Barbara Fleming

Barbara Fleming writes from personal experience with her book, The Backwards Buddhist: My Introduction to Dzogchen.  Here she talks about a variety of marketing techniques and why she would choose to only self-publish.

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

The beginning of the writing process was a challenge to write a book in a month.  The story, of necessity, was autobiographical so that it required no research.  Having just completed part one of recreating myself from the ground up by divesting myself of every spiritual thought or preconception I ever had from birth to age 50, it was a logical choice of subject matter.  The path I chose was so unlikely for me, it seemed a great example of the improbable becoming true.  My premise was I could choose to live in a world created by some perception of how things should be, I could just show up every day ready to embrace whatever arose, or I could experiment with any one of an infinite variety of combinations of the two.  Tibetan Buddhism is not the first place most westerners look to find their personal path, but it was mine, so that is what the journey is all about.  Finding a path with potential but no map and no fixed destination was my recipe for self-discovery.  Setting off on such a quest just because I could, and recording the journey to show the potential, complete with embarrassing pitfalls as well as triumphs, should anyone else want to do so, is the major point of the book.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been surprising.  My expectations were zero, so selling a few hundred was quite fine and I continue to sell.  The most surprising sales were triggered by the inclusion of my title on a college neuro-science course reading list, the subject being the Brain and Meditation, quite a hot topic these days.

3. You have not sought a traditional publisher.  Why?

I did not seek a traditional publisher because no one owes me any personal favors.

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Paul Xavier Jones

Paul Jones is a sci-fi writer who draws influence from his own family and lifetime of reading.  In this interview he discusses why he’s avoided traditional publishing and which marketing techniques have not worked for him.

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

My Epic Fantasy “Ameca J” series is a trilogy that takes place in the fictional world of “Mythrania” and is based on my two daughters.  The inspiration comes from a lifetime of reading fantasy and science fiction, and a genuine desire to promote “family” values for my two girls who were always fighting.  So the inspiration was, what if it was only the two of them, trapped in an unknown, dangerous world populated by strange and savage creatures?  Would the eldest girl step up to the responsibility of keeping the younger safe?

My first “Blake Trubble” novel is a sci-fi/thriller, the idea for which came to me while I was researching the first Ameca J novel, and in particular the Large Hadron Collider experiment situated on the borders of France/Switzerland.  As a big fan of the Alien, Predator and John Carpenter’s “Thing” movies, I wanted to create a similar paranoia but this time in a sealed facility 15 miles in diameter and located underground.  Throw in two deadly enemies and 400 hostages and an unknown menace, and you have some great ingredients for a classic sci-fi/thriller.  Blake Trubble is the name of the main character, a major in the SAS, and allows me to use quite a few cheesy lines, such as “You want trouble, you’ll get it.  Major Trubble.”

2. How have your sales been?

Sales are slow.  But that is because I’ve self-published and self-promoted, which takes more time to do than actually writing the books themselves.

3. Have you sought a traditional publisher?  Why or why not?

I have not sought a traditional publisher.  There are several reasons why not, the first of which is the inspirational stories of Amanda Hocking and John Locke, both impressive success stories of people who have self-published and self-promoted.  Another reason is I have no patience for writing submissions and synopses; if I’ve just written a hundred thousand word novel, I am not going to try and condense it into two pages for some lazy publisher or agent.  Finally, the true judge of a good book should not be a publisher or agent, but rather the public.

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Helen Carey

Helen Carey is both a traditionally published author as well as an indie.  She offers her views on both camps and what marketing techniques, including a YouTube video, she’s used in her own efforts.

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

I am best known for my London-based wartime novels, Lavender Road, Some Sunny Day and On a Wing and a Prayer which were all commissioned by Orion.  My neighbor in London had lived through the Second World War and her stories of people showing courage in adversity gave me the idea for a series of novels following the lives of a number of people living on one particular street.  In On a Wing and a Prayer one of the characters, Helen de Burrel, joins the SOE and is sent into Nazi occupied France.  A lot of readers told me that they had found the final scenes of that book very exciting as Helen evades the Germans to blow up the ships in Toulon Harbor.  I enjoyed writing those scenes too and it gave me the idea of writing a contemporary thriller or crime novel.

