I write speculative fiction. This crosses into various genres, including horror (of the spooky rather than gory variety), romance, historical fiction and science fiction.
How did you get published and why did you choose this publication route?
My early books and most of the subsequent ones were published by Melange Books, a small press publishing house which is one of the few prepared to look at unpublished authors. I found them through The Passionate Pen, which was then an essential website for authors seeking publication. They listed all the good guys – the ones who pay you rather than the other way round – publishers and agents. The site is now in semi-abeyance but one valiant follower is doing his best to keep it up-to-date here:- http://www.killerbookmarketing.com/passionate-pen/ This site certainly helped me avoid some of the nastiest pitfalls.
At that time I never considered independent publishing, as I assumed it would be difficult and very expensive.
Having discovered I was wrong on both counts I now publish all new works independently. It gives the author complete control and a much higher percentage of the profits.
Were there difficulties in promoting your books?
I was horrified to discover I had to promote my own books. I always assumed the publisher would do it. They don’t, by the way- not even the major houses. Publishers only promote a book they believe is a bestseller, i.e. by an author who is already a bestseller or by a celebrity.
Promotion is mind-destroying. I presently spend far more time promoting than actually writing. Nothing is guaranteed but I can assure you that there is absolutely no point in paying for advertising. People buy books through personal recommendation. You need to get people talking about your books.
So, what are the main methods and ways you follow to spread the word about your books?
I use social networking sites and every so often do a free download on one of my independently published books, then promote the download everywhere I can. This usually results in a rise in sales for all my books.
Do you have a certain routine you follow, for example, daily things to do for that purpose?
Since I find I am spending all my time promoting, I have just introduced a new regime – today. From now on I shall only promote on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and dedicate the other days exclusively to writing. Well, I’ve written 2,000 words today so far. So far, so good.
How much of your time did you spend to promote your books and how much time for writing? and do you think that the efforts you spend in spreading the word about your books takes you from your passion for writing?
I have been spending several hours a day promoting and sometimes going for days on end without writing at all. It certainly does take me away from the whole purpose of writing in the first place. But, as I said, I’m going to change all that.
Do you think that cover design plays a major role in promoting a book?
I think it’s very important. When I am choosing a book, I first look for the author’s name – is it someone I have read before and enjoyed, or who has been recommended to me?
Then the title and then the cover. The cover must convey what the book is about and must stand out as a thumbnail. I NEVER buy a book with a half-naked couple on the front. They all look exactly the same.
Do you pay or hire the editorial and cover design services, or do you try to do it all?
I pay professionals. I don’t care how good you are. Nobody should attempt to edit their own work. I use Emily Eva Editing for editing and proof-reading: http://emilyevaediting.weebly.com/ She catches everything and does not attempt to re-write your book in her own style. I used to have constant battles with editors at my publishers who used to actually introduce grammatical errors!
Neither of the above are expensive.
To what extent you feel you were successful?
I think the two books I have produced independently are extremely professionally-presented, which was my most important criterion. I do feel, however, that I chose the wrong title for ‘Mantequero’. It doesn’t mean anything to most people. My other independent book, ‘Away With the Fairies’ outsells it by five to one, although the story in Mantequero is probably more commercially viable.
Do you use social media? And can you consider it primary for you in promotion?
I use Twitter a great deal and Facebook to some extent. I used to use Yahoo groups but they changed their format and are now so cumbersome to use that I’ve more or less abandoned them. Since I won’t pay for advertising, Twitter and Facebook are my primary source, although I do a fair bit of blogging on other people’s sites.
Any specific tips for using social media (i.e. twitter, facebook) more effectively?
I’m still working on it.
What are your recommendations for people who share the same passion with you?
I haven`t yet found a sure-fire way of promoting, so I don’t really feel I’m in a position to make recommendations.
Any final words regarding promotion for authors?
I’m really not the person to ask. I think you should ask Stephen King.
humanmade.net would like to thank Jenny Twist for taking the time to share with us these valuable information, insights and experience in promoting her writings.