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 http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/MLouisaLocke_photo2_m.jpgM. Louisa Locke was on a 20-year quest to publish her Victorian mystery series. She finally found the avenue to get her books out into the world when she discovered independent publishing. By combining strategic marketing techniques with good storytelling and word-of-mouth, Louisa has gained fans and increased her book sales exponentially each year. Here, she shares the story of her publishing success and provides tips for her fellow indie authors.


Tell us about your book.

I have published 3 novels and 2 short stories in my ongoing series of mysteries set in Victorian San Francisco. I came up with the idea for the plot for the first book, Maids of Misfortune, more than 30 years ago while researching my doctoral dissertation on working women in western urban areas at the end of the 19th century. As I read a diary by a San Francisco live-in domestic servant of that period, I came up with the idea of a locked-door mystery. Ten years later, between my first teaching jobs, I decided to write the story. My protagonist, Annie Fuller, is a young widow who runs a boarding house and supplements that income as a fortune-teller. In Maids of Misfortune, she goes undercover as a domestic servant to investigate a crime. In the second book, Uneasy Spirits, she investigates fraudulent trance mediums, and in the most recent book, Bloody Lessons, Annie discovers who is sending poison pen letters about school teachers.


Care to share your author bio?

I knew from the age of 12 that I wanted to write historical fiction, but I assumed I would need a day job. When I graduated from college in the early 1970s, I decided to get a doctorate in history and become a college professor. I taught U.S. and U.S. women's history at San Diego Mesa College for more than 20 years. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my career, I continued to work on the draft of the historical mystery I had written years earlier.


In December 2009, after having semi-retired from teaching, I published that book in print with CreateSpace and as an eBook with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Within a year, I was selling enough copies of Maids of Misfortune to retire completely from teaching and write and market full-time. I write frequently about my self-publishing journey and successful marketing strategies on my blog, and I am on the board of directors of the Historical Fiction Authors Cooperative. I live in San Diego with my husband while I work on the fourth book in my series.


How did you come to independent publishing?

When I wrote the first draft of Maids of Misfortune in 1989, I immediately got an agent. However, the consistent response by editors was that they weren't sure how strong the historical mystery market was. Of course, the market would prove very robust in the next decades. Then, in 2001 I entered into a three-year contract with a small press, but they didn't come through on their promises and never sold a single copy of my book.


I knew my book had potential, but I had become increasingly frustrated by my attempts to go the traditional route to publication. I belonged to a writers group, and over the 20 years the group had been together, I had watched as friends who had been successful mid-list authors in the 1990s found their backlists out-of-print and their new books rejected by their editors and agents. That's when I began to do research into indie publishing.


I attended a conference in 2009 where agents and publishers spoke about advances for new authors of genre books being less than $5000, that their policy was to delay releasing eBook editions for at least a year after the print editions were published, and that at the very minimum it would take 18 months for a book that was accepted to actually make it into print. This contrasted with the exciting new possibilities about independent publishing being discussed online. The entrenched attitudes I encountered were so stark that I returned home and made my decision to self-publish Maids of Misfortune. Life was too short and I was too old to wait for traditional publishing to catch up with the changes that I, for one, could see were coming to the industry. Best decision I ever made.


What brought you to CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?

I was committed to doing everything myself (only spending money for a professionally designed cover), and the instructions for CreateSpace and KDP were straight-forward. When KDP offered the 70% royalty split, my royalties increased dramatically, and I was delighted to get a steady monthly income. The development of the KDP Select program has probably been the most important tool for indie authors, as it can raise a book's visibility.


I think the best thing about Amazon's publishing platforms is that they are steadily improving. With my most recent book, I was particularly impressed by the book previewer. I also love that when I make changes to a book's price, keywords, product description, and so forth that the change happens quickly and the book continues to be available for sale.


Tell us about your marketing efforts. How did you get the word out about your book?

I used Twitter, my Facebook author page, and my blog to announce the availability of my latest book, Bloody Lessons. I put the print copy of the book up as a giveaway on Goodreads. I sent out an email to all the fans who contacted me over the past three years and told them the book was now available and asked them to sign up for my newsletter. I also contacted professinal review bloggers who had reviewed my previous books and offered to send them copies. I ended up with solid, professional reviews and have gotten many more positive customer reviews on Amazon.com, which I know will continue to help sell the book.

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On the day of the launch, I made the first book in the series, Maids of Misfortune, free for three days via KDP Select and discounted the sequel, Uneasy Spirits, to 99 cents for a week. By combining these promotions, I was able to point out that a reader could get all three eBooks in the series for under $5, knowing that this would attract readers who had not yet heard of the series. In the first two weeks of publication, I held a contest on my Facebook author page where I gave away $5 Amazon gift certificates to the first people who could answer trivia questions about the new book. I also participated in a virtual book tour that took me to seven book blogger sites. As a result of all these marketing strategies, Bloody Lessons has continuously shown up on the bestseller lists in multiple categories.


What are your goals with your book project?

When I first published Maids of Misfortune, my goal was to give a book that I had worked on for 20 years a chance to be read. Once this book achieved success, I became motivated by fans who wanted to know what was going to happen next to my protagonist. However, my underlying goal has always been to figure out a way to make the information I had learned about 19th-century working women available in an entertaining and accessible fashion. I firmly believe that without the opportunity to self-publish that CreateSpace and KDP have given me, none of that would be possible.


What have been some of your biggest successes so far?

I have been independently published for nearly four years, and every year I have been more successful than the last. For the past two years, my income has been greater than my income as a full professor at the peak of my teaching career.


What advice would you offer your fellow authors?

I think the key to being an indie author (besides making sure your book meets professional standards in editing, cover design, and product description) is to keep up with the changing marketing landscape and be willing to experiment. Authors should subscribe to the numerous blogs or forums that talk about marketing to hear about new promotional tools early. Also, authors need to be persistent, since sometimes they experiment with something once, and if the results don't live up to their expectations, they will never try again. Many authors also don't bother to experiment with categories, fill out their Author Central profiles, or invest in a promotion campaign. If no one hears about a book through word-of-mouth (and social media) or it doesn't show up near the top in any browsing category, it doesn't matter how good the book is - no one is going to buy it. Authors must be willing to self-promote if they want their books read.


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http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/DanSheehan_photo_m.jpgWhen Dan Sheehan, a helicopter pilot in the United States Marines, returned from his last combat tour in Iraq, he struggled to cope with emotions that were keeping him from moving on. He found a therapeutic outlet in writing, which led him to compile his experiences into a book, After Action. Here, Dan shares how he wrote, polished, and independently published a professionally edited and designed book, and how his story is helping other military service members and their loved ones deal with the effects of war.

 

Tell us about your book.

After Action is about my combat experiences in Iraq and how I came to understand their impact on me as a person. For five years after my last combat tour, I refused to admit anything was bothering me. Each time the emotions and reactions from combat began to leak out I'd angrily push them back, struggling to move on with my life against forces I didn't understand. It was a battle I found myself fighting more and more frequently even as I told myself I was fine. Then my younger brother crashed in Afghanistan. In the aftermath of his crash, and my unexpected reaction to it, I knew I had to find out what was going on. I began writing in an attempt to figure out what was bothering me and, in doing so, found my distress was more common among veterans than I ever imagined.

 

Care to share your author bio?

I served as an officer in the Marine Corps from 1996 to 2008. I flew AH-1W SuperCobra helicopters on several overseas deployments prior to the Iraq War. In 2003, I was part of the initial invasion of Iraq and provided close air support for coalition troops on the march to Baghdad. In 2004 I returned to Iraq, this time as a forward air controller with a special operations unit. For this second combat deployment I was on the ground, moving with small teams of operators on missions targeting insurgent leaders in and around Baghdad. For actions taken during these deployments I was awarded the Bronze Star and two Individual Action Air Medals, all with combat distinguishing devices. I am now a stay-at-home father raising two young kids while working on a second book.

 

How did you come to independent publishing?

