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Monday, April 29, 2013

Interview with Michael Kimball on Self Publishing (Plus get a FREE book!)

In my March (2nd Quarter) Newsletter, Michael gave a great interview that I thought should be shared with those who don't read my Newsletter. (If you'd like to subscribe to my Quarterly Newsletter you can do so on the right side of this screen. Make sure to confirm subscription through your email. If you'd like an opportunity to be a Featured Blogger in one of my Newsletter send me an email.) 
Michael blogs with his lovely wife, Shelia, at LongingsEnd.com.
You can find out more about purchasing his books here.  
If you'd like to read my book review of "Portals" you can do so here- it's a great book!

1.       How many books have you published (you can list all the titles here if you’d like)?

To date, the books I’ve published include:
-        Portals (a novel)
-        Alligator Bay (fiction for young readers 8-12)
-        Timken’s Christmas (short story)
-        A House For Molly (short story)
-        The Girl and The Forest (short story)

2.       Have you self published all your books?

I’ve self-published all but one. My first book was The Girl and The Forest together with A House For Molly. It was published by a small publisher in Pennsylvania. They had been quite successful publishing quilting books but were taken with the two tales and wanted to get them out to the public. Unfortunately, there was a warehouse fire and all ten thousand copies were lost. Sometime afterwards, they went out of business so the title never really had a chance to get off the ground. Being my first foray as an author it was terribly disappointing and it would be years before I decided to give it another try.

3.       Have you used more than one publisher, if so why?

Yes, I have. In fact, I’ve yet to use the same publisher twice! I think it’s because, by the time I got more serious about writing for a wider audience than family and friends, the publishing world was embroiled in the sort of revolution in the industry we see peaking now. Competition in the self-publishing world is fierce and the number of players constantly increasing. Authors now have a wide variety of publishing venues from which to choose with many having their own particular strengths—and weaknesses.

4.       What publishing houses have you utilized? Please tell us which has been your favorite to work with and why?

The first publisher, the one in Pennsylvania, was RCW Publishing. Since then I’ve worked with iUniverse, Full Sail Books, and WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson. And I’ve self-published eBooks with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Booktango.

RCW Publishing was owned by Rebecca Wilber. She and her husband, Mark, became very dear friends and remain so to this day. I loved working with them.

Gretchen Ricker at Full Sail Books is wonderful to work with and I admire her efforts to inspire Christian authors and promote their work.
For my first novel, Portals, I decided to go with WestBow Press. There was some expense involved and it also entailed a much more disciplined and structured process. But the end result was the production of a book of very high quality in both hardcover, softcover and various eBook formats. There was the added benefit of being part of their parent company, Thomas Nelson, who monitors sales looking for titles they decide worthy of converting to a traditional royalty relationship.

Booktango was both frustrating and thrilling to work with. Their model is quite unique and they allow authors to retain 100% of the selling price of their books. In working with them I had occasion to enjoy the help of one of their executives who was passionate in his support. They still have room, in my opinion, to improve their process but they represent one of the better venues for authors wanting to break into the market as you can do an awfully lot at absolutely no cost.

5.       Did you do your own edits or hire someone?

Primarily, I’ve served as my own editor. But I also married one! Sheila has a background in journalism and has occasionally helped me on the editing front.

Being my own editor isn’t necessarily by choice. If I had the financial resources I’d love to write and leave the editing to someone else as the editing portion of writing is amazingly time consuming and requires different skills than creative writing.

6.       Did you query agents? Tell us about your experience.

I’ve disappointed myself in this regard as I haven’t given it the sort of unrelenting effort it needs to bear fruit. I’ve queried a handful but without success. And I know that it takes a far more dedicated and determined approach. One I am getting closer to pursuing in earnest.

7.       What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The same age-old advice that’s been offered before: Write! Hone your craft and keep at it. And take advantage of today’s dazzling array of self-publishing options. It’s easy to get a book published. Even at no cost at all. The harder part lies in marketing and sales. Of course, if the content isn’t compelling, if you don’t have a good book to begin with, no amount of marketing will ever sustain success.

You have to love to write. Write to benefit others. Especially the Audience of One. And be generous. Grow your fan base by being willing to share your work at low or even no cost. If it’s good reading that base will grow and perhaps one day provide the revenue stream you’re looking for so you can write full time.

8.       How do you market? Any marketing tips?

Marketing is a weakness for me but I’m getting better at it. It’s hard to balance the three-legged stool of writing, marketing and tent making to keep the bills paid.

My own approach has evolved to what I mentioned earlier: being generous and doing what I can to either give away copies or make them inexpensive to buy. In the current year you’ll see much more of this from me. I’m thinking that the first two or three novels are the seeds of generosity I need to sew to build a strong base of readers who enjoy my work and would then be willing to pay a reasonable amount for future works.

There are so many social platforms that can help get the word out, too. Like Facebook and Twitter, etc. Platforms that are organic where people who have read something they’ve enjoyed freely promote it at the grass roots level with their friends.

I’m also going to more aggressively pursue getting my books reviewed by people like you, TC. Folks who have a good reputation and a following of their own where my writing can be introduced to others I have no connection with.

9.       What was your favorite book to publish?

It’s hard to pick out a single title as my favorite. Each book holds a special place in my heart because each was written with someone in mind. Portals, being my first novel, perhaps holds an edge as it involves my working through a period of extended challenge in my life, helping me to sort through a painful and complex issue one bite at a time. It also led to meeting my wife, Sheila, joining two writers together in pursuit of our heart-child, Longings End.

10.   What’s the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

As much as I don’t like to admit it, my greatest challenge is my own laziness and procrastination!

11.   What’s the greatest lie satan tells you regarding your books?

That successful authors are few and far between and I’m not going to be one of them.

12.   How do you stay focused?

Love. Writing is love in motion. Why write if it isn’t to bring a benefit to your readers? There isn’t anything I’ve published that wasn’t written, as I’ve said, with someone in mind. And with love comes focused passion: the book must be written so it can go out and accomplish all you mean for it to.

13.   Who is your favorite author?

That’s an easy one for me: George MacDonald. He had a gigantic intellect harnessed to a likewise great and child-like heart and his writings covered an array of genres. Just as he has for countless others, he has helped me see my Lord ever more clearly, fanning flames of love for Jesus.

14.   What’s your favorite book (besides the Bible)?

George MacDonald’s, The Curate’s Awakening

15.   Any advice you’d like to share.

Write from the heart or don’t write at all. And if writing is your dream, the thing you believe you were meant to do, be willing to risk everything in pursuit.

16.   How can people purchase your books?

If your preference is for books in traditional print form you can buy them online at either Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. If you have a Kindle or Nook or don’t mind reading eBooks on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, we’ve set up a special opportunity at our Longings End Book Store where you can download a copy of any title of your choice for free. Just enter the discount code WISDOM during checkout and the price will be reduced to $0. This offer is good through the month of MAY!
I also want to encourage your readers to visit Gretchen Ricker’s website for Christian authors, Full Sail Books.

17.   Are you writing another book?

Internal Affairs is the working title of the next novel and there are several chapters already written. (You can get a preview by visiting the Novels page of the Longings End website.) I hope to see it published and available to the public sometime in 2013.

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