Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald has been writing in a variety of formats for years, and has enjoyed the self-publishing process. Find out why she likes the free promotions on Amazon’s KDP Select, and which vendors she chooses for her marketing.

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

Have you ever noticed that two people can be faced with the same crisis and while one becomes hopelessly mired in a web of negativity and feelings of helplessness, the other is able to overcome adversity and bounce back stronger than ever?

The hard truth is that from time to time we are all going to stumble; encounter unexpected detours, and fail. No matter how much we try to outrun or sidestep adversity, it is going to happen. So the real question then becomes not how to avoid obstacles, but how to use them to our advantage.

By choosing to look at all experiences as opportunities for growth and greater long-term resilience, we are able to approach life on a whole new level and embrace our experiences with much more enthusiasm. Adversity can present us with the opportunity to realign ourselves with what is really important in our lives and in the process strengthen confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

The good news is that research has proven that resilience is not a genetic gift for the lucky few. It is a set of skills that can be practiced and mastered over time and Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience is a self-directed learning guide that shows the way.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I’d have to say I was technically an “indie writer” long before the term was coined. I live on a small island so it’s natural to end up a sort of jack of all trades. In every job and volunteer position I’ve ever held I’ve ended up as the official scribe and written everything from materials for fundraising to scripts for travel industry promotional films and public relations kits, to marketing materials for the local arts and cultural center. I even co-authored a native Hawaiian cookbook for a local nonprofit. So I was already comfortable with the role of an independent writer when I began blogging a couple of years ago and over time that naturally evolved into my first book.

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

To be honest I never considered approaching a traditional publisher. What I find most appealing about self-publishing, particularly in a digital format, is having the ability to try new things and control the process, which suits my independent and creative nature.

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

Overall I love it. Of course with anything in life there are pros and cons and this is no different. I had no clue what I was doing when I started, so I faced a huge learning curve. Fortunately I’m not shy about asking questions or trying new things and I have learned to define my occasional stumbles as ‘growth’ opportunities.

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

While I don’t view it as a long-term strategy, I am a big fan of Amazon’s KDP program as an opportunity for new authors to get their work into the hands of large numbers of readers. I know there are a lot of people who view the ‘free’ promotions as a negative, but my experience has been that my sales spike sharply right after a free day, so for me it’s worked well.

My blog has been a very important tool as well. I’d already been blogging for a couple of years and had a good size following before I published my first book, so there’s been a lot of support there.

Otherwise I’ve found author communities to be incredibly supportive. Most authors are very generous with advice and cross promoting on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

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

Living on a small island tends to automatically eliminate a few of the traditional promotional activities. For example there is only one bookstore here, it’s on the other end of the island and I’ve never known them to host author readings or book signings.

I have listed my books in quite a few directories, as well as sites such as Goodreads, but don’t invest a lot of time attempting to pursue readers on these sites. It’s not that I don’t see the value of every single reader, it’s that you have to draw the line somewhere or you’ll end up spending more time promoting than writing.

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

I don’t do a lot of direct mail because of the expense, but I do think it’s important to have a quality business card and media kit. For business cards and postcards, actually any business materials, I go with Vista Print. Their prices and service are excellent, but what I also like is how user friendly their platform is when it comes to customizing your materials. As a hands-on artist that is very import to me.

Another vendor I love and have used for years is Zazzle to create promotional materials like logo pins and t-shirts and you can customize pretty much every item they carry. Again the service and pricing are terrific, but the best thing is that unlike most promotional outlets they do not require bulk purchases. So let’s say you have a special event coming up and you want to create a logo pin or t-shirt promoting your book just for you to wear, you can do that!

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

It was quite an eye opener to learn how many professionals continue to only review books that have been published traditionally. As if that weren’t challenge enough, I’ve also learned just how tough it can be to get professional reviews for nonfiction books. I had no idea there were so many reviewers who will only review fiction.

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

I now have a far better understanding of the value of creating a ‘launch event.’ I’ll be publishing my third book in a couple of weeks and I’m doing a lot more advance work like building an ‘interest’ list, working with affiliates and offering special bonuses for the launch. I’ll keep trying new things and evolving the process with each new publication.

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?

Take a deep breath and plan for the long haul. Don’t believe the people who tell you you’ll never make a dime, or the people who try to sell you a formula to make an ‘easy’ bundle. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, just don’t repeat them. And, most important of all, write more than you promote. It’s very easy to get caught up in the promotion of your current book and let days and weeks go by without writing a word. Whatever you do, keep writing.

