Read and Write with Natasha

The triumphs and trials of indie publishing with Douglas Weissman

November 30, 2023 Natasha Tynes Episode 39
The triumphs and trials of indie publishing with Douglas Weissman
Read and Write with Natasha
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Read and Write with Natasha
The triumphs and trials of indie publishing with Douglas Weissman
Nov 30, 2023 Episode 39
Natasha Tynes

Send us a Text Message.

 📹 Watch the interview on YouTube
Indie author Douglas Weissman shares his journey from penning his first novel to navigating the world of small independent presses.

Listen in as Weissman shares his perspective on the challenges and rewards of this unique path in the literary world.

Our conversation takes a deep dive into the heart of the writing process, exploring the intersection of passion, discipline, and creativity.

Weissman opens up about the grueling 14-year journey behind his first novel, his unique writing routine, and his hopes for broader distribution.

Weissman also shares his insights on getting book reviews and effectively using LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook for book promotion.

Weissman is the author of the novel Life Between Seconds, a meditation on trauma, family, and how to heal after a great loss.

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

 📹 Watch the interview on YouTube
Indie author Douglas Weissman shares his journey from penning his first novel to navigating the world of small independent presses.

Listen in as Weissman shares his perspective on the challenges and rewards of this unique path in the literary world.

Our conversation takes a deep dive into the heart of the writing process, exploring the intersection of passion, discipline, and creativity.

Weissman opens up about the grueling 14-year journey behind his first novel, his unique writing routine, and his hopes for broader distribution.

Weissman also shares his insights on getting book reviews and effectively using LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook for book promotion.

Weissman is the author of the novel Life Between Seconds, a meditation on trauma, family, and how to heal after a great loss.

Support the Show.

****************************************************************************

➡️ P.S: If you find my content useful, you might want to check out my Substack newsletter, in which I talk and vent about the writing life:


Speaker 1:

There's so many examples. You go and look for children's coloring books designed by AI models and they're scary. The dinosaurs don't look like dinosaurs, the fingers don't look like fingers, and this is the stuff that people are giving me. I'm not blaming the people buying it, because they don't know better, they don't realize. And then a lot of them are busy parents trying to buy a coloring book for their kid and they just look at one that says this looks fine, buy it. And then all of a sudden, the kid's looking at a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a machine gun arm and it's supposed to be realistic dinosaurs.

Speaker 2:

Hi friends, this is Read and Write with Natasha podcast. My name is Natasha Tynes and I'm an author and a journalist. In this channel I talk about the writing life, review books and interview authors. Hope you enjoy the journey. Hi everyone, to another episode of Read and Write with Natasha. Here we have with us Douglas Wiseman, who writes stories of friendship, of finding beauty in the grotesque, of finding magic in the mundane. He already published a young adult series and a new adult novel, and they were released by Epic Press in the fall of 2016. So, douglas, can I call you a dog or do you prefer Douglas?

Speaker 1:

No, dog is great.

Speaker 2:

Okay, all right. So hi, doug, thank you for joining us. I'm really excited to talk to you today. So, doug, you define yourself as an indie author, correct? Is that how you refer to yourself?

Speaker 1:

That is how I refer to myself. I don't know if it's the crap from an allergy, but it's correct Whatever you prefer.

Speaker 2:

So can you explain to anyone who's listening or watching what is an indie author? Let's go back to the basics. What's an indie author?

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, I originally used it to describe myself because it was someone outside of an agent, somebody outside of kind of the mainstream publishing houses. I work with really small, independent presses and that is why I call myself an indie author. So I'm not self-publishing, but I'm also not publishing with medium to large publishing houses.

Speaker 2:

So why did you choose that route? I mean, why would you have a gatekeepers when now KDP is up for grabs, people are making tons of money, you get what most of the royalties have control over thing and you still don't need an agent? Why are you still going through the gatekeeper, even though it's an indie gatekeeper?

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, I found the indie gatekeeper a little easier to manage than having to go through the agent and then the publishing house and all of the things that came with. But I chose this route because, when I was looking at the option of self-publishing, the biggest issue for me is that I don't write books that are generally popular in the self-publishing areas. One of the ways to market your books and you have to do so many things when you're self-publishing right, you have to market them yourselves, you have to edit them yourselves, you have to put them onto the platform yourself, you have to do the spacing yourself All these things that I wasn't necessarily eager to do or wanting to do. Where I can market the book myself, I'm happy to go out there and tell people to buy my book, but I don't necessarily want to have to do the cover art, have to find an editor for myself, have to take those other steps that I wasn't necessarily happy, comfortable or felt like I had the time to do. So I went towards queering with indie presses, which gave me a lot of creative freedom, and then the distribution is great. So, rather than just staying on the ebook platform, I'm in bookstores, I'm in Barnes Noble.

Speaker 1:

My book is available on Target and so it enabled me to spread out that opportunity without just getting crowded on Amazon or these ebook platforms and, on top of that, circling back to that idea of I don't write books that work in that space when I was reviewing, because I did think about doing self-publishing.

Speaker 1:

But during the review process, the majority of people who generally do well in that space are ones that are writing series or kind of connective tissue books, and I don't do that. I don't have that. So the one book that I published recently Life Between Seconds, that was published in November of last year it's a literary fiction book. It's about family, it has magical realism, has all these elements that are beautiful that I'm really attached to. But it doesn't necessarily translate to let me sell this book for 99 cents as a promotional offer just to get people in the door so they buy my other books, because I don't really have that many other books out there now that are available on ebook anyway. So it's kind of it would be a cul-de-sac. I wouldn't really find my way out of it.

