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!

Tim Walker

Tim Walker has spent time building a writing and marketing network for his books. Find out more about the work he has done to promote his brand.

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

My latest book (June 2020) is Arthur Rex Brittonum (Arthur King of the Britons). It’s my story of the real King Arthur hidden behind the legend. In fact, it is the second and final part of my two-part Arthur series, following on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, although it can be read as a standalone novel. I decided to use Arthur’s Latin (Roman) titles, for historical authenticity, in the book titles.

A major influence on my storytelling from my research, was the writings of a Christian monk, Nennius, in History of the Briton People, published around the year 820 – roughly three hundred years after the real Arthur lived. Nennius not only mentions Arthur by name, but attributes twelve winning battles to him, naming him as “Dux Bellorum” (duke or leader of battles). Intriguingly, Nennius names Arthur as the leader of the combined army of the kings of the Britons, but does not say if he is one of the kings, leaving his status open to speculation.

My motivation was to write a believable, although fictitious, account of a real historical six century figure whose name is associated with a fantastical legend, and by doing so add credence to the ongoing search for evidence of is existence.

2. How have your sales been?

E-book and paperback sales of my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages, have been modest – in the hundreds rather than thousands – since the series began with Abandoned in 2015. Writing and publishing roughly one book a year, the new book, Arthur Rex Brittonum, is book five in the series.

Each book launch is an opportunity to promote and sell the new title and previous books in the series, often with time-limited discounts on e-books. Discounting paperbacks is not realistic, as my pricing policy is based on cost plus a very narrow margin.

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

Self-publishing suits me because I easily worked it out owing to my background of working in newspaper and magazine publishing. I find the Amazon KDP platform and fee guide book very easy to use, and now they have both paperback publishing under the same umbrella. I enjoy formatting my e-books and paperbacks, and the only services I pay for are proof-reading, copyediting, cover design, and advertising.

In addition to the Amazon KDP platform, I now also publish my e-books on Apple i-books, Kobo, Nook, and subscription services like Scribd and Montadori, using the draft2digital platform. However, Amazon insists that if authors use other non-Amazon e-book platforms in addition to KDP, they must not make their books available on Kindle Unlimited (KU).

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Deepti Sharma

Deepti Sharma is working hard to build reader identity through social media. Learn more about how she uses numerous beta readers to perfect her manuscript.

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

I have a short story collection out on Kindle Unlimited, titled Extremely…. Given that I had been a closet writer until now, these stories have been written over a period of the last thirteen years, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they have grown with me during this time. I have tweaked a word here or edited a paragraph there whenever I took a break from my original profession (I hold a doctorate in ecology, run my own environmental consultancy firm and, with two kids, have my hands quite full!).

As the name suggests, each short story deals with an extreme, be it of a thought or an emotion or a trait, and tells how these extremes ended up shaping the protagonists’ lives. Each story delves deep into the workings of the human mind and yields insightful perceptions about why we do what we do. My experiences and observations have been the sources from which I have drawn inspiration.

2. How have your sales been?

I have struggled with sales, so far. In fact, I can safely say my sales have been next to nothing.

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

It’d be wrong to say I chose self-publishing (*grins*)…self-publishing chose me, rather. For a first-time, non-celebrity author who is not a native English speaker and who is yet to gain sufficient confidence about their writing chops, self-publishing is probably the only option. Or that is what I think, with my limited experience. The definite positive of self-publishing is the satisfaction it accords to the indie author of holding their book baby in their hands with minimal hassle. On the downside, there is the seemingly insurmountable problem of marketing your book and ensuring it reaches the rightful owners – the readers.

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Jennifer Widemire Smith

widemireJennifer Widemire Smith uses custom publishing as an alternative to traditional and self-publishing. Read more from the perspective of a new author who is rapidly learning how the business works.

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

A Time To Serve is a fictional military/romance story about the life of a US Navy SEAL, named Jefferies. It’s an authentic look into a life governed by ethos. I wanted to explore the powerful dynamics that relationships play between team guys and how they relate to the civilian world. As well as romantically, when Evie Sinclaire disrupts that dynamic. Jefferies and Evie collide with each other and her presence ups the ante for him. The book never strays from Jefferies’ perspective. The reader gets immersed as he deploys into combat. And yet, it is every bit about Evie’s determination to build a life she never expected, either. Don’t let the romance title throw you. This is not soft porn romance.

