To celebrate the publication of my novella, Christmas with Mr Darcy, I’m hosting a special ‘Indie Month’ on my blog where bestselling authors will tell you about their latest book and share the secrets of their indie success.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome thriller writer Alex Shaw.
Tell us about your latest indie book
My latest book, Hetman: Donetsk Calling is actually a short story featuring Aidan Snow, the central character from my first two novels Hetman and Cold Black. Snow is a former SAS Trooper turned MI6 Operative. The story precedes the release of the third Aidan Snow thriller Dangerous Deadly Elite but can be read as a ‘stand-alone’. In Hetman: Donetsk Calling, Snow is forced to take the law into his own hands when he flies to Ukraine to locate and rescue an old friend. I wrote it entirely on location in Kyiv and Ukraine and had fun doing so.
I am also working on two other projects, one of which is a horror novella to be published in November.
What made you decide to go indie?
Frustration. I spent a year trying to get a traditional deal for my first novel Hetman. I received some encouraging feedback from several agents and got quite far with one major publisher before they eventually said ‘no’ and blamed it on the financial climate. I then discovered indie-publishing. I published Hetman and then Cold Black in both paperback and Kindle formats. Kindle sales really took off in December 2010 and built to a height in the summer of the same year. Although now lower, they have been steady ever since. The strange aspect for me though is that my UK sales are always much higher than my US ones.
Do you design your covers yourself and write your own blurb etc.?
Yes and yes. Many indie authors who have spent years writing their book are in such a hurry see it in print that they rush their cover and blurb. I design my own covers and those for others. I have seen an awful lot of ‘indie’ books with very unappealing covers and blurbs that do not sell the story. I hope mine do.
What are the pros and cons of going indie?
The biggest ‘pro’ is seeing yourself for sale ‘in print’ and the ability to instantly share your story with the world. Of course getting paid for it is also nice. The biggest ‘con’ is the lack of editorial support. It was a very steep learning curve for me and I found typos in my first editions which were repeatedly missed by several proof-readers. This was especially difficult as the publication dates of both novels coincided with the birth of my two sons.
How do you publicize your books?
To be honest I hardly do anything. I have been interviewed by The Kyiv Post and What’s on Kyiv as my books are set in Kyiv. I Tweet and have just this month joined Facebook.
Do you think Twitter and Facebook really help in getting word out there?
Twitter is my main marketing tool but I actually have no way of knowing if this does or does not drive sales. To be honest I am still trying to work out how to use Facebook. I have both a personal and a fan-page; any of my readers can friend me.
Do you read any indie authors yourself?
Yes but the strange thing is that as I now use a Kindle and no longer have a physical book in my hand I am finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate between indie and traditional. Vince Flynn’s first book was originally self-published; I am a fan of his. For pure escapism I’ve enjoyed Jack Silkstone’s ‘Primal’ series.
Would you accept a traditional publishing deal now?
Yes – can you put a good word in for me? In my opinion a traditional publishing deal is still the best way to reach the largest readership possible although Kindle is serving me well.
What advice would you give to writers thinking of going indie?
Make sure that your story is the best that it can be and then either learn how to or pay someone to produce a great cover and vivid blurb. Write what you want to write not what you feel will sell – work that you care about always reads better than ‘writing by numbers’. My last piece of advice is keep at it. Your writing will develop and your publishing skills will improve.
Thanks so much for sharing your indie journey with us, Alex.