Speaker 2:

I see. So are you married to the indie publishing route or are you planning or to experiment with other routes? Because this is it for you. You found what you're looking for.

Speaker 1:

I haven't found what I'm looking for, but I found what worked for me for now. I'm happy to later on, possibly jump into the self-publishing route or, even better, jump higher into the hopefully jump, you know, jump the rungs into the, into the higher publishing sector with the big five or things like that. But it all just varies and depends on what books I produce, what the audience is like, how much creative control I want and how much support I feel like I'm getting from those who are offering to buy my book.

Speaker 2:

So what kind of books do you publish?

Speaker 1:

Well, mostly I publish literary fiction, but it's not strictly literary fiction, right? Literary fiction is that concept that it's always flowery language and there's not much going on plot-wise. And although I do like writing that kind of thing in terms of making it about the character and that is the most important thing I still like genre elements. For instance, I have a book that's going to be published with an indie publisher early next year and it's historical fiction. It's still.

Speaker 1:

It still has all the elements of literary fiction, which is character-driven, we're really focused on who these people are and what they're doing. But it's based in World War II, paris, and it's also focused on a serial killer. So it has all these different elements that make it a lot more compelling than just kind of two people sitting in a room. But it still has these really emotional sentences, the way the relationship between characters is at the forefront, even if there's a war going on in the background. It's not about who wins the war, it's about how these two people make it out of that war, life or if I see.

Speaker 2:

So is that what you do for a living? Is that your full-time job, or do you have other things going on?

Speaker 1:

I wish it was my full-time job, but, like many writers, I have plethora of jobs. My full-time job. I'm actually a travel writer, which I love completely, so I'm not saying that I want to give that up. What I would love to be able to do is make it more of a balance between the two, as opposed to heavy on one and then the other one when I make the time for it.

Speaker 2:

So travel? Are you like a freelance travel writer or like you work with one organization? Just to I work for one organization mostly.

Speaker 1:

I do publish some freelance articles now and again, which is a great opportunity to get my name out there, to explore the different aspects of travel writing and my voice, but mainly I'm with one specific company, okay.

Speaker 2:

And how does traveling affect your writing? I'm sure you have lots of inspiration from traveling. Oh yeah, if you can tell us a bit something that inspired you from traveling.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, traveling is, I think, the biggest, or at least one of the biggest inspirations I have in my writing, because every time I go to a new place I learn a new story.

Speaker 1:

I meet with people and learn their stories. Beyond that, I learned to look at the world in a new way, and that's not available to me if I was kind of stuck in my bubble back at home. I mean, no matter what somebody might think, no matter what I think, right, I have an accent when I'm outside of my home. I have a different culture to people outside of my family or outside of my community, but sometimes I get lost in the habitat that I'm in, and so it not only shows me the world traveling, that only shows me the world and what is out there. It also reminds me to look back at myself and realize what about me is different and how I can mine those details as much as how I can use the details of those I'm meeting with or the places that I'm seeing and how I'm exploring, and the sensory details the smell of the food, the smell of the landscape these are the things that really connect me to a space, and then I kind of take that experience and put it back into my writing.

Speaker 2:

So you pretty much spend all your day writing correct, Whether it's for your day job or for your fiction, which is If I'm not writing, I'm at my three-year-old, so either way, it's a lot of imagination.

Speaker 2:

So I have the same curse as well. I spend all my day writing and my friends always ask me, like, don't you ever get tired of just writing every day? Like, for me, most of, let's say, my income generating. You know, writing books does not really generate much income, but most of my income generating from writing comes from ghost writing, right, and so that's. I spend all my day writing, whether for a client or for fun or for social media, and does it ever get to me? Not really, so, like, do I ever look at the pages? Like I can't write anymore? No, I mean, I think I would never stop writing. What about you, since you do that? Like, how do you feel about it?

Speaker 1:

No, it's the same, since you wrote your hobby.

Speaker 2:

It's the same as you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's my hobby, but it's also my passion, where the only time I ever look at the page and think I can't do this is if I've already spent you know, if I already spent time doing 2,000 words or did this really incredible marathon of writing.

Speaker 1:

I write all day for work, I write at night for fun, and there's this when I don't write, I feel anxious or I feel angry, because I just have this, all this creativity that I just need to get out.

Speaker 1:

On my days off, when I get the few and far between not just with work, but also, you know, when I get a day where I'm like, okay, family, I'm taking some time for myself what do I do? I go to a bookstore and I look at books and I sit in a cafe and I read and write and that's what makes me happy, that's where I wanna spend my time. Or I'm just in a cafe reading and writing. My favorite thing to do is just sit in a cafe with a thing of tea and a really delicious pastry and just write, like that's what I love to do. So if I wasn't doing it all day, every day, for work, you would still find me doing the same thing because I had the ability to do it, the freedom to just sit in a cafe and write, as opposed to kind of being forced to sit at my desk.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for me, like on my birthday, it's a tradition. I go to bars and no one all the family comes with me. That's like their gift to me and I go like on a buying bench yeah, that's what I do.

Speaker 1:

The difference for me is that I go alone instead of with my family. My family knows like, okay, he needs time because I will literally look at every single book on the shelf and go through and read the spine and whatever. But so they know, let's just give him his time. He's going to be here a while.

Speaker 2:

So what kind of books do you read? I'm not assuming. I'm pretty sure you read a lot. So what kind of books do you enjoy?

