Brian T. Shirley

Brian T. Shirley has a unique approach to moving his books: integrating them into his comedy routine and selling them after his shows.  The author of Make Love Not Warts and Four Score and Seven Beers Ago discusses why he skipped traditional publishing and how he learned to do his own promotion work.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

Both my books are comedy one-liners.  I’ve taken old sayings and twisted them around to make some new ones.  I also have added some sayings of my own and thrown in some insults for good measure.  The second book is a bit different in that I’ve taken some popular song titles and made comedic sentences out of them.  These comedic sentences are sprinkled throughout the book.  I’d like to think the readers could make up a game of trying to name the music artists in the sentences.  Some would be easy, others may take a while.  There is also a funny poem at the end of the second book.

I was motivated to write these books when I was going over some old material I had that I was not using in my show.  I had all these sayings and such laying around that I had written over the years that I did not know what to do with, then the idea of a book came to mind.  Something someone could put in the bathroom or on the coffee table for a good laugh whenever they needed it.  I added more lines when I started writing the first one and by the end of it, I decided to make a series of these books.  Each one would be a little different, just to add some variety.

2. How have your sales been?

So far I have sold the most books after my performances.  I’ve actually had more sales from the books than anything else (T-shirts, DVD’s) I’ve ever sold.  Online sales are doing alright, getting the word out as a self-published author has been the biggest challenge.  It takes a lot of money to do promotions so I’m doing the bulk of it myself online. Thank God for people like you.

Read More

Robert Brabham

I met Robert Brabham at a recent Charlotte Writers’ Club meeting and knew he’d make a good addition to the blog.  Robert is a short story writer whose genre is uniquely his own, and he shares his thoughts on writing and networking here. 

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

I was determined to have a book “out there” this year and culled together a mixed sampling of my short stories in Does This Knife In My Back Make My Butt Look Big?  Tales of Madness, Eisegesis, and Other Unpardonables.  It is available on Amazon and Lulu.com.  The stories fall under the appellation of speculative fiction, but run the gamut of literary, sci-fi, humorous, experimental, and a couple of out and out horror yarns.  I like to call my work “intense fiction.”  Faulkner said the job of the writer is to express the conflict in the human heart and I suppose that’s what I’m after.  When people ask me where I get my ideas, my response is: I don’t get ideas; they get me.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been more than modest without a substantial advertising campaign.

3. How does self-publishing compare with traditional publishing?

I have had success with some short stories with Down in the Dirt magazine, which publishes on demand with Lulu.com and is now available on Amazon.  The short stories also appear on their website.  Down in the Dirt is more of an independent soul and not a traditional publisher.  I self-published my collection of stories with Lulu.com and found their advertising offers prohibitive in cost and have been relying on social media thus far.

Read More

Doug Simpson

Doug Simpson published his first novel, Soul Awakening, in October.  Though a new author, Doug is not new to writing: he has had numerous articles published throughout the world.  He’s already learning self-publishing and wanted to share his experience.

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

Soul Awakening is a spiritual mystery that delves into reincarnation, past lifetimes, and the attraction of strangers in this lifetime to each other as a result of having shared previous lifetimes together.

I spent a number of years researching the life and reincarnation readings of the legendary American mystic, Edgar Cayce.  Some 2500 of Edgar’s over 15,000 readings, obtained while he was in a deep, self-induced, trance-like state, are reincarnation readings.  These readings reveal details of a person’s past lives, but not all of their past lives.  Only incarnations which were relevant to the reasons why an individual’s soul chose the individual’s body as its residence in this lifetime, were revealed.  To put that in different terms – a soul selects its next residence to achieve progress in its development so it can return to its original God-like state with no further need to reincarnate.  The knowledge which I obtained while researching the Edgar Cayce readings nurtured the seed that became Soul Awakening.

2. How have your sales been?

I have no idea.  I decided that I did not want the hassle of personal selling, so I set it up for all sales to go through brick-and-mortar and internet bookstores.  It is too soon to get much feedback.

3. What has been your experience with traditional publishing?

After a series of form letters like “We are not currently accepting …” from traditional publishers and agents, I implemented Plan B.

Read More

Jonathan Lister and Kevin Fuhrman

Authors Jonathan Lister and Kevin Fuhrman are set to release a self-published urban fantasy, Welcome to Demos, in January.  I recently corresponded with Jonathan to learn more about the book and how he and Kevin are building buzz around it.

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

“Welcome to Demos” is in that urban fantasy vein.  It’s a story about family interactions in a supernatural world where werewolves have lived openly with humans since before recorded history. Basically, we’re looking at the real-life implications of supernatural beings without the “coming out party.”  Everybody’s here, everyone knows it, to the next scene we go.

This story came about from what we saw as a lack of strong male leads in the market.  Our characters aren’t bemoaning their existences, they’re living them and struggling to achieve goals – with some police corruption, gun shot wounds, mysticism and coffee thrown in.

2. How have your sales been?

We recently announced our release date of January 1, 2012.  Kevin’s joked that the interest we’ve generated so far is kind of shocking to him.  In his words: “The Urban Fantasy genre is full of talented and prolific authors and the idea of something we’ve created standing out enough to get this kind of response is a shock to my normally pessimistic nature.”

