Evan Witmer

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Evan Witmer uses online sales and in-person events to reach his audience. He discusses that and how members of the writing community can help one another.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

Originally I was trying to traditionally publish another book called Long Stories. It’s a new version of the Grim Reaper who’s created by God to hunt down all the immortals on Earth. But, having never published before, it was a hard sell to publishers.

Simultaneously, I was writing short stories and publishing them for free on my blog, oddfiction.com. At some point, I thought it might be a good way to show my sell-ability as an author through example and I decided I would self-publish the ten stories I had online in a short story collection. This became Pages from the Pizza Crows. The framing device was recycled from an old concept I wrote, but never released, originally intended to frame a collection of children’s poems. The overarching story is that a crow keeps stealing my breakfast in the morning through an open window. I decide to befriend the creature and discover that by feeding him slices of pizza, he will reward me with short stories one page at a time.

2. How have your sales been?

Pages from the Pizza Crows has sold forty books. That includes both online sales and sales I’ve made at various indie bookstores, coffee houses, and book signing events. It’s a small start, but I’m optimistic that as I continue with live performances and start raking in reviews, I’ll see a massive increase soon.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

Well, the ultimate positive is that you can publish anything you want, which is great if you want to be experimental or prove a point to the industry on what sells. Short story collections are often on the list of hard noes for publishers alongside erotica and rhyming poetry. I wanted to prove that this notion is incorrect and that anthology is more popular than ever.

The negatives are obvious though. I have to do all the marketing by myself, which lucky for me is pretty fun actually. But considering I have a life outside of writing, it would be nice to have somebody else take over.

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Lillian Brummet

Authors (2)Lillian Brummet and her husband, Dave, have patiently built their brand and learned what works and what doesn’t. In this expansive interview, they share their wisdom with new authors.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My husband Dave and I have published six books to date, the most recent being Rhythm and Rhyme. This is a collection of both Dave’s poetry and mine in two separate sections. Dave’s poetry looks at the changes he witnessed in environments he grew up in, shares the effect these experiences had on him, and celebrates the benefits of music.

My poetry touches on the impact of grief from losing parents and friends, celebrates nature, questions society and celebrates the long relationship with my husband. We’ve been together since 1990… a long time. We have helped each other grow into the people we are today. We learned patience and communication, and grew our love into something so deep it is hard to put into mere words.

2. How have your sales been?

Book experts call the initial period after a book is released the “honeymoon period.” This is the time frame when the exciting buzz of having a book to promote is at its peak. Once that period is over, however, the authors have to start reaching out further, spend more of their budget, and work even harder for each book sold.

Obtaining regular book sales after the initial release of a book has calmed down has always been an issue. Over the last few years with the incredible changes in the industry, well, it’s become very difficult. The highest sales are in youth, fantasy and children’s genres. Adults tend to want free books – either from the library or through discount e-book or free e-book outlets and programs. The era of reading print books is kind of fading out. Marketing, promoting, and advertising constantly are the only ways to get sales happening. You just have to keep at it.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing.  How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

I’ve worked with small and medium-sized traditional publishers in the past, and it was very educational. They had teams for each step of the process – and without them, all the learning, the preparations, the expense and stress would have been overwhelming for us as new authors.

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Martin Svolgart

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Martin Svolgart has had experience with traditional and self-publishing, and does a good job of comparing them. Learn the pros and cons of each, and why viewing yourself as a brand is so important.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

A Game Called Payback is my debut under this name – a psychological crime thriller with bullying as its main theme. Normally, I write under pseudonyms. But the topic here was gathered mostly from my past, and I learned so much from it that I thought it deserved my own name. Mainly because I dedicated the book to my high school bully.

It’s far from an autobiography. In the end, only one sentence ever said to me made it into the book, and the rest is crafted to be entertaining and exaggerated to bring home the moral of the story.

2. How have your sales been?

Really awful. But that’s the fate of most first books, and it’s even a standalone, so it’s going to be uphill. So I don’t take it that hard.

3. You’ve used both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Which do you prefer, and what are the pros and cons of each?

With self-publishing, I enjoy having full creative freedom because I have a professional team behind me: editor, proofreader, and cover artists. Marketing, however, is the one aspect that is difficult for a debut since building a brand, a network, and a platform takes a very long time. But most of that is needed by traditionally published authors, too; they just have help on exposure from the trad publisher’s platform.

I also write under HP Caledon (sci fi/space opera), and that series is traditionally published. I chose that route back then because I’m not a native English speaker, and I didn’t have the team I do now (we met at the publishing house and instantly connected). I needed to learn about the English market, so I went with traditional publishing to learn from the pros and to have a professional team help my story get out right.

