Marques Peterson

marques petersonMarques Peterson believes that if you can’t find a story you really like in a bookstore, you should write it.  Find out more about his marketing efforts and why he believes you have to invest in your own product for it to be a success.

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

I think the best way to tell you about my story is to tell you how I came up with this idea.  Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  So I began to outline and I created a character that must go through hell to accomplish his goals.  So I started thinking, what if a cunning, bold, twenty-one year old sorcerer witnesses his mother’s death to save his skin?  It would make him very angry because he was too weak to save her and it would also make him vindictive because now he wants to get his brother for what he has done to her.  But, since his mother is gone now, he also has the burden to save the world because he must collect the ancient stones of immortality before his brother can.

So the sorcerer begins his adventure to pursue each stone and make a few friends along the way, but trouble arises when they arrive at Westco village.  The captain of Westco, having arsenals of deadly arrows and an army of guards, tries to stop them at any cost.  Then there are other beings like the ferocious vangal birds that try to eat them; the tyranny preventers, Ober and Nob, which will do whatever they can to stop them; and the cold-hearted aurettas whose powers seem unstoppable – will the sorcerer and his friends ever collect the stones?  This is exactly what happens in my book, Cold Spirits: Greed Vs. Passion.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I became an indie writer because I wanted to experience how it would be to publish my own book.

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Sabrina Ricci

cover1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

The world will not end in 2012, Amara just knows it.  The 20-year-old college reporter is set on debunking the Maya calendar myths and restoring the peace. But when a covert group starts hunting her, she and her roommate Cayden are forced to uncover her grandfather’s mysterious past.

At 20-years old, Mahaway is the brightest scribe in Ox Te’ Tuun, a powerful ancient Maya city.  Then in 900 A.D., her life is torn apart by a greedy new king’s war.  She, her best friend Yochi, and a new friend Ichik must band together to fight back and save their home.  In doing so, they expose a deadly weapon, one that threatens to ruin everything.

Though these two young women live in different ages, their paths’ cross when Amara is tasked with discovering and stopping a secret before December 21 to save herself, and the world.

(On a side note, you’ll learn some interesting facts about the classic Maya reading my book. I did a lot of research, and tried to incorporate as much as I could.)

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

For a few reasons.  Writing is something I have to do—if I go for long periods of time without writing, I feel anxious and restless.  After getting my M.S. in publishing and working for a couple publishers, including Simon & Schuster and Random House, I decided that I really liked e-books and experimenting with different models.  Digital publishing has really leveled the playing field for indie authors, I think, and I wanted to learn everything I could about it.

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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.

Larissa Hinton

YA writer Larissa Hinton is always working on both her writing and her marketing efforts.  Read more about some of the specific services she uses and her advice for finding your target audience.

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

An anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but which digs a little deeper as the world not only shifts, but changes.

The author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance.  So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed; you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

Ah, the question everybody wants to know.  Well, before I self-published, I was a staunch traditional publisher junkie.  I sent out query letters to publishers and agents every summer.  And I dreamed of that one day of getting the dream contract.

When the dream became a reality, I could hardly believe it.  There I was, the email of my dreams congratulating me on obtaining a contract and all I could do is cover my gaping mouth and think, “Oh.  My.  God.”

But of course, the contract was faulty so I walked away.  That was the hardest thing I had to do but I survived and started querying once again.  The more I queried, the more I got frustrated that no one saw my talent.  If I was talented to get a contract once, I could get it again. That’s what logic says.

And during this time, a lot or people from Critique Circle loved my book and wanted to buy it and were wondering when I was going to be published.  And it wasn’t just one person, it was multiple people.

Yet no contract came.  Instead, a professor talked about self-publishing and spouted about how much more money an author could make, but I just ignored him until Amanda Hocking’s story came to light.  Then came JA Konrath’s blog.  I read it and I couldn’t help but agree with his arguments.  And he made me laugh.  So after puzzling over the logic and what I thought was my dream of trad publishing, I decided to self-publish.

In short: I decided to self-publish because I was tired of waiting for someone to give me the green light.  Instead, I decided to believe in my books and my readers to find them.  I decided to self-publish and not look back.  And I’m glad I did.

