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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Fred Gordon

fredgordon1. Give me the “elevator pitch” for your book in five to ten sentences.

My name is Fred Gordon, I’m a C5-C6 quadriplegic.  I wrote an autobiography of my life called Still Looking Up.  I wrote the book in hopes of inspiring any reader but especially people with spinal cord injury.  In my years of being in a wheelchair I’ve heard horror stories of depression, not wanting to live and the hard times of adjusting to a new situation.  I’ve been blessed to have not gone through any hard times with adjusting, and I want to give back to those that do.  Not just SCI or wheelchair individuals but anybody that has gone through something that had the potential to stop their progression through life.

I try to give a picture of my life before the chair, so when they see my life after the chair they can see not much changed as I grew from a misguided teenager into manhood.  I tried to tell my story as it happened, from going to jail, to losing the love of my life, to the initial accident, to getting saved and married.  I put it all on the table, good and bad.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

It’s funny you asked that because I wasn’t sure what an indie writer was before this interview.  I don’t know, when I used to get sick and had to go to the hospital, I would talk to the nurses and share my life with them, and a lot of them would say I should write a book.  I heard that for years and then one day, a quiet voice said, you need to write that book.  So I started writing.  I didn’t have a real plan, I’ve been winging it for real.

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David Carroll

David Carroll has found a way around the boundaries of traditional publishing, going it alone as a self-published indie author. Learn more about his writing and which marketing methods have worked best for him.

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

Princess Nenji is named as the next queen when a dragon hunts down the royal family. But before she can claim her throne, she must resolve the politics about her being a Mage’s apprentice, and embark on a quest to stop the Dragon King from finishing the job. She meets fascinating creatures, and learns a lot about herself along the way.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

The publishing industry has been in chaos since 2009. Very few new authors are given the royal treatment anymore. No one can be “just an author” until they sell enough books to pay someone to do everything else. While distribution methods have been accessible to everyone, and marketing is required of authors whether indie or traditional, it seemed like a good time to go it alone.

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

I have not been traditionally published because the big publishers need me to prove myself first, and the small publishers might not survive long enough to get my books to print.

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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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Jeff Vande Zande

Jeff Vande Zande has had success with small press publishing, an experience which has helped him positively adjust his expectations about success.  Jeff discusses that along with his thoughts on book signings and reaching your target audience.

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

It’s a novel about poetry, Theodore Roethke, fathers and sons, and coming of age in America as an artist.  It’s the story of a young man who comes back to his hometown after an absence, only to find that he hasn’t grown up as much as he thinks.  Denver Hoptner graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in writing poetry.  He returns to his boyhood home in working-class Saginaw, Michigan, and discovers just how little the world of work cares about his degree.  He struggles, too, to come to terms with his widower father.  After he hears that there’s been a fire in the attic of poet Theodore Roethke’s boyhood home, Denver commits himself to saving the historical residence, even when no one else seems to care.  It’s in action that he finds his true poetic self.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I didn’t really have luck with agents.  I received a few letters that said something along the lines of “Beautiful writing, but not sure how to market this.”  In my experiences with smaller presses, I just found that the editors were more interested in the “beautiful” part and didn’t worry so much about the marketing part.  My experiences with small presses have been positive, if not overwhelmingly lucrative.

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

I suppose getting published from a small press is “traditional” publishing, just on a reduced scale.  So, yes, all of my books are traditionally published, but all from small presses.

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Mike Madden

British indie author Mike Madden has written several books in several different genres and finds success and challenges in each one.  He details his success with Amazon’s KDP Select and discusses the other ways he’s marketed his work.

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

Mmm…No1…Cookbook was originally conceived so that I could keep all of my recipes in one place.  I am an avid cook (not chef!), and have around 40 cookbooks, as well as newspaper and magazine cutouts and handwritten recipes handed down from my mum.  This way all of my recipes are in one handy place, on my Kindle, and I can easily take that to the shop as my shopping list.  The recipes can be described as “Every Day Cooking For Every Day Lives”, there’s nothing too fancy in there, and they range from starters and soups, to main meals including lots of curries, and finally desserts and cakes.  I find that television chefs use too many obscure ingredients, and they seem to have every utensil under the sun to aid preparation.  These recipes are essentially very simple, and are presented in an easy step-by-step format.  The book was originally designed for the Kindle, so even in the paperback version there are no pictures, but do you really need to know what Key Lime Pie or vegetable soup look like before cooking it?

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I am only an indie writer because I have not yet been “discovered” by a major publishing house!  Seriously though, I do not choose mainstream formats, preferring instead to challenge the market.  A cookbook on Kindle?  On Amazon.co.uk there are less than 1,000 available compared to 90,000 paper cookbooks.  No market or a gap in the market; I’ll let the market decide.

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

As I mentioned earlier, I do not write in mainstream formats so am unlikely to appeal to a traditional publisher just yet; however, I have had plenty of praise for my writing.  My adult humorous novel Stags! reached number 1 on Amazon’s Free Kindle Humour list, and is currently in 3 Amazon bestseller lists for paid books.

