Jonell Kirby Cash

Jonell Kirby Cash used something a little different than either self-publishing or the traditional route.  Learn about the innovative method she used and the one-on-one experience that came with it.

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

A Ring, A Dance, A Second Chance.  The book is Katie and Taylor’s love story.  They dated in high school, but married others, and both are now widowed and live alone.  Their odyssey begins when, out of the blue, forty-something years since they last talked, Taylor calls Katie.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

As I grew older my responsibilities changed and so did my interests.  I noticed there were few works of fiction and fewer movies that caught my attention or offered a reading or viewing experience that was meaningful.  Often, my friends and I would whine that we couldn’t find novels with characters that had any resemblance to us (the 50 plus) and we’d say we wished that older people would become more active in the writing arena…and we’d wonder if writers just got tired or lost their creativity.

When I whine I usually look for an option.  Since I’d always planned to write a novel, but never had allocated time to learn how to write fiction, I decided I should give it a try—I’d never be any younger.

I’d published in my academic field (five books).  I enjoy writing, I understand communication, and I had the basic skills of grammar.  I’m also a psychologist; therefore, I understand human nature.  So, in the seventh decade of my life I decided I had the time to enjoy learning to write from a novelist point of view.  This decision was the motivator to get me started on this venture—the first step in the process of writing a novel.

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

As indicated earlier, I am a published writer in my academic field.  Each of my books followed my interest either in finding a way to teach a subject or to facilitate my work as a therapist.  All of my publications were with traditional publishers (and without an agent). My experiences with publishers and their editors were positive and productive.

When I completed my novel I looked at the economic situation and what was happening in the world of publishing: e-books/self-publishing; agents being too cautious and concerned with their perceptions of what would sell; agents and publishers wanting fantasy or fiction involving the paranormal; everyone being afraid to take chances.  I ran across Tate Publishers, with a requirement of an “author’s participation investment.”  I saw this as possibly an astute business move and decided to send my completed manuscript to Tate.  The acquisition editors were enthusiastic about my novel and gave me a call within 24 hours to let me know they were interested.  (Tate has been an excellent partner and has provided the services and expertise consistent with their contract.)

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

Actually, Tate is a traditional publisher—with a bit of a modification that I believe makes sense given the economic situation.  Tate is upfront and provided appropriate editorial assistance that resulted in a beautiful book.  (Note: I’m not paid by Tate for this endorsement!)

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

I am one fortunate author.  I have had wonderful support from two people with whom I’ve contracted to advise and develop/implement a consistent branding plan.  They work effectively with the press and have expertise to open doors (foreign and domestic) through the internet, interface with support programs, and participate in effective strategies.  Were it not for the two people in charge of PR and marketing I would likely be sitting here wishing I could let the public know of my novel; instead, I’m busy responding to offers to be a part of many types of programs and presentations.  At age 82 I’m enjoying my new role as an author.

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

My marketing representative makes the decisions about the approach to take.  We have not had any difficulties, though we may miss some opportunities along the way.

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

Since I have not self-published I cannot speak to this question; however, I suspect the process is far more costly than the beginner expects.  Publishing is an expensive operation—and marketing is critical.  I would guess that is the part too many people leave to chance.

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

I’m not sure.  I haven’t really thought about this question.  I’ve enjoyed the experience, have made wonderful friends, and have enjoyed being a part of the writing community and interacting with numerous readers.

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?

If one has an interesting novel, then be generous and involve people interested in writing or becoming partners in making decisions about marketing and presentations.  Look for the retired person (or the skilled part time worker) with the experience of marketing and interest in working with you and see if you can find a way to get your novel known.  There are lots of highly creative, involved, experienced individuals who would love the challenge of helping make your novel a success.

10. What projects are you currently working on?

I’m almost overwhelmed with appearances and focusing on my present novel.  However, I anticipate writing a sequel (many requests already) and perhaps a prequel.  I have more than 200 pages of “backstory” that would be helpful in moving me along on a prequel.

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?

If you will embrace change and appreciate your transitions as you age, you’ll find enjoyment and fulfillment throughout your life span.

12. How can readers learn more about your books?

My website is quite comprehensive and is updated regularly.  If the reader is interested in what I have to offer and has a comment or question, I’ll respond if he/she will leave a message.  Or we could develop a community around my blog.  I hope to hear from many readers.  Web site: jonellkirbycash.com; Blog: jonellkirbycash.com/blog and jonellkirbycash.blogspot.com.

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