Blog

Welcome to my blog!  I’ve interviewed over 200 authors about their work, their experiences in publishing, and their advice about marketing and selling their books.  Here you will find those interviews.  It is my belief that authors can learn from each other, and that is the goal of my blog.

I’m always looking for new authors to interview and promote.  If you’d like your work to be considered, check out the terms of use and then send me an email.  Please note that I do not review books and there are certain genres I do not feature on my blog.

Thanks for reading, and keep writing!

Jordan T. Maxwell

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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!

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Stephanie Berger

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Stephanie Berger chose hybrid publishing, and believes there are pros and cons to the approach. Read about what she has learned through the process.

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

The Happiest Birthday Ever is inspired by my 40th birthday when I did 40 random acts of kindness around town in one day. I knew that people would have as just as much fun as I did, they just needed the idea to get them started. I especially wanted to inspire kids and let them experience that giving is even more fun than receiving. I wanted the book to be realistic where the readers could visualize themselves participating in a similar birthday celebration. So I wrote about a boy turning seven years old and he and his friends do seven random acts of kindness as his birthday party. It may be a different spin on birthday parties, but most of all, it inspires kids that spreading kindness is a lot more fun than they ever imagined.

2. How have your sales been?

My sales were great at first. Especially when I would do an author visit at a school, my pre-order sales for the book were great, until COVID-19 hit. My school visits were cancelled and my school orders are non-existent. Online sales have also come to a halt.

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 to go with a hybrid publisher. This is my first book and I wanted a one stop shop with the resources to guide me through the process, edit, design layout and illustrations. I knew going into it that I would be paying for these services whether it be with the publisher I chose or finding independent contractors to help me with the process. I paid an upfront amount of money to cover these services and I liked that they don’t keep a royalty until I recoup 100% of those fees. I also liked that they wrote a press release which gave me visibility on an out of state news channel and helped me sell over 50 books in the United Kingdom. I would not have been able to do that on my own.

The biggest negative is that I did not get to set the price of my book and it is priced higher than I would have liked. I also do not have the ability to set up marketing on Amazon as self-published authors do.

I was forewarned that you stay far away from any publisher that charges you in advance to publish your book. Other authors said they won’t sell your book for you. I knew going into this project that I would be responsible for marketing and selling my book. I feel like those that self-publish have to do their own marketing and selling, too. Having a publisher backing my book has given me access to large big box stores online that would not be listing my book if I did this all on my own.

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Roland Page

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Roland Page draws on his career experience to craft compelling stories. In this interview, he explains his own careful approach to marketing.

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

Eating the Forbidden Fruit is a gritty fiction novel loosely based on events in my past as a St. Louis police officer convicted of federal crimes because of my childhood affiliation. The nightmarish reality of a cop being booked in as a criminal. My passion for writing was fueled by managing depression from Lupus. A coping technique.

2. How have your sales been?

Well my book launched on March 30, 2020 therefore I have my fingers crossed. Yet I wrote my novel not for financial gain but to maintain my sanity. If it does well I would like to donate some proceeds to a Lupus foundation that helps indigent patients.

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

Positives is that the creative control is in your hands, plus the residuals. Negative is that unless you have an adequate budget to market your product, your exposure is limited. It could be the best keep secret. Traditional publishing resources aren’t abundant for new indie authors like myself.

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Lilith Sinclair

ABOWTeaserLilith Sinclair has used both traditional and self-publishing. Find out which marketing techniques work best for her.

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

My latest release is a short story featured in the anthology A Bond of Words. My story is called Trapped by Design, and it takes place in the same universe as my soon to be published series Sanctuary.

Paranormal is a genre that I have loved since middle school, and character motivation can come in many forms. Trapped by Design is a short story centered around a mother’s love and the willingness she has to keep everyone safe, and shows how the main character, Alex, in Sanctuary comes to the cross-roads she’s at.

2. How have your sales been?

I’ve sold a few copies of ABOW. It’s the first publication under this pen name, so it makes up a small percentage of what I make total. That should change by the summer.

