J.S. Frankel

the auctioneer best pic!J.S. Frankel has enjoyed positive results with traditional publishing. He talks about that here and offers practical advice for using social media.

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

My latest novel is a YA Fantasy, entitled The Auctioneer. Essentially, it’s a story about a young man, forced by circumstances, to work very far away – in another galaxy. At first, he does what he does for the money. But when he finds out people and planets are being sold, he changes his way of thinking. It’s also a bit of a smackdown to some people in the rich, “I’m entitled” generation.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales? Sales? What are those? Seriously, the marketing of my novels is probably the most challenging aspect of writing. I love writing, but getting the word out and getting people to take a chance on my work is hard.

3. You’ve gone the traditional publishing route. Why did you choose this, and what has been your experience?

I started writing seriously only about six years ago. At that time, I knew very little about self-publishing, and my sister suggested that I try e-book publishers to start with. My experiences, outside of sales, have been good. My covers are well done, my publishers do put the word out, and I have worked with some excellent editors who’ve willingly taught me what they know. All in all, it’s been positive.

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T.L. Chasse

17342950_1900215396857599_5463146575114977439_nT.L. Chasse has used author talks as a means of promoting her books.  She discusses the pros and cons of self-publishing and how writing fan fiction has shaped her craft.

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

My latest book is called Oh, Henry, A Vintage, Maine Novel, about a young man named Henry Titan who discovers that he was adopted. He spends the summer in a small town called Vintage, Maine, trying to track down his birth mother. Henry also happens to have a condition called achondroplasia. During his adventurous summer, Henry gets tangled up in small-town gossip, lies and treachery – there may even be romance in the air.

I was motivated to write this book after watching Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”) talk in an interview. He stated that it was always hard for a dwarf to find roles of real people – rather than playing an elf or a leprechaun. I decided then to feature a young man with dwarfism in a novel.

It has been a wonderful experience. I contacted the New England Chapter of Little People of America. One of their admin set me up with a sensitivity reader, whose feedback was tremendously helpful. I’m so excited to launch Oh, Henry and am looking at a spring release.

2. How have sales for your books been?

My sales have been relatively low; however, that is my own fault. I have not been very proactive with marketing and PR. But the feedback that I have received on my first two novels, as well as the few beta readers for Oh, Henry have all been very encouraging.

3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Tell me more about that and how you got into it.

When I first decided to write, it was mostly for myself, as a hobby. After having several close friends who I had shared my stories with request copies, I decided to look into a print-on-demand venue. I went through Createspace and have been very happy with it.

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R.L. Walker

41KJmi11IcL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_R.L. Walker believes authors should start early in their marketing efforts.  Learn which networking techniques she’s used to get her books into readers’ hands.

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

My latest book, Kai’s Secret, is about a Navajo girl, Kai, who gets an internship to help discover her heritage. While she was working at the museum, she discovered that artifacts were being stolen and that she had the ability to shape shift into a hawk. She must use her abilities to stop the thief as she uncovers that there is a connection between the artifacts’ disappearance, the pipeline, and her parents’ disappearance years ago.

I was motivated by current events and my own experiences working on an archaeological dig site. I wanted to help more with the plight of the Native Americans and the pipeline going through their land. I thought that by writing about a reservation that was going through something similar more people might show more empathy towards their situation.

2. How have your sales been?

My sales are better than I expected, but not quite where I would like to be to make a living off my writing. I sell more in person at book signings and when I get media coverage. Sales seem to go hand in hand with promotions and media attention. However, it is hard to balance my job, writing new stories, and sending out press releases.

3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Have you sought an agent or any work with traditional publishers? If not, why not? If so, what has been your experience with traditional publishing?

I have sent out a few query letters, but have not spent a ton of time trying to find a publisher or agent. I like the freedom that self-publishing gives you. You can write about things that you want to and not have things edited out due to a publisher’s demands.

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Vincent Formosa

51e+WDmB0SL._SY346_British author Vincent Formosa combines his background in history with his love for aviation. Read about how he navigates a crowded self-publishing field and why Twitter is not the platform best suited for him.

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

My latest book out is a novel titled Run The Gauntlet. It follows the life of an RAF light bomber squadron from the outbreak of World War 2 to the end of May 1940 and the fall of France.

I was inspired to write it after reading an article in an aviation magazine about the air war in France during the German Blitzkrieg. It related a few details about a Blenheim bomber squadron (the Blenheim was a twin engine light bomber in the RAF at the time, 3 men per crew) that lost 18 out of 21 crews in 10 days and that figure did not include the replacements who had also been shot down.

I was staggered by this. The thought of a squadron that had fought and trained for years before the war to be almost casually wiped out really brought home to me the cost of war. So I started the novel, doing a lot of research along the way, trying to encompass that press on attitude while conveying the harshness of combat.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales so far have been slow. My first novel came out in 2011. My second novel came out at the end of 2016.

