Max B. Sternberg

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Max B. Sternberg is a Christian author who learned firsthand the risks a new author must take to get his or her work out there. Read about how he used social media groups to network and market his debut novel.

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

My latest book is my first book! Haha! It is called ‘The Rhise of Light’ and is the first book in the Darkness Overcome series. It is about a fantasy world that is on the brink of destruction from a plague of undead hordes. The main character, Leon, is called by a mysterious being to be a ‘Judge’ (or in non biblical terms, a hero). He, however, is going through his own personal troubles as well at the time. Along his journey he meets different people who join him, and they all learn about the being ‘Adonai’ and how that forgotten God can help each of them grow. There is action, humor, mystery and intrigue. It also deals with scriptural truth, and Old and New Testament themes that aren’t sugarcoated. It’s definitely not a hyper-grace message, more like punching evil in the face.

Which is one of the reasons I wanted to write the book series. There were lots of reasons, and first and foremost is because the more I started to write it the more I was convinced that this was the purpose God had called me to have. I wanted to challenge the secular fantasy landscape with a Christian series that was more thought provoking. You see a lot of ‘skin and sin’ series now in mainstream media and streaming which to me does nothing to add to a story. You can have great fantasy without those things! So this was my answer to combat that.

2. How have your sales been?

Being the first book I have no way to compare any prior works. However, I think it has gone exceptionally well since release on June 1, 2021. The book has 11 reviews on Amazon and 9 reviews on Goodreads. They average is 4.5 and higher. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the positive response! Hopefully the book sales spike and interest is gained as people review and talk about the book.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far?

It’s definitely been interesting. Starting to write a book from scratch I had to do a lot of research both on how to write a book and the topics that I wanted to tackle. It’s nice that I have retained the control without an editor who doesn’t see my vision. Or a publisher that wants to censor things that I want to talk about that may be controversial hanging over my head. I kept having thoughts of the librarian in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. A big stamp of ‘rejected’!

It does however mean that I am responsible for everything getting done. The writing of course but also proofing, the editing (which my amazing wife helped with), the formatting, perusing the story looking for plot holes, making it look pretty, and a partridge in a pear tree! You work on a budget too. I can’t tell you how many times that I had to go online and search for something book related. Then catch myself and search again only with the words ‘for free’ at the end. 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

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

Coral McCallum

Coral McCallum has worked hard to develop her indie author brand. Read more about the importance of social media and which marketing methods don’t work well.

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

It’s been about eighteen months since we last spoke. Back then I was working on book four in the Silver Lake series. Now, I’m just about to finish the first draft of book five, the final book in the series, Long Shadows. It’s due to be released early in 2021.

I decided five was more than enough volumes in the one series. As an indie author, it is
getting harder and harder to promote each book. Unless the reader is already invested in the characters, it’s tough trying to get someone on board by books four and five. I also wanted the story to still feel fresh and not just be repeating the same patterns. While Long Shadows will be the last in the Silver Lake series, it won’t be the last my readers hear from the characters….well, some of them.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales are still low volume. However, they are still ticking over and I’m still getting some royalties on a monthly basis.

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 publish via KDP through Amazon and honestly can’t complain. You see folks online criticizing it but I’ve had no issues. I was somewhat concerned when they merged Create Space into KDP, but so far so good. I love their templates especially for cover layout. That’s probably the most frustrating part of the process as the assessment criteria seems a little inconsistent at times. One day it will accept the lay out then you change a couple of words on the back cover and the next day it rejects the whole lot! Continue reading

Renee Marski

Renee Marski enjoys the control that self-publishing allows authors. Here she explains the importance of making sure your work is thoroughly edited.

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

My most recent book is book three in my fantasy series. This book follows Andy, one of the team members of my group of hunters. They are descended from the original fairytale characters, trained to hunt the monsters that plague our world. Andy has some issues he has to work through, after suffering a loss in book two. Andy and the team have to complete their third trial and stick together.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been up and down. I took a month off to just focus on me and so without promoting anything I didn’t really sell anything. But when I do promote, I get some good results.

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 self-publishing. I like the control I have, I can publish when I want, there are no deadlines except for the ones I give myself. But at the same time, being self-published means I have to do all the marketing myself and that is so hard to do. Especially when you’re just starting out and don’t know what you’re doing. Continue reading

Diana Miller

descentDiana Miller has had experience in both the indie and traditional publishing worlds. She explains why review swaps are a great way to build your reader base.

