Jordan T. Maxwell

both covers

Jordan T. Maxwell has learned a few lessons from being traditionally published. Here he shares those lessons along with other tips for indie authors.

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

My current project is Dandyflowers – Laura’s Voice. It is the third and final book in my Dandyflowers series. It follows Dandyflowers and Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries. The Dandyflowers books are the story of Laura Butler and Jerry Collins.

In Dandyflowers, Jerry’s recently engaged daughter Erin spends a long weekend with her dad where she learns about a part of his life she knew nothing about – his first love, Laura. It tells about how they met, their dating life, their married life, and ultimately why they are no longer together.

Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries begins four years after the end of Dandyflowers where Erin and her husband Jack take a trip to Chicago. During her self-guided sight-seeing tour of the Windy City, Erin runs into (literally) Laura’s parents. Since hearing her father’s story of his first love, Erin has been intrigued by the mysterious Laura. Her curiosity has been fueled by the box containing Laura’s diaries her father gave her at the end of the first book. Meeting Laura’s parents allow Erin to get answers to many of the questions the diaries have raised.

Dandyflowers – Laura’s Voice is still a work in progress. It begins two or three years after the end of Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries. In this, the final installment, the reader will meet Laney Young, an almost fifteen-year-old, angst-ridden girl who has recently moved into Jerry and Laura’s old house after her father’s job transferred them to the little town she refers to as “Podunksville.” She finds a box of twenty plus reel-to-reel tapes recorded by Laura when she lived there and a pristine tape recorder/player.

All three books begin in present-day, but they transition from present to the past and back again as the story unfolds.

2. How have your sales been?

My sales are what they are. I have not grown rich in the monetary sense from my books. If I had to live off what money I have made from the sales of my books, I would have starved to death long ago!

I never intended to actually publish Dandyflowers; I wrote it for me. But with the encouragement of several people who read and liked it, I did publish it as well as Dandyflowers – Laura’s Diaries.

My true profit so far has been the wonderful reviews and compliments I have received from my readers!

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

My publishing career, if you can call it that, began in 2006 when I signed with Tate Publishing & Enterprises in Mustang, Oklahoma. I learned a lot from my five year association with Tate, mainly that if a “publisher” wants you to put forth the money to publish your work, you should smile, say “No thank you,” and run away fast!

However, I was fortunate. Unlike many authors I had my entire “author’s fee” refunded in January 2012 when I produced an email from someone inside Tate that I should have never seen. It outlined everything they did regarding my first book which was next to nothing.

After leaving Tate no worse for the wear and quite a bit wiser, I went the self-publishing route first with Lulu. Then I switched to CreateSpace which changed to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) about a year ago, which is where I am currently.

I love the freedom I have with self-publishing! I never thought I could design a book cover, much less two and soon to be three, but here we are! The one thing I struggle with, like many authors, is marketing. I am still learning and having fun doing it!

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Karin Thompson

Colour

Karin Thompson knows the importance of patience when it comes to writing and marketing a book. Learn which methods have worked best to build her audience.

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

I take the reader on a journey of self-discovery. I use my own life experience of an abusive father, illustrating that no situation is beyond God’s love and His healing.
I artfully show how healing from abuse is a journey and that it takes a lifetime to perfect it. If your faith is wavering or you are having doubts, my experiences will be more than enough to put things in place for you.

The book is beautifully laid out with my personal stories, Bible verses, prayers and Q & A’s in the form of a study guide. Who do you trust when you doubt yourself? Who do you look up to when your parents do not care enough about you? How do you go through life when the odds are stacked high against you? There would be lots of places in the book that you can see yourself in the picture and relate to on a very personal level.

If you need that silver lining in that dark cloud, My words will surely provide you with more than one. If your faith is wavering or you are having doubts, my experiences will be more than enough to put things in place for you. The tools you need are here. Pick them up and let today be the day to your road of recovery. I wrote this book to help people overcome their past and live a victorious life.

