Tyler James Russell

Russell HeadshotTyler James Russell knows from experience the importance of patience and of honing one’s writing craft. Read the lessons he learned as he worked his way to publication.

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

To Drown a Man is my debut poetry collection. It came out of a transition point that resulted in me embracing vulnerability in a different way, in both my life and my writing. There’s not much formal inventiveness here, it’s a fairly plainspoken style. I’d come to a point where I was recognizing a lot of the barriers that I’d put up between myself and other people, and wrestling with how difficult and even painful it was to pull those down. Writing was, unfortunately, one of those barriers. I wanted people to see me as smart, clever, etc., and so I tried to write in a way that was smart, clever, etc. and not in a way that really touched on honest, vulnerable states of being human. So, I ended up setting writing aside for a while (and this is after writing regularly for more than 10 years) as I walked through that. Some of the poems in To Drown a Man are the first things that emerged when I started writing again.

2. How have your sales been?

I had a friend send me a postcard just before launch with a Don Marquis quote: “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.” I laugh at that quite a bit. If that’s true at a normal time, it’s probably doubly true during a pandemic.

That being said, I’ve been really humbled by the amount of people who’ve not only bought the book but also taken the time to reach out to me about it. Both people in the literary world and people who I’m pretty sure don’t interact with poetry much at all. So much of that has come out of simply getting comfortable telling people about the work I’m doing, because I think anything that comes off as at all “salesy” doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s something I’ve had to grow into.

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

This is my first book, and with the amount of factors I had to get my head around, I really wanted to leave it to the experts. Unsolicited Press is amazing, and I’ve been so happy to let them do their thing while I do mine. Continue reading

Sarah Patt

Sarah Patt has worked hard to market and promote her books, and understands the true meaning of “never give up.” Find out what she has learned throughout her publishing journey.

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

In my debut novel, Because of Savannah, Dakota Buchannan believes there can be nothing worse in life than losing her mother until her father suddenly dies, leaving her orphaned at sixteen. As she attempts to muddle her way through the funeral, Dakota is introduced to a man twice her age who looks remarkably like her father. Moments later, it is revealed that Luke is the son her father never knew he had and her brother. Luke invites her to join his family with the option of returning to Fort Worth to live with her bachelor uncle if she is not happy. Despite influence from Luke’s narcissistic wife, it does not take long before their adorable four-year-old daughter, Savannah, captivates Dakota.

As things begin looking up for Dakota, she meets a college graduate at a barbeque, setting off fireworks in her love life. But when her uncle falls victim to a near-fatal hit-and-run, Dakota is compelled to revisit her old home where the past collides with the present as she comes face to face with a killer and a shocking secret. In this gripping story, an orphaned teenager is led down an unexpected path through pain, fear, and danger to the eventual realization that everything in life happens for a reason.

2. How have your sales been?

I have sold over 500 e-books and paperbacks combined since its release and supposedly this is good considering I self-published. But naturally I wish it were way more!

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

I used Archway Publishers to transform my manuscript into a novel. The positives were their efficient step by step directions and assistance and most of their staff were genuinely friendly and helpful. The negatives were their added fees with every little thing! I also hadn’t realized their marketing is zilch. I knew most of it was all up to me but didn’t expect them to completely go ghost on me!

Thankfully my sequel, Dakota, got picked up by Histria Books and will be placed under their YA label, Addison & Highsmith. They are releasing it in the Fall of 2021. Histria isn’t necessarily a “traditional publisher” but they aren’t initially charging me to publish as Archway did. Continue reading

PD Alleva

PD Alleva has used self-publishing to craft his vision of what science fiction and horror should look like. Read about the trial-and-error approach to marketing he recommends for new authors.