Speaker 1:

Oh, all kinds. I mean it's hard to say specifically because I've also I know that I've migrated from one type to another type over the years and I don't expect that to change. I still love literary fiction, but I also know that the literary fiction I'm mostly drawn to have some sort of whimsical element to it. It doesn't mean it doesn't mean lighthearted, but it doesn't mean something a little quirky, like, for instance, one of my favorite novels, a History of Love by Nicole Krause. It's about a Holocaust survivor and this kind of little known book called A History of Love, but it also has a character named Bird, because it's a little boy who's constantly trying to fly out a window, and it's like these little elements just have the sense of kind of magic to them. Even without being magical, I'm always drawn to it.

Speaker 1:

I do love fantasy, I do love sci-fi, I love romance, like one of the series that I got really into lately is called the Bromance Book Club. That's all about these well-to-do, affluent, established men in, I think it's, nashville, tennessee, but they all read romance novels because it helps them understand women and it helps them better in their relationships and I just thought it was such a great concept and it's so much fun. So it's all these elements. I read thriller.

Speaker 2:

But does that exist in real life? This sounds like science fiction. Oh right, I don't know if it exists. Men reading romance.

Speaker 1:

I would 100% join men's only romance reading book club, as like the safe space to talk about your feelings. I am one of those guys who would absolutely join that. Okay, that's good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I just read all around.

Speaker 1:

I love all kinds of books and it's whatever grabs my attention, and I know certain elements that do tend to grab my attention more than others. But they all feed into my writing and they all help me explore different ways and different reasons to write. The YA series that I wrote was a dystopian series. The New Adult book that I wrote was a college age exploration of self. Then Life Between Seconds, which recently came out as a found family novel about travel but also what do you do to escape or deal with your traumas. And then again the one that comes out next year that I wrote is a historical tale of World War II, paris with serial killers. So it's you just kind of. There's so much out there that I find inspiration from it's hard to only. Well, not only is it hard, but I shouldn't have to just lean into one genre. Right, I can explore, especially now there's so many. There's so much cross-pollination between genres. For me it's so much fun.

Speaker 2:

So how did you? All of them with the same publisher?

Speaker 1:

The YA and the New Adult were all the same publisher. I was hired to write, so I got contracted to write the series. So, instead of me having the idea and going to a publisher with my completed books, a publisher was looking for writers to fulfill the ideas that they had, and I happened to get in touch with them and how did they find you?

Speaker 2:

How did they find you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was in an MFA program at the University of.

Speaker 1:

Cisco and the program administration put out an email saying, oh, we have contacts with this company, they're looking for writers and I just finished, maybe two or three months beforehand, and I was trying to actually know. I probably about six months beforehand, because I spent time. I finished my program, then I traveled around Africa for five months and then I came back and got this contracted position. So it was about six months after I finished my program and I was able. I was trying to shift towards being a full-time writer at that point and I was able to do that.

Speaker 1:

It was real quick turnaround, though I look at those books as a great learning experience, but whenever somebody says, oh, what books of yours should I buy, or what's your proudest book, or whatever, I'm talking, I talk about life between seconds, because that book took me 11 years to write and publish. When the YA series I finished in 14 months the all six books 14 months, it was the first month was writing it and then I had two weeks to get it to an editor. They came back with notes and then I had to revise according to the notes and then send it back for a final draft. Like that's how quick every single book was. So it wasn't. It's not necessarily, I think, the best, but it was definitely the best learning experience that I had.

Speaker 2:

So your first book, your first novel. Why was it? Why did it take you 14 years?

Speaker 1:

I was 11 years, but it took me 11 years yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it took me that long because I was at first writing the whole thing. So it was, I say, 11 years from the moment I wrote the first chapter until it was actually published. So it was eight years from that I wrote the first chapter, finished it, revised it, queried, revised again, queried again, revised again, queried again. Nothing, just no bites. I had a few interested parties but then we parted ways because they just didn't have the same vision and I wasn't ready to give that vision up, my vision up, and then finally I went to an indie press. They picked it up, and then it was three years from when they picked it up until publishing.

Speaker 2:

Wow, so what are you working on now?

Speaker 1:

Right now I have two different things that I'm working on, but with them I'm hoping to get a little more, a little more publicity along the lines right. So I'm kind of holding onto them with the feeling that this next book's gonna be a little larger than my previous book in terms of popularity. But I'm working on a YA book that's a mix of the Breakfast Club and the Great British Bake Off, and I'm also working on another World War II based novel and it's essentially the serial killer novel. I have kind of a loosely based trilogy in which the characters within are connected, so it would be connected to that little world that I've created.

Speaker 2:

Okay, and how did you find your publisher? How was the process?

Speaker 1:

I'm on a part of a lot of different emails and sometimes they have great information on different small publishers that are accepting unagented submissions, or even large publishers that sometimes have open calls for submissions. And so with History of Press, which is the larger umbrella company that published Life Between Seconds under their Addison Highsmith label, which is generally more historical, more literary fiction, I learned that they had an open call on Agented. So I reached out to them and then with the next book that's coming out next fall or next year excuse me, I should have gone to History of Press first and said, oh, I have another book, would you like to see it? And it never even crossed my mind that that was something I could or should have done, and I just started researching again. Indie presses or small presses don't need an agent, because I wasn't getting any traction with agents when I would query them and I found another one between the covers or, excuse me, between the lines publishing, and they were excited to pick it up.

Speaker 2:

So do you write every day?

