Katherine Holmes

Katherine Holmes has worked with small press publishers and as a self-published indie author.  Learn more about her impressions of both processes, as well as which marketing method she believes helps indies the most.

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

Winner of Prize Americana, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction exploring the complexities of life.  Laying the profound beside the mundane, author Katherine L. Holmes creates rich and complicated characters who search for identity, meaning, and purpose within a world often dangerous and sometimes even cruel.  Her readers relate to such struggles and find comfort as they face similar challenges of their own.

A couple clashing with early computers, a divorced woman finding her scattered family to be strangers, a girl running away to the shop where her parents’ antiques were sold, Midwestern college students in weather and water emergencies – these are some of the conflicts examined by the author.  Past solutions tempt these characters as they consider contemporary choices.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Short story collections are difficult to market.  I entered the Prize Americana contest and won.  I was awarded publication by a small press publisher, Hollywood Books International.  I’ve published poetry and fiction in journals and believe in the small press process.

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Jake Prytherch

Jake Prytherch uses the responsibilities of his daily life to motivate his writing ventures and to keep himself on his toes.  He hopes to keep his readers on the edges of their seats too, and Jake talks about that, his marketing strategy, and why free giveaways are important.

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

Heal The Sick, Raise The Dead is a horror mystery about a journey from relative safety tinged with depression into a land of blood and violence. Although there are walking corpses in this book, it is not a “zombie” book. There is very little firepower, there is no army taking out waves and waves of corpses… it is a story about close quarters, grime, and the true terror that a return from the dead would elicit.  The protagonist, Guy, is helped (and hindered) on this journey by a strange set of companions, including a huge man with an insatiable hunger for everything (including violence), a small vicious man with an odd ability, and a silent child who watches everything with cold grey eyes.  It is a story about unraveling the truth before their sanity unravels instead.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I have always wanted to become a writer but have never had the confidence to pursue projects, and even though I actually finished my first novel The Binary Man in 2010 I simply left it to stew on my computer, not wanting any negative feedback.  That feeling changed when I recently turned thirty and my wife gave birth to my second daughter. I’ve got a lot of responsibilities now, which feels very empowering!  I think I’m doing alright as a father even though it’s a pretty hard job to do well, so I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and try and get a writing career off the ground, as it surely can’t be any harder!  I’ve decided to pursue the indie route at the moment as it best suits my current circumstances.  I can set my own hours around my job and family (generally very early mornings fueled by coffee), and I have no one to answer to if it all falls flat.

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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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Lee Barrett

Lee Barrett believes in the inevitability of self-publishing, embracing the new power that authors have to shape their own destinies.  Learn more about his novel, how he embraces social networking, and the sort of marketing you should be doing as you write.

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

Barge Pilot is a novel exploring modern fatherhood (at least, modern fatherhood prior to the Great Recession).  Jack Webber is a mostly retired lawyer grappling with the dual burdens of chronic disease and a strained, almost non-existent relationship with his sons.  Faced with the apparent suicide of Jack’s friend, who also happens to be the town drunk, Jack and a well-developed cast of characters try to find their way through the pitfalls of modern manhood.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

With the exception of a few wild cards like J.K. Rowling and the like, there seems to be a real “career track” for becoming a professional, traditionally published author.  Although writing has always been vital to my personal sanity, that was not a career track that spoke to me.  In fact, I have sort of instinctively believed that I needed to reach a point in life where I finally had something to write about and that required that I have a career, a family, and engage in some of the great adventures that make up life.

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Jeff Vande Zande

Jeff Vande Zande has had success with small press publishing, an experience which has helped him positively adjust his expectations about success.  Jeff discusses that along with his thoughts on book signings and reaching your target audience.

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

It’s a novel about poetry, Theodore Roethke, fathers and sons, and coming of age in America as an artist.  It’s the story of a young man who comes back to his hometown after an absence, only to find that he hasn’t grown up as much as he thinks.  Denver Hoptner graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in writing poetry.  He returns to his boyhood home in working-class Saginaw, Michigan, and discovers just how little the world of work cares about his degree.  He struggles, too, to come to terms with his widower father.  After he hears that there’s been a fire in the attic of poet Theodore Roethke’s boyhood home, Denver commits himself to saving the historical residence, even when no one else seems to care.  It’s in action that he finds his true poetic self.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I didn’t really have luck with agents.  I received a few letters that said something along the lines of “Beautiful writing, but not sure how to market this.”  In my experiences with smaller presses, I just found that the editors were more interested in the “beautiful” part and didn’t worry so much about the marketing part.  My experiences with small presses have been positive, if not overwhelmingly lucrative.

