Christiane Joy Allison

Christiane Joy Allison has built her author platform by becoming active in the writing community. Here, she explains a few of the pros and cons of self-publishing.

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

The Infinitus Saga is a cyberpunk adventure series following the Mallorey family’s struggle to survive in a world run by the Global Fellowship and their Global Reform Interface and Database (GRID) computer system which runs on the “wetware” of the human brain. They’ve managed to hide in the shadows of a world where the disabled disappear, but now they can’t anymore. The series is jam-packed with futuristic technology, tech-savvy rebels, and genetic animal-human hybrids known as chimeras. In the latest book, Infinitus, the community needs conformity. The squids are out to dismantle it. Now both want what’s in her head. Infinitus is the story of Gina Mallorey, a young freedom-loving tech dealer living in the Dregs on her own terms, hiding her disability from the Community. When an explosion forces her into the GRID, powerful forces make her a target. The Community operative sent after her hides a genetic secret of his own, but only time will tell if he’ll choose to be friend or foe.

2. How have your sales been?

The sales of all of my books were dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 situation. Numerous in-person sales events were cancelled, reducing expected sales estimates on all titles. Funding sources that supported the publication of many of the works means that royalties result in straight profit from the beginning, but sales have been poor this year across the board.

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 like many of the aspects of self-publishing. I enjoy the control the process affords me over the final product. I enjoy being able to bring products to market faster than you would with a traditional publisher. I also enjoy just being involved in all the decisions that bring the book into the world.

Funding has been another major bonus of self-publishing. My first two books were funded entirely through KickStarter funds and grants that carried over to also support some of the costs of the next two books. Because of this, royalties result in profit much sooner, and the royalties I receive per book are much higher than they would be from a traditional publisher. However, not every self-publisher would have this experience. It takes quite a bit of leg work and a little luck to gather those kinds of funds.

On the negative side, the burden of marketing is entirely on you as the self-publisher. Wearing so many hats often means tasks have to be set aside in order to make progress in other areas. For example, when producing more content or a new product, I will not have the same time or energy to pour into marketing.

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Deborah Bouziden

Deborah Bouziden has used traditional and self-publishing. Find out why she believes both types of authors have to use every marketing technique available.

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

My latest book, 100 Things to do in Fort Collins before You Die, is a travel guide. It lists 100 places and things people can do in and around Fort Collins, CO. I had written other
books similar to this one, but about Oklahoma and Oklahoma City. Reedy Press, which is my publisher, actually came to me and asked me to write it. They were familiar with my other books and thought I might be a good fit to write this one.

2. How have your sales been?

I am pleased to say sales for this book have been steady despite the challenges we have faced because of COVID-19 and then most recently having to evacuate because of wildfires in our area. We’ve had to move and reschedule book signings, but overall, sales are good.

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

I have worked with several different traditional publishers over the years like Globe Pequot, Writer’s Digest Books, Reedy Press and others. They all offer different perspectives on projects that I do and I appreciate their editorial, art, and marketing expertise. With self-publishing you have to find someone to edit your projects and if you have artwork you want to include, an artist.

Of course, marketing is marketing. An author has to be able to invest time, energy, and money regardless, but a traditional house can point you in a myriad of directions you might not have thought about. Continue reading

Ben Baker

Ben Baker is a prolific writer who has learned a few tricks throughout his career. He explains how authors can find and exploit their niche.

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

My latest published book is A Dog Named Nekkid. The title comes from one of the columns in the book. Imagine naming a dog Nekkid. Think of the fun. Put the dog outside. Company comes over. You get tired of them. “I gotta go outside and get Nekkid. Y’all wanna come?” So many variations on a theme.

That also marked my debut as a freehand cartoonist. I did editorial toons in college for the university newspaper, but drew those on a Macintosh. My daughter also drew some of the toons.

I have several others in the works: a science fiction/fantasy novel, memoirs, and a how-to book on dealing with an estate when you are the executor.

2. How have your sales been?

Poor. This is my fault. While I am good at sales and marketing, I do not enjoy it. Good? Yes. I have set new positive sales records for the places I worked in sales. I just do not like it. If I invested into the marketing, my sales would be excellent. I am somewhat like Nikola Tesla in that regard: lemme work and let someone else handle the business end.

This is why I love writing for brokerage sites. They handle the maths (maths is evil; the plural is correct), the marketing and the business. I write. I did have one client steal my stuff and leave a horrible review. I reported it with evidence of the theft and got paid. The client got banned. Dunno if the review is still up, nor do I care.