Speaker 1:

Technically, I write every day.

Speaker 1:

But what's your sweet spot Is that what I heard you say at night yeah, so at night, my sweet spot is at night for 10 to 20 minutes and that's it. So it'd be five to six nights a week, 10 to 20 minutes. And it's something that I started during the pandemic. I was with a friend and we started she was doing a writing salon and just at the beginning to try and kind of rid the whole group of their inner critic, they would only do 10 minute writes, which doesn't give you enough time to sit there and worry about what you're writing or why you're writing or where it's going. And she said, hey, you wanna work together on this too, so I can get. So she could get more writing time.

Speaker 1:

And I was like, great, because I don't have the mental capacity to do the hours and hours of writing that I was used to doing. Especially, I was doing like six freelance jobs because I wasn't a travel writer during the pandemic, because nobody needed to travel writer during the pandemic. So I grabbed all these different freelance jobs so I could pay my bills and I can support my family. So at the end of the day, eight o'clock at night, my brain is just melted out of my ears. My daughter's finally asleep. I got maybe 10 to 20 minutes of concentration left in me and that was how I wrote the entirety of my novel of a girl in the ashes, which is the World War II novel coming out next year. It was within. It was 10 to 20 minutes sprints, six days a week or six nights a week.

Speaker 2:

I love it. I'm gonna steal this. Do it, do it, it works.

Speaker 1:

Seriously, it works Okay and that's my sweet spot. I'm not gonna say that I am as consistent now because I still have a whole bunch of writing projects and then editing the new book and all these things, so it's not as consistent as what it was, but still I would say three to four nights a week, 10 to 20 minutes. I'm doing the creative writing at night.

Speaker 2:

Do you still hope to one day be picked by a traditional publisher? Do you still wanna go through the query process or are you done with that?

Speaker 1:

No, I don't know it's grueling. Is it is grueling? Oh my God why?

Speaker 2:

Why do you wanna torture yourself like that? Honestly?

Speaker 1:

it's the distribution, and that's the biggest thing.

Speaker 1:

It's so much harder as an indie publisher or a self publisher to get your books into bookstores and if your book's not in a bookstore, it's so much harder for your book to be found when, especially now, with AI and people flooding KDP with all these really terrible, awfully written books by AI because they think they're gonna make a quick buck on it and some of them might, sure, but that means that the book that you have, that you're trying to hold true to your heart and you're trying to get out to the world because you have this story you wanna share so desperately, is getting buried under this other crap.

Speaker 1:

Like, I'll be honest, I'm not saying that AI is awful in his being. I'm saying that people who just use AI without any of the editing, without any of the storytelling capabilities like if you actually read it, these are not good stories that AI is putting out, that people are cutting and pasting into these self-published books and then just putting it online so they think they can make an extra million dollars, which is what's the story being sold to them by all those people saying this is how you can life hack your fortune.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I saw these TikTok videos about people saying I made just from chat GPT and KDP and I was like, is that true? I?

Speaker 1:

mean it's not true. I mean they might be doing it, the ones selling you the idea they're hucksters, they're snake oil salesmen. They may have done it because they're writing a. They have chat GPT. Write a book called how to make a million dollars using chat GPT and then they put it in and then they like this is how you do it, this is how I made it, because everybody wants to know right, and that's what you look at. There's so many examples like you go on and look for children's coloring books designed by AI models and they're scary. The dinosaurs don't look like dinosaurs.

Speaker 1:

The fingers don't look like fingers. And this is the stuff that people are giving. I'm not blaming the people buying it because they don't know better, they don't realize. And then a lot of them are busy parents trying to buy a coloring book for their kid and they just look at one that says this looks fine, buy it. And then all of a sudden the kid's looking at a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a machine gun arm and it's supposed to be realistic dinosaurs. It's just these random, random things.

Speaker 1:

But it worries me that the storytelling that people actually want to share and the storytelling that people have and the way that we want to share our stories together is being buried by these stories that are not really stories. They're not being truthful and they're not being helpful. And what is the point of telling a story? You're trying to make an emotional connection with another person, right? No matter what story you tell, right? If you're telling a joke, like something funny that happened to you, you're still trying to elicit an emotion, right? Oh, laugh at this story, it's hilarious. Or, oh, my goodness, cry with me.

Speaker 1:

Or let me share this emotional story with you about my childhood or whatever, whether you're sharing it verbally or you're writing it down in a story or you have this really interesting concept of an archer in Jordan in the 11th century. Right, there's something about it that you're compared to, share that and you want people to really connect with that story. That's not what's happening. When people are just saying chat GPT, write me a 500 word short story on the death of my canary, it's like no, like the chat GPT has a lot of great capabilities but it's not going to tap into an emotional core of what you want from that story and that's why people aren't gonna connect with it. And if you don't take time to implement your personal experience into that story, why would somebody connect with?

Speaker 2:

it, I see it. So how are your books doing? If you're okay with sharing, how are they selling and how are you marketing them? I'm just curious how is that process going? Because, honestly, mine are okay, I mean, and I keep asking and you have these authors who say my books are selling hotcakes and I just want to know some of your secrets, if you have any.

Speaker 1:

Well, my books are not selling like hotcakes. They're selling like the third choice of French toast on the menu, which is still fine. It's just not what everybody prepared.

Speaker 2:

Not bad? Yeah, it's not bad. And how? How is that? Like you said, in these publisher, like that's just the main thing.

