and what doesn’t. I’ve read about some popular authors who said they didn’t use this or that platform. But I’m not sure they’re telling us the whole story.
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
Well, The Auctioneer is out, and I just sent off a novel entitled The Associate to my publisher. It’s a YA Fantasy with some humor and romance, and it’s about an unlikely team-up between a teen and a woman from a parallel Earth. That’s all I’ll say for now!
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?
Root for the underdog!
12. How can readers learn more about your books?