I have been all over the map as far as genres go. My first book was a humorous travel book/memoir about a backpacking trip through Europe. My second book was also a memoir, but more serious. After that I published a book that was made up entirely of dreams I’d had, a book of political satire from various websites I have written for and then an original screenplay. Just recently I published a book of photography from my European trips, two books of cartoons from a weekly comic I do for a newspaper and my latest book is a humorous memoir of the fifty million jobs I’ve had over the last one hundred and twenty five years. Coming soon, my first literary fiction novel. I also have some books in my head for children, a possible guide of how to survive Zombies and for all we know, a cookbook or two. Apparently, no genre is safe when I’m around.
Were there difficulties in promoting your books?
I think the biggest problem is not just getting your book known to people who like to read, but convincing them to take a chance on an author they have never heard of. My first book was published by a 'publisher who will remain nameless', a huge mistake on my part. They priced it too high, did little-to-no marketing on it and I lost the copyright for 7 years. Since then, I have self-published mostly using Createspace on Amazon. Through the years I found the quickest way to get noticed is to make your book virtually free, because then people are willing to take the chance on it, but that often doesn’t do much for the ego. Somewhere along the line it seems like independent authors have been given the choice of either not being read, or being read, but only if you’re willing to become a not-for-profit writer.
What are the main methods and ways you follow to spread the word about your books?
I find my greatest marketing tools are those people who either like my books, or like my parents, are tired of me borrowing money from them. After an email to friends and family, I then like to post it on my Facebook wall and my Facebook Author Page (Author Vincent Yanez) and ask people to please share with their reader friends. I then go to various pages for eReaders, book lovers, authors, etc and start posting that my book is out. I have found that sites like humanmade, net, goodreads and iauthor have also been great ways to reach a reading audience. I also like to send a press release to my local paper. Luckily, I come from a very small town, so ‘local author publishes book’ tends to get some attention. I also just started a Twitter account, (which I still don’t understand why it exists), but I go along with it anyway.
Do you have a certain routine you follow, for example, daily things to do for that purpose?
Every morning I wake up and spin around three times, all while singing the theme song to The Greatest American Hero. Not really, that would just be weird. Mainly, I try to treat writing like a job. First, I make myself leave the house. I usually have specific places I like to write, either a library or a café, somewhere I can focus when I need to and be distracted if I choose to. I make myself do at least one thing before I can go home, whether it’s writing, researching or editing something I’ve already written. If the day is ending and I honestly don’t feel I did one thing to work toward my goal of being able to call myself a ‘serious writer’, then that day was a waste. I also find that working on more than one thing helps. I will often find myself stuck, or just not in the mood, concerning a specific story. I make sure I have other things to work on. For instance, right now I’m editing a book I have just written, I have two more books I’m in the middle of writing, I am also working on a book of poetry, a children’s book and I have a list of ideas for a memoir that have been floating around in my head. This keeps me from blaming a wasted day on writer’s block.
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 don’t spend too much time on promotion. I put my posts on my Facebook page, my author page and various Facebook pages that readers go to. I update my website (TheMessyGlory.com). I send out some tweets, update my author pages on sites like humanmade and goodreads and then get busy writing. I would say I probably spend about 20% of my time promoting, 50% writing and 30% playing Angry Birds and Words with Friends when I’m supposed to be writing.
When I published my first book we had over 10,000 people, on 13 different websites, following my weekly travel stories that we eventually put into a book. When the book came out, those people didn’t come out in droves to buy it, despite all the promotion I did. My second book, Einstein’s Shutter, I just put it out there and didn’t really think about it. It got picked up by bloggers, reviewers and book clubs and eventually the word-of-mouth equaled over 26,000 downloads on Amazon alone. It became clear to me that you can spend time promoting, but at the end of the day, you can’t sell a book no one wants to read – so I focus more on the writing, I do a little promotion, then I move on to the next thing. I guess you can say I leave it up to the Book Gods, in a lot of ways.
To what extent you feel you were successful?
My greatest success in writing, up to this point, was the book I did no promotion on and just let it be. That book reached the top 25 in Amazon Kindle for most reviews and the top 20 for highest reviews, and every email and review I received about it praised the way the story was written. So to me, success is about how well I tell the story and if that story was something that sparked someone to tell their friend, you need to read this! That book was Einstein’s Shutter.
Since that book I’ve had, what I would call, mediocre success in book sales – but to be honest, I think it has less to do with the publicity and more to do with the work I was putting out. I truly believe good writing will always, and should always, be the mainstay of any bestseller. Of course, we all know that’s not true with some of the books we see on the bestseller list these days, but unless you have your own reality show, ran for President or have committed a sensational crime in this country, getting your book read by a wider audience is going to have to include some decent writing.
For me, success is going to be about if I put out the best book I was able. Our society ties ‘success’ too much with ‘popularity’ and ‘money’ – even though time and again we’ve been shown that those people who have the greatest impact on our lives (Buddha, Jesus, Mother Theresa, Gandhi), and even that fourth grade teacher or favorite Uncle who may have changed everything for us - those are the people who we look to and think, ‘they were successful.’ From Einstein’s Shutter I have received so many emails from people who say that book helped them get over a relationship, the death of a friend or just helped them concerning their spirituality in some way – no amount of money could replace what it feels like to know that some simple words, arranged on a page, somehow helped another human being in this crazy world of ours. That’s the success I think we all need to strive for.
Do you use social networking sites? And can you consider it primary for you in promotion?
I do almost 100% through social networking, so I consider it the most important thing about writing, especially since Indie Authors can’t really find a way into the bookstores, best-seller lists and usually can’t afford advertising costs in America. We’ve become a country connected by our computers and phones, so finding some way into that realm, be it an author page or making your book available for download, it’s an inevitable way to get your things read in this day and age.
What are your recommendations for people who share the same talent with you?
Seek therapy. After that, just keep writing. When I had 3 books out a friend asked me if I was still writing, I said I had about 6 more books in my head, but what was the point since those 3 books weren’t really doing anything impressive, sales-wise. She wisely said, but if you put out 3 more you have doubled your chances of being discovered, read or even published. If you put out all 6, you’ve not tripled your chances, right? And she was right. So I just keep writing, keep putting them out there and assume that someday the flood of adoration will start or the well will just run dry, either way, I did my best and will always be proud of that. So keep writing. And seriously, get some therapy.
Any final words regarding promotion for authors?
I still send query letters to literary agents once in a while. I still send stories to contests just to see if, by chance, I can get any free advertising that way if I win– but at the end of the day you just have to accept the fact that you are either a writer because you want the fame and the money, or you are a writer because you can’t imagine not writing in your life – and if you find out it’s the latter, then just write, and let the other stuff take care of itself. I think you need to make the efforts to get your book out there as much as possible, Facebook, Twitter, Websites, etc…but all the promotion in the world doesn’t make a book readable, and I have found out, a well-written book is actually the best way to promote yourself. And if you have writer friends who are struggling, or know of an indie author who you like, there is nothing wrong with doing a little self-promotion for each other – ever notice how a new book will have comments by established authors? There is a reason they do that, because it taps into an already established group of readers, who are always looking for their next fix. Writers need to stop thinking we are all competing with each other, because we’re not. We each have a small fan base, but if we would just learn to combine those fans and work together, we could do some real damage in the world of book lovers. And on a final note, my website is called TheMessyGlory.com - just to stick a little self-promotion to the end of this interview. =)
humanmade.net would like to thank Vincent Yanez for taking the time to share with us these valuable information, insights and experience about promoting his writings.