Jordan T. Maxwell has learned a few lessons from being traditionally published. Here he shares those lessons along with other tips for indie authors.
1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?
My current project is Dandyflowers – Laura’s Voice. It is the third and final book in my Dandyflowers series. It follows Dandyflowers and Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries. The Dandyflowers books are the story of Laura Butler and Jerry Collins.
In Dandyflowers, Jerry’s recently engaged daughter Erin spends a long weekend with her dad where she learns about a part of his life she knew nothing about – his first love, Laura. It tells about how they met, their dating life, their married life, and ultimately why they are no longer together.
Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries begins four years after the end of Dandyflowers where Erin and her husband Jack take a trip to Chicago. During her self-guided sight-seeing tour of the Windy City, Erin runs into (literally) Laura’s parents. Since hearing her father’s story of his first love, Erin has been intrigued by the mysterious Laura. Her curiosity has been fueled by the box containing Laura’s diaries her father gave her at the end of the first book. Meeting Laura’s parents allow Erin to get answers to many of the questions the diaries have raised.
Dandyflowers – Laura’s Voice is still a work in progress. It begins two or three years after the end of Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries. In this, the final installment, the reader will meet Laney Young, an almost fifteen-year-old, angst-ridden girl who has recently moved into Jerry and Laura’s old house after her father’s job transferred them to the little town she refers to as “Podunksville.” She finds a box of twenty plus reel-to-reel tapes recorded by Laura when she lived there and a pristine tape recorder/player.
All three books begin in present-day, but they transition from present to the past and back again as the story unfolds.
2. How have your sales been?
My sales are what they are. I have not grown rich in the monetary sense from my books. If I had to live off what money I have made from the sales of my books, I would have starved to death long ago!
I never intended to actually publish Dandyflowers; I wrote it for me. But with the encouragement of several people who read and liked it, I did publish it as well as Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries.
My true profit so far has been the wonderful reviews and compliments I have received from my readers!
3. You’ve used both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Which do you prefer, and what are the pros and cons of each?
My publishing career, if you can call it that, began in 2006 when I signed with Tate Publishing & Enterprises in Mustang, Oklahoma. I learned a lot from my five year association with Tate, mainly that if a “publisher” wants you to put forth the money to publish your work, you should smile, say “No thank you,” and run away fast!
However, I was fortunate. Unlike many authors I had my entire “author’s fee” refunded in January 2012 when I produced an email from someone inside Tate that I should have never seen. It outlined everything they did regarding my first book which was next to nothing.
After leaving Tate no worse for the wear and quite a bit wiser, I went the self-publishing route first with Lulu. Then I switched to CreateSpace which changed to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) about a year ago, which is where I am currently.
I love the freedom I have with self-publishing! I never thought I could design a book cover, much less two and soon to be three, but here we are! The one thing I struggle with, like many authors, is marketing. I am still learning and having fun doing it!
4. What sort of networking have you done as an author, and what have been the results?
My networking has been via social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and – early on – MySpace. I have met many authors and we have shared different ideas on book promotion.
5. Talk a little about the sort of marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been most successful?
I have used my website, www.dandyflowers.com, as well as going to many, many arts & crafts fairs and the like where I have had fairly good success! I routinely get likes and “hits” on my website! No one of these has been better than the others. All have had some success.
6. Are there any marketing or networking techniques you’ve intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?
I stopped trying to get an agent. I got tired of the “Thanks for your interest in us, but we’re not interested in you” rejection letters. Perhaps with my next book, I’ll head down that road again.
7. What are the most important things you’ve learned about publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?
As stated earlier, if a “publisher” wants you to pay an “author’s fee” to publish your work, run away! If that’s how you want to publish and KDP or other self-publishing services aren’t your thing, take the money you would have spent on the”author’s fee,” go to Kinko’s and hit print!
8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?
I would have never had any sort of association with Tate Publishing. I would have continued shopping the manuscript out to other publishers or perhaps I would have just gone the self-publishing route.
9. New authors face the challenge of getting their books into the hands of readers. What advice do you have for an author just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to ask indie bookstores to carry your book(s) and if you can do a signing in their store. It will benefit you both! I like doing the arts and crafts fairs and things like that! Also, I have my website address on a window sticker on the back glass of my car along with pictures of my book covers.
10. What other projects are you currently working on?
Other than the third Dandyflowers book I am working on a children’s book and am looking for an illustrator. My drawing ability is limited to poorly crafted stick figures! I am kicking around an idea to use actual photographs of a friend’s daughter then “cartooning” them with a program I found online!
11. How can readers learn more about your books?
Go to my website: www.dandyflowers.com