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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Rick Bylina

Rick Bylina is the author of One Promise Too Many and A Matter of Faith.  A NaNoWriMo winner, Rick explains what marketing techniques have worked for him as well as why he chose to not traditionally publish in the middle of talking with an agent.

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

My background is in technical writing and project management, and One Promise Too Many started as a short story written in 1991 about a technical writer being laid off.  The story sucked, but the idea stayed with me and grew.  In 2004, I wrote the majority of the book that currently exists and then spent a long time “getting it right.”  The first draft (83,000 words) of A Matter of Faith was a NaNoWriMo winner in 2007.  I had this one-page idea of what I wanted to write, plus the ending, and then, after about 6,000 words, I was bored with it.  That’s when I introduced another character that didn’t exist in the original outline.  I couldn’t write it fast enough after that.

In One Promise Too Many, Roger Stark, Marshfield’s newest detective, is paired with ex-NYPD detective, Ed Jones, “…fresh from a boring retirement…,” to investigate the abduction of a volatile CEO’s five-year-old daughter.  Despite past entanglements with the CEO, Stark promises him that he’ll find his little girl by the 42-hour deadline imposed by the kidnapper.  However, Stark doesn’t count on an elusive schizophrenic suspect or that the kidnapping is a ruse to divert attention from another far-reaching crime by a vengeful person playing by a different set of rules.

Told from Stark’s and the schizophrenic’s point-of-view, the story explores the collision of styles between Stark and Jones as the stress of the investigation intensifies.  It shows the struggles of the schizophrenic as his hold on reality slips away while trying to solve the kidnapping the police suspect him of having committed, and his uncertainty about whether or not he could have done it.  One Promise Too Many also demonstrates the depths to which someone will go to extract revenge on people once loved, regardless of who gets hurt.  It combines strong elements of a police procedural with the soul of a literary classic that should keep readers turning pages fast enough to create a breeze.

A Matter of Faith: After the sudden death of her father, Faith Moreno has to cope with newly revealed family secrets, navigate church politics and prejudices to keep her job as the music director for St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, and overcome religious dogma to pursue the man she loves — the broodingly handsome Father Pat, someone she has had a crush on since high school.  Is his kindness and attention to her Christian compassion or does he have an agenda of his own?

When someone vandalizes the Moreno house, Detective Roger Stark is called to investigate.  He starts to wonder if something bigger and more sinister is going on.  With his partner on his honeymoon, Stark weaves his way through scant and conflicting clues, a chorus of suspects, and whether or not God has already predetermined the outcome.  Does Faith Moreno’s romantic pursuit of Father Pat help Stark bring a murderer to justice or just mark her as another victim?  The meaning of the shocking outcome is all up to a matter of faith: Faith’s, Stark’s, and the reader’s.

Read More

Thomas Sullivan

Thomas Sullivan has turned his driver’s ed teaching experience into a writing endeavor with his book, Life in the Slow Lane.  In this interview he discusses how he’s used blog radio and audiobooks as part of his marketing strategy.

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

I taught driver education for a third rate company in Oregon.  We used aging cars that broke down and had far too few instructors for our volume of students.  We actually had one car from the Dirty Harry era, an ancient Chevy Malibu with a “Three-On-The-Tree” shifter attached to the steering column.  My book is about trying to be a good teacher amidst all the confusion and chaos that enveloped the situation.

At first I just jotted down episodes to fill time gaps between lessons.  But then I realized that I was in an industry that affects millions of kids and parents each year, and they were increasingly being taught by shady companies like the one I worked for as public schools bowed out of doing the teaching.  And no one seemed to be writing about this strange shift happening in a big part of teenage education.  So part of my motivation was expository, to shed some light on a little-known industry.  The other reason is that the kids always reacted to ridiculous situations with humor and grace, and I wanted to celebrate that quality in my own peculiar way.

2. How have your sales been?

Pretty slow, but steady.  The key seems to involve “getting the word out,” which I’ve been doing a lot of lately.

3. You have not been traditionally published.  Why?

At first I tried the traditional route (i.e. NY agents and publishers) and found a bit of interest.  But I think my style of humor works better with smaller, non-traditional publishers less restricted by the urge to appeal to the broadest audience possible.  The folks at Uncial Press and Cool Beat Audiobooks are quite funny and gave me a lot of latitude in how I wrote the book.

Read More

Stephanie Briggs

Stephanie Briggs has published her first book and has gone from never using social media to integrating it into her marketing campaign.  Here she shares what works for her and how a published author inspired her to try self-publishing.

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

Summoning The Strength is a fictional story about the amazing qualities of ordinary women in the life of the main character, Katherine Doyle.  Katherine grows up in Virginia during the 1950’s and 60’s.  She goes to Syracuse University in 1972.  She is a typical idealistic, naïve, and determined young woman of that era.  Her attitude is much like my own.  It isn’t autobiographical.  However, as the cover says, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and daughters make the same journey no matter the vehicle.  The story captures the nature of a life well lived and shows how the worst of circumstances can help us discover the best of ourselves.