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Frank Coles

Frank Coles brings a wealth of experience to his writing and has enjoyed success in indie and traditional publishing.  Learn how he’s mastered marketing across a variety of media (social and traditional formats) and why reviews are so important.

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

Dark Market (Assassin’s Rule): Kill anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Never get caught.

John Savage is a special force of one.  A corporate investigator who had to leave when an investigation went wrong.  He’s become a 21st century warrior serving overseas, but not for any one government, only the highest bidder.

When he finds a dead body with links to his old life, he returns and finds that what forced him out was only the beginning of a conspiracy to commit murder on a grand scale: the Dark Market, in which anyone can take part and anyone can be a victim.  Now Savage must battle to finish what he started.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I get a buzz from writing, the blank page is like siren call from another world for me.  I’ve been writing professionally in one way or another for nearly two decades – TV, journalism, advertising, branding.  Writing has taken me to the North Pole and all around the world.  Then I became an ‘author’ four years ago.  Since then my writing output has dropped.  It became all too much about guessing what agents, editors and sales departments were up to.  Learning all about the shadier parts of the business that are in plain view and pitching all the time – but so slowly – because the business is so slow.

Now don’t get me wrong, my bread and butter has always been pitching, whether it’s TV programs and formats or journalism and brand concepts.  But there is a big disconnect in publishing between, well, everything: traditional and indie, agents and editors, slush piles and proper business development, taking risks and playing it safe, publishing times.  It’s a book in itself!

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Sylvia Ramsey

Sylvia Ramsey is a 17-year bladder cancer survivor who uses her experience to both shape her writing and advance cancer awareness.  She offers multiple ideas for marketing and compares the indie and traditional routes.

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.

This one is for the new book, Traveling a Rocky Road With Love, Faith and Guts:

Let me share with you what a couple of reviewers said after reading the book.  The first was Dr. Aman Kay: “Taking the rocky road with Sylvia is a joyful challenge.  It takes the reader through the most common and uncommon hardships, but at the conclusion of this delightful journey, the reader feels more joy and satisfaction: Love, faith, and incredible guts turn the rocky road into an assuring path that all of us so humanly desire.  This book is so uniquely universal in every essential aspect that I enthusiastically recommend it to all readers regardless of their age, gender, and race.”

The second reviewer sent me an email saying, “I just read the book, wow!”

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

I am a cancer survivor of 17+ years.  I have been writing for years.  I have had by-lines, feature articles, short stories and poetry published since I was about nine years old.  I was reading at an open mic, and the editor of a small publishing house liked my poetry.  My first book, Pulse Points of a Woman’s World, was thus published.  Because I had been working for several years to establish a foundation for bladder cancer, I was giving all my proceeds from my royalties toward this endeavor.  After a couple of years, the publisher decided to return the publishing rights to me because of what I was doing with my royalties.  That was when I decided to become my own publisher of my books.  The latest book being Traveling a Rocky Road with Love, Faith and Guts.

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

It doesn’t seem much different than using a traditional publisher.  Regardless of the route you go, you must still do you own marketing (unless you have lots of money to hire a publicist).  That holds true both ways as well.

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Kate O’Mara

When Kate O’Mara realized that the book she was looking for didn’t exist, she decided to write it herself.  Read about her outreach efforts and her upcoming projects.

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

Inspiration: Write Every Day is a motivational book for writers and people who want to write.  Formatted to the calendar, each page/day offers quotes from famous authors, thoughts about writing, affirmation/motivation statements and writing prompts.  The book allows for ample annotation.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

Originally, I just wanted to buy this book.  I searched book stores and then inquired with publishers and was told that there wasn’t anything like it.  They didn’t feel there was an audience.  However, when I spoke with other writers and my mentor, everyone was very excited about the project.

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

I’ve been published in print (magazines and newspapers) and online for many years with a byline and as a ghostwriter.  Some time ago, my first book, Elijah’s Dilemma, was contracted; but within a year the publisher went out of business.  It became a legal mess with regard to the rights.  Since that time, the industry has been downsizing.  My understanding is that it is not likely a traditional publishing house will pick up a writer without some unique quality, i.e. audience, already in place.

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

Self-publishing has been wonderful and intense.  There are many skills needed to publish a book.  Thankfully, I have some great friends who helped and supported this project through the process.

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