Fred Gordon

fredgordon1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

My name is Fred Gordon, I’m a C5-C6 quadriplegic.  I wrote an autobiography of my life called Still Looking Up.  I wrote the book in hopes of inspiring any reader but especially people with spinal cord injury.  In my years of being in a wheelchair I’ve heard horror stories of depression, not wanting to live and the hard times of adjusting to a new situation.  I’ve been blessed to have not gone through any hard times with adjusting, and I want to give back to those that do.  Not just SCI or wheelchair individuals but anybody that has gone through something that had the potential to stop their progression through life.

I try to give a picture of my life before the chair, so when they see my life after the chair they can see not much changed as I grew from a misguided teenager into manhood.  I tried to tell my story as it happened, from going to jail, to losing the love of my life, to the initial accident, to getting saved and married.  I put it all on the table, good and bad.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

It’s funny you asked that because I wasn’t sure what an indie writer was before this interview.  I don’t know, when I used to get sick and had to go to the hospital, I would talk to the nurses and share my life with them, and a lot of them would say I should write a book.  I heard that for years and then one day, a quiet voice said, you need to write that book.  So I started writing.  I didn’t have a real plan, I’ve been winging it for real.

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Lynette White

Lynette White avoided the vanity press route and opted for self-publishing instead.  Find out which vendor she uses for marketing and the one thing she’d do differently if she could start over.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.  

Betrayal is tearing at the very fabric of the twin cities and they are on the verge of collapse.  The frightened citizens are turning on the garrisons, the gods, and each other.  Commander Shadoe Van Ives discovers how to save them if he can stay alive long enough to find someone he can trust.  Shadoe must outmaneuver the enemies inside and outside the walls of the twin cities before time runs out for him and for them.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I have wanted to publish my work for a long time but kept letting life get in the way.  It took my dying mother to make me realize I am the only one who can make my dreams come true.  Being an unknown, I was lured to a vanity press.  Fortunately for me I was pointed in the direction of indie publishing before I made a critical mistake.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

Not yet.  I am still working on finding the way in.  I have the tools now to pursue that avenue and will begin the process soon.

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R.G. Taark

R.G. Taark is a sci-fi writer who has already experienced success with the indie writing process.  Learn which marketing methods work for him and what he would have done differently he could go back.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

My Guardsman series is a science fiction mystery, set in a “Bladerunner” style world, with direct action and very human goals and desires.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I first started writing as a hobby.  My life was turned upside-down and I had to start over again at 33.  While I was working on the state licensing requirements for my “real life” business I started writing books and stories I had in my head during my spare time.  I enjoyed writing and found a mentor who taught me what I needed to do to make my disparate scribblings into a coherent book.  When I was done I published my first book and the second followed quickly.

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David Carroll

David Carroll has found a way around the boundaries of traditional publishing, going it alone as a self-published indie author. Learn more about his writing and which marketing methods have worked best for him.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

Princess Nenji is named as the next queen when a dragon hunts down the royal family. But before she can claim her throne, she must resolve the politics about her being a Mage’s apprentice, and embark on a quest to stop the Dragon King from finishing the job. She meets fascinating creatures, and learns a lot about herself along the way.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

The publishing industry has been in chaos since 2009. Very few new authors are given the royal treatment anymore. No one can be “just an author” until they sell enough books to pay someone to do everything else. While distribution methods have been accessible to everyone, and marketing is required of authors whether indie or traditional, it seemed like a good time to go it alone.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

I have not been traditionally published because the big publishers need me to prove myself first, and the small publishers might not survive long enough to get my books to print.

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Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald has been writing in a variety of formats for years, and has enjoyed the self-publishing process. Find out why she likes the free promotions on Amazon’s KDP Select, and which vendors she chooses for her marketing.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

Have you ever noticed that two people can be faced with the same crisis and while one becomes hopelessly mired in a web of negativity and feelings of helplessness, the other is able to overcome adversity and bounce back stronger than ever?

The hard truth is that from time to time we are all going to stumble; encounter unexpected detours, and fail. No matter how much we try to outrun or sidestep adversity, it is going to happen. So the real question then becomes not how to avoid obstacles, but how to use them to our advantage.

