Thank you for this interview, Linda. You self-published your latest book, French Illusions. Would you please tell us why you chose the self-publishing route?
A: I chose to self-publish my paperback through Dog Ear Publishing. They gave me control over design, editing, pricing and allowed me to retain all the rights to my book. All of these elements were important to me. Then, I contracted with BookBaby to create my eBook, which I published using my own Limited Liability Corporation called Dreamland Press. They charge a fee to create the eBook, but they don’t take a percentage of the royalties.
Take us through the process. You had an idea for your book, you wrote it, then you decided to find a publisher. What were your experiences with that? Or did you decide to self-publish without looking any further?
A: I made a half-hearted attempt to find a publisher in the beginning. I fashioned a query letter and emailed selected agents specifically interested in memoirs. None of them responded favorably, but it didn’t matter. I had already moved on with plans to self-publish.
What different online stores carry your book?
A: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, Reader Store (for Sony), Kobo, Copia, Gardners, and eSentral.
Do you think that having your book self-published makes any difference to the media? Are they open to interviewing self-published authors or reviewing their books?
A: It depends on which ones. I think old-line media, such as The New York Times, still cater to the big publishing houses and established authors. New media, particularly in the digital realm, seem more open to reviews and interviews with self-published authors. The Seattle PI and the Kirkland Reporter, local newspapers in my hometown, didn’t seem to care that I was a self-published author. Both of them ran online stories about French Illusions.
Authors who go the traditional route have an edge over self-published authors in regards to distribution to bookstores. How did you handle that as a self-published author?
A: Yes, this is a difficult area for self-published authors. I’m focusing on social media to promote my book. When I reach a reasonable sales number, I’ll be able to approach local bookstores with proposals, such as book signings. They’ll take me more seriously if I come to them with concrete numbers.
On the other hand, self-published authors have the edge over traditional books in the regards that the author has all the control. I’d like to begin with your cover. Did you make it or did you have someone else design it? If you had someone else, can you tell us who it is?
A: Authorbytes, my website developer, came up with the idea for my cover, but Dog Ear Publishing actually created it.
Did you get someone to format it for you or did you do that?
A: Dog Ear Publishing came up with the interior design for French Illusions, including the idea to introduce each of the four sections with a photograph. Bookbaby handled the formatting of my eBook after I emailed a copy of the pdf.
What was the hardest challenge for you to self-publish your book?
A: Everything took longer than I thought it would. French Illusions was a highly complicated edit given the foreign setting. It took three different editors nine months to complete the process. Three more months passed while Dog Ear Publishing created the cover and produced the interior parts of the hard copy book. Another month slid by while BookBaby created my eBook file. Formatting issues ate up another month. It was a long, drawn-out process that kept me up nights.
What steps are you taking to promote it?
A: First, I created a detailed marketing plan. Then, I contracted with Steve Bennett at Authorbytes to construct a modern interactive website which includes widgets linking my Twitter account, my blog, my Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest. I stay active on all of these sites, posting to my blog once a week, Facebook once a day and Twitter every few hours. I’ve also signed up with Pump Up Your Book for a Virtual Book Tour.
What has been the best marketing tool or method you have used that has resulted in the most sales?
A: I don’t have all of the sales figures for my book, so I can’t say for sure. Google analytics shows that a targeted Twitter audience drives the most traffic to my website.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other self-published authors?
A: Hire a professional editor. I mean it. You can’t edit your own book. You won’t see the mistakes because you are too close to the writing. It will cost you a few hundred dollars for a line editor, a bit more if you need some in-depth editing, but it’s the best money you will ever spend. I cringe every time I read a negative review where the main complaint is formatting, spelling or punctuation. You want readers to judge you solely on the content of your story.