Speaker 1:

You have to understand your market and that's the hardest thing for a writer. Because we're creatives, we just want to write the book, we want to give it to somebody else and we want them to put the book out there in the world. Who?

Speaker 2:

wouldn't want that, right yeah.

Speaker 1:

But if we don't understand our market, we're not going to know where to put the book, why we put the book there, and if we don't have the marketing team or or a PR representative, we're not going to be able to find that niche without paying attention, my niche, literary fiction. Again, it's not the type of book that's going to do well on KDP, on Amazon, in an e-book form, because it's not what people really look for. They look for romance in like the best selling genres in those spaces romance, fantasy.

Speaker 2:

Fantasy yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and as of right now I don't write those. So it's a lot of podcasts I go on, I do a lot of guest blogging for websites and it's and then word of mouth are the best ways to get attention. So the social currency don't underestimate. When people go on and rate your book, amazon has a thing I think it's 25 reviews of your book, actually written reviews, not just star ratings, but 25 written reviews, and it bumps you up to placement in that you know people also buy section and then if you have 50 reviews you actually get placed in a newsletter. So you just got to try and push to get those written reviews Barnes, noble written reviews, target written reviews, especially Amazon written reviews and it depends on how much money you have to market, because also doing a booksees sale of like the 99 cent or not, booksee, what's it called? Who? I can't remember what to call it. Sorry, but there's the 99 cent sale on one of the big marketing.

Speaker 2:

Bookbug yeah.

Speaker 1:

That's the one.

Speaker 2:

So what do they do? Bookbub, you like, you pay them, and then they do the sale for you, correct? They do, yeah, so you just have to make sure that you're.

Speaker 1:

You just have to make sure that the price is down at 99 cents for a certain amount of time, and then they send out their the promo to, you know, thousands of people on tens of thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, on their email list. You just have to have the money for it. And that's the biggest problem for indie or self-published authors. We generally don't have big budgets for our marketing and PR efforts. Otherwise we would probably be able to get more sales.

Speaker 1:

I was lucky enough that my first printing was sold out, but I don't think it has anything to do with Well, that's the thing. I don't think it's anything to do with my marketing efforts. I think they just didn't print that many first printing because it's an indie press. So I'm pretty sure that had everything to do with it. But again, what is your metric for success? Do you want to sell a million copies? Great, who doesn't? But is that realistic in what you're publishing? Or do you want to sell 5,000 copies? And let's be real, let's be real In the publishing world at least in the traditional publishing world selling 5,000 copies of your book is a success. Selling 10,000 copies of your book is what gets you on the New York Times best seller list.

Speaker 1:

So that's perspective, I think.

Speaker 2:

So what was the best marketing tactic that worked for you?

Speaker 1:

The podcast honestly, you have better reads.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I keep thinking about podcasts. Obviously, I have one and I don't generate any money from it and I just do it because I love it, right, and so the market is saturated. There's a lot of podcasts, and do you think people really would hear you talk on a podcast and immediately go buy your book? Did you actually have proof that this is happening, or?

Speaker 1:

you're right. There's no proof. I have no connection of placement to sales. I don't know what the ROI really is. On every single podcast I've been on. But, with every podcast you have a few things that going for you. One you reach a new audience of people you didn't reach before.

Speaker 1:

Correct, correct You're consistently out there in the world. So, unlike a blog post that just yeah, they might be able to find it on Google. Once it's done, you're buried and it's like who's going to find it? Newsletters if you don't have your own newsletter, and your newsletter, if you do have, doesn't have a wide reach. Who are you speaking to? You're speaking in to a void.

Speaker 1:

With podcasts, it's just about consistency. It's about here's my place. I'm constantly doing it, I'm constantly talking to people, I'm constantly reaching to wider audiences and again, it's now name notoriety. So I have had people reach out to me on LinkedIn and Instagram saying they've heard me on the podcast. Whether they bought me a book or not, I don't know, but at least because I know that I will be publishing more books, it means okay, so maybe for the next book they'll buy. And that's also what it comes down to. It's the same concept of that 99 cent Amazon ebook ploy where I'm going to sell you my 99 cent book so you buy the next book at full price, except I don't have a book that I can sell at 99 cents, so people buy the next book. So instead, I come on the podcast, you meet with me, you hear my voice. You connect with me somewhere on social media, so when I put out the next book, you haven't bought the last one, you'll buy the next one at full price.

Speaker 2:

So how do you find these podcasts? Like, if I remember right, you emailed me directly, like how do you find these podcasts and which podcast do you decide you wanna go on? I mean, the reason I'm asking is because many authors might be listening to this, so I want them to get the tips and tricks of how to get on podcasts.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. There's a few different places like Podmatch, be the Guest, these certain things that have just a whole bunch of podcasts lists on them, and you might have to pay 20 bucks or 15 bucks, however the price may be per month, so you can be part of it, but it's a duality. You have those who have podcasts that are constantly looking for guests, and you have those that want to be guests on podcasts, and it's easy to reach out. You can just type in the theme or the type of podcast you're looking for sports, writing, creativity, those types of things. It'll give you a list and then you can reach out to people directly or see if they are having calls for guests.

Speaker 1:

I did that for a bit. I would go through. I mean, this is all legwork, though, and that's the thing about marketing. If you don't have your own marketing person, if you don't have your own PR person, you have to put in the time, otherwise you're not gonna get the return. So I put in the time to check out these websites.