By choosing to look at all experiences as opportunities for growth and greater long-term resilience, we are able to approach life on a whole new level and embrace our experiences with much more enthusiasm. Adversity can present us with the opportunity to realign ourselves with what is really important in our lives and in the process strengthen confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

The good news is that research has proven that resilience is not a genetic gift for the lucky few. It is a set of skills that can be practiced and mastered over time and Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience is a self-directed learning guide that shows the way.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I’d have to say I was technically an “indie writer” long before the term was coined. I live on a small island so it’s natural to end up a sort of jack of all trades. In every job and volunteer position I’ve ever held I’ve ended up as the official scribe and written everything from materials for fundraising to scripts for travel industry promotional films and public relations kits, to marketing materials for the local arts and cultural center. I even co-authored a native Hawaiian cookbook for a local nonprofit. So I was already comfortable with the role of an independent writer when I began blogging a couple of years ago and over time that naturally evolved into my first book.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

To be honest I never considered approaching a traditional publisher. What I find most appealing about self-publishing, particularly in a digital format, is having the ability to try new things and control the process, which suits my independent and creative nature.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

Overall I love it. Of course with anything in life there are pros and cons and this is no different. I had no clue what I was doing when I started, so I faced a huge learning curve. Fortunately I’m not shy about asking questions or trying new things and I have learned to define my occasional stumbles as ‘growth’ opportunities.

5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?

While I don’t view it as a long-term strategy, I am a big fan of Amazon’s KDP program as an opportunity for new authors to get their work into the hands of large numbers of readers. I know there are a lot of people who view the ‘free’ promotions as a negative, but my experience has been that my sales spike sharply right after a free day, so for me it’s worked well.

My blog has been a very important tool as well. I’d already been blogging for a couple of years and had a good size following before I published my first book, so there’s been a lot of support there.

Otherwise I’ve found author communities to be incredibly supportive. Most authors are very generous with advice and cross promoting on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

Living on a small island tends to automatically eliminate a few of the traditional promotional activities. For example there is only one bookstore here, it’s on the other end of the island and I’ve never known them to host author readings or book signings.

I have listed my books in quite a few directories, as well as sites such as Goodreads, but don’t invest a lot of time attempting to pursue readers on these sites. It’s not that I don’t see the value of every single reader, it’s that you have to draw the line somewhere or you’ll end up spending more time promoting than writing.

7. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

I don’t do a lot of direct mail because of the expense, but I do think it’s important to have a quality business card and media kit. For business cards and postcards, actually any business materials, I go with Vista Print. Their prices and service are excellent, but what I also like is how user friendly their platform is when it comes to customizing your materials. As a hands-on artist that is very import to me.

Another vendor I love and have used for years is Zazzle to create promotional materials like logo pins and t-shirts and you can customize pretty much every item they carry. Again the service and pricing are terrific, but the best thing is that unlike most promotional outlets they do not require bulk purchases. So let’s say you have a special event coming up and you want to create a logo pin or t-shirt promoting your book just for you to wear, you can do that!

8. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

It was quite an eye opener to learn how many professionals continue to only review books that have been published traditionally. As if that weren’t challenge enough, I’ve also learned just how tough it can be to get professional reviews for nonfiction books. I had no idea there were so many reviewers who will only review fiction.

9. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?

I now have a far better understanding of the value of creating a ‘launch event.’ I’ll be publishing my third book in a couple of weeks and I’m doing a lot more advance work like building an ‘interest’ list, working with affiliates and offering special bonuses for the launch. I’ll keep trying new things and evolving the process with each new publication.

10. Indie authors face the challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie just starting out?

Take a deep breath and plan for the long haul. Don’t believe the people who tell you you’ll never make a dime, or the people who try to sell you a formula to make an ‘easy’ bundle. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, just don’t repeat them. And, most important of all, write more than you promote. It’s very easy to get caught up in the promotion of your current book and let days and weeks go by without writing a word. Whatever you do, keep writing.

11. What are you currently working on?

The name of my new book is It’s Your Time Now – A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

Most people are familiar with the term ‘life design’ but few people really understand what that really means, or where to begin to live life intentionally when you’re already up to your eyeballs in life and responsibilities. This book is a guide to bring into focus the steps to begin the journey to mastering your life by design.

12. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?

Life doesn’t get easier – we get better.

13. How can readers learn more about your books?

Either at my blog, IGG – Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas, or my new Facebook page, Living Your Life by Design. Both sites include links to download a free chapter and to the product pages at Amazon.

Guy Portman

Guy Portman is relatively new to the self-publishing world but is already picking up a lot.  Find out what he’s learned about effective use of social media and what he would do if he could start the process again.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

The following is the blurb for Charles Middleworth: What happens when Adrian, an actuary, has his banal and predictable existence turned upside down by sinister forces that he can neither understand nor control?  How will he react to a revelation that leaves his life in turmoil? Will he surrender or strive for redemption in an altered world, where rationality, scientific logic and algorithms no longer provide the answers?

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

It seemed like the most rational decision considering the current publishing situation.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

I have not attempted to go down the traditional route.  Charles Middleworth is not what I imagine publishers would necessarily consider a commercially viable commodity, like a vampire and/or erotica book for example.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

It’s been a rewarding journey into the unknown.  I have a great deal yet to learn and appreciate the fact that it is going to take time to generate sales.