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

Self-publishing is great for getting your work out there quickly and relatively easily, but it is also a great tool for learning.  I knew nothing about fonts until I self-published Stags!, and I knew nothing about Kindles until I started to look at that medium too.  You quickly realize that marketing is the hardest thing in the world, and the realization that no one will buy your book just because you believe in it is a harsh lesson, but one that all indie authors must learn quickly.

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

I have tried book signings; for instance, my children’s picture book Ole And Zac And The Port Of Tumbattle has a pirate theme, so I sat outside a couple of local Tesco supermarkets dressed as a pirate and signed copies.  A book signing for Stags! was featured at the Levenshulme festival, as a result of which I got coverage in The Irish Post.

These are fine for small coverage, and I realized how much fun it can be to dress up as a pirate, but by far the most successful marketing technique has been via KDP Select.  This allows you to offer your book free for up to 5 days every 90 days, but during this time you must push it.  Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Goodreads, anything you can think of.

But it can’t just be a one way thing.  Follow blogs and they will follow back, but you must participate.  Download other free books and engage with other authors.  Contact Pixel Of Ink, Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, and others, and consider a paid promotion which can be done for as little as $29.99.

If you are successful you will get thousands of downloads.  Stags! got around 5,000 in 5 days, and then the fun really starts.  If you have done it right you should continue to push, push, push when it is a paid download again. Stags! hit around 200 paid downloads in the first week and then sales started to taper.  Bear in mind that the more sales you get, the more Amazon will “recommend” your book.

If you can get it into the top 20 in any category this will generate more sales.  When a potential customer looks at a bestseller category the first page has 20 entries.  A few will go to the next page of 20 entries, but after that visitors dwindle.  It’s a bit like getting on the first page for a Google search.

The next phase is to drop the price to less than $1. This hits the bargain promotions and sales will get an uplift. Continue to expand your network, and make use of your free KDP Select days every quarter.  There is no such thing as overnight success.  You have to work at it.

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

I disregarded local newspapers and trying to get book reviews.  There is just simply not enough coverage.  If you have enough friends they will cover the local area for you, and even in your own area, if someone does not know you personally they will not be inclined to buy your book.

7. Which services or vendors do you recommend for the marketing methods you used?

Business cards and flyers are invaluable, but cheap and cheerful will do fine.  Make sure they have your email address on, mobile number if you really must, book details including website and blog details, and Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.  Amazon is king and is a very trusted site.  If your book is on Amazon people trust it.  In terms of internet marketing there are tons of free sites that will push your free days, including Pixel Of Ink, Digital Book Today, etc.

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

It’s all about the marketing.  Apart from your family and friends no one will buy your book – you have to sell it to them. Or get Amazon to sell it for you by exploiting the free KDP Select feature as described.

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

For paperbacks I now exclusively use Createspace.  I have used Fast-Print, but only because Createspace did not support UK distribution.  Now they do.  Createspace is quicker and easier to use, produces a better quality product, and the finished book gives more profit to the author.  The only caveat to this is that the Createspace cover designs are limited, but I would not be surprised to see them expand these in the near future.

10. 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?

Start slowly and dedicate at least an hour per day to it.  Don’t expect it all to happen overnight, and do not disregard any channel.  It is a learning exercise as much as a marketing exercise, and by the time you get to book number 10 you will be well on your way to becoming an expert!

11. What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a sequel to Stags!, the working title of which is Infidelity.  I got some really nice fan mail after my latest marketing exercises, and that prompted me to finally put pen to paper, metaphorically speaking.  I am also looking to produce a book of dark poetry in collaboration with a friend who does some terrific illustrations.  In the pipeline there is the biography of an English rock and roll singer, but he is based in Madrid so there are a few logistical issues with that one!

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

Having launched three books in three very different genres, each one challenging the market in a different way, it would have to be “Laughing in the Face of Tradition”.

13. How can readers learn more about your books?

You can visit my website at michael-madden.co.uk and my blog at mmm-number-1.blogspot.com.

A.D. McLain

A.D. McLain writes across a variety of genres, most notably in paranormal romance, and has seen both the indie and traditional sides of publishing.  She discusses her latest work, Suriax, and explains the variety of direct marketing tools she uses to reach new readers.

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

If it was legal to kill, would you?  Welcome to Suriax, a city where killing is accepted as normal and laws mean everything.  Kern must grapple with questions of morality, destiny and a queen who wants him dead.  Throw in a pact with a god and you have an event that will change the people of Suriax forever.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

I love the freedom to set my own prices, run my own contests and free promotions, design my own cover and have control over when the book is released.  Whether you self-publish or go through a publisher you have to do almost all your own marketing.  The only difference is how much you get paid for your work.

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

I went through publishers and agents for my first two books.  That experience was disappointing.  The marketing my publishers did for me was miniscule, and I was constantly sent emails on how if I just paid them x amount of dollars they would do some additional marketing.  After six years of doing all my own networking and learning everything as I went along, I met other authors who went the self-publishing route.  The free services provided by sites such as Smashwords and Createspace are a far cry from the vanity publishers of the past.  There isn’t as much of a stigma now in self-publishing.  I don’t think I will ever go back to the old way.  I learned a lot from my other publishers, and I don’t regret the experiences, but I am glad I have another option.

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