Thursday, May 24, 2012

Interview with Author Steve Miller and Book Giveaway

J. Steve Miller calls himself a “wisdom broker,” collecting wisdom from many fields and packaging it for teachers and writers via his published books and the Web. He’s written seven books on subjects ranging from ethnomusicology (The Contemporary Christian Music Debate) to philosophy of religion (Richard Dawkins and His God Delusion) to writing and publishing. Over 1500 people a day visit his website for teacher resources on life skills and character education. He loves hanging out with his family, caring for his 106-year-old granny, and doing weird stuff like spelunking.

This book helps authors determine whether or not they would like to be self-published or go with a traditional publisher. I was impressed with all the information I gained in this book.” --George Clarke, graphic designer and owner of Red Mountain Shadows Publishing

Welcome back to my blog, Steve! You have some new books that will help authors with book promotion and publishing. Please tell us about your new books.

Since you last interviewed me in 2010, my wife (Cherie) and I have published four books for writers:

Sell More Books! Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors: Rethinking Book Publicity after the Digital Revolutions. We researched low profile authors who were selling a lot of books to see how they did it. The resulting book helps authors narrow down which marketing methods might work best for them.
Social Media Frenzy: Why Time Consuming Facebook, Twitter & Blogging Strategies May NOT Work for Your Business - Consider These Alternative Social Networking Initiatives. Publishers and literary agents push authors to spend tons of time writing blog posts, tweeting and building followings on Facebook. Our research and experience questions this “build a vast following” concept and suggests that many authors would do better to pursue other social media strategies.
Publish a Book! Compare over 50 Self-Publishing Companies: Book Publishing with CreateSpace, Lulu, Lightning Source, iUniverse, Outskirts, Publish America, Xlibris, Xulon, etc. Here we try to cut through the confusing hype and help authors who want to self-publish to make wise choices in a company.
Writing Conversations: Spend 365 Days with Your Favorite Authors, Learning the Craft of Writing. Cherie and I love to learn from successful authors. Cherie put together a wonderful collection of inspiring and informative quotes from a wide range of famous authors such as Stephen King, Louis L'Amour, Ann Lamott, Janet Evanovich, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, and William Faulkner about the craft and business of writing.

Where did you get your inspiration for these new books?

Our inspiration was twofold. First, we needed the wisdom. Cherie and I want to spend a big chunk of the fourth quarter of our lives writing and publishing. So it made sense to do some serious research into both the craft and business of writing.

Second, we kept meeting frustrated authors who were bewildered by the publishing and marketing process. Sometimes they had chosen the wrong publisher or self-publishing company, thus ruining their chances of successfully marketing their books. Other times they were feverishly blogging and socializing on Facebook, but their books weren’t selling. We wanted to help them, so we put what we were learning into books.

George Clarke, graphic designer and owner of Red Mountain Shadows Publishing, wrote about Social Media Frenzy: “I learned a lot from Steve Miller’s book. I found out that having a blog, just for the sake of having a blog, doesn’t do much for an author. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter. Our time is precious. The work involved in maintaining the blog doesn’t always provide the best results.” Tell us what you think about this statement.

Blogging works for some people. It looks like it’s working for you, Linda, since a lot of people comment and appreciate your reviews and advice. So I’m not saying it can’t work.

But the question that most people aren’t asking is, “Will it work for everybody?” Well, if by “work” you mean, “build a vast following and sell a lot of books,” I’d suggest that the answer is no. It may work for some, but probably not for most. Typically, authors with successful blogs (those with big followings) pour tons of time into researching their niche and even more time into writing regular, insightful posts. They also have claimed a particular niche that thousands of others aren’t competing to dominate. But even if you successfully build that following, you need to answer a further question: “Is this the best use of my time if my primary objective is to market my books?”

Let’s say you’re a debut mystery writer. I think it’s a good idea to keep up with your friends on Facebook and have a blog where you talk about your writing and publishing experiences. That’s what I’d call casual social media. But if your idea is to write substantive posts on mystery writing multiple times per week and expect that tons of people will start following you rather than following the established mystery writers, you’ll probably be disappointed.

I believe there are better ways to get noticed in social media besides trying to gather and keep a following. That’s the second half of my Social Media Frenzy book.

What kind of research did you do?

For Sell More Books, I first read widely in book marketing and general marketing - about 30 books as I recall. Beyond that, Cherie and I read widely in business and biography, gleaning general principles of success.