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

I suppose getting published from a small press is “traditional” publishing, just on a reduced scale.  So, yes, all of my books are traditionally published, but all from small presses.

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Anderson O’Donnell

Anderson O’Donnell specializes in dystopian fiction and constantly feeds his healthy addiction to the art of writing.  Anderson talks about making the most of social media and going beyond its superficial uses to enhance his marketing efforts.

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

Kingdom is a thrill-a-minute, bio-punk myth that manages to wrestle with the most pressing issues of the new millennium.  It’s a novel of tomorrow night, when the big party gets raided by the monsters we’ve been building for the last half-century.  Hip and hellish, wild and weird, Tiber City is the dystopian megalopolis into which we will all soon move—whether we know it or not.  Toss William Gibson, Andrew Vachss and David Fincher into the petri dish, irradiate them, then infuse the result with Transylvanian meth, and you’ll have some sense of what the reader can expect.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

Frustration with how risk-adverse the traditional publishing industry has become.  I get it: sales margins are razor thin, and the natural inclination, in any industry, is to reduce risk.  But for the writing and publishing industry, risk reduction means going all in on books by a recognizable brand name—Snookie, for instance.  I mean, that’s their answer…Snookie.  But like I said, I can’t blame them.

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

No, I haven’t been traditionally published, but not for lack of effort.  I sent out query letters to a number of agents and publishing houses, and while Kingdom attracted some interest, nothing panned out.  But I received good feedback from a few other traditionally published authors, enough so I decided not to stick the project in the desk drawer.  I believe in Kingdom; and I think readers are going to respond to the world I’ve created.

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A.D. McLain

A.D. McLain writes across a variety of genres, most notably in paranormal romance, and has seen both the indie and traditional sides of publishing.  She discusses her latest work, Suriax, and explains the variety of direct marketing tools she uses to reach new readers.

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

If it was legal to kill, would you?  Welcome to Suriax, a city where killing is accepted as normal and laws mean everything.  Kern must grapple with questions of morality, destiny and a queen who wants him dead.  Throw in a pact with a god and you have an event that will change the people of Suriax forever.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I love the freedom to set my own prices, run my own contests and free promotions, design my own cover and have control over when the book is released.  Whether you self-publish or go through a publisher you have to do almost all your own marketing.  The only difference is how much you get paid for your work.

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

I went through publishers and agents for my first two books.  That experience was disappointing.  The marketing my publishers did for me was miniscule, and I was constantly sent emails on how if I just paid them x amount of dollars they would do some additional marketing.  After six years of doing all my own networking and learning everything as I went along, I met other authors who went the self-publishing route.  The free services provided by sites such as Smashwords and Createspace are a far cry from the vanity publishers of the past.  There isn’t as much of a stigma now in self-publishing.  I don’t think I will ever go back to the old way.  I learned a lot from my other publishers, and I don’t regret the experiences, but I am glad I have another option.

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Jessica Caris

Jessica Caris likes to explore the boundaries and ranges of the human experience with her writing.  The author of Breeding in Captivity and a former television writer and literary publicist, Jessica discusses her focused marketing techniques.

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

Naomi Carter is a fast-rising, romantically-challenged professional, who aches to get married and have a family.  After many first dates which never lead to a second, she is introduced to a handsome client.  A whirlwind courtship ensues, and she blinks an eye and is married, finally!  Like bad egg salad, things spoil quickly, and she suddenly finds herself pregnant, mother to a toddler, and divorcing. With all of her accounts mysteriously cleared, our spoiled princess is broke.  Travertine gives way to Pergo and Hermes is replaced by Target.  Just as she clawed her way up the corporate ladder, our heroine finds the moxy to overcome circumstances that would have reduced many women to a long “goodnight” with a fistful of Vicodin and bottle of Belvedere.

