It was fun, Kim. Thanks.
Self publishing is one of those territories that I always looked at with curiosity and bit of fear until I met Joylene!! She made everything clear for me and now Self publishing isn’t so scary. Thanks, Joylene, for a wonderful and cool interview!!
1) Why did you choose self-publishing instead of ebooks or traditional publishing?
A writer-friend suggested I print a copy of Dead Witness for Lulu as a keepsake. When my book arrived, my family was so excited that they talked me into printing more. I decided on 100 because I thought that would cover friends and family. When they sold the first week, I ordered 125 more. They sold within the month. One day, a provincial chain-store called, said they loved my book and would I consider stocking their shelves. I said, "Thank you so much, but I haven't anymore, and they're too expensive to print." They suggested I call Sandhill Book Distributors. I did, and the owner said she'd need to read the book before making a decision. A few weeks later, I signed a contract. The owner, Nancy Wise suggested I contact Hignell Book Printers in Manitoba. I did. We made a deal and I had 1000 copies printed and shipped to Sandhill.
2) What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The pros are that you have total control over every aspect of your book from the context to the cover. The cons are it's expensive. You pay for everything. Did I mention how expensive it is to ship books? There's nobody to help market your book, and most stores won't work with a self-published author. Everything is your responsibility. If your book fails, it fails because you didn't do your job.
3) How does one pick a good self-publisher and what makes a good self-publisher?
You definitely have to do your homework. Compare prices. Read the fine print. Ask other self-published authors. Will the company help distribute? Will they provide advertising? What do they offer in the way of marketing? Compare. Never ever choose the first one you see. Reputation means everything. You have to deal with bookstores and retail people in a professional manner. You have to believe in your product. Stores want to know that your product is good and that they won't be wasting their time or space stocking their shelves.
4) How much should one pay for a self-publisher?
In Canada, the average rate is $3.00 per book per 1000. That doesn't include shipping. To cut costs, the more you print, the more you save. I've heard of places in America that are as little as $2.25 per book.
5) How do you market your books?
Hopefully, you won't rush into like I did, but will plan ahead, at least six months. Have your book edited by a professional editor. Prepare media releases, find book reviewers, contact libraries, bookstores, retailers. Print out bookmarks, posters, and postcards. Make a list of outlets that would love to sell your product. Build a blog, webpage and networking community. Set up interviews closer to your release date. Contact bookstores and made bookings. Join your local Friends of the Library. Join as many online marketing sites as possible. There are experts everywhere willing to teach you their secrets. Take them up on it. Pay for a professional book trailer.
6) Do you have any secrets to marketing that you’d want to share?
Luckily, with today's technology, there are no secrets. At least, I haven't found any. Believe in your book. Be prepared to sell yourself. Remember that everything you do online is out there for the world to see. Agents and publishers do look at author pages. They're searching for the next J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and J.R.R Tolkien. Make your presence known.
7) What mistakes did you make that you want to warn others about regarding the self-publishing world?
I didn't prepare for publication properly. I didn't market myself beforehand. I had no idea how much time, money and effort was involved. I didn't know the market, nor did I understand what it means to promote my work. I had no idea that it would take 80 hours a week, then several more hours on top of that.
8) What is the process for publishing a self-published book?
Okay, your book is ready. It's gone through several online writer workshops. It's been critiqued by the best writers you could find. It's been edited by a professional editor. Start marketing yourself online. Build a credible blog. Make your presence known on Facebook, Gather, Book Place and anywhere else that you believe counts. Prepare your synopsis, query package, and marketing kit. Join blogs like Janet Reid, Literary Agent, ProBlogger Blog Tips, Jordan McCollum, and Write to Done. These people have invaluable tips to share; take advantage of them. Make sure your book is format-perfect. Make your cover standout. Perfect your backcover blurb. Have your picture done by a professional. This is about making you a real person to your reader, not just a name. Borrow marketing books from your nearest library. Find reviewers to review your book before it comes out. Consider providing books on tape. Have a professional book trailer made. After your book is printed, you'll have to distribute it, so find a distributer. Contact radio and newspaper. Set up a virtual book tour. And don't forget to take a multi-vitamin at least six months in advance. You'll need it.
9) What do you say to others who may poo-poo the self-publishing process?
Self-published authors aren't any different than traditionally published authors. Some are outstanding, some are good, while some are mediocre and even terrible. But you can't judge a book by its cover or by who published it. If an author does all of the above, then it shouldn't matter who published the book. It should be graded on content.
10) What kind of success have you had with self-publishing?
When the provincial chainstore Save On Foods called and asked if they could stock my book, it made all the difference in the world. It was their recommendation to Sandhill Books that prompted Sandhill to connect me with Hignell Printers, and that led to Canada's chainstore Chapters.Indigo. All of this gave me credibility when I approached independent bookstores like Books and Company and Black Bond Books. I made a connection with the local radio station and read during their storytellers segment every Monday for months. And when Sandhill recommended me to Theytus, that lead to me signing a contract for Theytus to publish my second novel Broken But Not Dead in 2011. This is a relatively small success in the publishing industry, but I'm thrilled.
11) Would you do self-publishing again? Why?
No. It's expensive no matter how experienced you are. Sure I could probably cut costs this time, but honestly, it's easier with the help of a publisher, no matter how small. But I've got friends who wouldn't do it any other way.
12) Go ahead and promote your books any way you wish.
Thanks. Dead Witness is available at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Books and Company, and Black Bond Books. Not to mention Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.
Synopsis of Dead Witness, ISBN: 97809810305009000
Valerie McCormick is a wife and mother from small town Canada. While visiting Seattle, she becomes the only witness to the brutal seaside murder of two FBI agents. When she flees to the nearest police station to report the crime, she becomes caught up in a web of international intrigue and danger. Suddenly, she and her family are in the sights of ruthless criminals bent on preventing her from testifying against the murderer. Even with FBI protection, Valerie is not safe. Whisked away from her family and all that is familiar to her, Valerie fights back against the well-intentioned FBI to ultimately take control over her life with every ounce of fury a mother can possess.