I’m playing the long game on this one. I’m writing for a bit of a niche genre (aviation military fiction) and while there are lot of aviation magazines, they don’t review fiction, so it’s proving difficult to get myself out there and known. I realize that when someone buys your book and then looks to see there are no more by you, you miss an opportunity for a secondary buy. So as time goes on, I’ll have more books out there and it will naturally blossom. A reader will read one, say “I enjoyed that,” and then see there are others they can buy. So one sale can turn into four or five.

3. You’ve chosen to use indie publishing for your books. Can you elaborate as to why you made this choice?

About 8 years ago I came across Joe Konrath’s blog where he discussed what had led him to self-publish and I found his argument very reasoned. 99.9% of new authors will not get much in the way of promotion from a publisher, so for the virtue of getting my book physically on a bookshop shelf, I’m giving away quite a percentage of royalty.

So if I’m not getting any promotion help, why not do it myself and get more royalty for me?

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Cerynn McCain

Book cover 1.JPGCerynn McCain favors the control authors have with self-publishing. Here she talks about the challenges of networking as well as one marketing technique she avoids.

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

A brief blurb about the book: In a world where the Àraid have been nearly forgotten, The General remembers. He knows there are still a few hiding. He’s just waiting for one to reveal themselves so he can wipe them out.

Christa knows this. She knows he’s watching her. She knows she needs to keep up the facade of being human. For years staying hidden has been easy, but something has changed. The General lost something valuable, and Christa now must keep it out of his grasp. But how far is she willing to bend before she has no choice but to reveal her powers and risk him finding them?

I started writing it right after my best friend moved away. I was a rather lonely person after that, and the characters I created in the story really helped me get through, so I decided to publish it hoping it might help others as well.

2. How have your sales been?

Honestly? I try not to look. I published it because I loved it. I’m worried if I start checking my sales I’ll start obsessing about the numbers and not focus on continuing the story for me, rather than for publicity.

3. You’ve gone the self-publishing route. Have you sought an agent or any work with traditional publishers? If not, why not? If so, what has been your experience with traditional publishing?

I did try to get an agent for a while, I queried about 20 agents. However, I think I sabotaged myself because I’m not good at pitching my book. I love it. I stand by it. I have a very hard time telling other people they will love it because not everyone loves the same stuff so I had a really hard time writing my query. Also a lot of agents don’t want
to pick up first time authors writing the first book in a series because they worry I won’t finish the series. I plan to query again after the full series is out. A long shot, I know, but I might as well try.

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Suzy Milhoan

Suzy Milhoan has managed to turn her grief into a learning experience, one she seeks to share with the world through her writing.  Find out more about her proactive marketing approach and how social media enhanced her networking.

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

The Healing Game shares Suzy’s journey of losing her beloved husband, Kevin, hitting rock bottom, and painfully finding her way back to her life. Suzy’s deeply personal writing reveals how she learned to grieve, work through her emotions, remember the good times, and once more embrace love.

For those who have lost a loved one, The Healing Game not only offers comfort and support, but also shows you that God is ever-faithful and always by your side.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

This was my first book, and I thought I could get my book finished and published sooner by going this route.  I didn’t have a platform yet to try to sell to a publisher or agent, so I went off on my own.

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

No, I didn’t have the confidence to seek out traditional publishing because I was just starting a new career (writing) with a brand new book, and a non-fiction at that.

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C.N. Bring

C.N. Bring writes in the military suspense genre and has stuck to her own style of writing despite pressure from traditional publishers.  Learn why she’s skeptical of Facebook as a marketing tool and why word of mouth is so important to promoting your book.

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

Commander Celia Kelly is a perceptive Naval intelligence officer rebuilding her life after the tragic death of her husband.  The suspicious suicide of a fellow officer has Celia questioning the mission she’s been assigned.

With the help of a one of a kind secretary, a by-the-book assistant, and a Navy SEAL, Kelly discovers she’s been set up.  Digging relentlessly, nothing is as it seems.  Someone is after twenty million dollars that disappeared when Kelly’s husband died and now that someone is after her.

2. Why did you become an Indie writer?

I was almost published traditionally, but I was asked to change the story too much.  The series is not a romance, but instead a military mystery, suspense.  The traditional publisher wanted to add a formula romance to the story. Though I wasn’t opposed to changes that might enhance the story, I was against losing my original audience. Truthfully, romance isn’t really my thing.  To be successful, we all have to find our own voice unlike anyone else’s. The hardest part about the business is they (publishers) want a safe sell.  They want a familiar story with a new voice.  It’s the publishing catch-22.  So I started to explore indie publishing.

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Diana Nixon

Belarusian author Diana Nixon has realized numerous benefits with self-publishing and has begun her own fantasy book series.  Learn more about the sites she uses to promote her work and the one thing any author needs to ensure quality writing.

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

The name of the book is Love lines.  It’s the first book of a fantasy series under the same title.  It shows the inner world of supernatural beings, their talents and powers.  Love lines is a story about beautiful love and true friendship. It’s a book for all ages with some humor and complicated relationship.