My latest novel, Slick Deals, is a pacy, exciting crime adventure set in Monaco, London and West Wales, where I now live.  The main characters are a chic London city-girl oil trader, Ella Crossley, and a rather scruffy American environmentalist, Nick Jardine.

2. How have your sales been?

All the books are selling well.  I am pleased with the progress so far.

3. You’re relatively new to self-publishing.  How have you liked it so far?

I have enjoyed having control over the content and design of the books.  Doing it yourself takes away all the frustrations about publishers failing to do things they had promised to do.  On the other hand there is the knowledge that if mistakes slip through they are your own fault!

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Andromeda Edison

Andromeda Edison helps promote independent authors, and draws on her deep experience with internet marketing.  Here she discusses her work and what she’s learned about e-books and self-publishing.

1. You’ve been in internet marketing since 1996.  Describe the sort of work you’ve done.

I started in search engine optimization in 1996 before there was a name for it.  I expanded and changed with the industry, so that I got involved in email marketing, blogs, social media marketing and others as these things came on the field.  In 2011 I expanded to e-books creation and marketing where all my Internet marketing skills can be utilized.

2. How has internet marketing changed since you first got involved with it?

Unfortunately this is a loaded question; a lot has changed since I first started, this could be (and is) a whole book.  When I first started there were very few avenues you could utilize: search engines, forums and email was it.  Now there are a lot of different ways you can go and you have to take a look at each one to see which ones will be best for reaching the public.

The fun part is that the changes haven’t stopped, just like technology evolves (check out the latest iPhone compared to the one before).

3. Your experience in this field is quite extensive.  What advice do you have for indie writers looking to use the web in their marketing efforts?

The Internet is becoming a world of interaction, you can’t just post information up and expect people to come to it.  You have to drive people to you and the way you drive people to you is going where they are and enticing them with some of what they are looking for.  Authors are mini-celebrities (and they get bigger based on how much they sell) and people love to be connected to mini-celebrities in a personal way so you can use this for all it is worth.

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Nancy Ellen Dodd

Editor and award-winning writer Nancy Ellen Dodd, M.P.W., M.F.A., teaches at Pepperdine University and has had extensive experience working with authors, including indies.  In this interview she touches on her work, what she’s learned during her career, and how to write your best work possible.

1. Describe your educational and writing backgrounds.

For more than 25 years I’ve invested thousands of hours of studying writing, including two graduate degrees: a master’s in Professional Writing (MPW, which is a multi-discipline approach to writing) from the University of Southern California and an MFA in playwriting at USC’s School of Theatre.  I have received numerous awards for my writing and some of my stories have been read on public radio.  I’ve also studied writing with several successful, award-winning writers.

My book, The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, covers the full creative writing process. I’ve also published more than 130 articles and been editor of two print and two online publications.  Presently I’m academic editor of the Graziadio Business Review, a business journal for the Graziadio School at Pepperdine.  Currently, I teach screenwriting at Pepperdine University to undergraduate and graduate students.

2. Tell me briefly about The Writer’s Compass.

The Writer’s Compass is what I’ve learned after thousands of hours of studying writing and two graduate degrees.  Through this process I developed a story map based on the 3-Act structure chart and Aristotle’s and Freytag’s principles of dramatic writing to use as a tool for understanding your story.  For years I have been collecting and developing questions that writers should ask about their stories and I evolved these into a 7 Stage process for writing more efficiently with fewer drafts.  I’ve been using this method, teaching it in workshops, and using part of it to teach my screenwriting students for years.  I finally turned it into a book.

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Susan Hira

With a business background, Susan Hira knows how to approach self-publishing from a variety of angles.  In this interview she suggests a laundry list of marketing tips, including how she uses YouTube to promote her book.