Speaker 1:

I put in the time to go through iTunes and look at different sites or, excuse me, look at different shows that are on there, podcasts that are on there, and then I would go think okay, here are writing podcasts that I wanna be on, here are publishing podcasts that I wanna reach out to. Here are podcasts that are in the specific niche that my story contains, that I wanna reach out to, such as trauma, such as found families, such as these more therapeutic areas that I could speak to because of the book and therefore it's not necessarily about writing or publishing specifically or creativity, but it still speaks to the heart of my story and therefore I could get an even wider audience because it's not falsely correlated. It actually speaks to the issues that a lot of people listening to that podcast would be interested in.

Speaker 2:

You also mentioned reviews. So how do you get these reviews? How do you chase the reviews? Do you like email your friends? Please, please, mom, right, If you're like. How do you get these reviews?

Speaker 1:

You say it as a joke, but no, you absolutely should be asking the people you know to write your reviews and I did one of the ways I did it. I know people would tell me they bought my book right. Friends would tell me they bought my book.

Speaker 1:

So, then I'd be like great, I'd wait a week or two. And then I'd be like, hey, I know you bought my book, can you please leave me your review on Amazon? And of course they'd say yes. But then I'd also find people that I could share reviews with right. So, or review swap. So they'd give me their book I'd read and then they'd read my book, and then I would leave a review on theirs after I read their book and they would leave a review on mine after they read my book. So that was a great opportunity, because if you're falsely leaving reviews, it's gonna bite you in the butt because Amazon will take down any review.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, amazon will take down. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and so you want and you want reviews to be quality, you know. Granted, they don't all have to be quality. Not every reviewer is quality. Some people do write. This was a great book. Some people do write, just, I loved it, right. But mostly people were like, why?

Speaker 1:

And there are companies out there that you can pay because of their reach, right, and it sounds hard. And again, it all comes down to how much money you have in your budget for marketing. But when you're sitting there struggling for reviews and it's social currency and it also bump you up in the algorithm so more people see your book on whatever platform you're putting your book on, you wanna try and invest and make sure. And so there are companies that legitimately have reviewers and so you're paying the company because of their reach and their connection to people that you don't know and can't get to right. So they'll have, say, 10,000 people on their mailing list. You pay them $100.

Speaker 1:

They guarantee you six reviews, right, all you have to do is tell them the niche and what your book is about and out of those thousands of people, whoever responds first is gonna get the e-book right. So you're not spending money sending them the book, you're just sending them the e-copy, the draft, and the people will have about a month to read it and then they'll pop on Amazon and leave you the review and you're guaranteed a certain number of reviews. Otherwise you get your money back. But they're all legitimate reviews and I've had some great reviews that way. Some of those reviews literally made me cry because I was so happy that people had that experience when reading my story. And then I need to continue and try to get to that 50 or 100 mark because then it will show even better on whatever platform it's on.

Speaker 2:

Can you drop some names, if that's okay, so that people will find out?

Speaker 1:

Oh on what companies? What companies? You use To be honest with you, I can't, only because I don't know them, like that's the only reason why you don't remember the I don't remember them by heart. They were not people that I knew or companies that I knew of ahead of time. I researched and found them after the fact, and it's been a while since I it's been four or five months since I worked with them, cause, yeah, I had good luck with good outcome with bookspot, I think. I'm gonna write that one down.

Speaker 2:

So what about social media? How much time do you spend? Is it even worth it? Like for me, I noticed many people would like like your comment. Like you say announcement I'm running my book for 99 cents. And like people would like retweet congrats. And nobody would buy right. So you realize, like likes and retweets, they don't actually pay your bills.

Speaker 1:

So but, boy, if they did, wouldn't that be them?

Speaker 2:

It's like what? Yeah, I mean it's and sometimes people who don't comment or don't say anything are actually the ones who would quietly support you and buy your book. So what has been your experience with social media and where do you spend your time if you use social media, and where is like you know? Where do you find you're actually getting engagement and connecting with your audience?

Speaker 1:

Yeah well, engagement versus connecting with my audience, I feel are two different things.

Speaker 1:

I'm very active on LinkedIn as a writer, as a storyteller, but does it mean people are buying my book? No, because people are generally on LinkedIn not to look at fiction but to learn something or to share information and news, and that's why I like LinkedIn. I feel like I learn something every time I'm on there. But is it going towards book sales? Probably not. I'm on Instagram, and on Instagram I'm reading every single chapter of my book. So every day, five days a week, I post one page, one post of me reading. But is it garnering me a following? Is it our people paying attention? I don't really know. On Facebook, I've just been on Facebook since what? 2006, I think. So I'm just there because I've been there, and I started doing it more actively when I was about to publish, knowing that everybody says you have to have social For me. I'm not a big social media person anyway, but I post. But is it actively getting me anything extra? I honestly have no idea.

Speaker 2:

So do people reach out to you and tell you like, oh, I liked your book, I bought your book, all of that, or social media, is you know?

Speaker 1:

I mean sometimes people. Again, people have reached out to me and said oh, I heard you on this podcast.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, People have.

Speaker 1:

But fewer people Interesting.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's for me. It's interesting to see that maybe social media is that like there's a lot of noise and it's hard to pinpoint our audience, but people who actually invest in listening to a podcast are your actual audience, instead of those just like and retweet and leave.

Speaker 1:

Well, there's so many different audiences and this is so. I'm a travel writer, but my travel writing is also based a lot around marketing and, like, what articles do we write based upon what our audience is and how do you find your audience? And I'm lucky enough to be able to take that education and put it towards my book marketing. But when it's talking about social like, that question is who's your audience? But how do you reach your audience Beyond who you already are connected with? Right Like Facebook? I've had 1,200 connections or something give or take since like 2008. And how would I grow that? How do I know?

