August 2017 - Elena Paige

EPISODE 20: Marketing to a niche target market with Steven K. Smith

Today’s interview is with indie author Steven K. Smith.

        

Steven K. Smith is the author of the middle-grade series The Virginia Mysteries. Currently at five books, it combines modern-day fictional adventures with historical locations and figures like St. John’s Church, Belle Isle, Maymont, Patrick Henry, Robert E. Lee, Lewis Ginter, and many others. His other works include the middle-grade comedy Brother Wars, the parenting memoir Splashing in the Deep End, and the adult contemporary fiction novel Harborwood (written as Steven Sawyer). Over the past two years, Steven has visited more than 50 elementary schools in central Virginia. His first book, Summer of the Woods, is in development for film.

 

                        

      

 

In this interview, Steven shares how he began to find success when he wrote with a particular focus in mind:

  • Steve’s mystery/adventure books incorporate the local history of Virginia where the books are based, making them popular at local schools and in other schools across the US.
  • Using the power of traditional media (newspaper or local newsletters) to gain the attention of local schools and influencers.
  • Start with your niche target market whether it’s your location or sub category of book topic to penetrate your market. As you build your local or niche market it starts to grow and expand.
  • Rebranding covers once you have a few books in a series to appeal to a wider audience and have professional looking books.
  • Chipping away at little things locally, like approaching local bookstores or other places where your book may fit – it all begins to snowball to create synergy.
  • Aim to get a Bookbub feature as a way to market and broaden your audience even if it feels like you’re sacrificing income initially. It gives books a great spike to help your books’ discoverability.
  • Writing and releasing a new book also incrementally grows the success and saleability of the previous books.
  • Institutionalizing a series rather than concentrating on one reader or fan: get your book/s into gift shops, Barnes and Noble stores and especially on school reading lists and libraries. This ensures your book stays around even as new children cycle through. This is a long term goal but one worth pursuing.
  • Do initial outreach via email with a pdf which includes covers of the books, what they are about and information about yourself, the author. Then find the email addresses and create a spreadsheet with contact details of librarians and schools sending your package out as an introduction and/or to arrange school visits.
  • Pitching school visits: In Steve’s case he highlights the history included in his books as a draw card, but choose what you think is relevant about your books to the school environment and communicate this value to the schools you contact.
  • Make sure you get social proof when you visit schools – get testimonials from parents, teachers, librarians, and get some photos of yourself while speaking.
  • Capitalize on the general appeal that local authors have in their area. Schools do appreciate local author visits.
  • Series do sell better than stand alone books in general.
  • How to balance your time writing new books versus getting out and about promoting and marketing your backlist.
  • Providing your books in as many forms as possible including paperback, hardback, ebook and audio books.
  • Creating supplemental materials to go along with your books.
  • Getting your books in the Accelerated Reader Program.
  • How do you know when it’s time to go full-time as a writer/author?

Enjoy the show.

You can find Steven online at www.VirginiaMysteries.com,  follow him on AMAZON, and get social with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bonus Episode: Adopting a growth mindset with Elena Paige and Marti Dumas

On today’s show Marti and Elena discuss how to embrace a growth mindset in order to help the indie author journey be more enjoyable and successful. Elena has twenty years experience working as a counseling psychologist and offers much advice and support around how you can embrace a positive mindset.

Lots of golden nuggets of advice and discussion with some of the main points covered including:

  • Debunking the myth that it is impossible to be successful as an indie author writing for children!
  • Who you surround yourself with can influence your own thinking and attitudes.
  • The 100th monkey theory and the research of Rupert Sheldrake into morphic fields.
  • Adopting positive expectations – when you genuinely expect to make a full time living as an author then you are moving towards creating this as your reality.
  • Make conscious decisions about what you want your mindset to be rather than allowing your subconscious mind to choose for you.
  • Actively use techniques and methods available to change your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.
  • Elena discusses her morning journaling routine.
  • Don’t copy what you perceive to be positive mindsets of other successful people but instead find your own. Think, feel and believe the things that help you be an individual and that genuinely work for you.
  • The importance of acknowledging your negative beliefs and thoughts when they arise, so you can move past them and adopt more positive beliefs instead. Recognising your shadow is important.
  • Having a growth mindset means you challenge yourself; you take on the things that make you feel uncomfortable and are out of your comfort zone. You want your limiting beliefs to be revealed so you can change them.
  • Elena shares Catherine Ponder’s 12 mind powers for success: Life, Imagination, Power, Judgment, Understanding, Zeal, Elimination, Faith, Love, Order, Will and Strength.
  • Living the life you want now and using a vision board to help you identify what you really want.
  • When working on improving your own mindset try a variety of things and then measure your success to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Keep doing the things that work for you and are sustainable long term.
  • Improving your mindset is an ongoing thing because personal development is cyclical, not hierarchical. What this means is you don’t improve yourself once and it is done. Your old beliefs may appear to come up again and again because time is fractal, meaning things go around and around. So working on keeping your mindset growing means you commit to working on yourself regularly without judging your progress or comparing yourself to others.

Enjoy the show.

 

LISTEN HERE:

WATCH HERE:

EPISODE 19: Selling books at live events with Donovan Scherer

Today’s interview is with author and illustrator Donovan Scherer.

Donovan creates worlds of adventure with a sense of humor and a little bit of dread that everything will go terribly, terribly wrong. His books include Fear and Sunshine (books 1-3), Breakfast Doodles (books 1-9), Monsters Around the Campfire, Lost Tomorrow, and The Color of Madness: A Coloring Book of Monsters, Mad Science and a Little Hippie Girl.

 

In this interview, Donovan covers the success he’s had selling his books live at comic conventions, and art and craft shows. He also gave some great advice for finding, hiring and working with illustrators.

  • Do lots of research on what comic conventions and market stalls are local to you. Find out how they do things and what is involved to be a part of them, including costs and who attends them. After doing many over the past year Donovan has discovered that he does best at the events that draw families to attend. He hasn’t had much luck with collectible shows, so will avoid them in future.
  • Be prepared when you attend an event. Make sure you have enough stock of books and some nice banners (possibly of your books). Make your display child-friendly to attract parents and kids to it.
  • Give some thought to your sales process. Donovan hands people that approach his table a bookmark and asks them if they’ve read the books before. He also offers bundled books at a discount price. You need to get involved and actively participate to get sales.
  • When it comes to finding a great illustrator make sure you get good character design from the onset. Get the illustrator to draw the main character/s walking, running, sitting, crouching etc.  It’s important to capture the characters personality. See the Batman Character Series Bible as a reference point.
  • Get a good idea of an artist/illustrators style of work by following them on Instagram or where ever else they post their illustrations regularly.
  • We also discuss Lexile reading level, and discussion guides and resources for teachers. A great website for ideas on creating educational resources is www.teacherspayteachers.com.

Enjoy the show.

You can find Donovan online at www.donovanscherer.com or at www.studiomoonfall.com,  follow him on AMAZON, get social with him on Facebook and Twitter.

LISTEN HERE:

WATCH HERE: