23.8.15

Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors #10 – Jeremy Bates


Welcome to the tenth interview in the popular series, Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors. Today's guest is award-winning author Jeremy Bates. Jeremy is a Canadian/Australian author. His work typically explores the darker side of human nature and the novels in his "World's Scariest Places" series are all set in real locations, such as Aokigahara in Japan, The Catacombs in Paris, and Helltown in Ohio. He is also the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller White Lies, which was nominated for the 2012 Foreword Book of the Year Award. Without further ado, here he is, the talented Jeremy Bates:



Who are you and where do you come from? Do you think that your life experience has gone someway towards making you a successful author in your chosen genre?

Hey, Will. I was born in Canada but now live in Australia. In between I’ve lived all over the place, including Japan, Korea, the Philippines etc. And, sure, I think my life experience has shaped me as an author. Most of my books are set all over the world: Japan, France, Africa, and so forth. I like different places, exotic places. Also, the characters are often from all over, whether they are Japanese, German, British, Australian, French. Part of this is because of where the stories are seat, but I also like using international characters because a lot of people I’ve met, a lot of friends, are from different countries. And you write what you know about, right? I should also mention that living in Japan got me into the horror genre, which is what I write now. My first novel was straight up suspense. My second was more an action thriller. I only started writing horror because I knew about Aokigahara in Japan and thought it would make a great setting for a story. And, given the subject matter, it sort of had to be horror. Anyway, it kicked off the World’s Scariest Places series.



Many of your stories feature elements and tropes from different genres. For example, thriller, horror and travel adventure styles and themes populate most of your work – would you call yourself a slip-stream author? What genre do you most identify your work with?

I would call myself a horror writer, but I focus more on the story than on the genre. Simply put, if I get a good idea for a story, I’ll probably try to write it, regardless of genre. For example, I’ve written several novellas which I would broadly classify as horror, but they could just as easily be dark suspense, or psychological suspense. One even borders on sci-fi.



Where do you get your inspiration from for your writing and for the way you brand yourself as an author?

This is an easy question. I get my inspiration from scary real life places. If you do a google search on “scary places” you get pages and pages of results. As far as branding goes, I guess I’ve just branded my books as horror set in real locations.



Your stories are many things –  adventurous, violent, terrifying –  if you could pinpoint one thing in particular that has grabbed readers of your work, what would you say it is?

The settings. People seem to like that they are set in real locations that they could visit, if they so pleased.



You have enjoyed best-selling status on Amazon – is there a particular moment in your career as an author that you realized that you had done something right to get where you are now? Can you pinpoint what it was that spiked your success to date?

Deciding to self-publish. It’s been great to have complete control over everything. Also, I’m no longer writing for my publisher, or agent, or what I think they think will sell. I’m writing what I want to.



Your first novel was traditionally published. Did you try to get publishing contracts for your other books early on with traditional book publishers? If so, did you have any success there or if not what was it that made you decide to self-publish the majority of your work?

My first two books were traditionally published. White Lies hit #1 overall in the Paid Kindle Store. But this didn’t translate into a huge windfall of cash for me because traditional publishers take a massive chunk—especially if you’re a first-time author and have a crappy contract. Having said this, I still tried to get Suicide Forest traditionally published. I had a great agent work on it, and he sent it out to the Big Five and others. That was back in late 2013. But I finally got fed up with was all the waiting. It’s a long process if your book doesn’t get picked up right away. So by the time we decided Suicide Forest wasn’t going to sell, it was late 2014, and I already had the next book, The Catacombs, finished. My agent for that one—a different one at Curtis Brown—sent it out to do the rounds. He mentioned if The Catacombs sold, the publisher would probably want to pick up Suicide Forest too. But by then I’d already begun to think about self-publishing Suicide Forest. The way I saw it, even if The Catacombs sold right away, it wouldn’t be published for over a year, so I was looking at a 2016 release date. And if Suicide Forest sold as well, it wouldn’t come out until 2017. That was sort of nuts. I’m a pretty fast writer, and I realized I was going to have this big backlog of titles if I didn’t start self-publishing. So I self-published Suicide Forest. And it did well, sold well, got good reviews. This was when I gave up on traditional publishers. I realized I didn’t need them. I got the rights back to The Catacombs, and released that. I finished up a third book, Helltown, and put that out too. I also wrote four novellas. So instead of having maybe two new books out by sometime in 2017, I now have 3 novels and 4 novellas out in mid-2015. Come 2017 I’ll have a couple more novels out on top of this, plus more novellas etc.



