5 Takeaways from Interviewing Author Erik Buchanan
If you follow this blog at all, you know that I also host a little podcast called Writing Is Hard Work. This week's podcast is one you should probably listen to if you haven't been listening.
I had the privilege to interview Erik Buchanan this week. You can find the show in question by clicking HERE, but Erik turned out to be a fount of very valuable information.
Erik has written a wonderful out-of-the-box fantasy novel entitled The Trials of Abyowith, is an actor, a fight choreographer, a ghost writer and a very good writer. I'm a couple chapters into Trials and I love it. He has created a female heroine who is not in any way cliche or trite, and a fantasy world that is gritty and realistic. I will be reviewing it when I finish reading it, which won't be long because it is indeed a page turner.
Erik has been traditionally published, but has chosen to self-publish for reasons he lays out in the podcast, but I wanted to share five things I learned from Erik that might help you. There are many more bits of wonderful advice in the podcast, so please give it a listen. You won't be sorry you did.
Mailing Lists - If you jump over to Erik's site, you'll find a handy sign-up form that offers something really cool: a free book! If you sign up on his mailing list, you'll receive periodic emails with his newsletter where he will inform you about what he's up to, but also is a way to sell more books. After getting a free book myself, I discovered that he is using a service called "Bookfunnel". For a measly $100 A YEAR you can set up this service that allows up to 500 downloads a month of your free book. If you have a series like Erik (and yours truly) you can offer the first in the series for free and then when the new one comes out (or is already available) you can send out an email to all those on your mailing list that it's available. This should garner a lot of sales if they liked the first one.
Publicity vs Marketing - Erik has a background in marketing, and he told me that "publicity is free but marketing costs money". What I'm doing by interviewing Erik and then writing this blog post about the interview is publicity. It's free. I'm not getting anything monetarily from Erik and he's not getting anything monetarily from me. We are sharing each other's advice and experience with the hopes that people will go out and buy our books. Marketing is where you go on Facebook and buy $150 a month in ads and hope that someone who reads the ads clicks on your site. Both are necessary to help the indie writer get their books into the hands of readers. You have to find the balance on your own, but as Erik says, there is real science behind what makes people buy your book.
Conventions are Worth It - When we are able to go back to having conventions (In the U.S., due to stupidity, that may be a while) getting a table at a convention is a good thing. If you set up your table, displaying your hard work in paperback form on a lovely velvet tablecloth, the key is to make connections. When people come by your table, say hi and try to strike up conversations with people. Erik goes into the details of the math on the podcast, but if you make real connections with readers across a convention table (or volunteer for panels where you talk about fun things) you might get some book sales just by being a nice human. I have had success with this in the past. It works.
Discipline - I have advocated writing 1000 words a day whether you want to or not. It turns out this is great advice. Sure, you might write garbage on one day and great work on the next, but you also might write garbage for a week. The thing to remember is that by writing in this disciplined manner you will churn out many things you can keep once you go to the editing stage. So, stay off social media for a while, shut everything down, and don't leave the keyboard until you've cranked out those words!
You Are A Publisher - I think I knew this one all along, but he brought to light a truth that is something we all, as indie writers, have to face. We are publishers. We publish our own work, which means we hire editors, we hire book cover artists, we may even hire people to format our books for print and various digital formats (even though you can just use Scrivener for formatting). This means that we also have to do our own publicity and marketing. It takes time, and since most of us have day jobs, it takes not watching television or surfing social media all the time. It means sitting here on a Saturday morning writing a blog post or taking an evening to interview someone via zoom for a podcast or going on someone else's podcast as a guest. You'd be surprised how many indie authors will say "yes" to this kind of thing if you ask. I use Twitter DMs and it's been a very successful way to contact other writers.
That being said, if you are a writer and want some FREE PUBLICITY, I'll be happy to interview you via Zoom! Just go to my contact page and send me a message.
If you want more (and there is much more!) tune in to the podcast HERE and listen to Erik's wisdom. It pays to listen to advice from an expert when it's freely given. You can learn a lot from him because I certainly did.