Tracey Shearer

Tracey Shearer is a hybrid author with experience in both the traditional and self-publishing worlds. Learn more about the unique, reader-driven efforts she’s used to promote her books.

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

My latest book, Raven, is the second book in my Entwine trilogy. The trilogy is about three women with incredible gifts. Each book focuses on one woman, but all continue throughout. The trilogy is fun, but it also covers important themes such as friendship, sisterhood, acceptance of yourself – good and bad – and where there’s love, there’s hope.

In Raven, Kate is a widow with two young daughters living in a haunted Scottish B&B. She has a vision which reveals the existence of a black-ops military group who is determined to unlock the special gifts of people just like Kate through horrific experimentation. She’s got to trust in herself and her abilities to have any chance of success because if she doesn’t, she’ll lose those she loves. One of the other storylines throughout is whether or not she’ll open herself back up to love again. Of course, I have two hunky choices for her to consider. Haha!

Like with Entwine, the death of my parents motivated me to write and create a ghostly realm and to explore what happens when we die. My battles with cancer also motivated me. My most recent bout was in February before COVID hit. I know what it’s like to struggle with not being in control and also the incredible power of friendship. The support I have has really gotten me through all the surgeries and radiation.

2. How have your sales been?

I only have one book out, Entwine, and from everything I’ve read, I’m beating the indie author average – yay! Based on the reader support and excitement over the Raven release, I’m expecting to match or exceed Entwine’s sales as well. Plus, I did put together a killer book trailer for Entwine that has already generated some sales just recently. I’m learning more and more as I go along on this writing journey.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

I had an agent who had to retire to take care of her hubby while she was trying to sell Entwine. Then I received a publishing contract from a small press that I turned down for being too restrictive. I decided to form my own publishing company and publish myself. It was the best decision I could have made. Having that control has been so wonderful. And getting my book out there rather than waiting another few years to go the traditional route has allowed me to build a readership right away.

I have a new agent that wants to work with me on another book and she told me she was so happy I self-published Entwine. She said she would have had to tear it apart to make it fit a publishing box to sell it. Because Entwine has elements of fantasy, suspense, thriller, mystery, romance, and the paranormal, it didn’t fit neatly into a publishing box. But she loves my writing, so she wants to work with me on something else.

Self-publishing doesn’t hurt your chances for being traditionally published on the level it used to. So many authors are going the hybrid route. The business end of things that I’ve learned about will make me an excellent author for a traditional publishing house down the line because I understand about social media platforms and followings, promotion, etc. Continue reading

Diana Miller

descentDiana Miller has had experience in both the indie and traditional publishing worlds. She explains why review swaps are a great way to build your reader base.

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

My debut novel Descent is being published by FyreSyde Publishing on April 14th, 2021.  It follows the story of Serafina Thomas. Sera is orphaned at sixteen, and sent to live with her only remaining relative in a small, rural town. Recruited by a dark, alluring young man to attend the prestigious St. Michael’s Academy, she is thrust into the secret underworld of demon hierarchy where one must fight to survive. She quickly meets Justin, who rules the demon hierarchy along with his grandfather the Arch Demon, who has taken a special interest in Sera. Martin is the Watcher; an Archangel with one goal in mind: to eradicate the demons from the Earth, protecting the human race for all time.

All three are thrown together in this sage of time and tragedy, with Sera torn in the middle. Will they bind themselves together in order to save their own species, or burn in the chaos? A millennia old struggle comes to a head in the first book of The Demon Chronicles trilogy. The sequel Feud will be published just a few weeks later!

2. How have your sales been?

I actually had this story self-published for a little bit, and it did ok. I’m excited to reach a larger audience with my publisher. My free short story “5 Days to Die” has been downloaded many times, and I’ve had great feedback. It’s on Amazon for $0.99 or for free if you sign up for my newsletter on my website (dianagmiller.com).

3. You’ve used both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Which do you prefer, and what are the pros and cons of each?

It was an exhausting process to manage on my own, and with a full time job I just couldn’t devote the time needed. I’m excited to be partnering with FyreSyde to help with this aspect of it!