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R.M. Kelly

Author R.M. Kelly enjoys the art of writing and was inspired by her work with a small indie press to go into self-publishing.  Learn why she focuses her marketing efforts on the indie community, rather than traditional media, and which vendor she favors for book covers.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

My collection of short stories, Shorter Than The Wick, includes three about the Ghost Files team and their tales on a reality ghost hunting show run by idiots who happen to meet spirits from the other side. Another story is about a husband and father looking for any kind of forgiveness from his family during the Arab Spring after a tragedy.  One of my favorites is about the oldest vampire on earth loosing her ability to seduce blood from mortals after falling in love with a very modern man.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Because telling stories, creating worlds for a reader to live in, really comes naturally to me.  Writing is simply a part of me and the way I look at the world.  It’s fun and enraging at times but always important for me to have the time and opportunity to tell stories.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

Well I’m an editor for a small indie e-book publisher, nuever.com, so that was simply what felt like the best approach to publishing. Getting my books out in the new medium as the e-book market grows.

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Kevin Kierstead

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

We are focused on small-time threats in America right now: terrorists, “lone-wolf” scenarios, gangs, etc.  We don’t see a real threat in the way of an entire country attacking us.  China, though, is fully capable of attacking us and they have a massive amount of strength–the only thing holding them back, if they decided to do it, would be the threat of a nuclear strike, so this book ponders what might happen if they could figure out a way around that problem.  Ultimately, though, with that as the background story, this is a story about survival after a devastating tidal wave that was over 100-yards tall.  One young man, one young dog, one young woman and one old man come together in unlikely ways and begin to fight through their struggles together.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Honestly?  I have a problem with authority!  But it wasn’t just that.  I did the whole agent/publisher dance on and off for 20 years.  Back in 1994, when I finished my first novel, I had it accepted by an agency called the Thornton Literary Agency and it was scheduled to be published under the Electric Umbrella but their company went into a hiatus and the rest is history.  That kind of unpredictability along with the growing trend of agents/publishers chasing “what’s hot” vs. looking for new talent in any genre is what pushed me here.  I love nothing more than having total control over my work.  Except for writing.

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Patrick Turley

Patrick Turley has worked to create a niche for his Marine-based book and to give it the publicity effort it deserves.  Learn more about which methods work particularly well for him and why he feels every marketing approach should be considered.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

The only existing first-person, insider account of Marine Corps Boot Camp, documenting the good, the bad, the ugly and the hilarious in the making of the Few and the Proud.  A microcosm of how the “slacker generation” responded to a nation in need in the shadow of terror, Patrick Turley walked, ran and double-timed through the place and captured it in his book Welcome to Hell: Three and a Half Months of Marine Corps Boot Camp. From the moment the drill instructor said “Welcome to Hell!” Turley and his fellow recruits felt a sense of foreboding that proved well founded. The author, who endured and survived the foreboding, looks back and captures those anxious times with a sharp line for detail and a smile for the people, DI’s and all, who shared the three and a half months.  Former Marine and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright John Patrick Shanley, after reading a draft of Welcome to Hell, put it in complete perspective: “It’s great to have gone to Marine Corps boot camp.  It’s terrible to be in Marine Corps boot camp.  It’s fun to read about Marine Corps boot camp.”

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I feel like this is an important story to be told and a niche one that can carve its own market out as well as being an excellent and well-rounded story for a much broader mass appeal.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

No.  The industry for traditional publication is evaporating before our eyes.  Without a big name to command your own audience, mainstream publishers aren’t particularly interested in first-timers anymore.

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Mike Madden

British indie author Mike Madden has written several books in several different genres and finds success and challenges in each one.  He details his success with Amazon’s KDP Select and discusses the other ways he’s marketed his work.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

Mmm…No1…Cookbook was originally conceived so that I could keep all of my recipes in one place.  I am an avid cook (not chef!), and have around 40 cookbooks, as well as newspaper and magazine cutouts and handwritten recipes handed down from my mum.  This way all of my recipes are in one handy place, on my Kindle, and I can easily take that to the shop as my shopping list.  The recipes can be described as “Every Day Cooking For Every Day Lives”, there’s nothing too fancy in there, and they range from starters and soups, to main meals including lots of curries, and finally desserts and cakes.  I find that television chefs use too many obscure ingredients, and they seem to have every utensil under the sun to aid preparation.  These recipes are essentially very simple, and are presented in an easy step-by-step format.  The book was originally designed for the Kindle, so even in the paperback version there are no pictures, but do you really need to know what Key Lime Pie or vegetable soup look like before cooking it?