I chose self-publishing because it offered me the best way to attain my goal of helping my fellow veterans. I felt what I had written could improve, and possibly save, veteran's lives and was determined to make it available to those who could benefit the most. I queried agents for six months but was told the market wasn't interested in "another war book." However, the main focus of After Action isn't combat, but rather gaining a better understanding of what it means to be a warrior. Independent publishing offered a clear path for me to share that understanding with a wide audience.

 

I believed in my work and set forth to make it available on my own. With help from David Hazard, my developmental editor, I focused on polishing the manuscript. I benefitted greatly from his guidance throughout the writing process. It was David who recommended CreateSpace for its responsive customer service, solid quality control, and ease of use. I chose to use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) for the same reasons and because my experience with CreateSpace had been so positive.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts. How did you get the word out about your book?

I initially marketed my book via word of mouth. There aren't many Cobra pilots in the Marine Corps so when one of us writes a book the rest of us generally buy it - if only to make fun of the author. After that initial flurry, I began marketing through public speaking engagements with veterans groups, active duty military personnel, and civic organizations. I also maintain a blog on my website that actively pushes posts to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

 

I was fortunate that Publishers Weekly Select chose my book for a starred review in July and also ran an interview with me in August. I also contacted an NPR show, "Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane," that has featured authors of books similar to my own. After Marty Moss-Coane read After Action, I got an invitation to appear on her show scheduled for October 16, 2013. Targeting specific people who have demonstrated an interest in the subject matter I write about has been a very effective marketing strategy. But it takes time - usually months - from initial contact to final interview.

 

What are your goals with your book project?

My goal in writing After Action was to figure out how my combat experiences were still affecting me. My goal in publishing it was to share what I'd learned with other veterans and their families and encourage them to face, not hide from, the challenges of coming home from war. CreateSpace and KDP have given me a way to share my message in a polished, well produced, and professional book.

 

What have been some of your biggest successes so far?

The biggest success to me has been the way After Action has been received. The messages I've received from people who've read it - service members, parents of fallen Marines, widows, folks seeking to understand how combat affects a person - have been extremely gratifying. Several Marines I served with sought professional help with their readjustment challenges after reading my book. Complete strangers have confided in me their innermost fears and painful memories because, after reading my story, they trust that I can understand. I'm extremely proud that my book is having that effect.

 

What's next for you?

I'm working on a second book right now. Where After Action is narrowly focused on my personal experiences, thihttp://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/DanSheehan_cover_m.jpgs current project is wider in scope. Aimed at warriors whose time on the battlefield is over, my second book will address the challenges of returning to normal life after combat. This is a life transition that few modern veterans are prepared for even though these challenges are common across centuries of recorded history. My goal is to encourage veterans to view post-combat challenges as inevitable extensions of the battlefield, motivate them to face those challenges head on, and offer a guide for how to successfully navigate their own full return from combat.

 

What advice would you offer your fellow authors?

Independent publishing has gotten very easy. I felt the draw to "just get it out there" before my book was actually ready to go. Luckily, I listened to some good advice from my writing mentor and held off. That additional time allowed me to fine-tune the editing and create a solid cover design that fit with the internal format of the book and tone of the writing itself. All this effort coalesced into a professional book that looks good and reads well, which I think helps sales.

 

I would recommend new authors find a reputable writing coach with extensive industry experience and listen to their recommendations. As much as the publishing industry is changing, certain truths are persistent. Find someone who can advise you on the basic requirements of a successful book and adjust them to fit the changing realities of publishing.

17,402 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, marketing, author_spotlight, dan_sheehan, marines
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http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/TerryJones_photo_m.jpg Terry Jones has a resume that includes growing startup businesses from scratch, serving as CIO at a major airline, and founding venerable dot-coms like Travelocity and Kayak. Now a professional speaker and consultant for other companies and leaders, Terry wrote a book - ON Innovation - that compiles his business experiences and lessons. Read on to learn why he turned down two traditional publishing offers and how writing and independently publishing a book supports his current professional endeavors.

 

Tell us about your book.

ON Innovation is based on my experiences in founding Travelocity.com, helping to found Kayak.com and in the 10 startups where I've worked during my career. I've been speaking to corporations and trade associations on innovation for the last 10 years and wanted my message to reach a larger audience and be more lasting than a speech.

 

Care to share your author bio?

After college, I spent a year traveling around the world with two friends and caught the travel bug. Upon my return, I entered the travel business as a travel agent in 1970. My first startup began six months later when I co-founded a business travel agency, which grew to $5 million in sales over the next five years. In 1978, I jumped to a company selling computers to travel agents. That company was sold to American Airlines (AA), which led to a 23-year career at the airline in marketing and information technology, ending as chief information officer. While at AA, I led a team of 10 that created Travelocity.com. I served as CEO for six years and took the company public. I later helped co-found Kayak.com, where I served as chairman for eight years until it was sold to Priceline for $1.8 billion. Today, I'm a public speaker, consultant, venture capitalist, and member of four boards of directors.

 

How did you come to independent publishing?

I was approached by two traditional publishers who offered advances, but I was frustrated by the lengthy timelines they proposed and their lack of commitment to marketing. As a person accustomed to the speed of the internet, traditional publishing seemed like a very 19th-century business.

 

I reviewed several companies and CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) clearly had the most straightforward process. Most importantly, the books were to be printed on-demand and my customers could order on Amazon.com.

 

The customer service has been outstanding. Even though this was a complex book to format, the timeframe was short, which was crucial since I needed to produce copies for a large convention. CreateSpace and KDP were always there for me. The tools enabled me to publish my second book with no help! 

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What are your goals with your book project?

I wanted to quickly produce a quality product.The services I used at CreateSpace allowed me to reach that goal. Its cover design group helped me create a standout cover, and the layout team worked with my many photographs and quotes to fix all my issues.

 

What have been some of your biggest successes so far?

My book is designed to help leaders and companies be more innovative, and the feedback I've received on the book has been encouraging. In addition, publishing a book has allowed me to raise my speaking fee and generate significantly more income. I am also able to customize the book for specific audiences.

 

What's next for you?

I'll soon be publishing a second edition with additional content, and of course I'll continue to promote ON Innovation.

 

What advice would you offer your fellow authors?

I'd say that independent publishing is simply the way to go; it is 21st-century publishing. CreateSpace and KDP have all the tools and services you could possibly want and are supportive through the entire process.

12,611 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, createspace, sales, kindle, publishing, showcase, author_spotlight, terry_jones
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http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/SuzanTisdale_photo2_m.jpgIn less than a year, Suzan Tisdale was able to quit her day job to write professionally. After publishing a series of romance novels independently with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), sales took off. Now, more than 91,000 copies later, Suzan can officially call herself a full-time author, which is something she always dreamed about. Here, she shares the story of what she calls her "incredible and accidental journey."

 

Tell us about your books.

Currently, I have four books out with a fifth on the way. My first book, Laiden's Daughter: Book One of The Clan MacDougall Series, began this incredible and accidental journey. I certainly didn't start out to be a full-time author, even though it has been a dream of mine for years.

 

About two years ago, I decided to give my mom a Kindle for her birthday. I thought it would be nifty if she could see something I had written when she turned it on for the first time. My husband did some research and encouraged me to try self-publishing. In the meantime, I asked a very dear friend to read my work, fully expecting her to tell me to give up because it stunk. My friend's response to my first few chapters took me completely by surprise. Instead of "don't give up your day job," she said, "Where's the rest of it?!"

 

The excitement from my husband and friend was contagious. I started to get up extra early every morning (3:30 to be precise) to write until the last possible minute before leaving for my day job, and my weekends were devoted to writing. For a brief moment, I let myself believe that maybe, just maybe, I could sell 10 copies. That was my goal: 10 little copies and I'd be a very happy camper. That was more than 91,000 copies ago!

 

Care to share your author bio?

I live in the Midwest with my very handsome, very supportive carpenter husband and the last of our four children, a 15-year-old, 6'3", built-like-a-linebacker son. We currently accept monetary donations to help offset the costs of feeding him and keeping him in shoes. With a carpenter for a husband, I have learned how to live in a perpetual state of remodel. Saw dust, drywall, wood, nails, paint, loud tools...they are all part of my daily existence. I also have three perfect and beautiful grandchildren who I love more than my next breath.