2. How have your sales been?

My sales have been steady. As a new author, I must market myself to get known out there. I would like them to be better and I am working on improving that.

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 have self-published my book via IngramSpark and Amazon. I have found that my book is available everywhere and on most book sellers’ websites which is a great positive. But as a negative, I must do all the work in getting it promoted. I have had to learn how to go about doing this and have watched endless YouTube videos for advice. The first book is always the hardest as you must learn as you go along. But with my second book, I am more “on the page” as to what to expect.

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D.E. Funk

IMG_6557D.E. Funk is a new author who recently released her first novel, Silent Rage.  And full disclosure: she is my cousin!  In this interview, she explains why she chose indie publishing over traditional, and why having a professional editor makes a difference.

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

My book is called Silent Rage and is about the birth of a serial killer. It details the home life of a juvenile, Russell, who ends up discovering the power he has over others through violence. There is only one female in his life who shows any concern about him. Libby Teach is currently a middle school teacher (name makes sense as you read the book) who is at work on her graduate degree which will enable her to become a behavioral therapist who specializes in juveniles. The book is not a juvenile read. There are real crimes and serious issues tackled in the pages.

I was motivated to write for a couple of reasons. First, I love to read and thought why not? I know what I like and don’t like and could surely write one as well. Second, I believe a lot of crimes could be prevented by early intervention such as behavioral or mental health courses taught to middle school aged kids. They face a lot of tough situations and don’t have the skills to address them. Maybe I can make a difference using writing as a platform.

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Marques Peterson

marques petersonMarques Peterson believes that if you can’t find a story you really like in a bookstore, you should write it.  Find out more about his marketing efforts and why he believes you have to invest in your own product for it to be a success.

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

I think the best way to tell you about my story is to tell you how I came up with this idea.  Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  So I began to outline and I created a character that must go through hell to accomplish his goals.  So I started thinking, what if a cunning, bold, twenty-one year old sorcerer witnesses his mother’s death to save his skin?  It would make him very angry because he was too weak to save her and it would also make him vindictive because now he wants to get his brother for what he has done to her.  But, since his mother is gone now, he also has the burden to save the world because he must collect the ancient stones of immortality before his brother can.

So the sorcerer begins his adventure to pursue each stone and make a few friends along the way, but trouble arises when they arrive at Westco village.  The captain of Westco, having arsenals of deadly arrows and an army of guards, tries to stop them at any cost.  Then there are other beings like the ferocious vangal birds that try to eat them; the tyranny preventers, Ober and Nob, which will do whatever they can to stop them; and the cold-hearted aurettas whose powers seem unstoppable – will the sorcerer and his friends ever collect the stones?  This is exactly what happens in my book, Cold Spirits: Greed Vs. Passion.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I became an indie writer because I wanted to experience how it would be to publish my own book.

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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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Keri Griffiths

Keri Griffiths self-published her book Unforgivable because she liked the control she had over her writing.  Learn more about how she reaches readers and the pros and cons of self-publishing.

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

Unforgivable: “They may be our family, our friends, and we may love them deeply, but some things are unforgivable; some things will haunt your every step, some things will get you killed, and it’s Sarah Costello’s duty to make sure every sin is paid for in blood.”

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Short answer?  I’m a control freak.  Indie publishing gives writers complete control over the look of their books and a say in distribution.  This book is my baby, I’ve worked hard to get it to the readers.  So to have final say is a real treat.  That said, being an indie writer means that all the work, all the publicity and all the stuff I know very little about is on me.  I have to figure it out.  It’s both thrilling and challenging.

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

I’ve published several articles, mostly on travel, on various websites and news outlets, but never for my novel.  I’ve tried that route and it’s very difficult to break into, especially with your first novel.  Indie publishing helps establish a following and prove yourself as a viable writer.  I haven’t totally turned my back on traditional publishing but I’m really enjoying this journey.

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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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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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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.