Speaker 1:

They're people that I've actually met, most of them and I met when I was traveling right, I went to school with them or worked with them or et cetera, where I go on Instagram and I'm like you know, I'm posting these videos and I see what people are posting and I'm interacting and I'm interested in what these people are saying to a degree. But I'm also like, who are you posting for? Like, what is the purpose of this? I have no idea, and that's what I have to consider.

Speaker 1:

Well, what am I posting for? Who am I posting it for and how do I think I'm actually going to both reach them and engage with them, because just throwing something up into the void, there's so much noise and we know for a fact, at least in terms of LinkedIn, and it translates pretty decently to other platforms. But I use LinkedIn just because it's where I am mostly. But there's 100, is it tens of million or like 100 million people on LinkedIn? Maybe 70 million? It's a big number, but only 1% of people on the platform actually post things, and then of that 1%, only 1% actually engage with people who post things.

Speaker 1:

So, everybody scrolling through. They might not even press a like button. They might just see your post and be like oh, that's interesting and keep going, but they won't even press like, they won't even make a comment. And it's the same thing for and I have to tell my wife this, because my wife is really active on Instagram and she has her own business thing going on that she posts on.

Speaker 1:

Instagram all the time she gets upset when people aren't engaging. I'm like, yeah, but how often are you on there where you'll see something you like and you won't even press the heart button?

Speaker 2:

You'll just be like oh, it's interesting.

Speaker 1:

And then keep scrolling, and that's what the majority of people do. So you're lucky if you can put something out there that's engaging enough for somebody to actually want to respond to, let alone actually say, oh wow, this was great, or this looks beautiful, or thank you so much for sharing, or I loved your book.

Speaker 2:

So do you have a newsletter?

Speaker 1:

I do have a newsletter.

Speaker 2:

And it is. How is that going?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mentioned earlier, right if you have a newsletter but you're only sending it out to X amount of people. My newsletter, I love writing it and it's kind of a fun place to play for me and a personal space for me to just share. But there are not many people signed up for it and it's not leading to anything. But I have it and it's one of those things that again it comes back down to. People in the industry are always saying, oh, you need your socials and then you need your newsletter.

Speaker 2:

I need your newsletter.

Speaker 1:

And then if socials went away tomorrow, at least you have your newsletter. It's like, yeah, but if socials go away tomorrow, I got a newsletter of 30 people. What's it going to matter?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, that's funny. Yeah, I'm just thinking of how we make it as an indie author, but yeah, it's.

Speaker 1:

I mean it's working. But it's yeah, I like the idea of shopping for podcasts.

Speaker 2:

I guess, how many podcasts do you go on how often?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I have two this week this one and another one tomorrow and I admit that I've taken a bit of a break from being on podcasts, so the last month I've only been on three, but at the beginning of the year, from January to about April, I was on like 40 podcasts.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I guess maybe December to April I was on 40 podcasts, and then in May I had one, or I had a couple that were booked from like months earlier, and then yeah, and then I just kind of it's one of those things where it's an investment in the future, right? Normally the podcasts aren't like let me research you and then I'll be booked on a podcast for next week. Usually it's three weeks to a month down the line after the initial greeting and then figuring out schedules and things. So I mean, we were in the books for a while now, so it's nice to finally yeah, it's my, for me it's.

Speaker 2:

I get a lot of requests.

Speaker 1:

And.

Speaker 2:

I like I'm booked all the way until the end of the year and then life happens right Kids get one, kid get sick. I have to reschedule, I have to push this. Sometimes they get double booked or like, oh my god, what happened? So it's, it's a lot of juggling, but yeah and what? Like any favorite podcast that you think all authors should go on, you know, and besides mine, of course no, but it's not yours.

Speaker 1:

The funny thing is, I don't necessarily have a great, a great podcast for writers. This is a great one for writers, but for me it's more.

Speaker 2:

You're very kind.

Speaker 1:

It's more podcasts for readers, right? And I'm a big proponent. I'm not one of those people who say you have to write every day. As we learn, I don't write every day for my, ok, for my fiction, but I do feel that you should be reading a lot, and I know that that's also something not a lot of people necessarily believe in, right? I know writers that when they start writing their stories or their books, they won't read anything because they don't want it to influence how they write. Where I'm the opposite. If I'm going to write something I'm going to dive into like everything I could think of. That's somewhat related, right? So a World War Two novel, if I'm writing it, I'm going to read as many World War Two novels as I can in the timeline. But one of my favorite Book podcast is oh, my goodness. And now, of course, now that I'm trying to think and share with you, I can't think of the name, but oh, it's called all the books, all the books. It's a book, right?

Speaker 1:

So book riot is a great book, I know yeah and so it's one of their, it's one of their specific Podcasts and it's just they literally the whole show is just talking about books coming out that week that the two hosts Really loved. That's it. That's the whole point of it. It gives it keeps my TBR list Really really long. It and a lot of things over like, oh, that does sound interesting and I'll put it on my notes to be like alright, remember this. So when I do reach a point in my reading room Like, oh, I forget what I want to read next, maybe I have a slump and I can go in that list. I'll be like, ooh, they recommended this, right up my alley. And then I'm also always listening to. Like, I always have a book in my hand, but I also always have an audio book.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, yeah, so it's. Yeah, I mean I, I can go crazy with this. Like I have an audible book I listen audible Then a hard copy and a book on Kindle. I'm gonna book from the library and then a book from the library and then I eventually I don't finish anything, okay, I have to finish, which actually is to my detriment, because there are a few books.

