H.P. Stephenson/Kathryn Tedrick

H.P. Stephenson and Kathryn Tedrick are the authors of War of the Staffs: Quest for the Staff of Adaman.  In this interview, they discuss why they use blogging and social media – and why they advise against using a marketing firm.

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

A powerful vampire wizard named Taza is brought through the void by Adois, a vengeful goddess who lends him her staff so that he can take over the planet, Muira, and turn it from good to evil.  He convinces a race of dark elves to take on the cloak of vampirism, but his careful planning is jeopardized when Prince Tarquin is born to fulfill a prophecy.  Tarquin, however, cannot succeed alone, and when Morganna, an Illanni noble woman, threatens Taza’s plans, she prevents her cousin from destroying the prophecy.

Tarquin is sent to the dwarvan militia to learn combat and survival skills by joining an elite group of soldiers known as the Borderers. He is championed by the wizard, Celedant, who begins his search for the Staff of Adaman – the only object capable of defeating the Staff of Adois.

Book one of the trilogy, The Quest for the Staff of Adaman, begins with the search for the first of two pieces of the ancient staff as Taza’s assassins hunt the prince to thwart the prophecy.  Tarquin, however, is not the only target.  Celedant must confront not only assassins, but powerful and dangerous creatures that Taza brings through the void to destroy him and the growing resistance among the dwarves, wood elves, and high elves.  But first, Celedant must take the final test to become a Master Wizard.  If he passes, he will be able to battle the Staff of Adois and the monster that wields it.  If he fails, not only will the world be overrun by evil, but Celedant will be lost in the Dragon’s Tear for all eternity.

[We] both love epic fantasy and have always wanted to develop our own series.

2. You’ve not worked with a traditional publisher.  Why?

We tried to go the traditional route, but although several seemed interested, they didn’t want to take a risk, or else did not handle epic fantasy.  So with so many people self-publishing e-books, etc., we decided to give it a try.

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John J. Hohn

Author John J. Hohn has experience in marketing and sales that he’s been able to use, not only to drive plot, but to drive sales.  In this wide-ranging interview, John explains that background, as well as why he hired a publicist and why taking shortcuts can hurt indie writers.

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

I have published two books.  The first is a poetry chapbook entitled As I Was Passing By that I self-published in 2001.  I have been writing poetry since I was a boy and the time had come to publish a collection for my friends and family.

My novel, Deadly Portfolio: A Killing in Hedge Funds, was first published in the fall of 2010.  It was well-received by reviewers with established credentials on the Internet.  I began the book after retiring from my position as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in Winston-Salem, NC.  The book is the third novel for me.  The others are still in my file cabinet.  They represent my apprenticeship.

Deadly Portfolio flows out of my experience as a financial advisor, a position in which I had a unique perspective on the lives of my clients.  I came to know how they made decisions, how well they got along with their spouses, parents, and children, their trials at work or elsewhere in their lives.  I saw altruism and greed, generosity and miserliness.

The story is about four families and the tragedy that involves them all after one man, a financial advisor, bends the rules and makes an unauthorized trade in a client’s account.  His transgression sets off a string of events that ultimately claims the lives of three of the neighbors before Detective James Raker tracks down the killer and makes an arrest.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been steady.  I did not know what to expect at first.  I have sold approximately 500 copies, not including the Kindle version on Amazon.

3. What has been your experience with traditional publishing?

I tried to get an agent to represent my book for almost a year with no success.  I also sent queries to the few publishers who accept direct submissions.  I received a number of encouraging responses but no takers.

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Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox

Australian writer Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox infuses her writing with her art, and in so doing expresses these two facets of her creativity.  In this interview she discusses the marketing efforts she’s used and why self-promotion comes naturally to her.

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

My book For Everyone: Words and Paintings has thirty paintings, each accompanied by some short poetic prose, which is neither descriptive nor didactic.  Rather, the words stimulate the reader’s own journey by calling to their inner child or essence.  This small voice echoes from childhood leading to conversations either with oneself or others.  For Everyone is really about conversation and the compassionate spaces it reveals as we get to know ourselves and others.

The paintings inside For Everyone were created fourteen years ago and were responses to observations of my then very young children.  However, the intervening years have revealed that the paintings are not simply about my children.  They are visual representations of the small voice, our inner child or essence, which influences our lives from childhood to adulthood, and possibly beyond.

The text is printed in a large font size.  I deliberately did this so that people do not necessarily have to wear their glasses to read For Everyone!  It is the type of book which appeals to all ages and both sexes.

