Today we have Chloe Testa sharing her thoughts on writing and publishing. Find out more about Chloe on her website, and on Goodreads.
Probably one of the biggest challenges is definitely marketing - creating a name for yourself as an author and gaining readership for your book. Your book may be an absolute masterpiece, rivaling Dickens, Stoker and Shelley, but that doesn’t mean people are going to immediately start buying and reading it – you need to promote! And this takes a lot of time because as an indie author, you don’t have the contacts or know-how that someone in the ‘big leagues’ of mainstream publishing does have. And more than this, it can soon work out quite expensive to market your work. Not that it has to! There are plenty of free services out there run by some fantastic people all willing to help the indie author (such as the wonderful Rock the Book), but it takes time trying to find these, and even then their schedules may be swamped with requests and work or your genre may not quite fit to what they do. You’ll set up a Facebook page and a website and any other form of social media in an attempt to gain readership but of course this is also really complex at times and needs to be regularly maintained and promoted and pushed. It’s tiring. It’s hard. It’s never ending. But it needs to be done, and trust me, when you start seeing the fruits of your labour, you soon forget the pain!
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently really busy focusing on the marketing of my most recent release, Blood Roses. Marketing really is a full time commitment and, around my second job teaching in a high school, it’s hard to find time to write. I can however reveal that I've started plotting and planning the sequel to Blood Roses. I've given myself a deadline of 18 months to finish it and get it ready for publishing. It’s no small order!
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
A little bit of both. I always have a basic outline to my writing – I know the beginning, main conflict/climax and ending and these are my guides throughout my first draft and are, normally, the only things to not change as I write and edit! Once I've got this clear in my head/on a sticky note stuck to my laptop, I do let the idea flow and try and see where it will take me. This does lead to a lot of editing later, as I find I just blabber on trying to get as much of the idea out as possible, but then this is what the editing process is for and it’s why it is such a crucial stage in publishing. I do also spend a lot of time jotting down notes and ideas, developing portions of the plot on sticky notes or whatever sheet of paper I can find but that doesn't mean I’ll ever use what I've written down.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
I spent a lot of time looking at covers of all the different books currently available in my genre, both world renowned titles as well as many indie pieces, so I knew what to expect. It’s really important to do some research on these things and size up other works because, despite the old cliché, people will judge a book by its cover – it’s the first thing they see after all. Hence I knew I needed something eye-catching that would stand out. As one of the biggest themes across Blood Roses is the colour red, particularly blood red, I needed that to be a predominant colour. Originally I was toying with the idea of a black background, as most fantasy novels seem to have black covers but decided, with guidance from my photographer, that white would not only stand out more on the ‘shelf’, but would also help the red pop. I’m very lucky to have a partner who is also a fantastic photographer so we used her professional skills to take a high quality image of some beautiful red roses covered in ‘blood’, which she then edited into the stunning photographs you can see on the front cover. They encapsulate the theme of the book and it’s dark nature, but are also eye catching and mysterious enough to capture the reader’s attention and encourage them to pick it up, check the blurb and hopefully purchase!
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
Social media can be an invaluable tool for marketing if used in the right way. It can take up an inordinate amount of your time but it really is something completely invaluable to marketing, especially for the indie author. Social media is such a big thing in today’s world that you do need to consider using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to your fan base, even if that fan base is, initially, just your family and close friends. Sharing, liking, retweeting - all of these then present your posts to another selection of friends beyond your initial circle; this helps you gain more exposure and also give your readers a place to 'touch base' with you, get to know you as the author and know your work better. Social media also works really well if you run a promo or giveaway as people love freebies and will share and share alike, getting your work known and out there even more so. Furthermore you can buy advertising through these websites so that your posts/page/feed is shared to a specific target such as a genre, age group or country. Of course this needs to be used with caution, as I’ve found it didn’t particularly do as much as I had hoped in promoting my page, but for some it does work. But on the whole, with the entire world connected at the touch of a button through social media, it needs to be utilized in your marketing strategy.