Second, we studied low profile authors who were selling a lot of books to find what was working. Us low-profile authors are very different from best-selling authors. If high-profile authors go on a tour, everyone wants their autograph and everyone wants to interview them. I wanted to discover how low-profile authors were selling tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of books.

Third, I kept careful records of what actually worked for selling our own books, and just as important, what didn’t work. I did lots of stuff that took a lot of time and money, but didn’t sell any books at all. Zilch. I think that’s just as important for authors to know as the successes.

For Social Media Frenzy, I drew from our own experiences in social media, our reading in the field, and our faithfully attending the long-running SoCon social media conference for over six years. We learn a lot from social media experts each year at SoCon.

For Publish a Book, I drew from my earlier research and publishing experiences and went to each self-publishing company site to read the fine print of what they were offering. Some, as Lewis Grizzard would have said, were “slicker than a bucket of greased eels.”

Any final words?

If you’re an author, keep learning the craft and business of writing. It doesn’t have to be my books that you read, but never stop learning. And force yourself out of your author’s cave to hang out with fellow authors and learn from them. Ignorance and isolation are bad ideas in this field.

Thank you so much for this interview and great counsel, Steve. I hope many authors take your advice.


Laurean Brooks said...

Steve, it's amazing how many hours of research you put into this book!

All I have to say is "It's about time" someone did this. I've noticed that blogging, tweeting and Facebook merit little and since I'm on dial up, it takes way too much of my time. Time I could spend writing.

I would love to know the rest of the story. Sign me up for the drawing. Gotta have this book!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'd love to be in the drawing. al.sowards@

Cheryl said...

This sounds like a fabulous book. Thigngs are moving so quickly in the world of publishing these days. It seems like everyone hops on the next biggest band wagon and then the axle breaks.

Thanks for the chance to win.



Marie Higgins said...

I would LOVE to win Social Media Frenzy. I have 10 books out there (and more to come) and I would love to learn how to spread the word. Put me in your contest!


Cheryl said...

Posted this giveaway on my blog:

bn100 said...

Very nice post. Thanks for sharing your insights.


Anonymous said...

As an amateur writer working on my first ever novel, this advice and professional knowlege would be invaluable. I don't know much about how one gets published or agents/ editors ectetera, and any information on getting your work out there is so beneficial as i don't have any contacts within the literary world as such (rather, i am 'going it alone'). Thank you for such an increadible interview and giveaway.
My Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk
Country: United Kingdom Xx

Darcy Flynn said...


Great interview! As much as I've done social networking it's still difficult for me to know if I'm getting anywhere using it as an author or not. I find it slow and at times frustrating. Sometimes I spend hours with little results. Put me in for the give away. I could sure use the help! :)

Gail Pallotta said...

Thanks for the interview and for writing these helpful books. Publishing and promoting are certainly mysteries I'd love to know how to solve.

A.D. Duling said...

Fabulous! I need this! Enter me in the giveaway!
alishiajax (at) gmail(dot) com

JoAnn Arnold said...

Great, great interview. I would love to have this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the your interview with Steve Miller

Enter me in the giveaway

Anna del C. Dye said...

I so much agree with Laurean. I hardly have time for my books anymore. It is very hard to keep up with all that internet promotion. I too would like to have that book. :) may the best woman win Laurean. :)

Tom Blubaugh, Night of the Cossack said...

Good words, Steve. I've been working hard for thirteen months and am now analyzing the results. Not everything works for everybody. I've been in marketing most of my professional life and I've found book marketing to the most competitive, difficult and time consuming.


Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack

Betsy Love said...

This sounds like something I could use. I feel like I spend countless hours trying to build a platform for myself and have not seen the results I'm hoping for. Perhaps I need to rethink what I'm doing. Thanks for the great post, Linda. And Steve, your books on marketing look like something I really need to read.
authorbetsylove at gmail dot com

J. Steve Miller said...

Thanks for your comments! I hope the information was both helpful and encouraging. For those of you who didn't win, if you lack the money for one of the books, or would be willing to do an Amazon review (if you like it!), just let me know and I'll send you a copy.

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Today we have two winners. Congratulations, Laurean Brooks and Lucinda Fountain! You are the winners of this wonderful book. I know it will help you very much. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. Please visit often because I have a new giveaway each week.