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

Here’s a long summary of the book:

In Susan Hira’s bold debut, The Werwolf on Eagle’s Nest Mountain, Hira places the fictional child of the most infamous Nazi high up in the mountains of a Minnesota ski resort.  Written for middle school children to young adults, this mystery thriller adds a dramatic twist on history.

All Nick, Jack, and Mike wanted to do was have an epic snow session at a large resort.  But due to budget constraints, their new history teacher insisted that the ninth grade winter class trip be held at the Eagle’s Nest Mountain Ski and Snowboard Resort, a dilapidated dump with only three lame lifts.  When the kids attempt to shred the prime fresh powder in the Arctic Bowl at the top of the mountain, a sniper attacks and forces them to jump from a lift in mid-air.

Before the assassin can strike again, the boys decide to investigate and discover a secret lair inside the mountain used to warehouse and redistribute stolen goods.  They realize that all clues lead to an elite guerrilla movement started near the end of World War II known as the “Werwolf” organization and the long-lost gold and art plundered by the Nazis during the war.  The ringleader of the newly formed gang, a direct descendant of a Hitler Youth Werwolf, is raising money to fund the new regime.  Like an assault rifle firing at close range, the boys’ beliefs of good versus evil are shattered as they navigate the emotional fallout from those trying to live down the infamy of their ancestors, some with pride, while others with shame.

As Nick, Jack, and Mike battle for their lives armed only with skis and snowboards, they must figure out whom to trust – or their electrifying ride down the mountain will be their last.

I wrote this book because I injured my knee snowboarding and had to take a season off to heal and do physical therapy.  My father and I are snowboarding buddies and always shredded together, so I missed our time talking and goofing off when I was sidelined.  He is very knowledgeable about World War II, so he served as the historical editor on the book which allowed us to spend time together in a different way than in the past.  I think we both impressed each other with our contributions to this book!

Writing the snowboarding/skiing scenes were a blast!  I felt like I was on the slopes again; it made missing the snowiest winter in years bearable.

2. How have your sales been?

Not enough to quit my day job.

3. You have not been published by a traditional publisher. Why?

I knew when I started writing it that traditional publishers would not want to take a chance on a book for young adults that features a lot of World War II history including the Werwolf organization.  Also, I have a business background and enjoy the other sides of self publishing including marketing, accounting, and cost analysis.

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Scott Price

Scott Price writes in the spirituality and self-help genre and is the author of Power to Awaken: Totality.  His incremental approach to marketing is more focused on direct interaction with readers, and he shares his thoughts on that here.

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

I was motivated to create Power To Awaken: Totality to find a special place beyond the current mold of “pop-spirituality” and the simplicity of the message of being presented.  This book provides a retreat for the reader to find their own stillness, self-reflection and silence which leads them to their own experience based on who they are and what they believe to be true.  I just found in my reading that there is a lot of telling from a position of authority when “spirituality” cannot be told, it just is everything seen and unseen and it has to be known on a person by person basis.  Thus this book gives some topics for contemplation and then quickly exposes the importance of going beyond the mind and into a space of trust and deep listening to connect with higher powers.

2. How have your sales been?

This project has just been released.  Sales of the best quality PDF version of the book through my site have been the highest.

3. Have you been published by a traditional publisher?  Why or why not?

I am submitting to a couple hand-selected publishers in this specific genre and will see how it goes.  The best thing I can do here is let the quality and uniqueness of the content speak for itself.

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Delin Colón

Delin Colón has been both a writer and a promoter for other writers.  In this interview she discusses her well-researched book, Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History, and her extensive recommendations for marketing and promoting.

