Sean MacUisdin

Sean MacUisdin is a sci-fi writer who lets his imagination tell the story.  Sean talks about balancing writing and marketing and why he’s exploring the use of e-book trailers on YouTube.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.

Were you ever afraid of boredom more than the unknown?  Did tedium and predictability, those bywords so often associated with the responsibility of adulthood, give you pause for a moment, and inspire you to do the unexpected?  Meet Alexander Armstrong: seventeen years old, poised to graduate high school and preparing for the comprehensive education and career laid out by his parents. That is until, fueled by an immature desire for adventure, he stole away one night and hopped a train for Vancouver where, in a fit of teenage pique, he signed up for service in the United Nations Off-World Legion.

Eight weeks later, as he jumps from the bed of a transport truck into the mud of the colony of Samsara, twenty light years from Earth, Alexander is confronted not by a sterile and deliberately planned colony of his dreams but by a world of transplanted tribes, warlords, and refugees.  It is a world where the tundra camel and steamboat reign supreme over the trackless steppes and mountainous lakes and rivers; where pirates, Chinese Tongs, Kazakh bandits, and Gliesiun warriors pale before the presence of his decuria leader, Subedar Angus Motshwega, better known throughout the Legion as MacShaka the Tartan Zulu.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

To be honest, I was motivated by what often felt like insurmountable odds in getting my book to print.  Agents, publishers, awards, and no end of luck seemed to be the factors I needed to bring my books to print, so I opted, after a course at the local college, to take the e-book approach.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

I have only had a poem published in a Canadian anthology.  I tended to write more than market, since I spent much of my time over the last decade away with the Royal Canadian Navy.  It’s only recently with a shore posting that I have had the time to concentrate on marketing my books.

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Gilly Fraser

Gilly Fraser has been traditionally published and so has seen both sides of the writing profession.  She advises indies to edit their books and work tirelessly to get them in the hands of readers.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.

If my book Forbidden Love and Other Stories were to be reborn as a curry, it would be hotter than a korma, but not as spicy as a vindaloo.  It would probably be something like a Chicken Tikka Masala!  The four short stories in this collection have nothing in common except romance, and a touch of humor.

In Slippery When Wet, Maxine has to decide if she’s living a dream come true or a nightmare when the man of her fantasy turns up unannounced in a swimming pool.

In the title story Forbidden Love, rock star Jake Lee is drawn back to his roots and the girl who first inspired him.  But has he left it too late to go home?

In The Great Pretender, a tale of love and retribution is played out through the ages – but not unobserved.

And in Melissa and the Cowboy, lust can happen along at the most inopportune moment.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I love the independence of it.  It’s not an easy option – far from it – but I relish the opportunities and the freedom it affords to the writer.  I’m aware that this freedom is open to abuse by those who are content to publish sub-standard material and so it’s up to those writers who genuinely love their craft to produce the very best work possible.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

Yes – I had nine books published by Mills & Boon under the pen-name of Rachel Elliot and I’m very proud of that.  I hope the rights will soon revert to me so that I can publish the backlist, though I’m quite keen to rewrite the books to some extent to make them fresh and up to date.

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Stuart Carruthers

Stuart Carruthers, author of As the Crow Dies, had two very good reasons for skipping the traditional publishing route: speed and creative freedom.  He explains why reviews are important and why you should create a buzz around your book before it’s released.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.

A high speed, action packed novella set in China.  Hong Kong resident and journalist Harry Patterson is sent to investigate a mundane story about a new CEO at a technology company.  But when there’s a murder and the secret service are involved, Harry’s world gets turned upside down and it leads him to discover more about the underbelly of China than he ever knew.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

Fear of rejection!  But seriously I think it’s a sure fire way to get your book out to the public in the quickest time.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

No.  I opted not to spend my time touting the book to agents for a couple of reasons: (i) speed; it takes a long time to get an agent and then if you get lucky, sell it to a publisher who then takes a year to get it to market (ii) I have more creative freedom; if the book doesn’t sell, I can revise the description and the content to push things in a different direction.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

It’s early days, I only published the book at the end of January, so I haven’t really come to grips with marketing it or myself.

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Paul Mila

Paul Mila, author and underwater photographer, makes the ocean an integral part of his writing.  Although he uses social media, he also makes presentations at trade shows and speaks before groups to market his book.  He discusses this and a host of other techniques he suggests.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.