 

How did you come to independent publishing?

The thought of submitting to a traditional publishing house never entered my mind because all I had ever heard was that it was easier to buy a ticket to the moon than to get a book published. I thought my only other option was "vanity presses," but I could not afford to spend thousands of dollars for one book, especially if it was just a gift for my mom.

 

When I discovered it was free to publish to KDP and CreateSpace, I was all in! I really had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, but I found that the KDP community board was, and is, the best place to go to for advice on formatting and technical issues. And once I discovered the CreateSpace templates, I was in seventh heaven! They make everything a breeze. All of the tools are easy to use, and everyone is so helpful. It also takes very little time to upload a book.

 

Hands down, no one beats Amazon's indie publishing. No one treats authors with as much respect as Amazon does.

 

What are your goals with your book project?

I've daydreamed about being a full-time author for many, many years. But that was all it was, just a simple little daydream that I was certain would never be realized. But when I started selling thousands of copies of Laiden's Daughter each month, I realized I could do this. My original goal was to retire from my day job in five years.

 

In September 2012, I released my second book, Findley's Lass. I was floored when it hit Amazon's Top 100 just a few days after its release! I actually thought it was a glitch on my Kindle; I hurried to every computer in the house just to make sure I wasn't imagining it. That was when my husband suggested we move up my retirement date.

 

Because of KDP and CreateSpace, I was able to give up my day job in less than a year after releasing my first book. Two years ago, if someone had told me I would be a full-time author and making money, I would have laughed until I cried.http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/SuzanTisdale_cover2_m.jpg

 

What have been some of your biggest successes so far?

Since its release in December 2011, Laiden's Daughter has sold more than 55,000 copies around the world. I've even sold copies in Japan! Grand total, the sales and borrows of all three books are at over 91,000 copies.

 

The royalties are mind-boggling. We are currently constructing a room addition that will house a new kitchen, dining room, and a beautiful office for me. I'm paying for the entire project with my book royalties. I am also able to help finance my mom's medical care now more than I ever could before. If it weren't for Amazon, CreateSpace, and KDP, none of this would be happening, unless I had hit the lottery.

 

What's next for you?

My fourth book, McKenna's Honor, was released in July, and book five, Rowan's Lady, will come out in September.

 

What advice would you offer your fellow authors?

My honest advice is this: It must always be about the story, the writing. There are so many great books out there that don't get the attention they truly deserve. For the life of me, I don't know why. But I believe that as long as those authors keep writing, things will eventually happen for them. If you want to be successful, you have to work at it. When you finish one book, move on to the next. Write from your heart, with passion, fervor, and zeal and you cannot go wrong. And get an editor!

14,407 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, romance, writing, suzan_tisdale
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http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/JasindaWilder_photo_m.jpgEvery author dreams of selling a million books, and Jasinda Wilder accomplished this in her first year of publishing. By knowing her reading audience, writing books they love, and connecting with them on a personal level, Jasinda has earned a network of fans who happily spread the word about her latest books, Falling Into You and Falling Into Us. We asked Jasinda a few questions about her decision to publish independently, how she got the word out, and her advice for her fellow indie authors.

 

Tell us about your book.

Falling Into You is a story about a girl who falls in love with her best friend, and how she copes when he dies in a tragic accident. It's about love and loss, healing and hurting, forgiving one's self and learning to move on from debilitating anguish.

 

Care to share your author bio?

I taught music, theater, and dance privately for nearly 15 years before retiring to write full time. Telling stories is a huge component to music, theater, and dance, so the transition to writing books was a natural one. Being an author is as challenging as it is rewarding, much like teaching. I am a native of suburban Detroit, where I live with my husband and five children.

 

How did you come to independent publishing?

Self-publishing was a choice born of necessity. Life had brought my husband and me to a place where we had to either start publishing or abandon the dream, so we chose writing. We did some research and decided that self-publishing was a more realistic and viable option if we wanted to actually make a living as writers, so we gave it a shot.

 

We chose CreateSpace and KDP because they were the first and most established platforms for indie publishing. From our research, Amazon had basically reinvented the notion of independent publishing via KDP, putting the power to upload a book directly into the writer's hands. From the very start, Amazon has been great for us. The member dashboards are user-friendly, even for a complete rookie, and the various resources and tools offered to authors are invaluable. The KDP Select program can also be a great way to quickly build an audience.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out? 

We got the word out via several tools. Social media is the primary one; Twitter and Facebook are huge when it comes to promotions. Newsletters are great for announcing new releases or sharing any other info with your readers. There are free or cheap services for sending newsletters, and you can include links to it at the end of your book. The other means of promotion is book bloggers. They can extend your reach and spread the word about you farther than you could ever hope to achieve on your own.

 

What are your goals with your book project?

My goal has always been to tell stories that move people, and to make a living doing so. CreateSpace and KDP have made this possible. Being able to offer a physical print version of my books is a huge benefit, and CreateSpace has always been immensely pleasurable to work with. As an author, there really aren't many better feelings than to open a box full of books you wrote, to crack the spine of a paperback and see your words in print. It's a high unlike any other - except perhaps reading a glowing review.

 

What has been your greatest success so far?

My success has been built one book at a time. It all really began with Big Girls Do It Betterhttp://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/JasindaWilder_cover_m.jpgwhich sold 400 or 500 copies the first day I published it, and that was without any kind of real promotional efforts.Those first readers formed my core audience. Wounded was my next big success - the first book of mine to hit the Amazon Top 100. That spread the word about me, got me a new audience and got the bloggers talking. When I released Falling Into You, I reached out to a TON of bloggers, and I took a risk by posting an entire chapter - a pivotal one at that - on my website as a teaser. All this translated into a bit of frenzy when the book finally came out on March 14th, and it debuted at 35 on Amazon's Top 100.That book has been my biggest success to date, but I hope to repeat and surpass that with every book I publish. In all, I've sold about a million books so far.

 

What's next for you?

The parallel follow-up to Falling Into You - Falling Into Us - became available on June 21st. It's not a direct sequel, but rather tells the story of two characters from the first book, and in the process explores more of the events of Falling Into You.

 

What advice would you offer your fellow authors?

Take risks. Be prolific. Write a lot. And don't just write what you want to write, but what you want to read, and what the market says people are looking for. Be personal with your readers. Talk to them on Facebook and Twitter. Answer every fan email you get, and be nice. Never underestimate the value in talking to your readers, letting them know that you're a real person and that you care about them.

19,652 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: marketing, promotion, writing, showcase, author_spotlight
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http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/PattiDavis_photo2_m.jpgPatti Davis comes from a famous family, but she wants her work as a writer to speak for itself. As a long-time journalist and author, she had written her fair share of non-fiction books about the Reagans, but Patti wanted to focus on her passion for novel-writing. After rejections from publishers who told her they only wanted books with Reagan themes, she knew it was time to take matters into her own hands. Read on to learn about Patti's new novel, Till Human Voices Wake Us, and how she took control by independently publishing with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

 

Tell us about your book.

About 12 years ago, I overheard a conversation about two sisters-in-law who fell in love with each other and simultaneously divorced their husbands. They simply fell in love, unexpectedly and deeply. I thought this was wonderfully complicated and would make a great basis for a novel. I'd also hung onto another story of a woman who lost her young son in a swimming pool accident. I combined the two stories in Till Human Voices Wake Us, feeling that in the shattering of grief, in the unspeakable pain of losing a child, what had once seemed impossible might suddenly become possible.

 

Care to share your author bio?

I have published eight books, three of which were novels, but my non-fiction is what I'm most known for. Pat Conroy once said it's both a blessing and a curse for a writer to be born into an interesting family. No one would deny that the Reagan family is interesting, and yes, I have gone into that well many times. But throughout my writing career, I have also worked on novels that have nothing to do with my family.

