Jan 23, 2012

Author Allen Schatz talks about marketing for self-publishers


A little less than a year ago, Allen Schatz published his first book on Smashwords.

Going the self-publishing route didn't come easy to him. He had an agent and when that didn't work out, Schatz took advantage of the growing industry.

Since then he's become his own PR agent as well.

In this Q&A, I talk to Schatz about marketing himself while trying to maintain his writing lifestyle and not letting his "real" job get in the way.

Read the interview after the jump:


Q. When did you publish your first book?

A. Game 7: Dead Ball was first published on February 4, 2011, as an eBook via Smashwords. 7th
Inning Death was released as an eBook on May 18. Rally Killer was released as an eBook on
August 4. Paperback versions of each were published starting in July via CreateSpace (a POD
service from Amazon).

Q. What made you go the self-publishing ebook route?

A. I started out doing everything the guide books (mainly Writer's Market) said to do. After
completing the final draft of Game 7: Dead Ball in early 2009 (I started writing it in the first half
of 2008), I sent out query letters to a large collection of agents. Rejection, as expected, was early
and often, but eventually, I found an agent who took on my project.

Short version is eighteen months later, in early January 2011, the agent released me after having
failed to sell the book to any traditional publishing houses in New York or elsewhere. A lot
changed in that time. I wrote the second and third books, but more importantly, self-publishing
too off.

It became less about "vanity" as it was once known, and more about "an alternative" to
traditional publishing. In my case, I'd invested too much into to simply walk away after the agent
dropped me. I also didn't want to chase down another one at that point. As a result, I pushed
forward, did some research, found Smashwords, and went from there.

Q. In the time since you published your first book, how much time have you spent in marketing
yourself?

A. The marketing effort really began as soon as I secured the agent. Since formally publishing the
books, it has been a non-stop effort. As an indie/self published writer, I don't have an unlimited
budget. I have to use social media (my site, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as my outlet, doing whatever
I can to inspire word-of-mouth among the reading public.

I work on it pretty much every day. I have to. There is a very large pile of books to be read; I
have to somehow get near the top.

Q. What do you do specifically to put yourself out there?

A. I set up a website and started sharing it with Facebook and Twitter friends. I am actively
involved in various groups on Facebook, writers and readers, and added an author page there to
supplement my personal page. I also have a blog at my website.

I am active on Twitter, engaging readers/fans and others and dropping in promos as much as
I can without being overly spammy (another topic that could fill pages; the fine line between
promo/spam). I also use an automation tool to help search for profiles that might be in my target
audience. At last look I had 10K followers.

I've also worked with other writers and various other online groups to get exposure. I've done a
number of web radio interviews. I've done guest blog posts on other writers' sites. It's all about
getting exposure.

Q. How difficult is it to manage the time between marketing and writing?

A. The intent was that writing would be my new career. Given that it hasn't become so yet, it is
very difficult as I am now working a "real" job full-time. The window I had to write the three
books has closed at this point (a window where writing/marketing was all I had to do). Now it is
a conscious effort to carve out time to do both within my work day.

I haven't yet fully figured it out… book 4 remains "in process" at this point; I thought I'd be done
with it by now.

Q. What sort of things caught you by surprise when you first started doing this?

A. I think the biggest surprise is the significant bias against writing (and skills of a "creative"
nature) in general. Many people I thought of as "friends" were entirely cold to the
announcements of the books, as if such was no big deal. That I was "self" publishing added to it.
It's as if that is somehow not worthy of someone's time.

On a more positive note, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the books are being received
as more and more people read them. That I have a small but loyal group of fans is pretty cool. To
have someone tell you they enjoyed the work and want more is something special.

The ultimate surprise still awaits, that elusive call from a big time publisher or that elusive
shout out from someone famous who notices me, the last push to put me over (as they say in the
wrestling business).

I'll keep plugging away until that happens. "Patience" is forever a writer's number one necessary
skill.

Q. How many books have you sold to date?

A. As of today, I am just short of 500 total units sold in all formats (I'm hoping to hit 500 by my
one year anniversary). It is both small, but large, especially given that the experts normally
suggest "100 sold in a lifetime" is the expected average.

Like I said, I just have to keep plugging away.

###

Website: http://www.allenschatz.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllenSchatzWriting
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/raschatz

Find my books on Amazon, B&N, iTunes, and many other sites. For a complete list, visit: http://
www.allenschatz.com/wherebuy.html

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