Today's special blog guest is author Jeff Bennington. Jeff has written some great spooky thrill-rides-- Twisted Vengeance, Reunion and Creepy-- and learned a lot along the way. He shares some of that process in The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. As always, check below the interview for links. As a special bonus, Jeff and I will give away an e-book of this fantastic guide! For a chance to enter the draw, just leave a comment and share this post around.
(And now for a quick, cheeky word from our sponsor- me! Jeff makes great use of his KDP free days-- it made all the difference to his sales. I will be offering my newest short story 'Family Secrets' on April 7/8th- check it out this Saturday and Sunday only! http://www.amazon.com/Family-Secrets-ebook/dp/B007D8TLP2)
*Cue music: Jeff Bennington walks through a virtual curtain, waves to the audience and has a seat by my desk*
Thank you, Ruth. I appreciate the invite.
1- First off, tell us why you decided to write this helpful guide.
I decided to write this book for two reasons. As my blog, The Writing Bomb (http://www.thewritingbomb.blogspot.ca/) has grown, I’ve seen a demand amongst indie authors for creative ways to build their platform, market their books, get motivated, and sell their books. They have questions in an overwhelming business and are seeking answers wherever they can find them. Well, I like sharing so I’ve basically blogged about everything I’ve learned. And of all the blog posts I write, the ones about self-publishing, marketing, cover design, platform building, etc, have been the most popular. And these posts seem to resonate with a lot of authors.
This leads to the second reason. As I looked at the content that I had accumulated over the previous year, I noticed that I had enough material to fill a book. The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is not a pamphlet-sized guide. No; this dude is 220 pages of solid indie-author coolness. In the end, I added a few more chapters covering subjects that I didn’t want to miss like marketing layering and my “floatation pricing strategy”.
2- Let’s jump back in time: if you were just starting out on your own Indie journey, what are the top three things you wish you had known from the outset?
Okay. That’s easy.
The first thing I would have wanted to know is that it’s possible to turn my love of writing into a profitable business, but that it would take a lot of patience and multiple titles before that happens. I think that information alone would have created healthier expectations on my part.
The next thing I really needed to know is how important it is to hire a professional editor. Family, friends, old teachers and spouses are the last people you should use to edit your work. They are too emotionally attached. The best person to hire is someone who is an editor with experience, and has a good reputation in editing novels.
The third thing that is so important for writers to understand is that they will no longer be writers when they publish. They will become businessmen and women. I believe authors, both self-pubbed and trad-pubbed completely underestimate how much time and energy they must put into marketing their book.
3- a) What was your biggest misstep?
Not paying for editing on my first try.
b) How did it make you feel?
Like a failure. But I’ve felt that before, and I didn’t like it then either, so I did what I’ve always done; I peeled my sorry ass off the floor, shook the dust off and dove into fixing my mistakes and learning what it takes to write a novel that can compete on a professional level. The results of those efforts paid off when Reunion hit the top 100 on Amazon and is still consistently in the top 100 ghost category.
4- a) What was your greatest triumph?
When Reunion hit the top 100 on Christmas Eve. Next to my wife and children, that was the greatest gift I had ever received.
b) You’ve had some great success along the way. What makes this the most outstanding example?
Mostly because it paid in dollars, and not just accolades. Accolades are great and can in fact sell books. But cash is tangible and it affirmed the effort I had put into my writing.
5- What is the best thing about being an Indie author?
Control. Writers seeking traditional publishing have no idea how little they will have. I can re-edit, make a new cover, reset my pricing, change marketing strategies, add excerpts of one book to another, and the list goes on and on. Being my own publisher has its down side, too. I am responsible for everything. But that’s okay. It’s my life and I can live it they way I want to without being held to deadlines by folks that think my life revolves around my books, because it doesn’t.
6- There’s a dark side to everything in life… so how about the worst thing?
I write about the dark side of life; abuse, hatred, pain. But I also write about the bright side. You can’t have one without the other. That works in indie publishing as well. If you aren’t careful, your writing and marketing can ruin your life. It has the power to grow like a weedy vine and totally consume you if you let it. My advice is, don’t let it. Be proactive in managing your craft and family/life. Darkness and light, good and evil; they can be found on the indie road just as easily as any road you choose.
7- Not only have you produced this great guidebook, but you are also behind The Kindle Book Review (http://www.thekindlebookreview.blogspot.ca/) What inspired you to establish the site, and what sorts of helpful things can Indie authors find when they visit?
Well, first of all, they’ll find a website that is growing at the same rate that indie authors are accepted in the eyes of readers.
This site acts as a filter. That’s bad news for the indie authors who expect us to feature their book when it has not been tested by the public. We won’t do it. We require a minimum of 10 reviews and a 4-star rating.
We do this because we want to strengthen the world’s image of indie authors. So to those indies that have crafted an exceptional read, we give them a voice, a place where they can reach out to readers willing to try new authors. We offer several promotional opportunities, and give free reviews. And now we have initiated The Best Indie Books of 2012 contest. This contest awards cash to authors and prizes for readers, too. This is just another effort in bringing Kindle readers closer to the indie author, which is the ultimate goal.
8- Last but not least… what’s next for Jeff Bennington?
I’d like to finish Twisted Vengeance II, re-publish my political thriller series as in collaboration with Caleb Pirtle and Stephen Woodfin, two highly experienced authors. I am also collecting true ghost stories, believe it or not, from my fans, for Creepy II coming in October 2012. So all in all, I plan to publish 4 books in the coming year and then I think I’ll get back into a non-fiction I’m working on called Spiritually Self-Medicating, the one book I have to write before I’m dead.
Thanks for your time, Jeff!
Thank you. And thanks for being patient with me.
|The Happy, Helpful Jeff Bennington!|
Check out Jeff Bennington's Amazon Author Page for links to all of his awesome books! http://www.amazon.com/Jeff-Bennington/e/B002UG4PTE
And don't forget to leave a comment below for an entry to win this fabulous book: The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.