Speaker 1:

I had a book slump in like February of this year where every book that I was reading Made me mad because they were so bad and I was like why are you? Why are you here Like, and you? There are so many great books, right, that get no attention. Yeah and then you read a book that has so many people reading it and it's so bad and you're just like how?

Speaker 2:

Why how?

Speaker 1:

attention, and why when this other book similarly related to whatever this thing is, it's so much better in every way and yet that got unnoticed.

Speaker 2:

It's, it's the business, it's, it's that the, you know, the big five or the big four. Now there, you know, and I noticed some like best sellers, you know, and I read this book and like you'll find Basic no-no's in in the book, for example, using the same word over and over and over again. Like I remember this character who, like threw up five times. I mean, how many times do you have to say like, okay, every chapter she throws up, come on, you know, like maybe she can throw up once when she was nervous, but she's throwing up all the time. Yeah, and it's like you know all these quirks sometimes that, like any editor, any good editor, would notice them and then, like this being published by the big five and you know they just let it slide, but yeah, but.

Speaker 2:

It is what it is.

Speaker 1:

We always hope for better and that's all we can do and that's. But that's why there's so many books that I Just started the thing like I just learned the term DNF, I think yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Other people feel comfortable doing this than I feel more comfortable not finishing this book, and it changed the way I I read. There was also this one post I saw somebody. This was an educational post for me, but it was basically you take your age. I think it's you take your age and double it. No, no, you just take your age and that's how many pages of the book you should be into Before your attention, right? So I'm 37 if the book hasn't grabbed my attention by 37 pages.

Speaker 2:

I usually give it like until 50. I'm not 50 yet, but I usually like that's for me.

Speaker 1:

Also, what you do is maybe even half it right, so it's like oh if my age halved. Okay so it's like yeah, so, oh, so 16 and not 16, 18 and a half pages I write. I'm not a math, right, I'm a writer.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly yeah, but anyway, this this been wonderful dog. Do you have any Final comments before we conclude? You know, besides the point that my podcast is the best podcast you've ever been, I don't think I should make any other point.

Speaker 1:

It's the best point.

Speaker 2:

But do you have any like about Marketing and the publishing, getting reviews, getting on a podcast, all all the you know important Information that we discussed For you as an as an indie author.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I will say to people don't jump To self publishing immediately. And it's fine if you want to self publish, for whatever reason you want to self publish, and I have no qualms against that. My, the reason why I say don't jump to self publishing immediately is Is really geared to those people who want to publish traditionally and then are not finding the avenue and then just self publish. The reason I say don't self publish immediately is because I cannot tell you how much better my book became Because it was rejected a certain amount of times. Because every time it was rejected, whether by an agent or a publisher, I went back and found things that weren't working and I fixed them. And if you just go well, they're not getting it and Now I'm gonna jump directly to self publishing you might miss the opportunities to make your book better.

Speaker 1:

Okay that's it. Yeah, it's not anything against self publishing. It's really just about making sure that when you go to publish in whatever medium you do traditionally Self-publish and depress that your book is the best that it can be, because you gave it the time that it needed, as opposed to you Trying to force it out on, you know, a shortened timeline, just because you want it to be there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's true, that's been wonderful. And when can people find your books, dog? On Amazon and bookstores?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so Amazon, you can find all of the books but Barnes and Noble Target, amazon, your indie publisher bookshoporg Then you can find life between seconds. That's my latest novel starting next. I don't actually know what the official release date is of my next book, but that should be early next year and again it will be on all the platforms. All the local bookstores will be able to get it and again comes back down to me wanting good distribution. So that's why I went with these publishing houses when I did. You can also find me Instagram, linkedin, super active on LinkedIn, douglas Weissman. On all these platforms, luckily, my name not super common, so you can find me easily. And Also Douglas Weissman, calm, if you want to check out my website, and you can reach. Reach me directly there too.

Speaker 2:

Oh, and your website yeah, and so they can go to your website. Can they buy books from your website directly, or?

Speaker 1:

No, it links out. Yeah, it links out to another platform, so you can go Right ahead. I'm happy to send you elsewhere to buy the books, as long as you're interested. And I, you know, and if you do, yeah, cuz I'm you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, cuz I've seen a trend where authors like sometimes Just sell it directly on some of your books, at least on their website, and they even skip Amazon, which is great I have about in another podcast.

Speaker 1:

I had it directly originally. I had it directly linked to my publishing house because I'll be? Yeah, because if you, if you publish with a publishing house, you will get a larger cut of the royalty if people buy directly from the publishing house. But people don't necessarily buy from the publishing house because they want the free shipping from Amazon.

Speaker 2:

Correct. Yeah, I must. You can't compete with Amazon. All right, dog, but this this been amazing. Please, let's stay in touch and for anyone who's listening or watching, thank you for staying with us and and Till we meet again, thank you. Thank you for tuning in to read and write with Natasha. I'm your host, natasha times. If today's episode Inspired you in any way, please take the time to review the podcast. Remember to subscribe and share this podcast with fellow book lovers. Until next time, happy reading, happy writing.

Indie Author and Travel Writer's Journey
Writing, Reading, and Passion for Books
Writing, Publishing, and Distribution Challenges
Marketing Tactics for Indie Authors
Book Reviews and Engagement on Social Media
Social Media Engagement and Podcast Recommendations