My publisher has a greater audience reach than I could possibly have alone, and access to more resources (cover artists, editors, etc.). I owe it to my story to make it the best version possible, and I concluded that I just couldn’t do it on my own while keeping up with my family and full-time job as a music teacher.

I’ve met some amazing indie authors, and read some amazing stories! Some of the very first reviews of Descent were from these lovely people, and it’s been wonderful to be active in the writing community. The con is the sheer amount of work, and how hard it is to be seen in a sea of indie authors lately. I’m hoping to have the best of both worlds by working with my small publisher. Continue reading

Tim Walker

Tim Walker has spent time building a writing and marketing network for his books. Find out more about the work he has done to promote his brand.

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

My latest book (June 2020) is Arthur Rex Brittonum (Arthur King of the Britons). It’s my story of the real King Arthur hidden behind the legend. In fact, it is the second and final part of my two-part Arthur series, following on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, although it can be read as a standalone novel. I decided to use Arthur’s Latin (Roman) titles, for historical authenticity, in the book titles.

A major influence on my storytelling from my research, was the writings of a Christian monk, Nennius, in History of the Briton People, published around the year 820 – roughly three hundred years after the real Arthur lived. Nennius not only mentions Arthur by name, but attributes twelve winning battles to him, naming him as “Dux Bellorum” (duke or leader of battles). Intriguingly, Nennius names Arthur as the leader of the combined army of the kings of the Britons, but does not say if he is one of the kings, leaving his status open to speculation.

My motivation was to write a believable, although fictitious, account of a real historical six century figure whose name is associated with a fantastical legend, and by doing so add credence to the ongoing search for evidence of is existence.

2. How have your sales been?

E-book and paperback sales of my historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages, have been modest – in the hundreds rather than thousands – since the series began with Abandoned in 2015. Writing and publishing roughly one book a year, the new book, Arthur Rex Brittonum, is book five in the series.

Each book launch is an opportunity to promote and sell the new title and previous books in the series, often with time-limited discounts on e-books. Discounting paperbacks is not realistic, as my pricing policy is based on cost plus a very narrow margin.

3. You’ve chosen self-publishing. How have you liked it so far? Talk about some of the positives and negatives you’ve encountered.

Self-publishing suits me because I easily worked it out owing to my background of working in newspaper and magazine publishing. I find the Amazon KDP platform and fee guide book very easy to use, and now they have both paperback publishing under the same umbrella. I enjoy formatting my e-books and paperbacks, and the only services I pay for are proof-reading, copyediting, cover design, and advertising.

In addition to the Amazon KDP platform, I now also publish my e-books on Apple i-books, Kobo, Nook, and subscription services like Scribd and Montadori, using the draft2digital platform. However, Amazon insists that if authors use other non-Amazon e-book platforms in addition to KDP, they must not make their books available on Kindle Unlimited (KU).

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J.S. Frankel

the auctioneer best pic!J.S. Frankel has enjoyed positive results with traditional publishing. He talks about that here and offers practical advice for using social media.

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

My latest novel is a YA Fantasy, entitled The Auctioneer. Essentially, it’s a story about a young man, forced by circumstances, to work very far away – in another galaxy. At first, he does what he does for the money. But when he finds out people and planets are being sold, he changes his way of thinking. It’s also a bit of a smackdown to some people in the rich, “I’m entitled” generation.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales? Sales? What are those? Seriously, the marketing of my novels is probably the most challenging aspect of writing. I love writing, but getting the word out and getting people to take a chance on my work is hard.

3. You’ve gone the traditional publishing route. Why did you choose this, and what has been your experience?

I started writing seriously only about six years ago. At that time, I knew very little about self-publishing, and my sister suggested that I try e-book publishers to start with. My experiences, outside of sales, have been good. My covers are well done, my publishers do put the word out, and I have worked with some excellent editors who’ve willingly taught me what they know. All in all, it’s been positive.

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Vincent Formosa

51e+WDmB0SL._SY346_British author Vincent Formosa combines his background in history with his love for aviation. Read about how he navigates a crowded self-publishing field and why Twitter is not the platform best suited for him.