I was motivated to write For Everyone seven years ago, when friends suggested the series of paintings would make a good book; but my submission to Hay House was not accepted, although they sent an encouraging letter.  I filed the manuscript and put the paintings in a storage satchel.  The paintings have never been exhibited, but will be on show at my book launch in February 2012.  In January 2011 I was contacted by Balboa Press, the self-publishing arm of Hay House.  They said Hay House had given them my details.  They asked if I had published the manuscript, and if not would I be interested in self-publishing with Balboa.

2. How have your sales been?

As it is still early days, it is hard to tell how sales are going.  However, so far three bookstores in Brisbane have taken books.  These are Coaldrakes, plus the two bookstores at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).  I am aware that there have been sales via Balboa Press and Amazon.  I have also personally sold a number of books.  I am expecting good sales at my book launch in February.  For Everyone is available online from many sites including Balboa Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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Aditi Chopra

Aditi Chopra is a consultant who approaches her writing with the goal of helping others.  Here she discusses her books and why self-publishing, rather than the traditional model, gives her pride in her work.

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

I have written two business books from my personal experience.  The business process management book titled How to Succeed as a Process Professional covers the challenges that process professionals face and provides practical tips on how to overcome them.  I am basically teaching the tricks that worked for me in the corporate environment.  My leadership book titled Ten Mistakes A Manager
Should Avoid
is written from my experience as a first line manager of software engineering and software operations teams.  With this book, my hope is to enable all managers to succeed in their leadership career.

I was motivated to write both of these books so I could help others succeed by sharing my knowledge.  I am of the belief that if you know it, you ought to share it with others.

2. How have your sales been?

My sales have been picking up.  However like I said, I am not motivated by sales but by helping others succeed.

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

When I thought of writing books, I surveyed a few different authors and they guided me towards the self-publishing model for various reasons.  I did not consider the traditional publishing model.  I am also the kind of person who likes to get their hands dirty and who feels more pride in my work that way.

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John Kenworthy

John Kenworthy is the quintessential eclectic writer, using his various life experiences to craft his writing.  In this interview, John discusses how he uses social media and how he directs much of his marketing to independent bookstores.

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

My first book, The Hand About the Mouse: An Intimate Biography of Ub Iwerks, was published by Disney in 2001.  Co-written with Ub’s granddaughter, Leslie, we tell the compelling story of one of the most amazing minds in entertainment history.  Ub is the forgotten man.  For me personally, I have always been drawn to those geniuses who work seemingly without ego behind the scenes to lift up technology and art – and Ub is an incredible example of that.  He created Mickey Mouse, added color, sound, multidimensionality, and xerography to cartoons.  He created technology to combine live action and animation and perfected techniques that he used to great effect with Alfred Hitchcock’s “the Birds”.

My second book is a breezy little industrial book entitled, Bungee Jumping & Cocoons.  It follows two trends in the consumer world: that of extremes (bungee jumping) wherein we treat life like one grand adventure; and that of isolation (cocoons) wherein we’d just as well stay at home.  The prime example I use for that is Barnes & Noble versus bn.com.  Both sell books.  One sells them via experiences and the other sells them via comfort.  The second half of the book applies these same themes to industry.

My current book, The Missionary and the Brute, is an adult literary novel that spans genres of horror and suspense.  It follows the case of a serial killer in Tanzania, East Africa, through the eyes of an American missionary accused of the crime.  The idea for the book came to me on one of my many journeys to Tanzania as the founder/executive director of Brick by Brick for Tanzania!, Inc. (www.brickbybrickfortanzania.org), a tax-exempt non-profit that builds preschools in Africa.  Having seen equal parts tragedy and beauty during my time in country, I fashioned a fast-paced, twist-around-every-corner mystery that draws the reader in as we head towards the stunning conclusion.

2. You’ve written in a variety of styles and media.  Tell me about that.

I’m a pretty diverse guy.  I feel like I live many lives in one and my writing styles reflect those ever-changing aspects.  I played harmonica in a biker band for years, so it made sense that I fictionalized those experiences with my short stories in Easyriders Magazine.  Having been a motion picture projectionist, I delved into cartoons and wrote my biography, an animation blog and a couple of screenplays for A Film A/S (a Danish animation studio).  My journeys to Africa obviously infused “The Missionary and the Brute” with a realistic setting.  All of my experiences have led me piece by piece to more experiences and more writing.  The styles reflect that diversity.

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Jennifer Oberth

Jennifer Oberth writes mystery with a touch of humor.  Her love of writing as an art is evident both in her novels and her approach to her craft.  In this interview she discusses her books and explains what new indie authors should do from day one.

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

Married To Murder is a short story mystery set on the wedding day of Ella Westin.

Ella doesn’t recall adding ‘solve a murder’ to her bridal to-do list but when she stumbles over the body of her matron of honor, she has no choice; her groom is the only suspect.  Throw in a deaf hairdresser, a ruined wedding cake and a not so retired pirate and Ella wants to throttle everyone in sight.  Can she catch the killer before the wedding is called off?  Or will she be Married To Murder?