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

My latest novel was released in October. It’s a dystopian science fiction thriller titled The Rose Vol. 1. It’s the first in a new series that features a sophisticated although ravaging species of alien vampires. The story begins after the end of World War 3 and follows an unsuspecting safety camp survivor, Sandy Cox, who’s been thrown in the middle of a human and alien war most human beings are unaware has existed. Sandy quickly discovers the vampires’ diabolical plot to turn human beings into easily controlled zombies in an effort to take control of the planet and achieve interstellar domination. The human elite are on the side of the aliens and have turned the military against their own people.

My motivation for writing The Rose was twofold: write a book that was intelligent,
mythological, mysterious, and action-packed; and, satisfy my creative itch while paying homage to the science fiction novels and movies that I’ve indulged in over a lifetime.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been really good.

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 enjoy self-publishing and the freedom that comes along with it. I don’t have to be concerned with whatever narrative or cookie cutter stories traditional publishing is attempting to push. I work at my own schedule and enjoy connecting with other indie authors. Continue reading

Christiane Joy Allison

Christiane Joy Allison has built her author platform by becoming active in the writing community. Here, she explains a few of the pros and cons of self-publishing.

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

The Infinitus Saga is a cyberpunk adventure series following the Mallorey family’s struggle to survive in a world run by the Global Fellowship and their Global Reform Interface and Database (GRID) computer system which runs on the “wetware” of the human brain. They’ve managed to hide in the shadows of a world where the disabled disappear, but now they can’t anymore. The series is jam-packed with futuristic technology, tech-savvy rebels, and genetic animal-human hybrids known as chimeras. In the latest book, Infinitus, the community needs conformity. The squids are out to dismantle it. Now both want what’s in her head. Infinitus is the story of Gina Mallorey, a young freedom-loving tech dealer living in the Dregs on her own terms, hiding her disability from the Community. When an explosion forces her into the GRID, powerful forces make her a target. The Community operative sent after her hides a genetic secret of his own, but only time will tell if he’ll choose to be friend or foe.

2. How have your sales been?

The sales of all of my books were dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 situation. Numerous in-person sales events were cancelled, reducing expected sales estimates on all titles. Funding sources that supported the publication of many of the works means that royalties result in straight profit from the beginning, but sales have been poor this year across the board.

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 like many of the aspects of self-publishing. I enjoy the control the process affords me over the final product. I enjoy being able to bring products to market faster than you would with a traditional publisher. I also enjoy just being involved in all the decisions that bring the book into the world.

Funding has been another major bonus of self-publishing. My first two books were funded entirely through KickStarter funds and grants that carried over to also support some of the costs of the next two books. Because of this, royalties result in profit much sooner, and the royalties I receive per book are much higher than they would be from a traditional publisher. However, not every self-publisher would have this experience. It takes quite a bit of leg work and a little luck to gather those kinds of funds.

On the negative side, the burden of marketing is entirely on you as the self-publisher. Wearing so many hats often means tasks have to be set aside in order to make progress in other areas. For example, when producing more content or a new product, I will not have the same time or energy to pour into marketing.

Continue reading

Deborah Bouziden

Deborah Bouziden has used traditional and self-publishing. Find out why she believes both types of authors have to use every marketing technique available.

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

My latest book, 100 Things to do in Fort Collins before You Die, is a travel guide. It lists 100 places and things people can do in and around Fort Collins, CO. I had written other
books similar to this one, but about Oklahoma and Oklahoma City. Reedy Press, which is my publisher, actually came to me and asked me to write it. They were familiar with my other books and thought I might be a good fit to write this one.

2. How have your sales been?

I am pleased to say sales for this book have been steady despite the challenges we have faced because of COVID-19 and then most recently having to evacuate because of wildfires in our area. We’ve had to move and reschedule book signings, but overall, sales are good.

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

I have worked with several different traditional publishers over the years like Globe Pequot, Writer’s Digest Books, Reedy Press and others. They all offer different perspectives on projects that I do and I appreciate their editorial, art, and marketing expertise. With self-publishing you have to find someone to edit your projects and if you have artwork you want to include, an artist.