Once you have decided that self-publishing might be your route, what financial and artistic considerations should you keep in mind before you begin?

I don’t really have any financial/artistic considerations. I do the covers and interiors myself. I have an editor I pay, of course, but it’s not too much.



What kind of marketing did you do to establish your author brand and what do you think is the most successful marketing for self-published authors?

One, I put links to my Amazon page in the back of all my Kindle books, making it easy for readers who have just finished one book to get the next. And two, I have one book permanently free. This is a big plus because it gets 1000 or so downloads a day, which is a great way to build a readership and far worth the money the book might be making if it weren’t free. Also, I offer a free novella on my website to people who subscribe to my newsletter. I’ve gotten about 5000 subscribers this way since January who I send emails to regarding new releases and so forth.



How important are ‘series’ books to your success as a self-published author?

Depends on what you write, I guess. I never used to want to write a series. Something about using the same character over and over. I remember when I was pitching The Catacombs, an agent who passed on it nevertheless liked the idea of the World’s Scariest Places series, and she told me to approach her again with my next book, and to create a really unique character to anchor the series. I didn’t agree with this. If you write about serial killers, for example, you can have the same detective come back for each successive book. But this wouldn’t work for horror—at least not the horror I write. Because my main protagonist is usually so f*** up by the end of the story, because of what he has been through, there is no way he would ever go back to another scary place. It just wouldn’t be plausible. So in general, it’s more difficult to create a series in horror than other genres. Look at Stephen King, or Dean Koontz. King has the Gunslinger series, Koontz the Odd Thomas one. But the majority of their books are standalones. Having said all this, I did end up doing a series, but I think I got lucky, because the series is not based on a reocurring protagonist but rather unique, real-life settings.



Do you design your own covers? How important do you think cover design is to a potential reader and how big a part do you think it has played in your success to date? 

As I mentioned above, yes, I do design them. I think covers play a pretty big part of selling books. I know I’m usually sold on a book by its cover. It’s just the way it is.



In your opinion, is traditional publishing on the way out? Do you think that traditional publishing can continue to keep up with the rise of self-publishing?

Traditional publishing is definitely on a downward trajectory. But on the way out? I don’t think so. People still like to have a physical book. People still like to browse bookstores in airports. People still like to spend time at the library. However, traditional publishers definitely don’t wield the clout they used to. And I think they have a tough road ahead, and there’s still going to be a lot of mergers/shakeups/bankruptcies. In the end I think you’re only going to see traditional publishers backing big name authors.



Would you ever consider signing all your books to a traditional publishing house or will you always mange some of your titles yourself through self-publishing?

I don’t know if I would want to sign any books away, unless, financially, it was really going to be worth my time. And if I did, I’d continue to self-publish. Stephen Leather is a good example of a traditionally published author who self-publishes. It’s allowed him to write about Thailand bar girls and quirky horror stories and stuff that his traditional publisher wouldn’t publish.



What avenues of self-promotion did you find to be most effective and affordable? What’s the best ‘bang-for-your-buck’ advertising you have employed?

Best bang for my buck is definitely Bookbub. They’re a site that, for a fee, shoots out an email blast to their massive list of subscribers when you’re running a promotion. Depending on your genre, they can be pricey. If you’re advertising a mystery novel at 0.99 cents you may be charged close to a grand. But their reach is so big you’re all but guaranteed to make that back. On the other hand, if you promote a horror title for free, it’s only one hundred fifty dollars or something like that—but still worth the money even though you’re not going to make any cash back because of the exposure you get. They sent out an email blast for Suicide Forest which resulted in 20,000+ downloads in one day. The thing is, however, they are very selective, so even if you want to pay up, they might not take your money.



What would you say is the single biggest advantage of deciding to self-publish?

Being able to write what I want.



Would you recommend other aspiring self-publishing authors pay for particular services? Editing or cover design, for example?

Depends. If you know how to use Photoshop, I’d recommend doing your covers yourself. I actually have a lot of fun doing them. If you don’t know Photoshop, definitely pay a cover designer. Also pay an editor. This goes without saying. My advice though:  cycle through different editors until you find one you get along with and trust.



How important do you think social media is to achieving success as a self-published author?

I actually don’t use much social media. I used to. But I found it time consuming and lacking. That was a couple years ago, maybe things have changed, I don’t know. I like Goodreads, and I connect with a lot of new readers there, but not so much on Facebook and Twitter.



Do you feel there’s a good sense of community within the self-publishing industry? Are you in regular contact with other self-published authors and how important was any input you may have received early on in your career? 