 

I also do a lot of journalistic work. I have written for Time, Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Town and Country, Ladies' Home Journal, More, Allure and a few others. I've also written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. Hallmark Channel produced a screenplay of mine, Sacrifices of the Heart, a few years ago.

 

How did you come to independent publishing?

My books had previously been published traditionally, so I thought I'd stay on that course for my novels. Till Human Voices Wake Us was sent around a few years ago. It got rave reviews by editors, but no offers. The consensus was, "Patti Davis is known for writing about her family. Where are the Reagans in here?" ("Nowhere in this book" is the answer.) I soldiered on, wrote two other novels, and couldn't get those published either, although editors liked them.

 

I began to fear that I would die with unpublished novels on my computer, and that wasn't okay with me. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and self-publish. There is something inherently infantilizing about the publishing world. Authors have to wait for approval and hope for permission to put their work out there. It seems to me that more and more authors - both new and established - are no longer accepting that.

 

I had been watching the self-publishing trend for a while, particularly Amazon, which has clearly led the way in what I believe is a new era in publishing. I never had any doubt that if I published independently it would be with KDP and CreateSpace. I've found both to be very helpful.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out? 

I initially promoted the book on Facebook and Twitter and got immediate sales. Promoting your work online is crucial. We live in a digital age now, a world of social media. That's where the power is. I'm continuing to learn about promoting my work on the web, which is a big adventure for me. I did a few conventional things, but I am trying to tailor my promotional activities to things that focus on my writing - not my life or my family.

 

What are your goals with your book project?

My goal is to have Till Human Voices Wake Us sell for a long time. Conventional publishers pull the rug out fromhttp://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/PattiDavis_cover_m.jpg underneath you if you don't sell thousands of copies right away. But artistic success is a marathon, not a sprint. That's another benefit to indie publishing.

 

I want this novel, and my other two (which I plan to self-publish as well) to succeed under the radar that people are accustomed to when it comes to my career. If I can succeed with these books as an author, and chart this course myself, I will have entered a new phase of my writing career, which I very much want to do.

 

What has been your greatest success so far?

My biggest success is that people are reviewing my novel for itself and not reviewing me as the former First Daughter. It's what all writers want: to have their work judged on its own merits.

 

I have always been in love with writing; I have never been in love with the professional part of being a published author. It always felt like an adversarial situation. Authors do look at their books like their children. We gave birth to them, nurtured them, and then we have to put them out into the world. With conventional publishers, I felt like I was taking my child to a strange city, dropping that child off in the senseless murder district, and saying, "Hope you make it." But with indie publishing, for the first time, as an author, I don't feel like that.

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http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/GuyKawasaki_photo_m.jpg Tech entrepreneur and marketing expert Guy Kawasaki regularly finds himself on the front lines of changing trends and emerging technologies. So when he started noticing shifts in the book industry, he decided to write the book on it. Thus APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur - How to Publish a Book, a comprehensive guide to self-publishing that he co-authored with Shawn Welch, was born. Read on to find out how the author of 12 books drew from his experience in the publishing world to pen a guide for independent authors that he self-published with CreateSpace and KDP.

 

 

Tell us about your book and how you came to independent publishing.

I wrote a book called Enchantment, and it was published with one of the Big 6. A company wanted to buy 500 copies of the eBook version of Enchantment, but my publisher was unable to sell it directly. Instead, it referred the company to retailers. When I heard this, it showed how backwards traditional publishing was. Around the same time, I fell in love with Google+ and decided to write a book about it. This was the perfect chance to try self-publishing because I knew that Google+ was too limited a topic for a traditional publisher.


During this process, I learned how hard it is to self-publish a non-fiction book with pictures, captions, tables, and lists. This led me to write APE because I knew, as Steve Jobs would say, "there must be a better way."

 

Care to share your author bio?

I am the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. I also am the co-founder of Alltop.com, an "online magazine rack" of popular topics on the web. Previously, I was the chief evangelist of Apple. I have a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

 

How did you choose CreateSpace and KDP?

We chose KDP/CreateSpace because my prior experience was that Amazon was where the action was happening. In particular, we wanted the ability to give books away via the KDP Select program.

 

Our experience with CreateSpace and KDP has been - no bull shiitake - fabulous. Processing is fast. Tech support is fast. Customer service is fast. We approved the CreateSpace proof on Christmas night and had a physical copy by December 27th. When we updated APE in February, the new version was live in eight hours. The analytics are real time. It's hard to imagine ways the experience could be much better.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?http://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/GuyKawasaki_cover_m.jpg

We used the shotgun approach. I don't think there's anything we didn't try. Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest posts. Hangouts on Air on Google+. Twitter chats. I agreed to every request for an interview. We hired a PR team to do classic pound-on-the-press PR. We also conducted free webinars for the membership of organizations such as Kirkus and the American Marketing Association.

 

What were your goals with your book project? Have you met them at this point?

Our goal is worldwide domination of the self-publishing instructional market. KDP and CreateSpace are our primary distribution means for eBook and paperback for this goal. APE was the #3 Kindle book and a Wall Street Journal bestseller. Still, it's too early to tell if the book will be a big success because we're at the start of the self-publishing revolution.

 

What's next for you and your book?

Marketing a book is a process, not an event. One of the beauties of self-publishing is that the marketing ends when you decide it ends - not the publisher.

 

Any advice for your fellow authors?

The most important advice is to start building your marketing platform the day you start writing your book. You're going to need this platform when your book is done, and it will be too late to start building a platform then. The hardest part of self-publishing is the marketing of the book, not writing or publishing it.

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https://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/Chris-RachaelOseland_photo_m.jpgChris-Rachael Oseland has been a fan of the British cult-favorite TV show Doctor Who since she was a kid. So in celebration of the show's 50th anniversary, she combined her talents as a food writer with her in-depth knowledge of all-things-Who to write and independently publish Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook. Chris-Rachael answered a few questions for us about her unique book, how she got the word out, and why indie publishing was the perfect solution for reaching her niche audience of self-described "geeks."

 

Tell us about your book.

Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook is the first Doctor Who cookbook since 1986. I grew up watching Doctor Who, and I knew I wanted to do something big for the show's 50th anniversary. As a food writer, I naturally started thinking about dinner parties. One recipe turned into 10, and before I knew it, I decided to come up with a recipe for every single episode of the new series. My goal was to create recipes that are fun, tasty, and manageable for any Whovian, regardless of their dietary needs or culinary skills.

 

Care to share your author bio?

I am a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. By day, I'm the technology and geek life reporter for The Austin Post. By night, I descend into my lair at the base of an extinct volcano, don my apron and monocle, and subject my minions to countless culinary experiments. I'm also the author of another geek cookbook, SteamDrunks: 101 Steampunk Cocktails and Mixed Drinks, and I write a cooking blog called Kitchen Overlord, which features weekly illustrated geek recipes and sneak peeks at upcoming geektastic projects.

 

Why did you initially choose to independently publish?

Dining With The Doctor is actually my fifth self-published book. I started with my Victorian cocktail book, SteamDrunks. Kind agents told me the book was well-written and funny, but it had such a small niche audience they couldn't see it selling widely. Instead of putting it in a drawer and forgetting about it, they suggested I try publishing independently. I'm glad I listened. It's worked out great.

 

How did you choose CreateSpace and KDP?

I checked out several options, but CreateSpace's relationship with Amazon was too compelling to pass up. As an indie writer, I don't have $25,000 sitting around to spend on professionally printing 5,000 books (which was the best deal I could find outside of print on-demand). I don't have anywhere to warehouse all those books, and I didn't want my days to revolve around checking email, packaging books, and driving to the post office to fulfill orders. Using CreateSpace meant I didn't have to deal with any of that. I can sell 1 book, 100 books, or 1,000 books, and Amazon.com makes sure customers get them at whatever shipping speed they choose.

 

Like most indie authors, I'm addicted to Kindle Direct Publishing's reporting system. It's so incredibly motivating to see how many copies of my books are selling. That lets me know which marketing efforts are effective and which titles my readers like best. It'd be awful to hand everything over to a publisher and never have the faintest clue whether or not my book was selling.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?

