Honie Briggs welcomes John Kenworthy, the author of the chilling new novel “The Missionary and the Brute” – a thriller set in Tanzania, East Africa. Kenworthy’s previous books include “The Hand Behind the Mouse: an intimate biography of Ub Iwerks” and “Bungee Jumping & Cocoons”.
In this episode of Perilous Self-Publishing, HONIE and NEW AUTHOR are having a conversation that is an oft-repeated scene with writers’ all over the world. John Kenworthy joins the conversation AS………….
HONIE (speaks in comforting tone to NEW AUTHOR and changed the set to a masculine colors scheme to make John feel at home.)
Don’t you know New Author, it takes time to build momentum when you self-publish? People have busy lives and don’t have time to read for enjoyment.
NEW AUTHOR (with attitude)
Have you seen that new best seller, “How To Get The Shaft In Five Easy Steps”?
NEW AUTHOR holds up a slim paperback.
NEW AUTHOR (reads aloud)
This book says,
1. Believe you have something important to say and then say it.
2. Give away your heart and soul then wait patiently to hear if anyone cares.
3. Spend every waking moment fixated on your work until you cannot tell the difference between your waking life and your sleeping one.
4. Start each day with a smile, and when you get your teeth knocked down your throat, get up and do it again the next day.
5. Make at least one of the above an obsessive compulsive habit.
HONIE (with elevated irritation)
New Author, you aren’t getting the shaft! What were you doing in the self-deprecating section of that bookstore anyway? You cannot be serious about resorting to a spam campaign to market your book.
NEW AUTHOR (rolls eyes and sighs.)
What about pay-per-click ads or some harmless auto dialing?
HONIE (throws up arms in disgust)
OMG! I can’t work like this. (aside) Diva Meltdown – somebody get the stunt double!
(shouting from backstage) Where’s Kenworthy?
He looks a bit like a NEW AUTHOR and at the same time looks every bit the part of an OLD AUTHOR. He has the requisite bleary eyes hidden behind natty spectacles, disheveled attire, a jittery-coffee hand, and mussed up hair that appears as if he has actually been pulled out of desperation. He is clutching a copy of his new novel “The Missionary and the Brute,” just in case anyone asks for an autographed copy. (It’s a thriller set in Tanzania, East Africa.)
JOHN (sits cross-legged on an easy chair making himself at home)
What seems to be the trouble, Honie? Why did you call me in?
HONIE (somewhat relieved)
We’re having a meltdown here about self-publishing. New Author is trying to strategize about how to go about marketing her book without driving herself and everybody else crazy.
JOHN (whistles low) Good luck with that. Yah, I was listening at the door. I know that seems obtrusive, but I have to be ready to step in when the moment arises. I’m already strapped up and raring to go. Got my harness on, and I’m wearing kneepads under my jeans. (taps his knees knowingly) You never know when you’re going to have to beg and grovel in this author business, you know?
No, I really don’t know.
NEW AUTHOR (hands on hips)
It just seems like an awful lot of angst to me.
JOHN (nestles into the chair)
It is. But it is because we care a lot about what we do. I overheard New Author read from her little book. I tend to read a lot of those too. Some are good, some are crap, some are half-good, half-crap. I kind of treat them like a smorgasbord of ideas. (aside) You got any coffee?
HONIE rises and retreats to the kitchen. She sneaks some Doritos before bringing John his coffee. SHHH, don’t tell anyone. All this drama is giving her stress.
JOHN (speaking to New Author, but loudly so that everyone may hear)
I think in this case I agree with #1 from the book the most. That’s the part we authors are really good at. We believe deeply in what we write and spend a lot of time in solitude perfecting that to the point we want to share it. (HONIE returns with coffee and takes a seat across from JOHN) Thank you. (JOHN takes a sip of coffee) Ahh.
We are so close to it and it means something to us. I mean, truly deeply to the depths of our soul means something. It is a part of us. And because we believe so deeply in that work, we want the world to embrace it with the same ardor.
Yeah, understandable, but it’s not going to happen. It’s easy to write a book and think that simply because it’s written that everyone will embrace it. When I wrote “The Missionary and the Brute” I felt in my heart it was an incredible book. Still do. I think it is a great literary feat and worthy of mention next to my heroes – John Irving, Anne Rice, Chuck Palahniuk and the like.
Isn’t that a bit unrealistic?
Nope. It’s a LOT unrealistic. But that’s what I feel. For awhile I tried to sell it to agents and publishers and couldn’t get anyone to read past my pitch. Writing a pitch is so unlike writing a lyrical novel but is absolutely essential when MARKETING a book. Dangit! When I wore out one pitch, I rewrote it and tried again. And ultimately the utter lack of response lead me to simply want to get it out there.
