I have a wonderful guest with me today. Greg Messel, author of Deadly Plunge, is going to tell you what it's like to self-publish and give you a few tips to help you if you decide to self-publish your book. Greg has actually written five novels and three unpublished memoirs. He published his premiere novel “Sunbreaks” in 2009, followed by Expiation in 2010 and The Illusion of Certainty in 2011. Last of the Seals is the first in a series of mysteries which are set in 1957 San Francisco. The second book in the series Deadly Plunge will be published around Christmas of 2012. Greg grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has had a newspaper career as a columnist, sportswriter and news editor. He won a Wyoming Press Association Award as a columnist while working for a daily newspaper in Wyoming. Greg also spent many years in the corporate world as a Financial Manager. He now devotes his energies to writing at his home in Edmonds, Washington on the Puget Sound just north of Seattle, where he lives with his wife, Carol.
Visit Greg’s website at www.gregmessel.com.
Thank you for this interview, Greg. You self-published your latest book, “Deadly Plunge.” Would you please tell us why you chose the self-publishing route?
I of course would love to have a big, lucrative deal with a publishing house to write books. However, that is becoming increasingly difficult. It has been getting harder not easier as time goes on. I know a few published authors--one who even had a New York Times bestseller--who couldn’t get a second book approved. I decided it would be better to keep writing books, get them out there via self publishing and start trying to attract attention. Given the alternatives I think this is the best route for me.
Take us through the process. You had an idea for your book, you wrote it, then you decided to find a publisher. What were your experiences with that? Or did you decide to self-publish without looking any further?
I began with one publisher who was very expensive to take your book through the process. I’ve learned a great deal not only about writing better and better books but also the other aspects involve. I have a professional editor that I really trust, I have a publishing coach who guides me through the process and a great designer that I have used on the interior and exterior of my last two books. I think it’s very important for self published authors to maintain a high professional standard. A book must be well written, well edited and have solid design. I’m very particular about book design and covers. I think a tacky cover will just scream “self published” and not in a complimentary way. If a self published author wants to find a good place to spend their money it should be to have a tightly edited book. My books haven’t been perfect but they are getting better and better.
What different online stores carry your book?
My books are on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.
Do you think that having your book self-published makes any difference to the media? Are they open to interviewing self-published authors or reviewing their books?
Authors who go the traditional route have an edge over self-published authors in regards to distribution to bookstores.
How did you handle that as a self-published author?
Unfortunately it does make a difference. There are some newspapers that will not review self published books--my local paper The Seattle Times being one of them. I have been interviewed about my books by the Seattle Post-intelligencer. Surprisingly, there are some bookstores which which are not open to stocking self published book. Even bookstores that you would imagine would support indie authors and books. I have had book signings at Costco, Sam’s Club, three at Borders. It is an uphill climb.
On the other hand, self-published authors have the edge over traditional books in the regards that the author has all the control. I’d like to begin with your cover. Did you make it or did you have someone else design it? If you had someone else, can you tell us who it is?
I have this great designer Khalid Winston who has done my last two books. I think all five of my books have great covers even if I do say so myself. I particularly like the last two Khalid has done. I like to turn my books over to professional editors and designers. He has also done book trailers for me which I love. I plan on having him do book number six when I complete it this winter.
Did you get someone to format it for you or did you do that?
I have someone handle the formatting for me. There is much more to that than it appears on the surface.
What was the hardest challenge for you to self-publish your book?
Marketing. It is frustrating to try to get noticed amongst the thousands of books rolling off of the presses constantly. I’ve learned a lot but it is an uphill struggle and not one for the easily discouraged.
What steps are you taking to promote it?
I’m very active in the social networking arena with Twitter, Facebook and GoodReads. I have my own blog and web site. I have been running ads on Facebook and Goodreads which are fairly economical. I also use virtual book tours like Pump Up Your Book. I’ve been very pleased with those results. I think social networking is the key. It’s not easy and takes diligence. I tweet a lot and use the Fan Pages on Facebook for each of my books. You have to stay after it.
What has been the best marketing tool or method you have used that has resulted in the most sales?
The virtual book tour produces a lot of attention. Getting reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble is very helpful. Giveaways and promotional opportunities also help. I recently gave away six copies of “Deadly Plunge” to readers who entered a contest on GoodReads. The good news is that 870 people entered the contest to try to win a copy of my book. Since the ebook is priced at $2.99, hopefully a bunch of the contest losers will pop with the $3 to get their own copy.
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other self-published authors?
It helps a great deal to join author’s groups and networking with people on line. I’ve found fellow authors to be great supporters and helpers. I try to help them as well.
Thank you for this interview, Greg Messel. We wish you much success!