11. What are you currently working on?

The name of my new book is It’s Your Time Now – A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

Most people are familiar with the term ‘life design’ but few people really understand what that really means, or where to begin to live life intentionally when you’re already up to your eyeballs in life and responsibilities. This book is a guide to bring into focus the steps to begin the journey to mastering your life by design.

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?

Life doesn’t get easier – we get better.

13. How can readers learn more about your books?

Either at my blog, IGG – Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas, or my new Facebook page, Living Your Life by Design. Both sites include links to download a free chapter and to the product pages at Amazon.

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Diana Nixon

Belarusian author Diana Nixon has realized numerous benefits with self-publishing and has begun her own fantasy book series.  Learn more about the sites she uses to promote her work and the one thing any author needs to ensure quality writing.

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

The name of the book is Love lines.  It’s the first book of a fantasy series under the same title.  It shows the inner world of supernatural beings, their talents and powers.  Love lines is a story about beautiful love and true friendship. It’s a book for all ages with some humor and complicated relationship.

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

I’m a self-published author and I’ve never published my books traditionally.  Before publishing my first book I read a lot of blogs discussing the advantages and the disadvantages of self-publishing.  The control over the process was the main thing that made me choose self-publishing.  I can create covers I like, I don’t have to make changes about the book which I wouldn’t like, and I can choose marketing techniques I’m sure will be successful.  And finally, I want to be sure I have done everything possible and maybe even impossible to promote and sell my book, as sometimes the authors are not satisfied with the same work most publisher do.  I know how I want things to be done and I’m sure no one else can do them better than I do.

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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.

K. Ford K.

K. Ford K. went from freelance writing to indie publishing, finding frustration along the way with traditional publishers.  Now enjoying the freedom of self-publishing, K. discusses the varied tools she uses to reach readers.

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

What if a timid, sexually-inhibited woman suddenly developed the psychic ability to see what everyone else needed to be blissfully happy in bed?  And what if she started blurting out sexual advice against her will?  That thought was the seed for my new novel, The Concubine’s Gift, and the poor, long-suffering character of Bernice Babbitt was born.

2. Why did you become an indie writer?

I became an indie author by choice.  I was a freelance writer, publishing articles and short stories in newspapers and magazines and had several near misses with major publishing houses.  Many times they decided to publish my novels and then changed their minds at the last minute.  I was starting to feel like I was in an abusive relationship.  Editors told me they loved my work; I cozied up to them and then they slapped me with a rejection. After awhile I was back and the same thing happened all over again.  ‘Indie-authorhood’ has been wonderful.  I love being in charge of my own career and being able to make all the editorial and marketing decisions about my novels.  I’ve been lucky in that readers have been very supportive.

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

Some of the marketing techniques that have been the most successful were getting book bloggers to review my book and being active on the Goodreads site.  I have hosted lots of book giveaways and those are always fun.

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

I have my novel listed on Amazon’s KDP Select.  The best thing is the free days of promotion but I think I will discontinue after one more month so that I can list the book on other sites such as Smashwords.

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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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KWB named 2012 Goodreads IBBA Finalist

My blog has been named a finalist in the 2012 Goodreads Independent Book Bloggers Awards.  The list of winners and finalists can be found here.  If you voted for my blog and/or asked others to vote, thank you for your support!

-Kris

Una Tiers

Una Tiers took a run-in with the law and turned it into a book, uniquely using the experience to relieve stress.  Here, she offers numerous marketing suggestions in varying media and explains her take on the publishing industry.

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

Judge vs. Nuts is about a lawyer, a goldfish and a dead judge.  It explores Chicago and murder.  It will make you laugh.  I think you will like my characters, puns and self-effacing remarks.

2. What motivated you to become an indie writer?

Honestly, a judge tried to arrest me and I eliminated my stress by murdering him (on paper).  Occasionally I added to the details, adding more victims as warranted.  Pretty soon I discovered mysteries outside of Sherlock Holmes and the result was Judge vs. Nuts.  Book signings became a hobby and I learned something at each one.

3. What is your opinion of the future of publishing?

Self-publishing has clearly rocked the publishing industry to its foundation.  It presents many opportunities for new authors.  My Kindle is packed with new authors and those without big exposure and I love what I am reading.  It isn’t pushed into what the big houses feel will sell.

E-books are here to stay, without a question.  I think they will exist companionably with print books.  The combination of e-books and self-publishing opportunities is also changing the publishing world and making it attainable to make your dream of writing a book come true.

At the Chicago Tribune book festival last year, e-books were almost ignored.  People toted around huge bags of paper books.  I don’t expect that to change but what an opportunity we have with the electronic options.

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