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I am only an indie writer because I have not yet been “discovered” by a major publishing house!  Seriously though, I do not choose mainstream formats, preferring instead to challenge the market.  A cookbook on Kindle?  On Amazon.co.uk there are less than 1,000 available compared to 90,000 paper cookbooks.  No market or a gap in the market; I’ll let the market decide.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

As I mentioned earlier, I do not write in mainstream formats so am unlikely to appeal to a traditional publisher just yet; however, I have had plenty of praise for my writing.  My adult humorous novel Stags! reached number 1 on Amazon’s Free Kindle Humour list, and is currently in 3 Amazon bestseller lists for paid books.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

Self-publishing is great for getting your work out there quickly and relatively easily, but it is also a great tool for learning.  I knew nothing about fonts until I self-published Stags!, and I knew nothing about Kindles until I started to look at that medium too.  You quickly realize that marketing is the hardest thing in the world, and the realization that no one will buy your book just because you believe in it is a harsh lesson, but one that all indie authors must learn quickly.

5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books. Which ones have been the most successful?

I have tried book signings; for instance, my children’s picture book Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle has a pirate theme, so I sat outside a couple of local Tesco supermarkets dressed as a pirate and signed copies.  A book signing for Stags! was featured at the Levenshulme festival, as a result of which I got coverage in The Irish Post.

These are fine for small coverage, and I realized how much fun it can be to dress up as a pirate, but by far the most successful marketing technique has been via KDP Select.  This allows you to offer your book free for up to 5 days every 90 days, but during this time you must push it.  Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Goodreads, anything you can think of.

But it can’t just be a one way thing.  Follow blogs and they will follow back, but you must participate.  Download other free books and engage with other authors.  Contact Pixel Of Ink, Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, and others, and consider a paid promotion which can be done for as little as $29.99.

If you are successful you will get thousands of downloads.  Stags! got around 5,000 in 5 days, and then the fun really starts.  If you have done it right you should continue to push, push, push when it is a paid download again. Stags! hit around 200 paid downloads in the first week and then sales started to taper.  Bear in mind that the more sales you get, the more Amazon will “recommend” your book.

If you can get it into the top 20 in any category this will generate more sales.  When a potential customer looks at a bestseller category the first page has 20 entries.  A few will go to the next page of 20 entries, but after that visitors dwindle.  It’s a bit like getting on the first page for a Google search.

The next phase is to drop the price to less than $1. This hits the bargain promotions and sales will get an uplift. Continue to expand your network, and make use of your free KDP Select days every quarter.  There is no such thing as overnight success.  You have to work at it.

6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

I disregarded local newspapers and trying to get book reviews.  There is just simply not enough coverage.  If you have enough friends they will cover the local area for you, and even in your own area, if someone does not know you personally they will not be inclined to buy your book.

7. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

Business cards and flyers are invaluable, but cheap and cheerful will do fine.  Make sure they have your email address on, mobile number if you really must, book details including website and blog details, and Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.  Amazon is king and is a very trusted site.  If your book is on Amazon people trust it.  In terms of internet marketing there are tons of free sites that will push your free days, including Pixel Of Ink, Digital Book Today, etc.

8. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

It’s all about the marketing.  Apart from your family and friends no one will buy your book – you have to sell it to them. Or get Amazon to sell it for you by exploiting the free KDP Select feature as described.

9. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?

For paperbacks I now exclusively use Createspace.  I have used Fast-Print, but only because Createspace did not support UK distribution.  Now they do.  Createspace is quicker and easier to use, produces a better quality product, and the finished book gives more profit to the author.  The only caveat to this is that the Createspace cover designs are limited, but I would not be surprised to see them expand these in the near future.

10. Indie authors face the challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers. What advice do you have for an indie just starting out?

Start slowly and dedicate at least an hour per day to it.  Don’t expect it all to happen overnight, and do not disregard any channel.  It is a learning exercise as much as a marketing exercise, and by the time you get to book number 10 you will be well on your way to becoming an expert!

11. What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a sequel to Stags!, the working title of which is Infidelity.  I got some really nice fan mail after my latest marketing exercises, and that prompted me to finally put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.  I am also looking to produce a book of dark poetry in collaboration with a friend who does some terrific illustrations.  In the pipeline there is the biography of an English rock and roll singer, but he is based in Madrid so there are a few logistical issues with that one!

12. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?

Having launched three books in three very different genres, each one challenging the market in a different way, it would have to be “Laughing in the Face of Tradition”.

13. How can readers learn more about your books?

You can visit my website at michael-madden.co.uk and my blog at mmm-number-1.blogspot.com.