I think there’s a good indie community out there. I’m speaking to you now, after all! But I’m not in regular contact with other self-published authors. I’m aware of those who are writing in my genre, and I keep an eye on what they’re doing, and at some point it might be neat to do something collaborative, whether it’s a book of short stories or whatever. But right now I’m more focused on establishing my name, brand etc.



Where to from here? Are you currently represented by an agent and are you working with any publishers on future projects?

No agents, but I might be working with foreign publishers in the future. I’ve had an agency in Japan and a publisher in France approach me regarding the foreign rights to my books. And this is something I would definitely pursue. It’s the best of both worlds. I can still self-publish my novels in English, but I can have them translated and traditionally published in foreign languages (something I would not be able to do myself).



Can you offer any advice to fellow writers if you could go back in time and “do it all over?” What’s your top tip for other indie authors?

I don’t know. Because I don’t know what I would do all over again. In a sense, I’m sort of happy I spent so many years chasing a traditional publisher because it made my writing better. If self-publishing was what it was today when I started writing, I probably would have been tempted to self-publish—and that would have been a huge mistake, because my stuff had no right seeing the light of day. It would have gotten scathing reviews. This might have turned me off writing altogether. So my advice to those thinking about self-publishing: make sure your stuff is worth reading. I know that comes off as harsh, but just because you can self-publish doesn’t mean you should.



Finally, thanks for sharing your thoughts on self-publishing. Where is the best place for readers to find your books?



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Check out these great titles from Jeremy Bates via Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/Helltown-Suspense-Thriller-Scariest-Supernatural-ebook/dp/B00VRJOQIK/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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http://www.amazon.com/Suicide-Suspense-Thriller-Scariest-Supernatural-ebook/dp/B00POSPGYS/ref=la_B007AX4IVM_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440377183&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Catacombs-Suspense-Thriller-Scariest-Supernatural-ebook/dp/B00U30WSG6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8



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9.8.15

Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors #9 – Armand Rosamilia


Hi again and welcome to the next fascinating interview in the popular series, Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors. This interview is with the very interesting Armand Rosamilia. Armand is a staunch indie author who has been at the coal-face of digital publishing for many years. Along the way he has written many great horror books and has supported and implemented many initiatives in the indie publishing world, especially in his favorite field of zombie horror fiction. Anyway, before we kick off this interview, just a quick reminder on some of the wickedly good interviews lined up for you over the next month, including VIP guest interviews from best-selling indie authors David Moody, Jeremy Bates, Michael Bunker, J. Thorn, Michael Bray, Michael J Sullivan, Ruth Ann Nordin and Michale Thomas. Don't miss any of these interviews, make sure you subscribe now to get on the mailing list for all updates and new-release information (there is a link with a special offer at the end of this interview if you'd rather get straight into it). Here he is, the talented Mr Armand Rosamilia.


Do you think that your life experience has gone some way towards making you a successful author in your chosen genre? Where do you get your inspiration from for your writing and for the way you brand yourself as an author?


I think life is definitely a great motivator for writing, and especially for my horror work. I use an old joke that I’ve killed my ex-wives over and over in stories, and it isn’t far from the truth. I can channel some of the negatives from my past and find closure in horrible thoughts and people. And kill them. In a story.



You write across a number of different genres, how important do you think diversification is for the survival and success of an indie author?


Build the Brand that is you. I am a horror author who’s had much success writing zombie books. I also write horror erotica, erotica, thrillers, contemporary fiction, ghostwritten a military romance… as long as you stay true to your voice you’re just writing a story with horror or thriller or erotica elements to it. The reader needs to love your writing style and voice first and foremost.



If you could pinpoint one thing in particular that has grabbed readers of your work, what would you say it is? I.e. what is it about your books that keeps your readers coming back for more?


I’d like to think the readers care about my characters and not just the main ones. They are invested in what happens to these people. They cheer for the ‘good guys’ and sneer at the ‘bad guys’ although sometimes it’s hard to tell who is really who. My favourite compliment was from a reader who read my “Dying Days” zombie book and said she dislikes zombie books and at a few points forgot it was a zombie book because the characters are so interesting.



Is there a particular moment in your career as an author that you realized that you had done something right to get where you are now? Can you pinpoint what it was that spiked your success to date?


I believe in Karma and helping others. I learned through trial and error simply yelling ‘buy my book, buy my book’ might get you a few initial sales but it pisses off many, many potential readers. I sell more books by helping other authors now, like my two massive zombie blog tours each year, Winter of Zombie and Summer of Zombie. I also love guest posts on my blog, I belong to several retweet groups and I collect author-signed books for soldiers in remote areas called Authors Supporting Our Troops. I am a mentor to a couple of new authors and try to answer every question anyone asks. I also do two podcasts on Project iRadio interviewing other authors to promote them. 


