Within the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.
All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with fellow author, Melanie Rose. Have a look at her profile and books here.
Last summer she shaved her head to celebrate ten years as a cancer survivor…thus the bald author photo.
Part 2 : How Melanie Promotes herself
What ways do you promote yourself online? I have a website, a Facebook fan page, and a blog, though I don’t write on my blog as often as I should. I started out blogging about twice a week, then it declined. Now I blog about once a month…maybe. I’d like to get back to maybe once a week. I do interviews (like this one, yay!) and some giveaways. Promotion is always a bit of a struggle for me. I would love to be the classic reclusive writer, but that’s really not an option any more as it’s become imperative for writer’s to market their own work, so I do the best I can. There are so many opportunities to promote yourself online, some more effective than others, and it would be very easy to spend all your time on promotion, in which case the books would never get written. It’s a delicate balance. Unless I have some important piece of promotion coming up with a specific deadline, I always start the day with writing. If the writing goes well, I don’t stop. If it goes poorly, I make myself try anyway for a few hours…then I work on promotion. It really takes a back seat to the writing. I know it’s different for every writer, but that’s how it works for me.
What offline promotion do you take part in? I take part in some signing events, as well as hosting book launches at a local coffee shop when I have new releases. Last year I had a very successful holiday signing party in early December…perfect timing for people doing their holiday shopping. I’ve also visited some local schools. It doesn’t always result in many sales, but it’s very rewarding to speak with the students and answer questions.
How did you publish yourself? I publish my paperbacks through Createspace, and go through KDP, NOOK Press, and Kobo directly for ebooks. I tried Smashwords for a while, but we didn’t get along too well. It’s nice to see so many platforms opening up which allow authors to publish directly, without the need for a middle-man.
What made you decide to publish independently? It was at a writer’s conference in Seattle, and I had met with an agent. Five minutes, one-on-one. She asked who my influences were, and I mentioned several authors, one of them being George Eliot. Her response was, “Well, that’s not the thing to say to me, because I hate George Eliot.”
That was the moment when It was really brought home to me how subjective the entire publishing industry is, how much it is based on the personal tastes and opinions of a few people. Before indie publishing started to catch on, as a reader you were only getting a small sampling of all the stories written, filtered through a sieve of personal opinion. With indie books, there is no filter between author and reader, and there is no publisher trying to sell a specified number of books. It used to cost a lot of money to self-publish, but it doesn’t any more, which means you can afford to take risks, and the readers will find you. Whatever story you have to tell, it is written to speak to someone. Now, that someone can find your book. You might not sell thousands of copies, but, hey, it’s out there, and you’re not responsible for filling anyone else’s quota.
Do you think that Indie Authors are still looked down on by their traditionally published counterparts? A little. There is definitely still a stigma, though it’s not as powerful as it used to be. Self-publishing is still seen by some as “vanity publishing,” or the easy way out, as poorly edited and badly written in general. I think it’s up to us to change that stereotype by turning out the best work we can. It’s a challenge. Though I don’t hire an editor to go over my work, it always passes through the hands of at least five people before I consider it ready to go. I know there are some writers who claim you should never publish without a professional editor, but some of us just can’t afford one, and then the key is to know your friends’ strengths and be willing to accept their criticism. For instance, some friends are very good at seeing the narrative as a whole, at telling you when something doesn’t connect, or maybe you thought you explained something but you really didn’t and it was all in your head. They make great beta-readers. Another friend is a genius when it comes to finding little things like typos or missing punctuation. She’s the friend who, when you go out to lunch, entertains herself by finding errors in the menu, and she makes a fantastic copy-editor. Add to that a retired English teacher, my songwriting husband, and a woman who writes literature curriculum, and you have my editing team. They’re wonderful.
Is there a place for the traditional publishers anymore? I think there still can be, but things will have to be completely restructured. I’m somewhat old-fashioned, and it took a long time for me to be won over to indie publishing at first. I think there’s a lot to be said for the old system, especially in terms of marketing capabilities and connections, but I think there are some fundamental changes that would need to be made.
What’s your top tips for aspiring authors? Flee formula. Embrace insanity. Write honestly.