We love meeting new authors, and it’s our pleasure to introduce another with a bit about her own story, and a recommendation of reading her first two novels: In the Bones and The Legend of Jackson Murphy.
Guest post by author Renee Miller
As I prepare to promote the publication of my second novel, THE LEGEND OF JACKSON MURPHY, I’m making the social media rounds that marketing requires. This involves some guest posts (thank you, by the way for having me) and interviews. For every book we write, authors usually find ourselves answering questions like “Where do you come up with your ideas?” and “Who or what inspired your characters?” My favorite is, “Why did you self-publish?” Or they ask who my publisher is, and I say myself, and then we fall into awkward silence.
Self-publishing was not a decision I made lightly. I kind of went into it kicking and screaming. My ultimate goal is to publish my work with a traditional publisher, but today’s industry is changing rapidly and if you want to stay in the game, you have to keep up. Publishing your own books is not an easy task, not if you’re doing it right. You’re the editor, publisher, marketing guru, and pretty much everything. You’re all of it. This requires a lot of time and energy, and if it bombs, it’s all on you. That’s a lot of pressure and it’s exhausting. I don’t recommend it if you can avoid it, but as I said, the publishing industry is changing, so self-publishing is now a tool for new authors. It’s something I had to try.
For several years now I’ve written, queried, built my “platform” and got nowhere. I’ve had requests for partials and full manuscripts from agents and a couple of publishers, but in the end, it didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped for various reasons. Now I have a stack of manuscripts pretty much ready to go (I’ll admit, all of them could use a professional edit or two before publication), but nothing else. Sure, I have publishing credits. I write for a living, so my name is all over the Internet if you read online news/content sites. But these weren’t what publishers wanted to see, I guess. So there I was.
Then I read an article, and I can’t recall where it was I read it, about the hybrid model. Indie authors choosing to self-publish to create a bit of buzz so that publishers would have proof they weren’t a risk. Interesting, I thought. I read more articles, some by self-published authors who would never go to a publisher, others by authors already published traditionally who took the indie route for off-genre titles or backlists, and a few by authors hoping to “get noticed.”
Realistically, self-publishing alone won’t get a girl noticed. Not unless you hit that lucky spot where you sell a bazillion copies and force everyone to notice you. Not likely to happen. I believe my writing is good, my characters are relatable and that I can build a base of readers that will buy future books based on the ones I have out there now. My plan is to take that reader base to a publisher eventually. I’m not going to wait to be discovered, because I don’t live in La-La Land.
So far I’ve had fantastic results with self-publishing. By fantastic, I don’t mean I’m making a ton of money. I’m selling far more books than I expected. Locally (by locally I mean Tweed, ON and surrounding area), I’m closing in on 300 books sold (combined sales of 2 books) in local stores since March, 2013. I went into this believing I’d be lucky to break 100 books, so that makes me very happy. The feedback from readers is positive as well. They enjoy my characters and the plots keep them turning the page, which any writer wants to hear.
I could probably sell more books if I tweeted links and did the blog rounds, but my marketing plan isn’t to plaster myself everywhere. Maybe that’s a mistake, but I won’t annoy people into buying my books. I see authors tweeting links to their books constantly on Twitter. My feed is full of such tweets. Probably 3 out of every 5 tweets is “Buy my book!” That’s not the way to market, in my opinion.
My marketing plan is to be present and noticeable, but not just for my books. As a reader, I love authors who get in there as real people. They interact and make you laugh, cry, or whatever, and it’s not all about the books or the writing. Chuck Wendig and Christopher Moore are perfect examples of brilliant marketing. Yes, they promote their books, but if you follow either on Facebook or Twitter, you’re going to be entertained and informed. This is what I want to do. Have I succeeded? Um…not just yet. These guys are funny and damn smart. I need to work on one of those, possibly both.
When I sat down to determine how I’d market THE LEGEND OF JACKSON MURPHY, I chose to be low-key. I didn’t do the blog tour, because I’ve done that once. It felt hokey and weird to pay someone to organize readers and reviews. It feels dirty. Anyway, the character of Jackson Murphy almost markets himself. He’s an asshole. He’s a jerk and a lot of other things we don’t like. But he’s also got a bit of everyone inside his brain. He does and says the things we might want to do and say, but we refrain from acting on the temptation because of the consequences.
Instead of asking folks to read this book, I’m daring them. Some people can say no to a dare, but those people are missing out. Ahem, in my opinion, of course.