“First, make sure the books are well-written, carefully edited and professionally produced. Don’t expect overnight success. Even if you have a great product, you will have to market it to the right readers on a continual basis in order to see sales. Be patient, keep on learning from other publishers’ successes, and don’t give up.”
Why did you become a book publisher? I had written the first two novels of a mystery series and had become frustrated with the querying process; in spite of positive feedback from readers and getting close to landing a prominent New York agent, I was tired of sending out queries one by one, sometimes waiting months for a reply. I've always enjoyed working with computers and had experience with a wide range of programs, so once I realized I had the skills and technology to publish my own books, there was no stopping me.
What do you like best about publishing? I enjoy having total control over my books, right from putting each word on the page to planning the layout to choosing the perfect cover. Once my novel is complete, I can accomplish the actual publishing in weeks, instead of waiting a year or more to see the final result by going with a traditional big publisher. There's a tremendous sense of satisfaction when the proof copies finally arrive at the post office.
What do you publish? So far, I am only publishing my own work, which is a traditional mystery series call the Highway Mysteries. The hero is a former RCMP homicide investigator who resigned from the force and bought himself a Freightliner to haul semi-trailers up and down the highways of North America.
What is the most effective form of marketing for your press? I sell way more e-books than I do print books. With e-books, especially with a series like mine, doing a temporary free promotion with the first novel in the series results in a huge spike in sales of the other novels in the series. These promotions can be effectively advertised by direct email (e.g. services like BookBub or Book Gorillla), as well as through guest blogging, web advertising, and social media announcements. As for print copies, my marketing is mainly done via direct mail to bookstores and libraries, print advertising in regional magazines, and occasional press releases. When I have one or two more books in the series, I intend to take advantage of IBPA's marketing benefits.
How do you define a successful title? I consider my titles successful when I get feedback from readers that they've enjoyed the story and want to read more books in the series. Online reviews are a good indicator that readers enjoy the mysteries, and sales of the other books in the series confirm it.
Tell us about one of your titles about which you are especially proud. I was pleased that my second title, ICE ON THE GRAPEVINE, was a finalist for the 2012 Global E-book Award in Mystery Fiction. The Global E-book Awards were introduced by Dan Poynter, a well-known and respected pioneer in the field of digital publishing.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success? Aside from learning to write a good mystery novel, which took me over a decade of studying and learning the craft, the biggest challenge to publishing success has been gaining attention for my mystery series in the intensely competitive world of genre fiction. There are so many mystery novels being added to the already huge selection of previously published works that it is extremely difficult to get noticed.
What advice do you have for newcomers to book publishing? First, make sure the books are well-written, carefully edited and professionally produced. Don't expect overnight success. Even if you have a great product, you will have to market it to the right readers on a continual basis in order to see sales. Be patient, keep on learning from other publishers' successes, and don't give up.
How will you and your company be positioned in five years? In five years, I plan to have another five or six novels in the series, bringing the total number of Highway Mysteries to nine. By that time, I should have a big enough fan base to guarantee profitable sales of each new release.
When you're not fully immersed in publishing, what do you do for fun? I could say, I write mystery novels, but for me the writing and publishing are all tied together. I recently moved to a ranch in cattle country. Next year we hope to have some cattle grazing on our land during the summer, and I can fulfill my childhood dream of being a cowgirl, riding my horse to check the perimeter fences with my trusty ranch dogs trotting alongside. In the winter, it'll be cross country skiing and maybe even a little dog sledding. And of course, like most writers, I love to read.
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