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

Do I have to make a choice? I find both have their perks such as the ability to focus on one aspect or the ability to make micro adjustments to get something to click.

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Cully Mack

cullyCully Mack believes authors should start networking long before publishing their work. Find out what advice she specifically gives to book series authors.

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

My latest book is called A Fire That Whispers. It is the third novel in my Voice that Thunders high fantasy series which is filled with explosive revelations and betrayals.
Think epic battles with immortals and beasts of all kinds, throw in elemental magic, huge plot twists, portals, unique worlds, and an ever-growing amount of characters trying to save their world (think it’s time to cull a few – oh no!). If you like character-driven fantasy, you’ll love these books. I warn you now, I don’t go easy on them…

In this book Mirah has been captured by the leader of the immortals. He demands she destroys the portals. If she does, she dooms her loved ones; and if she doesn’t, she dooms herself.

My writing is motivated by creating new worlds and in-depth characters to live in them. I love how characters grow and overcome the challenges they face. I love plot twists! Being a discovery writer, my characters often surprise me and lead me into territory I wasn’t expecting to go. I love myth and my work is inspired by myths from ancient Mesopotamia (Sumerian, Semite, and Akkadian) mythology.

2. How have your sales been?

My third book was released on April 6th and the current virus lockdown has affected the launch. I have seen an increase in ebook and Kindle page reads and a decrease in print sales. I’d say for April my ebook sales increased by 60-70%. It sounds massive but I’m a new author and don’t have huge sales yet (one can only hope). On a positive note, I was furloughed from my employment and had more time to do social media marketing which I believed helped.

Due to current situation, I have held off on the print publication for A Fire That Whispers which I plan to launch this later in the year. I’m seeing this as a positive and an opportunity to do another launch.

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 love being a self-published author. I have complete creative control over what I write and how I present my books (e.g. covers). I was originally prompted to self-publish because I’d heard horror stories of authors being dropped by publishers before they completed their book series. I didn’t want to give up my rights and I’m glad I didn’t.

For me, my journey has always been about following my dreams. If I am blessed enough to make a living doing so then it’s a bonus. Don’t get me wrong, it’s my goal and I’ve come to realize with hard work it’s possible.

Self-publishing has been a steep learning curve and I’ve done plenty of things wrong, but each day I build on what I’ve learned. I haven’t experienced many negatives, apart from marketing. Sometimes it feels like sliding down the walls into the pit of hell and if you reach the gate, you have no funds to pay the gatekeeper. It’s definitely one downside with regards to the time and resources required.

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Karin Thompson

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Karin Thompson knows the importance of patience when it comes to writing and marketing a book. Learn which methods have worked best to build her audience.

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

I take the reader on a journey of self-discovery. I use my own life experience of an abusive father, illustrating that no situation is beyond God’s love and His healing.
I artfully show how healing from abuse is a journey and that it takes a lifetime to perfect it. If your faith is wavering or you are having doubts, my experiences will be more than enough to put things in place for you.

The book is beautifully laid out with my personal stories, Bible verses, prayers and Q & A’s in the form of a study guide. Who do you trust when you doubt yourself? Who do you look up to when your parents do not care enough about you? How do you go through life when the odds are stacked high against you? There would be lots of places in the book that you can see yourself in the picture and relate to on a very personal level.

If you need that silver lining in that dark cloud, My words will surely provide you with more than one. If your faith is wavering or you are having doubts, my experiences will be more than enough to put things in place for you. The tools you need are here. Pick them up and let today be the day to your road of recovery. I wrote this book to help people overcome their past and live a victorious life.

2. How have your sales been?

My sales have been steady. As a new author, I must market myself to get known out there. I would like them to be better and I am working on improving that.

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 have self-published my book via IngramSpark and Amazon. I have found that my book is available everywhere and on most book sellers’ websites which is a great positive. But as a negative, I must do all the work in getting it promoted. I have had to learn how to go about doing this and have watched endless YouTube videos for advice. The first book is always the hardest as you must learn as you go along. But with my second book, I am more “on the page” as to what to expect.

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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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