I started by emailing about a hundred geek-oriented websites and offering them a sample PDF for review purposes. That resulted in a brief mention on BoingBoing and about half a dozen online reviews, including The Nerdist, Den of Geek, and Technabob. I also pitched and secured additional distribution through the awesome site ThinkGeek.

 

I started a new blog, Kitchen Overlord, to promote my geek cookbooks, plus a related image-intensive Tumblr. I'm doing everything I can to get food photos from the book onto every possible sharable platform I can. I'm no social media expert, but I do know if people see the photos on Pinterest, Flickr, Tumblr, Facebook, or my blog, that will help let Whovians know there's a brand new cookbook just for them.

 

What were your goals with your book project? Have you met them at this point? https://s3.amazonaws.com/createspacecommunity/Showcase/ChrisRachaelOseland_cover_m.jpg

I really wanted to get this book out before the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Traditional publishing takes time I didn't have, and there were no guarantees. Getting it into print before the end of series 7 and the beginning of the anniversary specials was a top priority for me. CreateSpace and KDP made that possible.

 

What's next for you and your book?

I'm currently working on two other unauthorized geek cookbooks. Wood for Sheep: The Unauthorized Settler's Cookbook should be out in May. The Noshing Dead: The Unauthorized Walking Dead Cookbook should be out in September. At the moment, I'm throwing dinner parties every Sunday so I can gather people to eat all the food I'm photographing.

 

Any advice for your fellow authors?

Don't leave your book in a drawer. These days, your idea doesn't have to appeal to millions of people. Your book may be an esoteric niche topic that only appeals to 500 people, but if you love your subject and write about it well, that tiny niche demographic will adore you for serving them. Thanks to the rise of indie publishing, there's so much more room for creativity and diverse expression these days.

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JenniferBresnickHeadshot_m.jpgBefore 2009, Jennifer Bresnick was just an average reader who loved the epic fantasy genre. But when she decided to participate in NaNoWriMo that year, she made the jump from fan to author with her first book, The Last Death of Tev Chrisini. Now, she's selling her book in print and eBook formats with CreateSpace and KDP, winning awards, and collecting five-star reviews. We interviewed Jennifer to learn about her publishing story, successes, and the advice she has for her fellow authors.

 

Tell us about your book.

My book, The Last Death of Tev Chrisini, is a fantasy novel about a soldier who can't die caught in the middle of a never-ending war. I've always loved epic fantasy, from Tolkien to Tad Williams, and when I first decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) back in 2009, I knew I wanted to explore the genre. It was my very first attempt at a novel (not to mention my first try at writing 50,000 words in one month), and it was definitely a challenge. I managed to cross the finish line, though, and a few months later, I finished up a manuscript I was really in love with.

 

Care to share your author bio?

I'm a 2007 graduate of Mount Holyoke College with a major in history. Born and raised on Long Island, NY, I now live in the Boston area, fervently avoiding all discussions about professional sports.When I'm not writing down the conversations in my head to give them an appearance of respectability, I enjoy crocheting silly animal hats, being creative in the kitchen, and on a completely unrelated note, putting out kitchen fires.

 

Why did you initially choose to independently publish?

I queried a few agents after finishing The Last Death, but after my first 10 rejections, I decided to investigate self-publishing. I learned that it was far from being a last resort for authors who couldn't break into traditional publishing; CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offered me a way to have total control over my work, on my schedule, and produce some really high-quality, professional results - for free. The options seemed perfect for me.

 

How did you choose CreateSpace and KDP?

I really liked the way KDP interfaced with the Amazon.com store, and seeing my book on its own official page was very exciting. It's incredibly easy to use. CreateSpace is a NaNoWriMo sponsor, so I learned about its program through NaNoWriMo's special offers for winners. Once I did more research about the CreateSpace process, I decided to order a proof copy. The trade paperback I received was beautiful, and I've been very happy with the results ever since.

 

The community of authors at KDP and CreateSpace has also been great. You wouldn't think authors could be that supportive of each other, but it's such an encouraging environment. Also, all of the free information on the CreateSpace and KDP websites has been invaluable to me.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?

I started with a blog, made a Facebook page, and took part in a lot of different communities, like Shelfari and the CreateSpace forums. I also spent a lot of time nagging people I know who'd read the book to leave me reviews and berating them into spreading the word (surprisingly, they're still speaking to me). After that, I offered free review copies to a series of book bloggers, and entered the Shelf Unbound Magazine writing competition. I was fortunate enough to have won the grand prize, which has really boosted my visibility.

 

What were your goals with your book project? Have you met them at this point?

Originally, my goal was to use KDP to allow a few of my friends an easy way to get access to my work. When it started to generate interest, I decided to take it a step further and really try to market myself. My fans were asking about paperbacks, and CreateSpace was theJenniferBresnick_cover_m.jpg best way to make them happen. Now I'd like to keep building my audience and keep writing. KDP and CreateSpace both make it easy for me to do so.

 

What would you consider your biggest success so far?

My biggest success has been getting positive reviews from people I've never met. Seeing those five yellow stars on my Amazon.com page has been fantastic, and connecting with readers and authors from around the globe has been eye-opening. I've learned so much from the process and from the people I've met along the way, and I wouldn't trade that confidence and that experience for anything.

 

 

Any advice for your fellow authors?

A do-it-yourself business like self-publishing can either be truly fantastic, or truly daunting. If you go into it knowing how much work you're going to have to do - and knowing that not everyone will be an instant millionaire - that's half the battle. Committing to your project, having faith in yourself, and being patient for the first few months while you gather your audience and figure out the best strategy for your particular book will be vital. Explore social networking. Start a blog. But most importantly, have some fun with it! Indie publishing is a fantastic market just entering its prime, and it's a great place to be.

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https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/BenMyhre_m.jpg Ben Myhre is reaching two passionate audiences with his new book: those who love 2012's breakout erotic novel and those who love bacon. As a pop culture blogger, Ben knows what people are buzzing about online, which is how he came up with the idea for his cookbook, Fifty Shades of Bacon. Ben answered a few questions for us about how he tapped into pop culture and internet trends to create his own publishing success story.

 

Tell us about your book.

Fifty Shades of Bacon is an erotic cookbook that delves into the full bacon experience. Ok, it is not erotic at all, but it is a tongue-in-cheek delivery of some great bacon recipes. Everything from basic bacon bits to bacon ice cream to bacon au gratin and alfredo. If you are into bacon, want an interesting conversation piece, or are looking for a present for the meat-lover in your life, this title is for you.

 

The idea for this book came about as I was having coffee one Saturday morning and trying to think of a topic for my work blog, which is about popular culture on the internet. Bacon has quite the subculture on the internet, and I had been thinking about writing on that topic for quite some time. At the same time, my wife had the Fifty Shades of Grey book series on the counter. The name just came to me in a flash. As soon as I thought of the parody name, I knew that this cookbook had to be made. Literally within minutes, I contacted my co-author, Jenna Johnson, and by the end of the day we had started putting together recipes.

 

Care to share your author bios?

Benjamin Myhre's love of food and popular culture has culminated in a passion for bacon and is the fire that sparked this book. While Ben loves bacon, he also enjoys home canning, innovating his homemade pizzas, and home brewing. Outside of cooking, Ben works in the technology industry, reads comic books, gets geeky about Star Wars, tries to make it to the gym to work off all the delicious food, and blogs about popular culture on the internet. He lives in Fargo with his lovely wife, Ashley, and three cats he lovingly calls "cat."

 

Jenna Johnson's love of cooking, food, photography, and bacon has helped her create a successful food blog called recipe-diaries.com. She is married to her wonderful husband, Ben, and two cute furball children, Colin and Jerry Lee. Ben gets to sample all the recipes and ideas Jenna has created for her blog and sometimes the children do, too. She resides in Fargo and met Ben Myhre through a friend, Ashley Myhre.

 

Why did you initially choose to independently publish?

