So today I was listening to my Dreamgirls CD, as I do, because I love it. And as I was listening I thought of the movie and how much it was a journey to break into an industry. It made me think how hard it can be to break into any kind of industry – not just the music one. Especially the writing and book publishing industry because there are so many other authors out there! I wanted to discuss this with you.
In reference to the Dream Girls movie, they start out as background singers – not even in the limelight themselves. Once they go their own way everything is going fine, until one of theirs songs is stolen. It turns out that the “good” people in the industry only get cheated and tricked, so they end up having to go to the dark side and doing everything themselves. In the end their producer even steals a song to make them more successful. It made me wonder, do we only get to the top if we are competitive and use all the tricks and tips to get there? Or is it possible to get out there the good and clean way? Do we have to be patient as it so demands?
As well as that, when it comes to writing there are two lines of things: the self-published and publishing house published way. They are both pretty full of competition. For a self-published author it is all about publicizing yourself, advertising your own work and hoping you can keep up your head above all the other authors out there clambering to do the same. I asked self-published author Kory M Shrum of Dying For A Living, and Kelly Oram of Cinder and Ella to answer some questions!
How do you advertise your book as a self-published author?
Kory: Diligently! There are many resources that are available to help authors (not just self-published ones) to sell their work. For example, book bloggers can help you organize book tours and host interviews and features of your work online. You can also do paid lists like The Fussy Librarian, Book Gorilla or Bookbub. There is a good book on advertising strategies called “Let’s Get Visible” by David Gaughan, but it all boils down to “leave no stone unturned!"
Kelly: Personally, I don't pay for much advertisement. I don't know a lot about the advertising world and wouldn't know where to begin navigating it. I try maximize all the little or no cost options I have in gaining exposure as an author. I thrive off of reviews and word of mouth for the majority of my advertising. Reviews left on Amazon do wonders for the sales of every book. I also spend a lot of time reaching out to bloggers. I offer review copies of my books in exchange for reviews from them, or I write guest posts and interviews to gain exposure to my readers. I'll hold the occasional sale of my book and advertise it through various kindle deal sites, and I'll participate in author events, and host giveaways.
What do you think the future holds for you, writing-wise?
Kory: More writing. I intend for this to be my career, so I do not see an end to it any time soon. I love science fiction, fantasy, and horror best, so I imagine that I’ll stay in those genres mostly.
Kelly: I'm in a really good place right now, writing-wise. I put out a couple books a year, and participate in at least one author-promo event a year. I am thrilled with the success I've had so far, and don't really have a need to reach beyond what I'm already doing. I don't foresee much changing for me in the future. I have no desire to jump to traditional publishing. I'll just continue to tell my stories and be grateful when people buy them.
How do the reviews and feedback you have affect your writing?
Kory: I’ve been lucky in that the majority of my readers so far have been unabashedly positive about my work. That has certainly encouraged me to keep going! That being said, I think it is important that you try to just focus on the work and don’t let outside forces sway you.
Kelly: I live for feedback. I have a small group of beta readers and proofreaders, and I cherish their feedback. Constructive criticism is invaluable to me and it always makes my work stronger. Reviews are different. I try very hard not to read reviews at all unless the bloggers posting them send them personally to my email. It's not that I'm not grateful to my reviewers, but reading reviews really does effect my work. Everyone reads and interprets a book slightly differently, and even with a positive review, they may see something different than I intended, or they didn't love every aspect of it. I'm never offended by negative reviews but it's impossible to please everyone all the time. But when I read a lot of reviews I find myself trying to do exactly that. I actually stunt my own writing process because I start writing more for the readers than for myself. I've learned to stick with my feedback and simply say thank you for my reviews without reading them.
Is it good to have the control over your book without a contract from a publishing house?
Kory: Absolutely. For the same reasons as the last question--you don’t have to please anyone but yourself and your loyalty lies with your vision of the work.
Kelly: I think it depends on the personality of the author. Some writers aren't good at making everything happen themselves. They simply want to write their stories and hand the project over to someone else to get it published. For those people I think traditional publishing is a better way to go. For me, the control freak who doesn't do well having a boss or deadlines, and a million people asking me to do a million different things, self publishing has been a dream. It is a LOT of work, and it's been a HUGE learning process. But for me, it was the best option and I'm completely happy with it. I doubt I'll ever cross over to traditional publishing.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
Kory: I’m terribly impatient! I had an agent for 4 years before I decided that I could do this on my own. Writing cannot be done in a vacuum. Every writer needs their audience and what better way to get their work into the hands of readers than to deliver it personally?! J
Kelly: For me, it was an easy choice. I never intended to be a published author. I never went to college for it. I never even took a creative writing class in high school. I never wanted to be a "writer." Writing stories was just something I did as a hobby. It was my deep dark secret for years. When I was in high school I got into writing fan fiction and posting it online. After years of that I decided to try creating my own characters. Eventually I had a book I thought was "publishable" but I still didn't like the idea of trying to pursue a career in writing. I didn't even really have the desire. My husband suggested we self publish it just for fun and see what happens. I cannot believe how far that one decision has taken me. I'm overwhelmed by the response I've had to my work, and have somehow become a career writer despite all my intentions of never being one. I can't complain though. I get to do what I love and share my stories with the world. Being a writer is the best ever.
Join me in the future as we get to find out about the traditional publishing side of things!
Olivia's Question: Would you be interested in self-publishing?