You formed your own publishing company (Rymfire Books) to independently publish your books – would you advise other authors to set-up a publishing company to publish their own books, or do you think that the same results can be achieved by a self-published author without forming a publishing company?


Rymfire Books was formed by a man who had money and thought he’d get rich in the publishing business about 5 years ago. He put out my book and some anthologies, got bored and handed it to me. I put out a few anthologies and some of my work but it got to be too much work. I sold the anthologies to Charon Coin Press, who does an excellent job with the “State of Horror” series. I concentrate on my self-published work through it now. In today’s world no one cares if you are self-published and don’t hide behind a pseudo-publishing name. I kept Rymfire Books around because I like the name…



You have collaborated with many different authors, do you think that collaboration is key to growing your audience or do you just enjoy working with other writers on projects?


Both. I really enjoyed working with Jay Wilburn, Brent Abell and Jack Wallen on the “Hellmouth” trilogy. I just finished the first book in “The Shocker” trilogy with Frank Edler. I’m also writing 3 other projects with other authors I can’t talk about just yet. It helps grow the audience because you get your name in front of other readers who might not know who you are, and it is a fun challenge to see if you can work with someone else and if your ideas mesh. 




You have your own radio/web show – is this part of your promotional strategy or is it just something you enjoy doing? I.e. would you do it if you weren’t an author and/or do you utilise it to help publicize your work to some degree?


I used to do a local radio show for about a year and loved it. Another author and I would talk about writing and have authors guests on but it became too much work for me to travel to the studio. The easiest move for me was doing a podcast, because I’d been interviewed on a few and loved the experience. It goes back to helping others and, in turn, helping yourself. I get to talk to other authors about their work, who they publish with, the craft and business part of writing, and anything else I want to learn about. I do it because I love to talk ‘shop’ as well.



You have been writing for many years now and have remained staunchly independent for the most part - what kind of marketing did/do you do to establish your author brand and in your opinion (in light of your experience), what do you think is the most successful marketing for self-published authors?


I can’t stress enough to help other authors. We are in this together. There is no competition because readers don’t read one book a year. They want to read all of the interesting ones. As far as marketing [goes], I will try anything once, but don’t put too much stock in running expensive ads. I’ve never seen a return on them. Word of mouth and having so many releases out (150+ to date) keeps me out there. I believe in building you as a brand naturally and just being yourself. It’s what sells more books for me than anything else.



Are you a trend-watcher in terms of what’s selling and what’s not? Do you write for the market in any genre you might not necessarily enjoy reading? I.e. do you think that successful indie authors should be prepared to write genre fiction in order to pay the bills?


I think you need to choose your path based on what you think is important. I write book adaptations of movies for a Hollywood company, and it pays the bills most months. It also allows me to write what I want to write and not worry too much about what pays the bills. I think chasing a trend is worthless because by the time you finish your ’50 Shades of Twlight’ book, the market has moved on to something else. And you’re stuck with a book a reader can tell you weren’t 100% committed to writing.



How important are ‘series’ books to your success as a self-published author?


Very important. My “Dying Days” series is easily my biggest seller, but I have many series going right now. I think a reader wants to immerse themselves in a world or setting they enjoy and keep reading about these characters. I know I always do.



Do you design your own covers? How important do you think cover design is to a potential reader and how big a part do you think it has played in your success to date? 


I learned early on I was horrible at making covers. I mostly use Ash Arceneaux for my covers, especially my zombie stuff. She also now does the Hollywood book covers, too. You truly judge a book by it’s cover. so it better be great.



In your opinion, is traditional publishing on the way out? Do you think that traditional publishing can continue to keep up with the rise of self-publishing?


I don’t think we’ll ever see it truly die. It will eventually adapt but still lag behind independent publishing, in my opinion. But who really knows? So much has changed in the last four years since I began writing full-time. Would I work with a traditional publisher? Of course. As long as the deal was good. I do a mix of self-pub and small-press publishing right now. I work with as many different models as I can to get my work into as many reader’s hands as possible.



Would you ever consider signing all your books to a traditional publishing house or will you always manage some of your titles yourself through self-publishing?


I enjoy self-publishing and the marketing and everything that comes with it, like 70% royalty and doing it on my own schedule. But I wouldn’t be opposed to having some of my titles with a major publisher in hopes it would open up my readership for my independent work as well.