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

I’m a self-published author and I’ve never published my books traditionally.  Before publishing my first book I read a lot of blogs discussing the advantages and the disadvantages of self-publishing.  The control over the process was the main thing that made me choose self-publishing.  I can create covers I like, I don’t have to make changes about the book which I wouldn’t like, and I can choose marketing techniques I’m sure will be successful.  And finally, I want to be sure I have done everything possible and maybe even impossible to promote and sell my book, as sometimes the authors are not satisfied with the same work most publisher do.  I know how I want things to be done and I’m sure no one else can do them better than I do.

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Shaun J. McLaughlin

Shaun J. McLaughlin believes every writer must be in it for the art, and strives to make his writing stand out from the rest.  Shaun discusses his success with blogging and what he believes it takes for a writer to succeed.

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

My self-published novel, Counter Currents, is a story of smugglers, river pirates, rebels, love, and war.  Most scenes are set against the grandeur of the Thousand Islands during the drama of North America’s forgotten war, the Patriot War of 1838.  Among the raiders was Bill Johnston, the Thousand Islands legend.  The protagonist, Ryan, a young immigrant, is drawn into Johnston’s world of piracy and secret societies.  Ryan falls for Johnston’s daughter, Kate.  Tugged by the opposing currents of romance and war, Ryan struggles to reconcile his troubled family history, his duty and his heart. Counter Currents is history illuminated by fiction.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I worked as a writer – journalist and technical writer – for over 30 years.  Since my teens, I wrote fiction on the side. For my first novel, I queried dozens of agents and publishers in Canada and the US.  Over half never responded. One small publisher in Iowa offered to publish it, but they closed down shortly after I signed the contract.  Weary of rejection, I studied the self-publishing arena and the related technologies, and made a decision to be my own publisher.

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

I do both.  In the same month (March 2012) that I self-published my first novel, my first history book, The Patriot War Along the New York-Canada Border, was published by South Carolina-based The History Press.  It covers the eastern half of the Patriot War of 1838.

There is an interesting story behind that.  I created a history blog in January 2010 in advance of my novel to help promote the book and the era.  An editor at The History Press discovered the blog and asked me to write a book about it.  I said yes, of course.

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

I am astounded at how simple it is to be self-published.  Between Smashwords, CreateSpace and Kindle/Amazon, anyone who can follow step-by-step instructions can produce books in multiple formats.  There is no barrier to publishing.  Technology has sidelined the gatekeepers and unleashed writers.  You’ve got to love that.

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

I have tried most of the popular marketing techniques: blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and guest posts on other blogs and e-magazines.  I had both books reviewed, and even paid for an ad on Goodreads.

My history blog, raidersandrebels.com, is the most successful.  It gets over 600 visits per month from history lovers. The key is to provide readers with free, interesting content.  That blog links to my imprint blog where I describe my books.  A small percentage of visitors become customers.

Two history articles that I wrote for the Thousand Islands Life e-magazine early in 2012 did well, as did a book review on that mag.  The magazine’s audience is in the heart of the region where both my books take place.  The exposure led to a regional spike in sales, especially for the history book.

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

My research into the business of self-publishing taught me that my book is one of millions available.  It is one leaf in a forest of 10,000 trees trying to be noticed.  You cannot be in this business for the money.  Like a painter or musician, you must be in for the art.

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

Next time I will spend no time trying to find a publisher for my fiction.

8. 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?

From my observation, the authors that succeeded financially did not hit the big time with their first book.  They built up a fan base, good book by good book, until they broke out.  In brief: write well, write often, be patient.

9. What are you currently working on?

I have a detailed outline for the sequel to my novel.  It will be set partly in Australia, which I will visit in the fall of 2012 to scout locations.  I plan to research a second history book on the Patriot War to cover events along the western front.

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

I write about history (and by extension, historical fiction) like a good journalist covers current events: how people face their trials and triumphs never gets dull.

11. How can readers learn more about your books?

My publishing imprint has info on both books: raidersandrebelspress.com.

Una Tiers

Una Tiers took a run-in with the law and turned it into a book, uniquely using the experience to relieve stress.  Here, she offers numerous marketing suggestions in varying media and explains her take on the publishing industry.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.

Judge vs. Nuts is about a lawyer, a goldfish and a dead judge.  It explores Chicago and murder.  It will make you laugh.  I think you will like my characters, puns and self-effacing remarks.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

Honestly, a judge tried to arrest me and I eliminated my stress by murdering him (on paper).  Occasionally I added to the details, adding more victims as warranted.  Pretty soon I discovered mysteries outside of Sherlock Holmes and the result was Judge vs. Nuts.  Book signings became a hobby and I learned something at each one.

3. What is your opinion of the future of publishing?

Self-publishing has clearly rocked the publishing industry to its foundation.  It presents many opportunities for new authors.  My Kindle is packed with new authors and those without big exposure and I love what I am reading.  It isn’t pushed into what the big houses feel will sell.

E-books are here to stay, without a question.  I think they will exist companionably with print books.  The combination of e-books and self-publishing opportunities is also changing the publishing world and making it attainable to make your dream of writing a book come true.

At the Chicago Tribune book festival last year, e-books were almost ignored.  People toted around huge bags of paper books.  I don’t expect that to change but what an opportunity we have with the electronic options.

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