IR’s second AUTHOR 2 AUTHOR post stars multi-hyphenate author (novels, short-stories and comic books) Scott Semegran. Scott shares his (almost) 25 year journey from early indie (1995) to over 35,000 books sold (to-date!) in 2017.
IndieReader (IR): When did you start writing?
Scott Semegran (SS): I began writing in 1993, the week after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English. In the years following, I garnered publication credits here and there: some poetry in journals (1996), a comic strip in a city paper (1999), and a short story in a literary journal (2002). I also began a career as a web developer.
IR: When did you decide to publish your first book?
SS: I completed two novels, one of which I self-published in 1995, back in the days when it was still called vanity publishing and was frowned upon. In 2003, I completed a draft of a novel but abandoned it after the death of my father. In 2004, I created a comic strip that eventually found its way into several alternative, weekly newspapers and I focused on that for many years. The money was meager but I was building a body of work: fiction and comic strips.
In the mid-2000s, I started reading articles about self-publishing paperbacks through the internet with companies like Lulu Press and the success some authors had dusting off their manuscripts and publishing them on their own. In 2008, I reread the draft of the novel I had shelved and discovered that I still loved it. I cleaned it up then published it but I didn’t know how to market it. I didn’t make much money but I loved the entire publishing process. I learned about typesetting and cover design. I later discovered Smashwords and Amazon KDP and learned about publishing eBooks as well. I continued to write fiction and create comic strips, building my body of work. I had one year I made a few thousand dollars in royalties. I had another year I made $12 in royalties.
Seven books later–four novels, two books of short stories, and one compilation book of comic strips (Simon Adventures Boxed Set , Sammie & Budgie, Boys, The Spectacular Simon Burchwood, The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood, Modicum, Mr. Grieves)–I’ve learned to wear several hats: writer, graphic designer, typesetter, web developer, marketer, and publicist.
Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned to help promote my books and get on the bestseller lists:
- One of the most important things to legitimize my books are great reviews from reputable book review services like IndieReader or Kirkus Reviews. I also request blurbs from colleagues and respected authors in my genres to include on the back cover or front matter with the positive book reviews. Great reviews and blurbs are crucial.
- Book giveaways are a fun way to get your book in readers’ hands. I use Goodreads as my platform for book giveaways. It’s FREE and I get thousands of entries, most of which put my books on their to-read list. I ask the winners to leave a review for my books on their favorite platform i.e. Amazon, Goodreads, etc.
- Paid promotion / advertising is very important and I focus on the promotions that will move books into readers’ hands, not just display ads. I’ve found BookBub in conjunction with social media promotion to be the best way to do that for me. If BookBub selects your book (they are very selective), then they will help it shoot up the bestseller lists. Having great reviews from IndieReader and Kirkus Reviews was essential to be selected by BookBub. I’ve found Facebook and Google ads to be expensive and they did not convert into book sales for me.
- Invest in yourself and your writing. Hire an editor or copyeditor. Hire a graphic designer to create your book covers. Hire someone to assist with publicity. If you do not excel in these areas, then hire someone to help you.
- Develop a relationship with your local bookstore. My local bookstore in Austin, Texas is Malvern Books. They are a super cool independent bookstore and they sell my paperbacks. I had the book launch for my latest novel there on Oct 12, 2017. I have had several readings there this year. In turn, they publicize my reading appearances in local newspapers, radio ads, and internet ads. They support me and I support them. Plus, I get to talk to readers in person and feel like a rock star.
I am currently in the marketing and promotion phase for my latest two books, Boys and Sammie & Budgie. I am also jotting down notes for my next novel which I hope to start writing in early 2018. I have been writing for close to 25 years and my most successful year is, by far, this year. I have sold over 35,000 books in 2017 to date. I am very pleased with that. I couldn’t have done that without the support of fantastic services like what IndieReader provides.
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