This week I have Dianne Ascroft as a guest on my blog. Diane is an indie author and her latest book - Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves is now out. Thank you for coming Dianne.
Tell us about your latest indie book
Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves is a collection of half a dozen short stories. The ebook contains tales of outsiders who discover they belong, a humorous slice of life yarn, heart warming love stories and a tale of taming fear. In these stories the shadows are on the wall, in the heart and clouding a woman’s memories while tangible foes tramp through the physical landscape. The stories were previously printed individually in a variety of publications, including Ireland’s Own magazine, Dead Ink Books’ website, and the writing collections, Fermanagh Miscellany and Tuesdays At Charlie’s.
What made you decide to go indie?
When I was working on my novel, an historical fiction titled Hitler and Mars Bars, I entered the first chapter of the book into a contest run by a POD company and it won. The prize was a publishing package for the book. At this point I hadn’t considered whether or not to look for a traditional publisher. This win decided me – I went indie.
Do you design your own covers?
I don’t do the actual work but I submit images and my ideas to a designer and she puts it together for me. Then we tweak it until it’s the cover I want.
Do you write your own blurb etc?
Yes, I’ve written the back cover blurb and the Amazon page descriptions for all the books I’ve released. When I tried my hand at this I was surprised to discover that I enjoy the marketing side of publishing.
What are the pros and cons of going indie.
One of the most obvious pros is that the writer has total control of the writing and publishing process. There’s no need to conform to a specific genre or length to meet the publisher’s requirements and deadlines are set by the writer. Cover design and the marketing strategy are also decided by the writer.
The downside of this total control is that the writer must do the work or pay others to provide services such as editing and cover design. Doing the work yourself is time consuming and paying for services that a publisher would provide for a traditionally published writer can be expensive.
On the marketing side, most indies don’t have the contacts or mailing list that a traditional publisher has so their marketing efforts don’t reach as many potential readers.
Indies are also still battling the perception in many quarters that traditionally published books are better quality than indie published ones so marketing is a challenge.
Many people think being an indie author involves little cost and less time than being traditionally published. Is this true?
It definitely doesn’t require less time. Since you are entirely responsible for writing and marketing your books it requires more time than if you were able to hand over much of the editing and marketing to someone else.
It also costs money to produce a good quality book: the fees for services such as editing and cover designing come out of your own pocket. There’s also the cost of marketing. Some writers don’t pay for any advertising but many use a combination of free and paid advertising. Since you set your own marketing budget you can decide how much you want to spend but you will likely invest some money in the book’s marketing.
How do you publicise your books?
I’ve experimented with lots of ways so I’ll just mention a couple that are my mainstays. I have a website as well as Facebook and Goodreads pages. I interact with other readers and other authors on Facebook and Goodreads and I guest post and participate in blog hops. When I have something to announce I tweet about it and I use a limited about of sidebar and banner advertising on sites such as Goodreads and Kindle Users Forum.
Do you think Twitter and Facebook really help in getting word out there?
I hope so! I’m more active on Facebook than Twitter. This is partly because I think that potential readers will be more attracted to a book when they can see its cover and read a description of it. But I tweet when I have announcements to make about my books.
Do you read any indie authors yourself?
Yes, probably more than half my reading material, fiction and non-fiction, is indie. Historical fiction is my favourite genre and during the past few months I’ve read books by Tim Hodkinson, Lorna Fergusson, Madeline Stringer, Hugh Ryan Fitzgerald, Hazel Gaynor, Patricia O’Reilly and Laura Elliot. And I shouldn’t forget to mention that I’ve read several of your books too.
Would you accept a traditional publishing deal now?
I would still want to release some of my work independently so I would be happy to accept a traditional deal if I could be a ‘hybrid’ author. There are two main reasons for my willingness to embrace a traditional deal. Firstly, traditional publishers have the ability to reach a wider audience than I can and this exposure would help to promote all my books. Secondly, in many readers’ minds there is still a divide between mainstream published and indie. So publishing at least one book with a traditional publisher would lend credibility to the novel as well as the rest of my writing. I did something similar when I released Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves. Most of the stories I included in this book were previously published in magazines and writing anthologies. When potential readers scan the book’s Amazon page they see this mentioned and it reassures them about the quality of the material they’ll find inside the cover.
What advice would you give to writers thinking of going indie?
My advice isn’t new but I think it’s important. Write the best book you can and then learn about the publishing side of the business. When the manuscript is ready take your time to prepare the cover and marketing materials before you release the book. Don’t rush, no matter how excited you are about your book. It’s much better to do it right the first time and create a good impression that will last in readers’ minds. This will contribute to the success of your debut novel and pave the way for future books.
“Dianne Ascroft presents an engaging and authentic view of country life in these winsome, humorous and evocative stories, filled with hope and the possibilities of new beginnings. They resonate with the interdependence of a close-knit, rural community and focus on the small things in life ― the subtle day-to-day occurrences that often slip by unnoticed in the busyness of our daily routine.” Laura Elliot, author of Deceptions, Stolen Child and The Prodigal Sister.
Dianne Ascroft is an urban Canadian who has settled on a farm in rural Northern Ireland with her husband and an assortment of strong willed pets. She writes both fiction and non-fiction and her articles and stories have been printed in Irish and Canadian magazines and newspapers; she has released a novel, Hitler and Mars Barsand a short story collection, Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves. Online she lurks at www.dianneascroft.wordpress.
Thank you, Dianne, I'm sure everyone found that insight into your writing both informative and interesting.
We all have different reasons for becoming an Indie author. For me it was the return of my back list from my traditional publishers and the arrival of KDP. I still sell to D C Thomson and Linford Romance so would be considered a 'hybrid' author as I have feet planted firmly in both indie and traditional publishing.
Fenella J Miller.