Traditional publishing can feel slow! And your hands are kinda tied regarding many of the marketing tools that work really well for indies. For instance, there’s a limited number of books you can use for promotional purposes when it’s not for reviews. Indies have full right, so they can build a platform easier through giveaways, etc. Also, Kindle Unlimited for a new name is a Godsend because people dare to take chances with them. Traditional publishing doesn’t allow that in a market now mainly geared toward finding readers via indie author channels.

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Amanda Howard

unnamedAmanda Howard understands the pros and cons of self-publishing, as well as the need to effectively market your book. Learn what kept her going when she felt discouraged in her writing efforts.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My novel, The First Gift of Christmas, is part of a series called the Maple Ridge Holiday Series. I am planning on writing at least six books in total. I am a dancer/dance teacher/choreographer, which was the main inspiration behind my book. My love of classic novels played a lot into how I write and develop my characters. Hallmark was also a huge inspiration as I wanted to write something that would be different from what they typically publish/film, but with the basic components of a really great Hallmark story.

The First Gift of Christmas is about a young dance teacher who is well-known for her annual Christmas performances in the small town of Maple Ridge, Massachusetts. This year, not only is she being considered for assistant choreographer with the prestigious Boston Ballet, but there is also a handsome newcomer that has captured her attention. She must struggle to focus on impressing the company while overcoming sabotage and her attraction to Maple Ridge’s newcomer.

2. How have your sales been?

I sold all my on-hand copies within a month and I’m still selling copies on Amazon.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

I chose self-publishing because it was the easiest option for me at the time. My books are available as print-on-demand to keep costs down. It is nice to not have to pay an agent; I’m blessed to have my publisher be under the family business which means I get great royalties; and I am learning marketing tactics.

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Angelica Markus

angelica.jpgAngelica Markus has crafted her own writing style from the stories she loves.  Read about her marketing techniques and why she says you may need more than one editor.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My novel The Watcher is part of an urban fantasy series (the Fleur De Lis saga), and I am writing eight books in total.  I have always enjoyed reading and watching movies about vampires and martial arts. My favorite stories have heroes and villains in them with a bit of historical fiction.  Stories with siblings have always seemed to capture people’s attention differently than other stories.  Also stories with main characters that lose their parents, like Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, etc.  In other words, my main characters are siblings that lost their parents when they were young.

I studied history as my minor in college, and I added a secret vampire world that takes place in NYC.  That’s where I lived most of my life.  They say write what you know.

Here is my synopsis:

Skye Davenport is no ordinary thief.  She has the ability to foresee danger, and she believes stealing from the wicked is justice served right.  Her life takes a different turn when she brings her brother, Christian, on a dangerous mission that leads them to a supernatural world of the undead.  A war has been going on for centuries, predators lurk within the shadows, hiding and waiting for the right time to attack.  Skye knows that she and her brother are the only gifted humans that can stop this war, but there are more filthy beasts to catch, murders to uncover and secrets to be revealed.  What happens when the hunters become the hunted?

2. How have your sales been?

The Watcher, is a long book, and I tend to sell more audio books in Audible the most.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing.  How have you liked it so far?  Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

I still have to market myself just like with any publishing, but I don’t have to pay an agent and Amazon gives authors good royalty prices.

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Anurag Shourie

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Anurag Shourie is an Indian author who chose traditional publishing for his novel.  Find out what led him down this path and his advice for selecting a good book reviewer.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

Half A Shadow is my debut novel.  It is said that the reign of the supernatural begins at the point where the jurisdiction of science ends.  Never the twain shall meet.  Here is a story that entwines the two domains together, a mytho-medical thriller.

A series of events that occurred on a stormy night while I was dispensing my duties in a cancer hospital led me to conceptualize the plot of Half A Shadow.  It is the story of one man’s quest for redemption.

2. How have your sales been?

The sales of Half A Shadow have been encouraging.  The readers have bestowed a lot of love on this book belonging to an uncommon genre.  The reviews have been mostly positive with the critics giving it a “thumbs up.”

3. You’ve decided to use a traditional publisher for your book. Why did you choose this versus self-publishing?

Self-publishing is a grey area as there is a very thin line of demarcation between self-publishing and vanity- publishing.  I am of the firm belief that if my work is good enough it will find a decent publisher who is keen to share my vision.

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Paulette Jackson

paulettePaulette Jackson was unsure about self-publishing, so she went with a traditional publisher. Learn what advice she has for new authors wanting to make the right choice for themselves.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My latest book is The Music Through the Storm and it’s about finding your “song” in your life. The thing that you’re most passionate about and using that to get through life’s storms. Also how music and the arts bring people together and how music is universal and healing.