I was introduced to a circle of intelligent, independent, and hilarious women by a friend.  A discussion of a personal nature turned into a writing exercise, and then for me, an obsession.  I began to experience something that caught me completely by surprise.  I needed therapy.  Not the per hour kind, but the sit still with your emotional baggage until the bus to epiphany comes along, kind.  During this time, my most cherished friend of 23 years was losing a two year battle with cancer.  The pace of the story was affected by this event and the fact that I strive to be concise.  That surprise notwithstanding, I wrote almost without pause day and night.  (No kidding.)  I wanted to share the story and the writing experience with my friend and I read parts of it to her while we spent the last month of her life together laughing and reminiscing.

2. How have your sales been?

Do you hear what I hear?  I think that is the sound of crickets.  Not to worry.  Cha-ching would not only be an unrealistic expectation but also not what I am going for on my first time out of the gate.  It would be dizzying euphoria but isn’t necessary for my happiness. (Short answer: SLOW)

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

I read an article on CNET written by a published author talking about self-publishing.  The article compared the ever shrinking “brick & mortar” publishing houses to the trendy, although less-respected, self-publishing camp.  It extolled the virtues of self-publishing’s quick turn times and low production costs.  It also gave an honest assessment of the quantity over quality marketplace.  There were also some comparisons of the different options available to authors looking for ways to express themselves without the expense of agent or attaché.  I was sold.  I had something to say.  I channeled my inner James Bond and I didn’t look back.

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

I have been pleased with CreateSpace.  The free tools, reasonably priced upgrades, and prompt responses from member services during the creation process made my first publishing experience a positive one.  I have also connected with like-minded, kindred spirits I never expected to meet.  (I am still smiling.)

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

CreateSpace provides a free bare bones e-store.  I have dressed it up as much as I can with a sophisticated grey background and banner photo I took last spring of some pink tulips.  (You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.)  There is a link to my e-store on my blog.  I use the WordPress platform for jumping out there with fresh content to attract readers who like my writing style.  RSS feed of my posts go to my Amazon author page and Summoning The Strength’s Facebook page.  I share my posts on LinkedIn, Google, and StumbleUpon.  (I don’t Tweet.)

I also belong to a few writers’ groups which have yielded one very nice book review and this awesome interview.  Shameless self-promotion and begging seem to be the top tier money makers right now.

I sent copies to buyers for a couple of indie book stores and reached out to the airport book retailer Hudson News.  No takers from the indies yet, but I did receive a snarky email from the buyer at HN saying they don’t waste their premium space on vanity press (only best sellers need apply.)

6. Are there any marketing techniques you intentionally avoided or discontinued, and if so, why?

I avoided spending money on ads or email blasts popular with the scam-spam set.

Once my book sales break say 50, I will probably discontinue approaching strangers in the grocery store and at my favorite neighborhood bar & grill, which can be hit or miss.  This technique can also be embarrassing if a conversation starter in the produce department goes terribly wrong.  Plus it will become cost prohibitive when I have to start driving across town for avocados or a beer since the price of my book is only $9.99.

7. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing that you didn’t know when you started out?

I can do it.  I had never used any professional or social networking sites.  I am not tech savvy.  I leaned into the learning curve and am happy to say, I hung in there.

8. If you could do one thing differently in publishing your books, what would it be?

Hire tech support.  I have a love/no love relationship with technology.  My creativity flourishes when I discover a great tool or resource.  I sometimes become bogged down trying to navigate through the sheer volume of information required to learn how to use them properly.

9. Independent authors face the obvious challenge of marketing their books without the resources of traditional publishers.  What advice do you have for an indie author just starting out?

Reject rejection.  Feedback is just feedback.  Listen to it.  Focus on the positive. That right action alone will yield positive results.  When you make the most of the network you already have in place, your connections will multiply.  Be selective when joining online groups and try not to criticize, condemn, or complain in a public forum. People get enough of that in the news media and they will tune you out double quick. I know because that’s what I do.

10. What projects are you currently working on?

Each time I post to HonieBriggs.com, I learn something.  I’m using those eureka moments to build a bank of ideas for two books.  One is a follow up to Summoning The Strength.  Consistent feedback says people want to know what happens next.  There is more to the story worth a second book.  I also have an idea for a light-hearted look at my own growth and evolution as a person.  The working title is Baptist to Buddhist, My Forty Year Journey.  Because people can sometimes get hung up on religious labels, it is only a working title at this point.  You can see the style of that kind of book in my blog posts.

11. If you could market your brand – not just one particular book, but your overall brand of writing – in one sentence, what would it be?

My writing is word play with a purpose.  (That is my idea of fun.)

12. How can readers learn more about your books?

Visit honiebriggs.com for all things noteworthy.

Shop Honie’s e-store or Amazon for all things written by Stephanie Briggs.  There is more than one author named Stephanie Briggs out there.  (Accept no substitutions.)