Access, cost, and speed. First, I had no idea how to begin with publishing and knew that traditional publishers were not quick or easy to employ. When I learned that some self-publishers enabled you to be up and selling in days, it was a no-brainer. Second is cost; my upfront cost is almost nothing, and that is very attractive. I have talked to people who have had X number of books published and then are left holding the bag when it does not work out. With CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, there is no bag to be held. If you don't sell, you don't pay anything. As far as speed, I thought of the concept for Fifty Shades of Bacon and in less than 60 days I was selling books. I worked my tail off and knew that this was a timely concept, so it had to get out of the door fast. CreateSpace helped to make that happen!

 

How did you choose CreateSpace and KDP?

I originally started off with a CreateSpace competitor. I found, however, that they just could not compete in price. I was three-quarters of the way through the process when I decided to change, and I'm glad I did. CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing have been easy to work with, and the products KDP and CreateSpace give customers are some of the best on the market.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?

We created a webpage, a Facebook page, and began utilizing Twitter. I also began interacting with readers on the internet. When someone leaves a negative review on Amazon.com, I reply to them. How many authors reply to their customers? When I find a tweet mentioning my book, I might also interact with that person. I do not have a big marketing budget or the backing of a bottomless wallet, so I try to take a very personal approach with how I market. I also understand the nature of viral marketing, and a parody product like mine is perfect for viral trending.

 

What were your goals with your book project? Have you met them at this point?

You mean other than making a million bucks? Well, my goal was to simply get it out there! I sort of stumbled into this and am an accidental author, but I'm loving it. I think there will be a market for Fifty Shades of Bacon as long as Fifty Shades of Grey is popular and people love bacon. The first book has inspired us to continue making cookbooks, and we have already completed a second cookbook named Chocogasms!http://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/BenMyhre_cover_m.jpg

 

What would you consider your biggest success so far?

I think my biggest success to date is just getting the book out there and CreateSpace and KDP made it happen! Beyond that, the press has been encouraging (front page of our local paper), and our book is even going to be featured on a popular BBC variety show this year. We also have been interviewed on the Seattle Kitchen radio program and featured on several popular websites, such as eater.com.

 

Any advice for your fellow authors?

DO IT. I was at an event promoting my book, and the local keynote speaker talked about the publishing process. I asked him how he felt about self-publishing, and he said that nobody will take me seriously without a real publisher. Very nice guy, but he pretty much put down the path I chose. Well, I watch the rankings of this keynote author's book on various sites compared to mine; he might not take me seriously, but I bet he would take my royalty check seriously. This silly little book about bacon is putting some bacon on the table! Had I taken the traditional route, I would probably still be twiddling my thumbs waiting for a response from a publisher instead of collecting a check every month and reaching readers around the world.

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https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/VictoriaColligan_photo_viaMollyNookofMollyMcCabePhotography_m.jpg Victoria Colligan is the founder of Ladies Who Launch and author of Dream It! Launch It! Live It!: Get the Life You Want in 5 Minutes a Day!. Her entrepreneurial prowess aided her as she successfully independently published her book and tapped into her built-in target audience for word-of-mouth marketing. Victoria answered a few questions for us about how she bypassed traditional publishing for her second book in order to maintain control and get to market faster.

 

Tell us about your book.

As the founder of Ladies Who Launch (LWL), I've spent more than a decade interacting with and interviewing thousands of entrepreneurial women. These women, their successes, failures, and unshakable resilience inspired me to write Dream It! Launch It! Live It! as a vehicle for sharing their stories and guidance with the world. This book includes the tips, ideas, advice and observations that have been featured on the LWL community since its inception. Readers can learn concepts that have worked successfully in the entrepreneurial environment and extend their applications to life, happiness, and success in general. In fact, I continue to be re-inspired by the teachings in this book as I move forward with the launch of KIDgistix, my latest entrepreneurial venture.

 

Please share a bit of your background as an author.

I have long been an advocate for female entrepreneurship, which is why I founded Ladies Who Launch, the first new media company to provide encouragement, advice, and exposure to women entrepreneurs. I've had the good fortune to be featured in national print and broadcast media outlets, including "The Today Show" The New York Times, Time, Cosmopolitan, and Business Week. Writing is a big part of my everyday life; I co-authored my first book, Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship and Creativity as a Lifestyle, contributed to Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul, and write regular columns for the LWL website. I'm also a devoted mother of two girls and have extensively explored and written about the challenges women entrepreneurs face juggling family and business.

 

Why did you initially choose to independently publish?

I chose to self- publish Dream It! Launch It! Live It! for several reasons. After having worked with a traditional publisher the first time around, I felt frustrated by the constraints around categorizing my first book as a business book and the fact that I had no control. At the time, my research indicated that women looking to make substantial changes in their lives gravitate towards self-help books. I felt that pigeonholing my book as strictly business would result in less visibility, especially when the book addressed launching a broad spectrum of life dreams. In addition, I knew publishing independently would get my next book out there faster. Working with a traditional publisher can be very slow and time consuming, so it was more expedient to do it on my own. Finally, I already had a tremendous amount of PR experience with the first book and through the LWL community, and I had worked with many partners on other projects who were excited to promote it. My established relationships and the LWL following would work in my favor when it came to marketing.

 

How did you choose CreateSpace as a publishing partner?

First, CreateSpace allowed me to seamlessly sell the book on Amazon.com. I also was referred to CreateSpace by women in the LWL community who had had a positive experience and spoke highly of their publishing expertise. I was very happy with my decision. The website and team at CreateSpace were a pleasure to work with. Customer service was easily accessible either by email or calling them directly, and they were always available to answer any and all questions. Our CreateSpace member account was user-friendly, allowing us to spend more time on the book itself as opposed to wasting time on site navigation. The professional services we purchased lived up to our high expectations, and our project team was friendly, very helpful, and very accessible.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?

Spreading the word about any new venture, project, or business is always a challenge. We started the process by telling the LWL community about the book online through our social media and email channels. Offline, we arranged book signings in select cities where the LWL community is strong. We have also reached out to partner organizations and individuals for cross promotional opportunities. As I say many times in the book, "You can't do it alone!"

 

Have you met your publishing goals at this point?  

My goal was to publish this book quickly without having to sacrifice quality or control. CreateSpace has been the perfect platform to make this happen! I hope to write more books and encourage others to overcome their fears and devehttps://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/VictoriaColligan_cover_m.jpglop strategies for creating the life of their dreams. By providing me with unique networking and PR opportunities, the book has also helped me fulfill my goal of starting additional businesses, including my newest endeavor, KIDgistix, which is a mobile tool for parents that makes running their kids' lives easier.

 

What would you consider your biggest success so far?

The book reached the top 1% of Amazon sales during the early launch phase. This was due mainly to our internal marketing efforts through the Ladies Who Launch community and the word-of-mouth domino effect, which, among women, can be very strong!

 

Any advice for your fellow authors?

In general, my advice is to go for it! So many people have a message they want to convey to the world and/or a story they want to share. Indie publishing provides a real solution, especially when traditional publishers can prove to be extremely difficult and are known for rejections. In a nutshell, traditional publishers are not typically author-friendly. It's about time the do-it-yourself culture extended to publishing. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit and a little motivation can make their book happen. CreateSpace is the perfect team to work with, and because of their expertise and solid online tools, you actually don't have to know everything - you can focus on writing and marketing!

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https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/RochelleWeinstein_photo_m.jpgRochelle Weinstein is the author of What We Leave Behind. By applying her skills as a former marketing professional, she has sold thousands of books in her first 9 months of publication. Rochelle recently answered a few questions for us about publishing independently, her diligent marketing efforts, and how her relatable story landed her a passionate fanbase hungry for her next book.


Tell us about your book.


What We Leave Behind is a story for all women about Jessica Parker, a teen who falls in love with an older medical student, only to have his abrupt departure change her life forever. As an adult, Jessica finds happiness and success through the love of a good, solid man, but her past holds secrets, and one has found its way to upend Jessica's world and leave her questioning all that she once knew and believed. From a suburban hospital to the colorful backdrop of L.A.'s entertainment industry, What We Leave Behind follows one woman as she unearths her past in order to face her present.