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

My latest book out is a novel titled Run The Gauntlet. It follows the life of an RAF light bomber squadron from the outbreak of World War 2 to the end of May 1940 and the fall of France.

I was inspired to write it after reading an article in an aviation magazine about the air war in France during the German Blitzkrieg. It related a few details about a Blenheim bomber squadron (the Blenheim was a twin engine light bomber in the RAF at the time, 3 men per crew) that lost 18 out of 21 crews in 10 days and that figure did not include the replacements who had also been shot down.

I was staggered by this. The thought of a squadron that had fought and trained for years before the war to be almost casually wiped out really brought home to me the cost of war. So I started the novel, doing a lot of research along the way, trying to encompass that press on attitude while conveying the harshness of combat.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales so far have been slow. My first novel came out in 2011. My second novel came out at the end of 2016.

I’m playing the long game on this one. I’m writing for a bit of a niche genre (aviation military fiction) and while there are lot of aviation magazines, they don’t review fiction, so it’s proving difficult to get myself out there and known. I realize that when someone buys your book and then looks to see there are no more by you, you miss an opportunity for a secondary buy. So as time goes on, I’ll have more books out there and it will naturally blossom. A reader will read one, say “I enjoyed that,” and then see there are others they can buy. So one sale can turn into four or five.

3. You’ve chosen to use indie publishing for your books. Can you elaborate as to why you made this choice?

About 8 years ago I came across Joe Konrath’s blog where he discussed what had led him to self-publish and I found his argument very reasoned. 99.9% of new authors will not get much in the way of promotion from a publisher, so for the virtue of getting my book physically on a bookshop shelf, I’m giving away quite a percentage of royalty.

So if I’m not getting any promotion help, why not do it myself and get more royalty for me?

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Suzy Milhoan

Suzy Milhoan has managed to turn her grief into a learning experience, one she seeks to share with the world through her writing.  Find out more about her proactive marketing approach and how social media enhanced her networking.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

The Healing Game shares Suzy’s journey of losing her beloved husband, Kevin, hitting rock bottom, and painfully finding her way back to her life. Suzy’s deeply personal writing reveals how she learned to grieve, work through her emotions, remember the good times, and once more embrace love.

For those who have lost a loved one, The Healing Game not only offers comfort and support, but also shows you that God is ever-faithful and always by your side.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

This was my first book, and I thought I could get my book finished and published sooner by going this route.  I didn’t have a platform yet to try to sell to a publisher or agent, so I went off on my own.

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

No, I didn’t have the confidence to seek out traditional publishing because I was just starting a new career (writing) with a brand new book, and a non-fiction at that.

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Guy Portman

Guy Portman is relatively new to the self-publishing world but is already picking up a lot.  Find out what he’s learned about effective use of social media and what he would do if he could start the process again.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

The following is the blurb for Charles Middleworth: What happens when Adrian, an actuary, has his banal and predictable existence turned upside down by sinister forces that he can neither understand nor control?  How will he react to a revelation that leaves his life in turmoil? Will he surrender or strive for redemption in an altered world, where rationality, scientific logic and algorithms no longer provide the answers?

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

It seemed like the most rational decision considering the current publishing situation.

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

I have not attempted to go down the traditional route.  Charles Middleworth is not what I imagine publishers would necessarily consider a commercially viable commodity, like a vampire and/or erotica book for example.

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

It’s been a rewarding journey into the unknown.  I have a great deal yet to learn and appreciate the fact that it is going to take time to generate sales.

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C.N. Bring

C.N. Bring writes in the military suspense genre and has stuck to her own style of writing despite pressure from traditional publishers.  Learn why she’s skeptical of Facebook as a marketing tool and why word of mouth is so important to promoting your book.

1. Give me the elevator pitch for your book in five to ten sentences.

Commander Celia Kelly is a perceptive Naval intelligence officer rebuilding her life after the tragic death of her husband.  The suspicious suicide of a fellow officer has Celia questioning the mission she’s been assigned.

With the help of a one of a kind secretary, a by-the-book assistant, and a Navy SEAL, Kelly discovers she’s been set up.  Digging relentlessly, nothing is as it seems.  Someone is after twenty million dollars that disappeared when Kelly’s husband died and now that someone is after her.

