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.