Have you ever used free book promotions? Do you think they are a worth-while marketing tool for self-published authors? If so/not – why?


I have done free giveaways in the past and they used to work quite well, but I think it’s no longer a viable option long-term unless you have a real reason and plan for it. For instance, my “Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer” eBook is perma-free. It’s the prequel to my “Dying Days” zombie series, and once I put it as free I saw a huge rise in sales of the series. It gets people in to read me and they seem to like it enough to pay 99 cents for the first “Dying Days” book and $2.99 for 3 through 5 (I’m writing 6 and it will be out in early 2016).



Do you feel there’s a good sense of community within the self-publishing industry?


I do. For the most part, people are trying to help one another. Sharing blog posts, mentioning fellow authors who would be good for my podcasts, recommending other writer’s books and just being friendly to other authors and fans.



What would you say is the single biggest advantage of deciding to self-publish?


The freedom to not worry about deadlines and contracts and when/if you’ll get royalties. Again, I’m lucky because I have several different revenue streams so I can better balance the sporadic royalty checks from small-presses with my monthly Amazon payments and my movie payments.



Are there things you feel as though you missed out on by not going down the traditional publishing route (working alongside an editor, for example)?


I think working with a major editor once in my life is on my bucket list. I want to see through their eyes what my work is like. I think if I’d gone through a traditional publishing route and was accepted I’d potentially have a ton of new and different readers, but I have enjoyed the path I’m on and wouldn’t trade all of this fun for a big paycheck… unless we’re talking six zeroes at the end!



You use social media a lot and interact with your readership – how important do you think this is to becoming a success as a self-published author?


It has made all the difference. I am usually not a very social guy in real life. I get panic attacks in crowds. Author Brian Keene said it best at a convention I recently attended with him: ‘I turn on the writing persona when I’m out of the house so I can interact with others’ and I thought it was fitting. Online I can have fun, answer questions, support others and have a great time.



Your books are published both independently and traditionally – do you think it is a crucial way of staying afloat as an independent author to have more than one income or publishing option? I.e. do you think that the successful self-published author needs to be prepared to work alongside traditional publishers in order to maximize their readership and income?


I never want to put all my eggs in one basket. Like I’ve said, I want to diversify my revenue streams (it sounds impersonal but this is a business and I do pay my bills with it) and see what other ways I can make money and get more readers. Audiobooks are beginning to pick up for me, too. If there’s a new way to market and sell your work I want to check it out.



Are you in regular contact with other self-published authors and how important was any input you may have received early on in your career?  Do you have a mentor in terms of your self-publishing success – someone who may have inspired you to ‘give it a go’?


When I first got serious about writing I asked many questions of author Scott Nicholson, and read the entire blog of JA Konrath. I am in contact with so many self-published authors because we help one another, I do the book drive, the podcasts, the blog tours, the guest posts, etc. etc. It gives me great pleasure when an author asks me questions and I’m able to help them.



Where to from here? Are you currently represented by an agent and are you working with any publishers on future projects?


I have an agent interested in one of my horror novels. Nothing definite yet. I’m always working on 5-7 projects at a time, and should have at least 4 of my short stories released before the year ends in anthologies as well as a dozen of my self-pub releases. Shopping 2 different book series right now to small-presses and finishing the first books in 3 more by year’s end. I like to keep busy.



Can you offer any advice to fellow writers if you could go back in time and “do it all over?” What’s your top tip for other indie authors?


Read. A lot. Make time for it. Then start writing and never stop. It doesn’t matter if it sucks. Finish stories. Keep writing.



Finally, thanks for sharing your thoughts on self-publishing. Where is the best place for readers to find your books?


I am everywhere on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and just search my name and you’ll find me.






My podcasts are on ProjectiRadio.com http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/arm-cast-podcast/



http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/arm-n-toofs-dead-time-podcast/

http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/arm-cast-podcast/


E-mail me at armandrosamilia@gmail.com if you have a question or just want to chat!

Make sure you check out Armand's wicked books and subscribe to his blog and podcasts. See you soon for the next interview with up-and-coming indie horror/thriller star, Jeremy Bates.

http://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Bobich-Zombie-Killer-Dying-ebook/dp/B0071BVXRA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439106912&sr=1-1&keywords=armand+rosamilia

http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Days-Armand-Rosamilia-ebook/dp/B004RVZXN2/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439106912&sr=1-3&keywords=armand+rosamilia

http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Hellmouth-Armand-Rosamilia-ebook/dp/B00SEYRT6M/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1439107933&sr=1-18&keywords=armand+rosamilia

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