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

My debut novel Descent is being published by FyreSyde Publishing on April 14th, 2021.  It follows the story of Serafina Thomas. Sera is orphaned at sixteen, and sent to live with her only remaining relative in a small, rural town. Recruited by a dark, alluring young man to attend the prestigious St. Michael’s Academy, she is thrust into the secret underworld of demon hierarchy where one must fight to survive. She quickly meets Justin, who rules the demon hierarchy along with his grandfather the Arch Demon, who has taken a special interest in Sera. Martin is the Watcher; an Archangel with one goal in mind: to eradicate the demons from the Earth, protecting the human race for all time.

All three are thrown together in this sage of time and tragedy, with Sera torn in the middle. Will they bind themselves together in order to save their own species, or burn in the chaos? A millennia old struggle comes to a head in the first book of The Demon Chronicles trilogy. The sequel Feud will be published just a few weeks later!

2. How have your sales been?

I actually had this story self-published for a little bit, and it did ok. I’m excited to reach a larger audience with my publisher. My free short story “5 Days to Die” has been downloaded many times, and I’ve had great feedback. It’s on Amazon for $0.99 or for free if you sign up for my newsletter on my website (dianagmiller.com).

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

It was an exhausting process to manage on my own, and with a full time job I just couldn’t devote the time needed. I’m excited to be partnering with FyreSyde to help with this aspect of it!

My publisher has a greater audience reach than I could possibly have alone, and access to more resources (cover artists, editors, etc.). I owe it to my story to make it the best version possible, and I concluded that I just couldn’t do it on my own while keeping up with my family and full-time job as a music teacher.

I’ve met some amazing indie authors, and read some amazing stories! Some of the very first reviews of Descent were from these lovely people, and it’s been wonderful to be active in the writing community. The con is the sheer amount of work, and how hard it is to be seen in a sea of indie authors lately. I’m hoping to have the best of both worlds by working with my small publisher. Continue reading

F.P. Spirit

F.P. Spirit is a fantasy writer who has worked hard to build an efficient marketing machine.  Find out the top suggested methods for connecting your work with readers.

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

My latest book is titled City of Tears. It is the first novel in the new series, Rise of the Thrall Lord (ROTL). The plot revolves around a tower harboring enormous power, shrouded in mist, surrounded by an ancient city that has fallen under a terrible curse. All who once lived there walk the earth as undead, ruled by the former empress of the once great Naradon empire.

Though Heroes ended at a rather climatic point, it did not resolve everything for the characters of that series. ROTL takes up where Heroes left off, following the further adventures of Glo, Lloyd, Andrella, and the others as things take a far more serious turn. Demons have once again crawled up from the Abyss, undead are roaming the earth, and someone has appeared who can exert control over dragons. All these signs point to the possible return of the dread Thrall Masters, a group of mega-powerful mages who nearly decimated the world over a century ago.

2. How have your sales been?

I’ve found you have to market to sell. I had been doing well with AMS until about a year ago when they made major changes to their format. Since then, sales have been up and down. Recently I’ve been working with Courtney Cannon – she is absolutely amazing and I highly recommend her builders and book fairs for garnering readers. Also, I’ve been trying FB ads with some success. Still, it’s a work in progress.

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 makes it quite easy to get a book out into the market. I use KDP for ebooks. For print I was also using KDP, but for my last release I tried Ingramspark and they were great!

The pros of self-publishing is being able to get your book to an audience. You can also write at your
own pace since there are not deadlines. The cons are numerous. First, you have to edit the book, a process best done by someone else—it is so easy to miss your own mistakes and I do not recommend it. Second, you have to get the book in the proper format to be rendered into a published product. That can be tricky if text or pictures bleed out over the margins. Also, you need an appropriate cover. You can do this all yourself, but again I don’t recommend it. There is so much competition out there these days, that if your book doesn’t look professional, it will get passed over. Finally, you have to market for yourself which can be a daunting and time-
consuming process. Continue reading

Colin J. Galtrey

Colin J. Galtrey is a prolific author who has worked hard to build his brand. Find out some of the innovative marketing ideas he has used.

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

This book is from my John Gammon series of books. Currently, there are twenty-one published, and this is series five, book one: Hangman.

The John Gammon books are all based in the beautiful villages of the Peak District in Derbyshire. Although most detective books depict a down at heel, divorced detective running around in an old car, I decided to turn the genre on its head and make John Gammon quite the opposite.

2. How have your sales been?

Whilst it would be nice to be in the top five author rankings on Amazon, that takes time. I have made the top fifty a couple of times and my sales generally are good. I currently have thirty-one books published in e-format and paperback, and I am currently working on including all the books on audio with the very first book now complete.

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 very much like the self-publishing for my books and can’t say anything negative about it so far. Continue reading

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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