Of course, marketing is marketing. An author has to be able to invest time, energy, and money regardless, but a traditional house can point you in a myriad of directions you might not have thought about. Continue reading

Ben Baker

Ben Baker is a prolific writer who has learned a few tricks throughout his career. He explains how authors can find and exploit their niche.

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

My latest published book is A Dog Named Nekkid. The title comes from one of the columns in the book. Imagine naming a dog Nekkid. Think of the fun. Put the dog outside. Company comes over. You get tired of them. “I gotta go outside and get Nekkid. Y’all wanna come?” So many variations on a theme.

That also marked my debut as a freehand cartoonist. I did editorial toons in college for the university newspaper, but drew those on a Macintosh. My daughter also drew some of the toons.

I have several others in the works: a science fiction/fantasy novel, memoirs, and a how-to book on dealing with an estate when you are the executor.

2. How have your sales been?

Poor. This is my fault. While I am good at sales and marketing, I do not enjoy it. Good? Yes. I have set new positive sales records for the places I worked in sales. I just do not like it. If I invested into the marketing, my sales would be excellent. I am somewhat like Nikola Tesla in that regard: lemme work and let someone else handle the business end.

This is why I love writing for brokerage sites. They handle the maths (maths is evil; the plural is correct), the marketing and the business. I write. I did have one client steal my stuff and leave a horrible review. I reported it with evidence of the theft and got paid. The client got banned. Dunno if the review is still up, nor do I care.

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 is great for me. I am also a graphic artist. Each week I produce a newspaper and a few times a year I produce a slick magazine. Layout and design for books is something I can do in my sleep. I’ve done books for several other people who did not have the know-how to design and format. I’ve done so many, including ghost writing, that I wrote a contract to spell out what I will do and the prices.

Because I can do layout and design, I control every step of the process. I pick the font, size, page size, count and quality. I keep all the rights. I set the price. I keep all the profits. My only out-of-pocket expense is printing the books I buy to resell.

Self-publishing is not for everyone because so many people think they have a great book (they do not) and it will just fly off the print-on-demand press to be a bestseller (it won’t). The last report of the POD industry I read said the average POD book sells fewer than two copies.

Marketing is what sells books. If you can’t get your butt up, moving and selling books everywhere and every chance you get, including forcing some chances, you will not make money. Continue reading

Matthew J. Hooper

Matthew J. Hooper understands the importance of hustle in selling a self-published work. Find out which marketing methods he’s used for his debut book.

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

My latest and first book is The Coldest Girl. It is about a little girl who just loves all things cold and the silly misadventures she gets into with all things cold. But there is a little more to her love of cold than one would think. My daughter was my inspiration for this book. The story says that the coldest girl was born on the coldest day, in the coldest place in the world. The rhyme repeated through the book is one my daughter said for a while. I honestly just added some funny scenarios to pull it into a story, then a great hook at the end to seal it.

2. How have your sales been?

Slow going to be honest. Launching a book during a pandemic may not have been the best timing. This is also a new marketing challenge for me. It’s been an adventure trying to figure out how to build an audience. I’m starting to figure things out and build things up.

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

The nice thing about self-publishing is that you don’t have to rely on being part of a company’s marketing strategy. That was the comment that came back from most of the publishers I dealt with. The big downside is you are on your own, so now you have to be writer, editor, and marketing. It can be a lot. Continue reading

Alexandrea Fokken

Alexandrea Fokken understands it takes patience to build your author brand. Find out which specific steps she recommends to grow your audience.

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

Harrison’s Hairy Problem is a story about an elephant named Harrison. Harrison the Elephant is a hairy elephant. From his head to his tail, Harrison is covered in hair. His only wish is to be hairless like all the other elephants he knows. The story is about self-love and learning that it is okay to be different.

