Ben Baker

Ben Baker is a prolific writer who has learned a few tricks throughout his career. He explains how authors can find and exploit their niche.

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

My latest published book is A Dog Named Nekkid. The title comes from one of the columns in the book. Imagine naming a dog Nekkid. Think of the fun. Put the dog outside. Company comes over. You get tired of them. “I gotta go outside and get Nekkid. Y’all wanna come?” So many variations on a theme.

That also marked my debut as a freehand cartoonist. I did editorial toons in college for the university newspaper, but drew those on a Macintosh. My daughter also drew some of the toons.

I have several others in the works: a science fiction/fantasy novel, memoirs, and a how-to book on dealing with an estate when you are the executor.

2. How have your sales been?

Poor. This is my fault. While I am good at sales and marketing, I do not enjoy it. Good? Yes. I have set new positive sales records for the places I worked in sales. I just do not like it. If I invested into the marketing, my sales would be excellent. I am somewhat like Nikola Tesla in that regard: lemme work and let someone else handle the business end.

This is why I love writing for brokerage sites. They handle the maths (maths is evil; the plural is correct), the marketing and the business. I write. I did have one client steal my stuff and leave a horrible review. I reported it with evidence of the theft and got paid. The client got banned. Dunno if the review is still up, nor do I care.

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 is great for me. I am also a graphic artist. Each week I produce a newspaper and a few times a year I produce a slick magazine. Layout and design for books is something I can do in my sleep. I’ve done books for several other people who did not have the know-how to design and format. I’ve done so many, including ghost writing, that I wrote a contract to spell out what I will do and the prices.

Because I can do layout and design, I control every step of the process. I pick the font, size, page size, count and quality. I keep all the rights. I set the price. I keep all the profits. My only out-of-pocket expense is printing the books I buy to resell.

Self-publishing is not for everyone because so many people think they have a great book (they do not) and it will just fly off the print-on-demand press to be a bestseller (it won’t). The last report of the POD industry I read said the average POD book sells fewer than two copies.

Marketing is what sells books. If you can’t get your butt up, moving and selling books everywhere and every chance you get, including forcing some chances, you will not make money. Continue reading

K.M. Weiland

K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the award-winning and internationally-published author of Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. She writes historical and speculative fiction and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

K.M. just released her latest book on craft, Writing Your Story’s Theme. Here she discusses the book and the advice she has for new writers working to perfect their skills.

1. Talk a little about Writing Your Story’s Theme. What motivated you to write it and what do you hope authors will gain from it?

In contemplating what writing-craft book I wanted to publish next, I felt like theme was the obvious expansion and next step from the books I’ve already shared on story structure and character arcs. Theme is so inherent in both these subjects and is, in fact, actualized through a proper use of both, and yet it isn’t often drawn to the forefront and discussed in a concrete and practicable way.

2. Theme is the very essence of any story, yet you believe authors too often view it as more of an afterthought. Why do you think this is so?

Foundationally, I believe it is because theme is inherently such an abstract concept. As a result, we have something of a tradition in which writing instructors and masters  guide us to avoid consciously implementing theme because they don’t have a clear understanding of how theme emerges within stories. It seems a very nebulous, almost numinous, process. And it is. But story theory has given us clear approaches to both story structure and character arc—and within this process of harmonizing plot and character, we can see how theme itself emerges in a holistic and resonant way. It remains numinous, but becomes less nebulous.

3. You’ve created a number of guides to help authors improve their writing. Where does Writing Your Story’s Theme fit in among the others?

As I said, I feel like it is a natural sequel to the previous guides. I hope it stands alone, but because it builds upon the principles and terms I discuss in Structuring Your Novel and especially Creating Character Arcs, it would be my recommendation to start with those books. They lead right into Writing Your Story’s Theme. (And if you’re only going to read one of the books, I recommend Creating Character Arcs. Once you’re creating solid character arcs, then you’re almost certainly going to be creating solid story structure and theme as well.) Continue reading

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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Carol Newsome

Carol Newsome is the author of A Shot in the Bark (A Dog Park Mystery).  Here she discusses her unique book and how important it is for new writers to make a great first impression.

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

It’s about an artist, Lia, who’s friends with a serial killer and doesn’t know it.  When her writer boyfriend dies under suspicious circumstances, the dog park and its motley crew of denizens is the focus of the investigation.  Of course the handsome detective, Peter, crushes madly on Lia.  She’s struggling with questions about her relationship with the deceased.  Secrets come to light in Peter’s pursuit of the truth, and that complicates things.  And you’ve got this serial killer working to stay one step ahead of the investigation.

I’m a big fan of mysteries.  One thing I’ve noticed about our dog park is that people rendezvous in the parking lot and don’t think anyone is watching, but all of us doggie parents don’t have anything better to do than pay attention to who comes and goes, and speculate on what they’re up to.  I’ve been saying for years that we needed to have a dog park mystery.  So it was in the back of my head that this would be a fun thing to do.

I was motivated to start my book after an acquaintance asked me to help him edit his thriller.  There was a lot to like about the manuscript, but he was trying to write popular fiction, and he’s not a popular fiction kind of guy.  He thinks it’s junk.  He had a passive aggressive approach to feedback which showed up in his manuscript.  What could have been a nifty book was turning into a mess.  I wound up wanting to kill him.

So I quit his project, picked up a pen and took him out.

2. How have your sales been?

Sales have been steadily growing since I published in September.  Right now I’m averaging 2 sales a day.  Knock on wood.

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