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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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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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.

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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.

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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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