I started writing Harrison’s story during the COVID-19 lockdown. My daughter has this rocking elephant that is very hairy, and I kept asking her what she wanted to name him. Being only nine months old at the time, of course she could not tell me. One day, we were playing with the rocking elephant and the idea just popped into my head. I quickly wrote down the story, asking my cousin and husband for ideas on what it should be about (either, no two elephants are alike or it’s okay to be different, which are similar lessons). The next thing I knew I was waiting for the copyrights and working on the illustrations.

2. How have your sales been?

For my first book, I believe sales are pretty good. It has sold over 150 copies in eight different countries. It has also been read out loud on two different YouTube channels and one podcast. I think that’s pretty good for my first story. However, I’m still learning how to market.

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

To tell you the truth, I chose to self-publish because I wanted to illustrate my story. A lot of publishing companies like to use their own illustrators, and I felt like I could get my story across better with my own doodles.

It was rather stressful doing it this way though, because I didn’t know what I was (and still don’t) doing. It would be nice to be able to take some of that weight of my shoulders and hand over to someone else for a bit. Continue reading

Margo Thomas

Margo Thomas believes in using social media to make valuable connections, not just to increase page likes. Find out why she decided to outsource her self-publishing efforts.

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

My latest book is called I Am College Bound. It is a college-prep planner for high school students. I work with high school students daily and realized that many of them make decisions about going to college with hardly any research. They choose their potential careers, college majors and colleges with limited information. As a result, students are going to colleges they cannot afford, to obtain degrees they are not truly invested in to pursue careers that will not pay them nearly enough to pay off their crazy student loan debt before they retire.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have initially been sporadic. I published the I Am College Bound Planner early in the pandemic. I previously planned to participate in a number of in-person tabling events, but those plans changed. My ultimate goal, though, is to use the books to segue into speaking, training and coaching. I recently got an opportunity to speak to a group of high school girls who are preparing for college. The organizers agreed to purchase the planners as part of my fee. I got a call about another opportunity at a high school to purchase my planners as part of a grant. So, I anticipate increased sales in the near future.

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 used KDP/Amazon self-publishing through a company called Junkanoo Publications & Consulting. I honestly did not want to learn the full process and was willing to pay a realistic price for it to be done. I do have access to my KDP/Amazon account, which allows me to make changes as needed.

The overall experience for me with self-publishing has been positive. I suppose the negative aspect of self-publishing is that I am responsible for promoting my books, which means that I have to learn and experiment with different marketing ideas. Continue reading

Bob Russell

Bob Russell is a Christian author who has been traditionally and self-published. He explains the many different ways he’s used to successfully market his books.

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

My recent e-books include three in the Christian Concepts Series: The Church, The Christ, and The Christian, plus one missions-oriented book.

My personal favorite is my e-book God’s Nature: Sonlight Sunlight, which shows amazing alignments between science and Scripture. This book has received great reviews from a wide variety of people from internationally-known theologians, women’s ministry leaders, full-time homemakers, and long-term prisoners. It is part of my Christian Concepts Series of three books which use biblical analogies to explain complex Christian topics in easy to understand and memorable ways. The original print version of this series received 11 literary awards. All of my books contain a “Think and Grow” section at the end of each chapter which is ideal for personal or small group study.

My most unusual book is one in which I edited the wire recordings of martyred missionary Jim Elliot (Jim Elliot: Recorded Messages). As a child I lived in the Elliot home for a time. Jim was one of my Sunday School teachers and his father was my spiritual mentor for years.

2. How have your sales been?

Because I write in a small niche market where having a strong name awareness is important, my sales have not been as strong as I would desire but they have been steady. It is important to note my writing goal: “I’d rather write what the Spirit guides and have no readers, than to appeal to more readers without the Spirit’s guidance.”

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

Previously, I published four print books through two publishing houses. Later I switched to self-publishing (five e-books and one print book to date). Using “draft2digital” has many advantages for me. It is much faster, I have better control, greater distribution options, higher royalties, etc. Continue reading