Dangerous Waters is the perfect book if you’re looking for an enjoyable, easy beach read while relaxing under a coconut palm.  Appealing to divers and non-divers alike, the story is a fast-paced, action-adventure thriller about a young woman’s struggle to overcome adversity.  Dangerous Waters has all the ingredients for a gripping undersea adventure: ferocious sharks, friendly dolphins, nefarious criminals, and enough chemistry between an athletic, sexy heroine and a bold, yet sensitive, hero to spark romance in the steamy Caribbean.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I accidentally fell into the indie class as a result of deciding to forge ahead despite rejection from the traditional publishing channels.
My philosophy: I’d rather be self-published than non-published.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

Nope.  Why not?  It’s not for lack of trying, since I sent numerous query letters to agents for each of my three novels before deciding to self-publish.  Who knows why the traditional community of agents and publishers rejects authors and manuscripts?  They have many reasons.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

Self-publishing has been both wonderfully rewarding, and also extremely frustrating.

Rewarding because of the many unsolicited e-mails I’ve received from readers who enjoy my books, and from the incredibly interesting people I have met, and with whom I have become friends, along my literary journey.

Frustrating because you are continually fighting the never-ending credibility battle: convincing bookstore to carry your books, convincing reviewers to review your self-published book, convincing people to buy your book.

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Malika Gandhi

Malika Gandhi, author of Freedom of the Monsoon, is a writer who’s chosen the indie route after being denied the traditional route.  She talks about her book and all the work she did to learn how to self-publish the right way.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.

Ever wondered what your life would be like if it was suddenly turned around by one thought, one action?

Ever thought you were safe?

Ever sacrificed in honor of your country?

1942 saw the beginning of an Indian ‘war’ against the British Raj as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s cry of Quit India was felt across the subcontinent of India.  Meet Rakesh, Dev, Pooja, Amit and Sunil; five individuals with their own story to tell.

Read how they fought, sacrificed and hoped for a ‘Free India’ as they struggled against the horrendous happenings of the Independence Era.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?  Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

Like so many, I tried the traditional channel of becoming published and like so many, my manuscript was declined as the clientele lists of the publishers and literary agents were full and couldn’t possibly take on any more.  Taking a step back I reflected on what to do – keep trying to have my manuscript accepted or try self-publishing?

My editor, John Hudspith (see his website, kimissecret.wordpress.com), pointed out the benefits of going down the indie route.  The more I researched into this, the more I became convinced to try this.

Becoming an indie writer was like a breath of fresh air which gave me the opportunity to have my book published far quicker than going through the traditional route.

3. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

I find self-publishing exciting.  It is a beautiful journey into one’s creative ability.  It is hard work but which comes with self-satisfaction.

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M.K. McClintock

M.K. McClintock chose indie writing because of her ability to write and market as she likes.  She explains the importance of editing, as well as which social media she uses (and doesn’t).

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book. Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.

A family legacy built on a wild land.  A struggle for justice, love and survival.  Brenna Cameron travels from Scotland after losing someone she loves in search of family she didn’t know existed.  Alone now in the world, Brenna makes an arduous journey, following the trail of discovery to Briarwood, Montana.  Ethan Gallagher takes on the unwanted duty of self-appointed protector to the headstrong Scot, only to discover there is such a thing as second chances and more to life than revenge.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

The undeniable freedom it provides. Writing my way, my prices, my rights.

3. Have you been traditionally published? Why or why not?

Not yet!  I didn’t have the patience to wait for that to materialize.  After speaking with a couple of agents, I realized the process could take quite some time and I was more interested in seeing my books in print sooner rather than later.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

I’ve enjoyed the process.  I like the complete control I have over everything from cover design to book prices and keeping all rights, especially the digital.  The process has been surprisingly simple and relatively stress-free.  Even if I did go with a traditional publisher at some point, I would still opt to self-publish books.

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Barry Finlay

Barry Finlay has turned the adventure of a lifetime into Kilimanjaro and Beyond, available on Amazon and other platforms.  Barry has done book signings, presentations, and used social media – among other techniques – and shares his thoughts here.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.

Kilimanjaro and Beyond is a true life adventure about my journey, at age 60, from the couch to a mountain top and beyond with my son.  It describes the mental and physical challenges of scaling one of the world’s seven summits.  But it also describes my family’s work to use the mountain as a platform to raise enough money to build a classroom and drill a well in one of Africa’s poorer communities.  It is the story of the satisfaction one can achieve by helping oneself and others.

Kilimanjaro and Beyond leaves us with two messages.  The first is that it is never too late to pursue a dream.  The second is that every mountain top we face is within reach if we just keep climbing.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I realized when I started to make presentations about my journey after we returned that I had a story to tell that was interesting and inspirational for people.  I decided that it was a story waiting to be written and that I wanted to write it.