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 is great for me. I am also a graphic artist. Each week I produce a newspaper and a few times a year I produce a slick magazine. Layout and design for books is something I can do in my sleep. I’ve done books for several other people who did not have the know-how to design and format. I’ve done so many, including ghost writing, that I wrote a contract to spell out what I will do and the prices.

Because I can do layout and design, I control every step of the process. I pick the font, size, page size, count and quality. I keep all the rights. I set the price. I keep all the profits. My only out-of-pocket expense is printing the books I buy to resell.

Self-publishing is not for everyone because so many people think they have a great book (they do not) and it will just fly off the print-on-demand press to be a bestseller (it won’t). The last report of the POD industry I read said the average POD book sells fewer than two copies.

Marketing is what sells books. If you can’t get your butt up, moving and selling books everywhere and every chance you get, including forcing some chances, you will not make money. 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

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

Robert VanDusen

Robert VanDusen enjoys writing and works hard to entertain his readers. Find out how he uses cross-promotional efforts as part of his networking strategy.

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

The latest book is called Get Out Alive: Run For Your Life. It’s a sequel to my previous book, Get Out Alive. The “elevator pitch” for Run For Your Life is “Black Hawk Down meets Night of the Living Dead.” I’ve been a fan of the zombie genre since I was about ten or so and saw the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead on I believe MonsterVision on TNT. The house I grew up in was across the road from a cemetery so I was just sort of like “Ya know…if this ever actually happens…I do believe I’d be about the first to find out about it.” That was before I happened to sneak a peek into an open grave and saw that they actually bury folks in a cement vault. So…good news there, I guess.

2. How have your sales been?

I have to admit the sales could be better. I’m reasonably convinced that I’ve somehow landed on Amazon’s naughty list. I’ve been working on building more of a social media presence so I can move into crowdfunding so I don’t have to rely on them for printing and distribution anymore.

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 is sort of a double-edged sword in my opinion. I can write what I want without an editor or publisher signing off on it. I’ll be honest, I really don’t think that any mainstream publisher would have let me write Get Out Alive: Run For Your Life today. Thirty years ago? Sure, probably. There’s nothing in there you wouldn’t read in a Stephen King or Clive Barker book.

On the other hand I also don’t have a big publishing house backing me up willing to drop thousands of dollars on advertising campaigns and organizing press events. My books probably won’t end up on store shelves. I don’t have connections in the mainstream press writing gushing reviews. But you know what? It’s worth it in my book.

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Tim Walker

Tim Walker has spent time building a writing and marketing network for his books. Find out more about the work he has done to promote his brand.

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

My latest book (June 2020) is Arthur Rex Brittonum (Arthur King of the Britons). It’s my story of the real King Arthur hidden behind the legend. In fact, it is the second and final part of my two-part Arthur series, following on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, although it can be read as a standalone novel. I decided to use Arthur’s Latin (Roman) titles, for historical authenticity, in the book titles.

A major influence on my storytelling from my research, was the writings of a Christian monk, Nennius, in History of the Briton People, published around the year 820 – roughly three hundred years after the real Arthur lived. Nennius not only mentions Arthur by name, but attributes twelve winning battles to him, naming him as “Dux Bellorum” (duke or leader of battles). Intriguingly, Nennius names Arthur as the leader of the combined army of the kings of the Britons, but does not say if he is one of the kings, leaving his status open to speculation.

My motivation was to write a believable, although fictitious, account of a real historical six century figure whose name is associated with a fantastical legend, and by doing so add credence to the ongoing search for evidence of is existence.

2. How have your sales been?

E-book and paperback sales of my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages, have been modest – in the hundreds rather than thousands – since the series began with Abandoned in 2015. Writing and publishing roughly one book a year, the new book, Arthur Rex Brittonum, is book five in the series.

Each book launch is an opportunity to promote and sell the new title and previous books in the series, often with time-limited discounts on e-books. Discounting paperbacks is not realistic, as my pricing policy is based on cost plus a very narrow margin.

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 suits me because I easily worked it out owing to my background of working in newspaper and magazine publishing. I find the Amazon KDP platform and fee guide book very easy to use, and now they have both paperback publishing under the same umbrella. I enjoy formatting my e-books and paperbacks, and the only services I pay for are proof-reading, copyediting, cover design, and advertising.

In addition to the Amazon KDP platform, I now also publish my e-books on Apple i-books, Kobo, Nook, and subscription services like Scribd and Montadori, using the draft2digital platform. However, Amazon insists that if authors use other non-Amazon e-book platforms in addition to KDP, they must not make their books available on Kindle Unlimited (KU).

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