Please share a bit of your background as an author.


Most authors dream of being published; I dreamed about being in the CIA or becoming an ESPN analyst. Always a journal writer, my words were best kept in private (with the exception of the prying eyes of my big brother). With a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, I worked in music and film marketing, advertising, and promotions at top publications and companies before landing a director position at a company in Florida that was eventually purchased by MTV. It was then that I sat down to write What We Leave Behind, my first book. Today, I call myself a full-time wife, mother, and writer.


Why did you initially choose to independently publish?


The seismic changes in the publishing world made indie publishing a liberating step. Having been in the music industry when the internet emerged and shifted the power of the record labels, I understood immediately what was happening with publishing, and I capitalized on it.


As an author, you MUST know your goal before you decide to publish. When a group of strangers read my manuscript at their book club and openly cried, asking why my novel wasn't in print, I knew it was time to take matters into my own hands. Self-publishing allowed me to reach my goal - to touch someone's life with my words - while simultaneously having the freedom to sell, market, and promote my book on my terms.


What obstacles did you face prior to self-publishing?


I could wallpaper my bathroom with the curt, standardized rejection letters sent by powerful agents who controlled the door in and out of the publishing world. First-time authors didn't stand a chance. My book sat under the bed for two years before I took this step.


How did you choose CreateSpace as a publishing partner?


I researched several self-publishing houses and made my final decision based on customer reviews/satisfaction and the fact that CreateSpace is aligned with Amazon. I had a wonderful experience. The CreateSpace project team was always available and helpful, the dashboard was easy to navigate, and the steps from editing to publishing were organized and completed in a timely fashion. I was so thrilled with the end result that I also will be publishing my second novel, The Mourning After, through CreateSpace.


Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?


Marketing is a constant job. Before the book was released, I started a Facebook Page for What We Leave Behind. After its publication, my husband and I emailed our combined list of 1000+ contacts with information about the book, including links to my website, Facebook page, and where to buy it. I also had business cards printed that we hand out wherever we go. Next, networking was key; I had friends in the hotel business who got the book in several hotels, and another connection got me segments on local NBC and CBS affiliate stations. My husband has also been known to leave copies of my book on airplanes when he travels for business.


I then partnered with my Temple and hosted an event which brought in more than 100 people. I also did a book signing at a well-known and respected book store, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., which currently sells the book. I distributed it as widely as possible as an eBook through Kindle Direct Publishing and others, and I have actively pursued placement in independent bookstores; it was picked up in shops in California and New York. I finally hired a publicist who secured my inclusion in several local magazines, television and radio shows, press clubs, online media, etc.


My personal favorite marketing activity is the book club circuit. I am booked through January going to book clubs as far as L.A. and Cleveland. Finally, I got a wonderful endorsement by James Grippando, a New York Times bestselling author. A lot of these activities cost money, but even today's traditionally published authors have to put their own dollars into their marketing since publisher budgets have been slashed.

http://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/RochelleWeinstein_cover_m.jpg

 

 

Have you met your publishing goals at this point?


As I mentioned above, my goal was to touch people's lives with my words and CreateSpace put my book in tangible form to do just that. Goal accomplished. Further, I have two young children, so being their mom first was always important to me. CreateSpace has enabled me to write when I want, market and promote at my own pace, and not have the demands that a traditional publishing house would impose upon me. By eliminating the middleman, I am in control. It's wonderfully gratifying.


What would you consider your biggest success so far?


For me, the successes are not the number of books sold or even the dollars I've made. The biggest success for me is when a reader emails me and tells me she has just finished my book and was incredibly touched. When your book breaks out of your inner circle and lands in someone's hands - a complete stranger - and they feel compelled to reach out, you just know you have something to be proud of.

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https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/HughHowey_m.jpg Hugh Howey is the author of the independently published hit book WOOL. A New York Times and Amazon.com bestseller, WOOL is being translated into 23 languages and has been picked up by Ridley Scott for a film adaptation. Though traditional publishers are clamoring for book rights, he has decided to stick with indie publishing in the U.S. Hugh recently answered a few questions for us about his journey as an independent author and how he and his book earned breakout success.

 

Tell us about your book and how it came about.

WOOL is about the last remnants of humanity living in an underground silo. They've lived there so long, in fact, that there are only legends about people having lived elsewhere. In this underground world, it's forbidden to speak of going outside. If you do, you are given the very thing you ask for. You are banished. And nobody returns.

 

WOOL began as a short novelette, which I published through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Within a few months, reviewers began clamoring for more. So I wrote what is now the Omnibus Edition, which has been as high as #13 on the New York Times Bestsellers list and #1 on Amazon. Ridley Scott picked up the film rights this summer, and the work is being translated into 23 languages. And no, none of that makes a lick of sense to me, either.

 

Please share a bit of your background as an author.

I've dreamed of becoming a writer since I was twelve. I began a lot of books over the years but never got past the third or fourth chapter. I eventually lost sight of that dream. Instead, I chanced into a career as a yacht captain, sailed off to the Bahamas and began taking work on other people's boats. It wasn't until I fell in love and was dragged away from the sea that I fell into writing seriously. It got started after a couple of book conventions that I attended as a blogger and reviewer. That was nearly five years ago. It took me 20 years to realize my childhood dream of becoming an author.

 

Why did you initially choose to independently publish?

I published my first book with a small press. It was a wonderful experience, but I began to see that the success of the book would still depend on my fighting for every single sale. The process was a bit slow for my liking, and I wondered if I couldn't do some things myself (cover creation, pagination, etc.) without having to give up the rights to my work forever. That's the part that was most difficult for me: giving up full ownership of something I'd labored to create.

 

At the time, I was following the new trends in print on-demand and e-publishing. These changes meant two things for me, as a writer. First, books would now be in print forever, which made selling the rights to them a much dearer decision. Second, any aspiring writer could now access and afford the production and distribution of their works, which was never possible before. A new world was opening at just the time I was moving from writing being a hobby to a potential career. Amazon and CreateSpace were the ones who opened that world for me.

 

What obstacles did you face prior to self-publishing?

I received my share of rejection letters from agents and publishers, but that's true of any author. My main frustrations were that I had stories to tell, and I wanted to get them to readers. Not to force anyone to read them, mind you, but simply to have them available. The old system made that difficult. All I ever wanted was to have access to the market. That was it. I didn't care about favorable positioning or being face-out on a shelf or in a bookstore window; I just wanted my works to be available and affordable to anyone who might have a hankering for them. And that's what Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace have made possible, for the digital and print editions, respectively.

 

How did you choose CreateSpace as a publishing partner?

I tried a competitor, but there were fees for setting up books and for making subsequent changes, and there were delays in seeing the book available on Amazon, which is the distributor that matters the most to me. When I finally tried CreateSpace, it was with one of my NaNoWriMo books. By completing the NaNo challenge, I was given codes for free proof copies, so I used them. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the product and the speed and affordability of the service. The difference in every aspect was startling. The copies I ordered for myself were less expensive, and the product page went up much faster. I'm now working to get my older books moved over to CreateSpace. I tell everyone to just start with them.

 

Without CreateSpace, I would be facing the reality of shelling out thousands of dollars to have more books printed than I could hope to sell. That's how it used to work for a self-published author. But now, I can order just enough to fulfill demand. And rather than worry about being in a handful of bookstores scattered here and there, my works are available to anyone with an internet connection and a mailbox. That's revolutionary! I'm so fortunate that I happen to be writing at the time that I am.

 

Tell us about your marketing efforts for your book. How did you get the word out?

The book that's done the best for me is actually the one I never promoted at all, not in the beginning. It was a short story that I published and forgot about. So while I've blogged and Tweeted and Facebooked about each of my works, it was word of mouth and the efforts of readers that created this success. And that's something that none of us know how to generate. It's just up to the reader.


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The best marketing, I believe, is to get busy writing the next work. WOOL is proof of this. When sales of the first story took off, I immediately began writing the rest of the series. Had I not, the level of success I've enjoyed would've been limited. I would be promoting a novelette rather than entertaining offers from major publishers on what is soon to be a trilogy of full-length novels.