2. Why did you become an Indie writer?

I was almost published traditionally, but I was asked to change the story too much.  The series is not a romance, but instead a military mystery, suspense.  The traditional publisher wanted to add a formula romance to the story. Though I wasn’t opposed to changes that might enhance the story, I was against losing my original audience. Truthfully, romance isn’t really my thing.  To be successful, we all have to find our own voice unlike anyone else’s. The hardest part about the business is they (publishers) want a safe sell.  They want a familiar story with a new voice.  It’s the publishing catch-22.  So I started to explore indie publishing.

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Shaun J. McLaughlin

Shaun J. McLaughlin believes every writer must be in it for the art, and strives to make his writing stand out from the rest.  Shaun discusses his success with blogging and what he believes it takes for a writer to succeed.

1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

My self-published novel, Counter Currents, is a story of smugglers, river pirates, rebels, love, and war.  Most scenes are set against the grandeur of the Thousand Islands during the drama of North America’s forgotten war, the Patriot War of 1838.  Among the raiders was Bill Johnston, the Thousand Islands legend.  The protagonist, Ryan, a young immigrant, is drawn into Johnston’s world of piracy and secret societies.  Ryan falls for Johnston’s daughter, Kate.  Tugged by the opposing currents of romance and war, Ryan struggles to reconcile his troubled family history, his duty and his heart. Counter Currents is history illuminated by fiction.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I worked as a writer – journalist and technical writer – for over 30 years.  Since my teens, I wrote fiction on the side. For my first novel, I queried dozens of agents and publishers in Canada and the US.  Over half never responded. One small publisher in Iowa offered to publish it, but they closed down shortly after I signed the contract.  Weary of rejection, I studied the self-publishing arena and the related technologies, and made a decision to be my own publisher.

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

I do both.  In the same month (March 2012) that I self-published my first novel, my first history book, The Patriot War Along the New York-Canada Border, was published by South Carolina-based The History Press.  It covers the eastern half of the Patriot War of 1838.

There is an interesting story behind that.  I created a history blog in January 2010 in advance of my novel to help promote the book and the era.  An editor at The History Press discovered the blog and asked me to write a book about it.  I said yes, of course.

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

I am astounded at how simple it is to be self-published.  Between Smashwords, CreateSpace and Kindle/Amazon, anyone who can follow step-by-step instructions can produce books in multiple formats.  There is no barrier to publishing.  Technology has sidelined the gatekeepers and unleashed writers.  You’ve got to love that.

5. Tell me about the marketing techniques you’ve used to sell your books.  Which ones have been the most successful?

I have tried most of the popular marketing techniques: blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and guest posts on other blogs and e-magazines.  I had both books reviewed, and even paid for an ad on Goodreads.

My history blog, raidersandrebels.com, is the most successful.  It gets over 600 visits per month from history lovers. The key is to provide readers with free, interesting content.  That blog links to my imprint blog where I describe my books.  A small percentage of visitors become customers.

Two history articles that I wrote for the Thousand Islands Life e-magazine early in 2012 did well, as did a book review on that mag.  The magazine’s audience is in the heart of the region where both my books take place.  The exposure led to a regional spike in sales, especially for the history book.

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

My research into the business of self-publishing taught me that my book is one of millions available.  It is one leaf in a forest of 10,000 trees trying to be noticed.  You cannot be in this business for the money.  Like a painter or musician, you must be in for the art.

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

Next time I will spend no time trying to find a publisher for my fiction.

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

From my observation, the authors that succeeded financially did not hit the big time with their first book.  They built up a fan base, good book by good book, until they broke out.  In brief: write well, write often, be patient.

9. What are you currently working on?

I have a detailed outline for the sequel to my novel.  It will be set partly in Australia, which I will visit in the fall of 2012 to scout locations.  I plan to research a second history book on the Patriot War to cover events along the western front.

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

I write about history (and by extension, historical fiction) like a good journalist covers current events: how people face their trials and triumphs never gets dull.

11. How can readers learn more about your books?

My publishing imprint has info on both books: raidersandrebelspress.com.