3. Have you been traditionally published?  Why or why not?

I have not been traditionally published.  I sent a few feelers out but I really didn’t pursue it seriously after reading about other author experiences.  I wanted the book to come out as soon as possible so the self-publishing route seemed to be the way to go.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

It has been a good experience although I think every self-published author will tell you that writing the book is the easy part.  Making people aware of it is much more difficult.

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Paul Fox

Paul Fox is a science fiction and fantasy writer who stays busy with new writing projects.  Paul explains why he has avoided using press releases and instead focuses his marketing campaign on email and social media.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me one of your books in five to ten sentences.

I have a quick-read fantasy novella, Sea-Change, that’s available as an e-book or paperback.  It is the story of a young bride-to-be, betrayed by her fiancé, who escapes her captors and makes use of ancestral lore to change her dismal fate and seek revenge.  By invoking the ancient powers, she becomes, in fact, the son her father never had.  But she has only two weeks, until the time of the new moon, to get back to her home country and confront her betrayer before the spell ends and she becomes a woman again.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

My initial motivation was to publish a small collection of poetry, which is a hard sell by the traditional routes.  I wanted it available to present as a surprise Valentine’s Day present to my wife.  This first book was only available in PDF format, but I learned enough from the process to encourage me to self-publish again in 2011.  This past year (2011) I expanded that first book of poetry and published it as a second edition.  Further, I had a novella-length story that proved to be too long for most magazines and too short for traditional book publishers, and so self-publication seemed to be the answer.  To date this has been, I think, a good choice.

3. Have you been traditionally published?

No, I haven’t, at least not yet, been traditionally published; not with book publishers at any rate.  I do have a magazine credit as one of 14 authors who collaborated on a story-in-the-round that appeared in the Jan-Feb-March 2010 issue of Golden Visions Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

4. How have you liked self-publishing so far?

The best part is that you know where you are in the process at all times.  I’ve also had to learn a lot about such things as: book and cover design; e-book requirements and distribution strategies.  And then there’s the marketing.  Overall I like the control one has over the final product.

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Kathi Holmes

After Kathi Holmes was paralyzed, she turned her recovery experience into an inspirational story, I Stand With Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis.  Kathi explains how instead of relying heavily on social media, she reached out first to local venues.

1. Pretend for a moment I’m a reader looking for my next book.  Pitch me your book in five to ten sentences.

Was it a miracle, God-given determination, or both, that lifted Kathi from the paralysis that blindsided her, confining her to a wheelchair?

No one wants to face such a life-changing health crisis, but Kathi takes us on her journey of creating a new life with a disability.  With a husband also hospitalized, she is alone in her battle.  A rehab center becomes her home while she searches for strength of body—and mind.

See how acceptance, determination, courage, and faith can overcome the challenges of everyday life.

Reading about her progress, you realize she is just like you—an ordinary person who accepts and achieves the challenge to accomplish extraordinary feats, inspiring us by her power of faith and determination.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

Family, friends and acquaintances told me how my determination was motivating to them.  I wanted to share a story of inspiration and hope to others facing live challenges.

3. You have not been traditionally published.  Why?

I chose self-publishing because I could publish quicker than by submitting my manuscript to traditional publishers.  Also, traditional publishers have cut back on marketing and much would be left up to me either way.  Self-publishing has a much better image and is no longer considered second rate.

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David Therrien

David Therrien is a writer in the inspirational Christian genre who is looking to become professionally published.  He explains which methods have worked and which haven’t, as well as what indie authors should prepare for when they’re ready to market.

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

I see so many hurting people in my life and this world.  There is a lot to take their minds off of their problems (for a while) but not much to change the way they see their problems.  I like to write true stories based on biblical principles to give people a more encouraging and optimistic outlook on life.  All is not forsaken.  They can salvage their lives and live in hope.

2. How have your sales been?

The books I’ve been able to sell, a few hundred of each title, are from my own personal marketing.

3. You have not been traditionally published. Why?

I am in the process of looking for a professional editor so I can submit a few of my titles to a traditional publisher.  I believe I have a few titles that would hit the mark with quite a few people.

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

I love writing.  I feel it is something I can offer to my fellow-man.  Everyone can make a contribution in some way and writing is my way. (I hope).

5. What sort of marketing techniques have you used to sell your books, and which ones have been most successful?

I have used Facebook, to no avail.  I have used the newspaper, to no avail.  I have used the radio, to no avail.  I believe it is my faithful following that just keep buying my books.

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