3. Describe your experience with traditional publishers and how it compares to self-publishing.

From my perspective publishing with a traditional house and then going independent, it’s completely different – 100 percent control is scary, exciting, tiresome and really rewarding all at the same time.  We shopped “Welcome to Demos” to agents at first and we’d get requests for pages only to be turned away without much feedback.  If anything, this teaches us an agent isn’t a mandatory part of the process.

Read More

Gini Graham Scott

Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D., owner of Changemakers Productions, has vast experience in writing, publishing, and film, as well as consulting and marketing work.  I decided to talk with her about her background in these areas and how indie authors can market themselves and their brands.

1. You’ve written over 50 books. Tell me briefly about some of them.

My books range in subject matter based on what I have been interested in at the time. Some of my earlier books deal with social issues and lifestyles, then with marketing and sales, after that creativity, success, resolving conflict, and personal and professional development, improving relationships in the workplace, and most recently with promotion, using the social media, and writing and producing indie films.

The most recent, coming out Nov. 29, is The Complete Guide to Writing, Producing, and Directing a Low-Budget Short Film, based on my experience in writing, producing, and sometimes directing over four dozen of these.  I also started my own publishing company, Changemakers Publishing, which features mostly self-help and popular business books.  The two most popular ones are The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn to Promote Your Business or Yourself and The Truth About Lying.

2. How have your sales been?

Some of my most popular books have sold 10,000-20,000 copies, such as Mind Power: Picture Your Way To Success; The Empowered Mind: How to Harness the Creative Force Within You; and Success in MLM, Network Marketing, and Personal Selling.

Read More

Osayi Osar-Emokpae

I was surprised recently to learn that I was not the only person where I work to recently self-publish a book.  That’s when I met Osayi Osar-Emokpae through a mutual friend.  I decided to find out more about Osayi’s book, Impossible is Stupid, and her experience with self-publishing.  So what better way than one of my interviews?

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

It’s Thanksgiving Day as I sit here responding to this interview question. The plan was to go to the gym in my apartment, then come back and respond to this email, but my plan didn’t quite work out that way.  On the way from the gym I was stopped by a random woman in my apartment. She asked me to escort her and her boyfriend to her apartment because she was nervous that he was violent. He seemed harmless, and I didn’t want to get involved, but I asked God, and felt Him telling me to go with her.

When we got to her apartment he kept talking about how peaceful he was, and I could see the tears streaming down his face, and all I could think was how did I get myself into this mess?  If anything, at least I would be a witness for him to prove that he did not hurt her. So one minute he is telling her that he can’t believe she brought me into their situation, and the next minute I hear her screaming and he had her in a grip hold and was punching her in the face, pummeling her as hard as he could.  I could see blood, arms flailing and things getting knocked around. And all I heard was screaming and more screaming.

I did the only thing I could, I quickly walked away and called 911 as fast as my fingers would allow me.

While talking to the police I found out that she was 40 years old, she had started dating the man in August of this year, and they started living together not long after that.  Not only was he unemployed, but he had a record…for assault!

And it is for women like these that I wrote this book.  There are women out there who are dating men just because they feel like they need to have a man.  There are women out there dating men who leave them stranded after they become pregnant (another story for another day).  There are women out there married and miserable because they felt they absolutely had to marry the first thing that came along.

So I wrote this book, and I keep writing because women need to know that they are valuable, and that living a fulfilled life without a man is not impossible.  I wrote this book to show that beating loneliness and depression as a single woman is not impossible.  As a matter of fact, Impossible is Stupid!

Read More

Amy Cross

British author Amy Cross stays busy these days, churning out new books and constantly generating story ideas.  In this interview she discusses her projects and explains her straightforward approach to marketing.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

The Dark Season books are about a girl, Sophie, who meets a boy, Patrick.  The boy turns out to be the last vampire on Earth, and he’s completely mute, and he’s the last vampire because he killed all the other vampires.  So that’s the starting point.  I’ve never been a big fan of vampire novels in general, but I wanted to see if I could come up with an interesting central relationship that I can explore over multiple volumes.  I’d like to publish 22 volumes a year, as if it’s a network TV series.  But I suspect exhaustion will limit it to 13 a year, as if it’s on cable.

Apart from Dark Season, I’m also working on other books.  I self-published a collection of erotic short stories titled Love Stories?, and a comic family drama titled At War With the Hamptons.  The latter was a chance to experiment, so I pulled together some stuff I’d written over the years and I beat it into a semi-coherent narrative about a family who, collectively, spend 50 years grieving over the death of one person.  Some parts of it are quite experimental.  I like playing with form and structure, but it’s still a comedy, honest!

2. How have your sales been?

The vampire books have been averaging 1 or 2 sales a day, and the book of erotic short stories has been doing slightly better.  I expected to sell maybe one a week, so I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be.  I don’t know how that compares to other beginners, but I’m happy for now.  At War With the Hamptons has only been up for a short time and so far no one’s given it a shot, but I hope it’ll sell at least one copy in the next week.

Read More