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

My father had always told me that my great-great uncle was Rasputin’s secretary, and one of the few Jews permitted to live outside the ghetto called The Pale of Settlement.  Fifteen years ago, I found an out-of-print copy, in French, of my ancestor’s memoirs about Rasputin.  What amazed me were all the stories he told of Rasputin’s compassion for and aid to the oppressed Russian Jews, as well as his efforts to get the tsar to accord the Jews equal rights, as they were deprived of educations, most occupations and choice of residence.   Since some writers have disparaged my great-great uncle’s account, due to the amount of wild court gossip he included, I made it my mission to research and substantiate the specific incidents of aid to Jews that he documented.  After a dozen years, and reading over a hundred works in French and English, including many Russian works that were translated into French, I found that nearly every writer, from Rasputin’s daughter Marya to his killer, Yussupov, at least mentioned that he advocated equal rights for Russian Jews.  Some lauded him and others vilified him for this.  While some who knew him attempted to bring his humanitarianism to light, they were overshadowed by the largely anti-Semitic views and propaganda of the nobility, clergy and press.  I feel that, in my intensely documented book, I’ve accomplished his vindication.  Apparently, so far, all of my reviewers (by editors and readers alike) seem to agree.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been sporadic – some months great, others not so much.  But the book has a relatively narrow market, appealing to those interested specifically in Rasputin, Jewish history, anti-Semitism, etc.  In addition, I refuse to pay for a review and have not bought any advertising.  I have no doubt that those investments would bring a greater readership and attention, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

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David Beshears

David Beshears is a writer with a mission.  After his son was severely injured in an IED blast in Afghanistan, David started his own publishing company to raise funds for a community center for others who are disabled.  In this interview, David tells his story and discusses his extensive and insightful marketing experience and advice for indies.

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

First of all there’s Climb the Mountain, the story of our struggle to bring our son back from severe traumatic brain injury after he was injured in Afghanistan.  We spent six weeks at Walter Reed in Washington, DC, seven months at the Polytrauma facility in Palo Alto, California, and now home in Washington State.

While our focus these past few years has been our son, my literary interest is primarily science fiction, though I occasionally drift to fantasy, horror, young adult, and even dark comedy from time to time.  I’ve been writing since I was twelve.  I wrote a short story for extra credit when I was in the sixth grade.  The next day, my teacher handed me an empty theme book.  She told me to fill it up with stories.  The purpose in writing Climb the Mountain, and in publishing this and all my titles through our own company, was to support the creation of a community center for people with disabilities and their families.  After bringing our son home, we found there to be a critical need for such a facility.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales rise and fall depending on how actively I’m marketing.  When I’m pushing, I sell; when I’m not pushing, nothing.  So we’re in the 100s, not the 1000s.

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Nicholas LeVack

Nicholas LeVack has found success selling his short stories on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.  On the verge now of releasing his first book, Nicholas discusses how he used social networks – both online and in real life – to broaden his market and move sales.

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

My currently released titles are My Self-Loathing Jailer, Downpour and My Dark Dissent, all of which are short stories that heavily use metaphors or conceits.  My Self-Loathing Jailer and My Dark Dissent are symbolic of personal struggles I dealt with in my youth and, in some capacity, still fight today.  They’re about how crippling insecurities can be in regards to their ability to isolate you from the rest of the world, even if just socially.  I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think they’re good messages for those who suffer with depression or have experienced bullying, only they’re presented in a way an average reader might find a little less accessible, given the cryptic nature of the symbols and messages.  Downpour, though not a tragedy I’ve experienced personally, deals with an often dreaded situation and a state of mind – the absence of control in one’s life – I believe most of us have experienced at least once.

2. How have your sales been?

I honestly hadn’t expected my short stories to be a viable contender on the market at all.  However, I’ve at least made enough for my efforts to be justified.  And compared to some of the authors I’ve spoken to who’ve been e-publishing for longer than I have, I’d say I am doing pretty well for myself.  I believe the most important thing I can do to improve my sales is just keep writing, because readers will be more willing to spend their hard-earned cash on someone who looks established due to a lasting presence on the market. Fortunately, writing is what I do – I’m not just publishing my work to make a quick buck, it’s because writing is the only thing I’ve ever been able to consider as a career.  Even if I’ll never make ends meet with writing alone, I’ll strive for it as long as I am able, and I’ll keep putting out stories for people to either pass up or – and I’ll always be eternally grateful for this – actually purchase.

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