I wrote this for a short story contest.  I’d already done the background work – Ella & Joe are the grandparents of the Westins in my upcoming novel series, The Masked Rider.  They’re a lot of fun to write.

2. How have your sales been?

Pretty steady and growing with pockets of nothing.  I’m focusing on the writing aspect and getting more books published. (I have several in the editing process right now.)  It’s interesting, I view my writing as a business but then I get disheartened by various factors
such as sales or reviews or forum comments.  If I look at it as a hobby, it’s a wonderful addition to my life and setbacks and cost of professional editing are in line with the leisurely pursuit of publishing books.  But it’s not a hobby, it’s how I want to eventually make my living.

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Melissa Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock has written a variety of books across different genres.  As someone who has both self-published and been traditionally published, she has an interesting approach to marketing that can help all writers.

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

I have 4 romance novels, 2 that are Westerns (The Rare Breed, Superstition Gold) and 2 that are contemporary (Remember Me, Lightning Strikes).  I like to think that my romances are more for thinking readers rather than the formulaic sexual tension novels.  I believe my characters grow a lot during the course of finding love.  The Blue Crystal is a fantasy sword-and-sorcery novel, much like Lord of the Rings.  I have 2 action-adventure novels.  Queen’s Gold is based on a past-life regression where a man tries to find ancient Aztec gold he hid in a previous incarnation.  The Appaloosa Connection is a western in which a horse rancher and a sullen teenager go after horse thieves that are in cahoots with the Mexican army.  Goddess Rising is a spiritual fantasy, inspired by a dream about a future when the world has been decimated by a geologic holocaust and the few people await a female savior to return them to greatness.  The Pits of Passion (by Amber Flame) is a romance satire that lampoons every cliche ever written.  It is a literal bodice-ripper, and not for the faint of heart.  My last book, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan, is the biography of an Army nurse who was captured on Corregidor and spent 3 years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in the Philippines.

Although my books are inspired by various means, my motivation is that all the stories moved me and interested me and I felt like they were worthy of putting down on paper. I write what I like to read, paying no attention to current fads or commercial formulas.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been by fits and starts.  When I do a marketing push, I see more, but then they fall off.  The sales on my non-fiction have been surprisingly good, so it must be word of mouth.

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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.

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Kim Wolterman

Kim Wolterman is a non-fiction author and focuses much of her work on writing about historical research.  In this interview she talks about her books, what you should do before you finish your book, and what led her ultimately to starting her own publishing company.

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

Like a lot of people, writing a book was on my list of things to do.  But I always thought that my first one would be a book for children on the topic of composting.  My husband and I owned a large commercial composting facility, and I frequently went into classrooms to talk about the composting process.  There are no up-to-date books for children on this topic.  But sometimes our books speak to us and demand to be written.  That is what happened with my first book, Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)?  Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home.  While researching the history of our home in order to obtain a century home plaque I became very frustrated with the fact that the records in St. Louis County are scattered here, there, and everywhere.  I kept wishing for a guide to help me understand where all the documents are located, and where else to look, when I hit a brick wall.  Since there was none available I decided to write a book to help other researchers in this area.

When I approached traditional publishing companies with my book proposal, I was told that my audience was too narrow.  Even the local publishing company in my community wanted my book to be broader.  But I knew that if I made the book generic for all house researchers, then people in St. Louis County would still struggle to find the resources here.  So I wrote it my way and made the decision to start my own publishing company in order to get the book published.

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Shel Horowitz

Shel Horowitz has worn many hats – consultant, copywriter, author, speaker.  In this wide-ranging interview he touches on numerous topics including marketing, the art of self-publishing, networking – and, of course, his books.

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

I’m fortunate that I have a gift for explaining complex concepts in clear, simple language – and that I love doing this.  I’ve been writing professionally since the 1970s, and writing books is an outgrowth of the many articles I’ve written.  When I have something to share that would be way too big for an article, a book makes sense.  I’ve done it eight times so far.

The ones still in print:

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green, co-authored with Jay Conrad Levinson (the Guerrilla Marketing man): a guide to marketing in the green marketplace, including many advanced yet easy/inexpensive techniques for marketing in general.

Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, a whole book on marketing books.

Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World, one of the best Marketing 101 primers out there.

The first two offer large bonus packages, by the way – things other people have offered so as to reach my audience. The Guerrilla book has $2000 worth.  It’s a good strategy.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales are modest, but the important thing is that the right people buy.  People buy my books and then hire me as a marketing consultant and copywriter, as a publishing consultant or as a speaker.

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