2. How have your sales been?

Well I have two books, The Music Through the Storm (2nd book release) and The Music In Me that I re-released as a second edition with my new publisher. Both books, since their release, have picked up in sales.

3. You’ve decided to use a traditional publisher for your book. Why did you choose this versus self-publishing?

To be honest I wasn’t confident about self-publishing and wanted it done right and didn’t have a lot of information about it so I went ahead and used a traditional publisher, my new publisher.

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Coral McCallum

imgID170658697.jpgCoral McCallum has used free giveaways to generate word-of-mouth interest in her books.  Learn which marketing methods have, and have not, worked for her.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My current work in progress is the fourth book in the Silver Lake series – Shattered Hearts. The series is set in the small Delaware town of Rehoboth Beach and follows the story of Lori Hyde and aspiring rock star Jake Power and all things associated with the rock band Silver Lake. The series makes ideal summer vacation reading – goes great with a flight or a day by the pool and is perfect for a day at the beach. These books will make you laugh and they’ll make you cry and you might even fall in love just a little bit with Jake Power.

Stronger Within was my debut novel. After a period of self-reflection I took the plunge on May 8, 2013 and literally sat down in the early evening sun on my front doorstep with a notepad and pen and began to write. My old high school English teacher’s words rang in my ears: “Write about places you know and subjects you are passionate about.” Despite living in Scotland, Rehoboth Beach is a place very close to my heart.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been slow but steady. Since I published the first book in April 2015, I’ve received a royalty payment every month. Okay, most months it would barely cover the cost of a cup of coffee, but it’s something. What I take great pride in is the reviews the books have received. So far no one has told me that my “book babies” are ugly!

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

I’ve used KDP and previously CreateSpace for all four books. I’ve been really pleased with KDP. Initially I made a rookie formatting error and didn’t appreciate that the e-book platform was more forgiving than the CreateSpace one proved to be. Six days of re-formatting my manuscript later and I had Stronger Within in an acceptable CreateSpace format. With the other books I have formatted the initial manuscript using the CreateSpace paperback format template which is e-book compatible. Easy when you know how!

The only other negative I could mention here is the lack of guidance/support for authors when it comes to marketing. Some additional help pages within KDP would be useful.

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Sarah Archer

Author photo_Sarah Archer (c) Steven Duarte-editedSarah Archer is a traditionally published author who is working to build her brand with a new book.  Learn more about her experiences and her advice for relying on fellow writers to shape your craft.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My first novel, The Plus One, is a rom-com with a sci-fi twist.  It’s about a brilliant robotics engineer who, when pressured to find a wedding date, takes matters into her own hands and builds one.  Then she starts to fall for him.  This was an idea I had a few years ago and immediately knew would be fun to write.  It’s been a great way to explore how classic romantic tropes are transformed in our modern world.  And a solid excuse to spend way too much time Googling articles about AI and robotics.

2. How have your sales been?

The book just came out on July 2nd, and is currently available in stores and online.  It’s still early, but we’ll see how the sales go!

3. You’ve decided to use a traditional publisher for your book.  Why did you choose this versus self-publishing?

I’m extremely lucky to be publishing my first book with Putnam.  As a newcomer to this space, I’ve found their support and expertise invaluable.  However, if traditional publishing hadn’t worked out, I would happily have pursued self-publishing.  I come from a film and TV background, where it’s almost impossible to get something made without a team of people.  In publishing, you know that if you write a book, you have guaranteed ways to get it to an audience as long as you’re willing to do the work.  Having that light at the end of the tunnel is very motivating.

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Nancy George

The Silent Scream Ebook 1.jpgNew Zealand author Nancy George’s latest work is an intensely personal account of her terminally ill husband’s battle with cancer.  Read about her book and the wealth of advice she has for new authors starting out.

1. Tell me briefly about your latest book – what is it about and what motivated you to write it?

My latest book is non-fiction. I usually write fiction/romance.  My book is called The Silent Scream.  This is my journey with my terminally ill husband who had cancer.  I wrote The Silent Scream to help people who are about to take the same journey as me.  I wanted people to know they are not alone.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales for this book have been going well.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

I am on Amazon and I self-publish.  With the help of my PA [publishing assistant] and my editor the process has been an easy one for me.  So far nothing has gone wrong.  Sometimes when you send your book to a traditional publisher it ends up in a pile and never gets read.  By self-publishing you get your book out their for people to see.  Plus you have control of the titles and the cover.

The major thing I learned about publishing was how big it is and how there are so many platforms.  I am still learning.  I will admit that without the help of my editor and PA I would never have known how large the publishing world is.

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