 

Have you met your publishing goals at this point?

My goal has always been simply to have a voice. I love stories. I love books. My lifelong dream was realized the day that first proof copy arrived in the mail, and I could hold all those words and hours of hard work in my hands. I still do video blogs of me unboxing each new book. That moment is just so special to me.

 

What's next for you and your book?

WOOL has taken off this year in a way that I never could have imagined. The rights were picked up overseas, which means an upcoming trip to the U.K. and to Australia to promote the releases there. I also have all these foreign language editions to look forward to. And I really hope Ridley Scott and Steve Zaillian do something awesome with the film rights. Of course, my main focus is just on writing the next work. I enjoy telling stories. I'd be doing this whether or not anyone was buying them and reading them.

 

What advice can you offer your fellow authors?

Produce your best work and get it out there. It's as simple as that. If you love what you're doing, you can't lose.

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https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/IrwinYablansCover_m.jpg Irwin Yablans started his career in Hollywood as a film salesman and worked his way up to producing one of the most successful horror movie franchises of all time. As an indie producer, he bucked the Hollywood system to make his movie and became a huge success, all on his own terms. Read on for Irwin's first-person account of how he made it in Hollywood and added "independent author" to his extensive resume by publishing The Man Who Created Halloween.


My career in the movie business has spanned more than half a century. I started as a film salesman for Warner Bros. and worked my way through the distribution organization until I eventually became the youngest sales manager in the country. Working for a Hollywood company exposed me to movie production, and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.


I became a producer for Paramount, but balked at the controls and restrictions that came with working for a major corporation. So in 1976, I formed my own movie company, Compass International Pictures. After a difficult first year, I had my first hit - HALLOWEEN - conceived by myself and directed by a young John Carpenter. Halloween became the most successful independent picture in movie history. We followed up with a string of sequels and other pictures, paving the way for a host of new independent companies eager to follow our model.


After Halloween's success, I held other industry posts, such as president of Orion pictures, and produced more than 20 films. I decided it was time to document my experiences in Hollywood by penning a book.


The Man Who Created Halloween started out as a memoir of my life that I planned to leave as a legacy for my children and grandchildren. But after I showed it to certain people whose opinions I respect, they unanimously encouraged me to broaden my perspective and write it as a book for publication.


When I investigated the business of traditional publishing, it was much the same as trying to mount a movie campaign with a studio. At every turn, I encountered a cumbersome system replete with executives and committees, all of whom were more interested in preserving their position than in encouraging new authors. Agents proved worthless, and when I managed to get the attention of a publisher, the obstacles were formidable. One company that wanted to publish my book said it would take two years to bring it to market, and I was surprised to learn that I would have to finance the entire marketing enterprise on my own.


That's when I began to research independent publishing. After perusing the various companies on the internet, I chose CreateSpace. The people there made the process very clear, and I was able to understand their approach despite my lack of experience in the literary world. The cost structure seemed reasonable for the services provided, and the people I spoke with on the phone were helpful. I decided to go for it.


My instincts served me well; the entire experience was wonderful. The people assigned to the project were always https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/IrwinYablansPhoto_m.jpg knowledgeable and talented. Best of all, they always were reachable and willing to spend as much time as needed as we went through the various stages of publication. The graphic artists realized my vision for the cover to perfection. I showed it to an editor at one of the companies that wanted to publish the book, and he told me that his art department would not have been able to perform as well.


The finished product is truly exciting; I could not be more pleased. CreateSpace was able to get The Man Who Created Halloween ready for me by October, in time for the holiday and the annual re-release of the movie and all its sequels. This enabled me to prepare a very timely marketing campaign for the book, which has already resulted in several favorable reviews from critics. Thanks to CreateSpace, what started as a personal memoir has now become a published work, and I have realized my goal to be called an author.


In my career, I have witnessed and participated in the transition from a Hollywood system dominated by monolithic studios to a universal, high-tech business with great diversity. Much of the change was brought about by the emergence of independent producers and filmmakers. After my experience with independent publishing and meeting so many authors who are now taking back control, it's clear the publishing industry is heading down the same path.


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https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/BruceSpitzer_cover_m.jpgIf you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently? That's the hook in Bruce Spitzer's new book, Extra Innings. Bruce has worked as a writer his entire adult life - his resume includes journalist, business writer, marketer, magazine editor, and columnist - but this was his first foray into fiction. His novel may question what a person would change if given the chance, but Bruce was determined to get book publishing right the first time.


A cross-genre novel that is part sports, science fiction, and military thriller, Extra Innings is a story that imagines baseball legend Ted Williams returning to life through the science of cryonics (Williams' remains were frozen when he died 10 years ago). Bruce considered traditionally publishing his book, but after conducting extensive research on the state of the publishing industry and on the advice of his editor, Alan Rinzler, he decided the independent route was best for him.


"I published independently to maintain more control over my project and to reap more financial benefits," he said. "These days, publishers require you to build your own author platform and complete most of your book's PR and marketing on your own. I figured if I'm going to do all of that, why not reap the lion's share of the benefits."


CreateSpace gave Bruce the tools he needed to make a professional book and bring it to market easily, particularly through the use of CreateSpace's wide range of services, detailed royalty reports, and print on-demand.


"In my professional life, I often analyze business partners and work only with those that are the most professional and responsive," he said. "Companies should bring value-added service to whatever we're working on. CreateSpace did that for my publishing project. Its people were there for whatever handholding I needed, and the superior distribution and higher royalties were a huge plus."


To maximize sales, Bruce also created an eBook version of his title using Kindle Direct Publishing: "I thought it was important to produce both a physical book for reviewers as well as to get the novel into bookstores, and to offer an eBook to give readers a choice. CreateSpace made it happen. Having an actual book for sale on Amazon and elsewhere was particularly important for publicity."


As a communications professional, Bruce knew that good marketing would be a key factor in his book's success. He developed a website, a YouTube channel, and a book trailer, and then started on "teaser" publicity prior to the book launch. He also got active on Facebook and Twitter to engage with his readership via social media. He continues to update his website regularly with publicity, appearances, and good reviews, which continue to roll in.


"My best advice related to marketing: think out of the box," he said. "Yes, that sounds like a cliché, but it is essential. One example of this for Extra Innings is when we couldn't decide between two pieces of music for the book trailer soundtrack. We put both versions on the website and let viewers vote for their favorite, which produced great results."


Bruce hosted a book launch party in Fenway Park, which garnered media attention.  With the help of a publicist, he is also conducting book signings and a blog tour nationwide, with publicity attached to each one. He highlights all interviews, appearances and press mentions on his novel's website and in social media channels to build buzz, create greater search engine relevance, and to communicate that his book is more than just a baseball novel. Extra Innings was even https://createspacecommunity.s3.amazonaws.com/Showcase/BruceSpitzer_m.jpgfeatured in Sports Illustrated, twice in Publishers Weekly, and it appeared on the giant electronic Thomson-Reuters sign in Tim es Square.


All of those marketing efforts are paying off. Since it was published, Extra Innings has sold more than 10,000 digital and trade paperback copies in just a few months.The novel also reached the Top 10 list for sports fiction in the Kindle Store, right behind John Grisham and Stephen King and ahead of James Patterson. The sales are still streaming in, but that's not what Bruce considers his biggest success.


"Probably my most satisfying result is the number of complimentary fan emails I receive - particularly the large number from women readers, given the genre - and I answer all of them," he said. "It's all a part of the new marketing par adigm. Don't talk 'at' your target market; instead, engage in a dialogue. The sales reports provided by Amazon's Author Central also indicate that Extra Innings is being read in all 50 states and the U.K. That's very satisfying."


Given his publishing success so far, what does Bruce say when asked to answer the question that serves as the theme of his novel: what would you do differently?


"My only regret is that I did not work with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing sooner," he said. "I am a big believer in working with partners who have the expertise to help you. CreateSpace and Amazon were wonderful and responsive in my effort to create a great-looking book, prepare it for sale, and manage distribution."

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