It was an easy decision for me actually. I’m not delusional that I’m going to make big money from my books – that’s not my goal. If that IS the goal, you probably shouldn’t self-publish. My goal was to get it in the hands of folks who like intellectual thrillers. The easiest way to do that was to self-publish.
But you had been published before more traditionally, right?
Indeed I had. My first book, “The Hand Behind the Mouse” was published by Disney. Doesn’t get any more traditional than Disney. And it did well, not great, but well. But even there I realized that it was my role as an author to do the promotion and work it as hard as I was able to promote it. The publisher could only go so far. Same thing for my second book, “Bungee Jumping &; Cocoons”. I knew I had to sell it myself.
So how did you go about doing that? How ARE you going about doing that for your new novel?
For “The Missionary and the Brute”? (laughs) It’s important that you mention the title of your book as often as you can to get it into the cultural zeitgeist. This is where I quibble with the second statement from New Author’s self-help book. It is unrealistic to think that anyone will pick up the book simply because it exists, therefore you cannot wait for anything. You as the writer of a work you love must promote it every chance you get.
How do you do that? Do you do spam mailers? Ads?
I set a small budget for myself. And by small I mean REALLY small. And then started getting it out there. I utilized every means of social media I could think of.
Facebook and Twitter then?
Yup and yup. Both, all. I did some Facebook ads for a bit, selected a targeted demographic and set it up to Pay Per Click. I don’t really want to pay for blithe impressions, but a click is an active step. Active is what I want. It did relatively well, and I tweaked my demographic a bit here and there to get more action.
Would you please tell New Author how many books you sold doing that?
Ayy, there’s the rub. I can’t discern that I sold any. (sighs) But that’s okay. I had measurable results I could look at in a spreadsheet. Same thing for Twitter – I am up to well over 6000 followers but that doesn’t translate to sales at all. Not at this point. Perhaps it will eventually. If I keep my message crisp and clear and “The Missionary and the Brute” the chilling new novel from John D. Kenworthy on the tips of their tongues… ha ha ha…
Thanks. Then I created a blog with unique content – that sold a few books but only after being promoted strongly on my other social media. I also made friendships at writers’ groups and LinkedIn – that’s how I found you Honie, you know?
Yes, yes you did and what a lucky day that was for us both!
But honestly what this often does is to create a buzz of excitement sometimes only within the minds of other writers. Sometimes I feel I am preaching to the choir by focusing too much on the mechanics and business of writing – which is only a small portion of the available market for “The Missionary and the Brute” the incredible third book by…
Yeah, yeah, enough already. We get ya’. So what do you find successful?
All of it. None of it. The marketing is still a work in progress and this blog tour thingy is part of that effort. Honestly, the most books I sold were when the wonderful Suzzy Roche dropped my name – and “The Missionary and the Brute” in an interview with the great Amy Sutherland in the Boston Globe. She said it was ‘a page turner’!
So are you happy with how it’s going?
Sure. (wiggles uncomfortably in the chair as if there is something going on with his back) I have sold more books already than my second book – certainly some gave away – but it is at least in the hands of readers. That is my goal. I want the passion that lead me to write “The Missionary and the Brute” to be shared with those who might enjoy it.
There is an element of emotional risk to it. That’s for sure. But what in life that is worth anything has no risk? The satisfaction of someone liking my book far outweighs any discomfort from the more painful aspects. But I’m an author. That’s to be expected. I went in with my eyes wide open, am willing to work hard and am well equipped to handle whatever comes next.
The STUNT DOUBLE’s shoulders tighten and he sits bolt upright.
So what comes next?
Danger, excitement, more risking it all to drive my passion. Each day is new and we all are heading to….
Before the STUNT DOUBLE can finish his statement, a previously unseen cable (that a stage hand has surreptitiously attached to a harness clasp at his back) pulls taut and propels the STUNT DOUBLE across the screen, smashing him through a sugar glass window out into the ether.
HONIE (ready for her closeup)
Wow. Being an author isn’t for the faint of heart, is it John?………John?
No, it’s naaahhhhhhh….!!!!!!!!!!
The STUNT DOUBLE has left the building, but you can find “The Missionary and the Brute” on the links below. John Kenworthy’s Book Blog Tour continues tomorrow with “Educating Tanzania” at: http://www.raychelle-writes.blogspot.com/
The Missionary and the Brute on Amazon (paperback):
The Missionary and the Brute on Amazon (Kindle):
The Missionary and the Brute on publisher’s site:
Use discount code REW25 @ Smashwords.com to receive 25% off your purchase of:
Summoning The Strength, by Stephanie Briggs. Offer good between March 4th and 10th, 2012.