This book will remind any woman, young or old, married or single, who has ever thought her life was “ruined” or “over”, that a superhuman strength she never knew existed, resides deep within her.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I’ve always been a writer in some capacity.  I’ve written for TV at CNN and Bloomberg and as a corporate writer have had articles published, mostly in national trade magazines, such as Barron’s, Career College Central or Tennis Magazine, to show the wide and wacky range of industries I represent.  The dream to write a book was always there but when I was pregnant and going through a divorce, I was incredibly hormonal and emotional. The experience inspired me to finally embark upon my first book.  I eat books for dinner some nights, and when I was going through this transition in my life, I was disappointed at the lack of fiction writers brave enough to cast a single mother as a heroine, and one who was inspirational, fun and funny.

My father is a beautiful writer and a clean, Spartan, funny one.  When I got those first few sentences out, he was tireless in his encouragement. It’s so hard not having a perception of whether your manuscript is good or birdcage-worthy.  He saw that it was a catharsis during a time of crisis and probably knew it was emotionally beneficial for me to work on it.  He never got bored hearing about how I was developing my character or changing the narrative voice or killing a scene.

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Larissa Hinton

YA writer Larissa Hinton is always working on both her writing and her marketing efforts.  Read more about some of the specific services she uses and her advice for finding your target audience.

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

An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but which digs a little deeper as the world not only shifts, but changes.

The author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance.  So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Ah, the question everybody wants to know.  Well, before I self-published, I was a staunch traditional publisher junkie.  I sent out query letters to publishers and agents every summer.  And I dreamed of that one day of getting the dream contract.

When the dream became a reality, I could hardly believe it.  There I was, the email of my dreams congratulating me on obtaining a contract and all I could do is cover my gaping mouth and think, “Oh.  My.  God.”

But of course, the contract was faulty so I walked away.  That was the hardest thing I had to do but I survived and started querying once again.  The more I queried, the more I got frustrated that no one saw my talent.  If I was talented to get a contract once, I could get it again. That’s what logic says.

And during this time, a lot or people from Critique Circle loved my book and wanted to buy it and were wondering when I was going to be published.  And it wasn’t just one person, it was multiple people.

Yet no contract came.  Instead, a professor talked about self-publishing and spouted about how much more money an author could make, but I just ignored him until Amanda Hocking’s story came to light.  Then came JA Konrath’s blog.  I read it and I couldn’t help but agree with his arguments.  And he made me laugh.  So after puzzling over the logic and what I thought was my dream of trad publishing, I decided to self-publish.

In short: I decided to self-publish because I was tired of waiting for someone to give me the green light.  Instead, I decided to believe in my books and my readers to find them.  I decided to self-publish and not look back.  And I’m glad I did.

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Glenn Langohr

His time in prison, and the life he turned around afterwards, form the basis of Glenn Langohr’s writings.  Learn how he got all seven of his books in the top 100 of their categories and what you can learn by studying other authors.

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

Curious about the drug war, gangs, or the atmosphere in the hardest core prisons in California?  I take you on a journey from a runaway childhood, to addict and drug dealer, into the drug war for an inside look at Mexican cartel wars, corrupt narcotic detectives and a California Prison Union bent on breeding bigger criminals.  Here’s a couple of reviews for my crime thriller, Underdog (Prison Killers Book 4).

“Ex-con Langohr can describe the hell of life inside better than any other writer.  His vivid passages on just surviving in prison describe a nightmare we’d rather not know about.  He compares the plight of abandoned dogs, locked and horribly mistreated in rows of cages in animal shelters, to California prison inmates, locked and abused in the same cages.  Not a book for the faint of heart.  We who sleep peacefully in our beds at night, unaware of the savagery going on behind prison walls, can only thankfully say: ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I’.”  John South, American Media

“With lazer-like precision Glenn Langohr lays bare the festering under-belly of our criminal justice system in a driving, graphic narrative that somehow finds the humanity in this most inhuman setting.” Phillip Doran, TV Producer and Author

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

My first novel Roll Call was written from prison and when I got out, I read the Publishing Guide for Dummies and studied a lot of other self-publishing guides.  What I learned excited me to the point I went with Amazon and Createspace to put it in print and on the Kindle.

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

For all seven of my books, I’ve gone indie.  I love the control and freedom of being able to lower the prices, personally engage with readers, and not have to give most of the profits away.  I have published a few articles about the drug war and prison conditions in magazines to build up the expert status on the subjects.

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