As to my motivation it was originally a journaling exercise. I needed an outlet to place my thoughts and feelings of empathy for a friend on a hard topic. As creativity took over, Jefferies and Evie emerged and the story took on a life of its own. My husband discovered my fictional little world. I didn’t think he’d like it and hadn’t told him I was doing it, but to my surprise he loved it and harassed me for days. “What comes next, Jen? I really liked the conversation between Jefferies and Russo. It made me think, “Okay, seriously Jen, my mind is going nuts. What happens next!?” I may have finished it just to appease him…

2. How long did it take you to write from start to finish?

Three years. Writing takes as long as it takes. I was a chick writing about SEALs using an all-male-driven dialogue, writing in a style I’d never tried my hand at. It took a while to learn, but the payoff of doing a job well done is worth it.

3. How have your sales been?

My personal site sales have been good, I’ve sold three out of five boxes of books. But it’s hard to gauge. I’m a brand new act. My book was released the same week the country went into lockdown. Amazon doesn’t exactly give you daily sales reports and I haven’t made it yet to the 190 days to get paid. Not being allowed to throw a launch party or book signing has been rough. Maybe I can come back and answer again in six months.

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Jasveer Singh

Jasveer Singh has developed a successful budgeting plan for marketing his books. Learn why he believes the content of your book matters more than how you publish it.

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

Though my latest and fourth book is The Metro-Maniac Chronicles, my favorite is Double One Zero (110) – Out of the Shadows, my third book and my first fully fiction work. It’s my ode to the action and spy genre. Double One Zero (110) – Out of the Shadows is a story about deception and one man’s quest to find his identity. The journey will take him across the other side of Earth and then back to the capital of India, Delhi. Along the way, he will try to pick up the pieces and solve the puzzle that his life is. One of the review of my book stated, “Bordering on the line of Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, if you love mystery, thriller and embrace adequate inquisitiveness about one’s earnest question for identity, then this the book for you.”

2. How have your sales been?

My book was released in January 2020 and it was well-received. Sales of the paperback version were steady until the lockdown. E-book sales has been good as 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.

Self-publishing has been a gift for us indie writers. I have only seen positives so far. It is easy, is accessible to all, it can be customized as per your budget, and it is less time consuming. Traditional publishing is the opposite of all this.

Those who vouch for traditional publishing must understand that seldom would a reader pick up a book because of the publisher. Readers choose books based upon the cover page, the summary, and probably because of the author. So it doesn’t make any difference if you are a traditionally published author or a self-published one. Content is king and readers will choose your book irrespective of whether it is published through self-publishing or traditional publishing.

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Monica Exley

Monica Exley focused her energy on developing her book until it was perfect. Find out why she believes authors shouldn’t stress about publishing and marketing.

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

I am so thrilled that my latest novel Shadows is now available to purchase. This book took me a whooping 20 years to officially complete. What an incredibly emotional moment it was when it was finally done. It has taken me two decades to complete this project because I wrote this book with much heart, passion, soul, and experience. I focused on character development, story line, theme, voice, and plot twists for a good amount of time. I revised it more times than I can count until it finally felt polished enough and ready.

My book gives a voice to the many voiceless people of different types of abuse. It rests on the healing wings of love as a journey and an end goal. The backdrop of the story is love but many skeletons in the closet must be confronted first. This book is setup as the first book in the series of two more books to come. It is designed to empower, encourage, and uplift. It is deep and very intimate. A committed relationship, not a one night stand.

2. How have your sales been?

I have done well in this department. People seem to be drawn to my stories. They tell me that they love them and they want more. To date I have published five books. There is a high demand probably because I’m a fantastic storyteller. I have a unique way with words.

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 initially started out exploring the traditional publishing route. Later, I explored self-publishing. They both have their pros and cons, but my favorite continues to be self-publishing. The freedom and creativity options are endless.

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Jordan T. Maxwell

both covers

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

cover with readers favorite five star seal

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

ETFF_Cover_003 (1)

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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