1. When did you publish your first book and who published it?
My first novel, Dragon Fire, was published January 1st, 2012. I published it independently as an eBook. I am in the process of querying various agents and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. However, the process of self-publishing my work has been extremely rewarding.
2. Who does your book covers? Who does your copy editing and proofreading?
I did all the proofreading and copy editing for Dragon Fire. I shared parts of the book in various draft forms with others who gave me invaluable feedback, but ultimately I did all the editing personally.
Hector J. Coto designed and created the cover for Dragon Fire. He is a very talented artist and graphic designer. He is currently working on a custom cover for the print edition of the novel.
3. Please tell us your top three, most successful book marketing tips.
Marketing is my least favorite part of the self-publishing process. It is hard work and it is continuous. With my novel available only as an eBook at this time, I’ve done all my marketing through online channels, learning what works and doesn’t work as I go.
I found a virtual tour of my novel as yielding big returns. Interviews in blogs like yours are an essential part of the “eTour” because they don’t just put the book in front of potential readers, they give those potential readers insight into the author and the book itself.
A tool that I now use multiple times daily is Twitter. This medium of communication is new to me and I’m slowly learning how to maximize its use through hash tags and frequent tweets.
Lastly, giving away a few copies of the book goes a long way to getting exposure. I have three targeted free promotions and in all three cases, activity of Dragon Fire has increased. This was very helpful after the second week of the book’s release when I had exhausted all those in my circle of friends and family.
4. Do you have an author blog? If so, how do you attract readers? What is your blog's address?
At this time, I do not have an author blog. I am working on a website for Dragon Fire and plan to establish a blog there, but it is not yet ready.
5. If you are on Twitter, how do you get followers and what are your favorite hash tags?
The hash tags I most frequently use are #fantasy, #ebook, and #kindle. I also created one for #DragonFire to associate it with the novel.
Twitter is so organic of a medium, it is difficult, at least for me, to determine where my followers originate. However, forums and writer networking sites are a good way to get the word out about my writing, and Dragon Fire in particular. I suspect that the more exposure the book gets, the more Twitter followers it will attract.
6. Where do you go to request reputable, free reviews?
Networking sites such as World Literary Café (WLC) and individual author blogs are good places to find readers who are willing to provide an honest review. Goodreads is perhaps one of the best places to find reviewers. In some cases, readers have contacted me directly asking if they could review Dragon Fire. In others, readers have written their reviews because they were compelled to do so.
Forums for independent authors, such as those from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), also serve as great means by which authors can connect with readers. I am always happy to provide a complimentary copy of Dragon Fire to readers who are willing to review it on Amazon and Goodreads.
7. What have you done that has successfully increased your online sales?
It is difficult to pinpoint any one activity that has increased sales in and of itself. However, I have found that on the days when I tweet at least twice, activity for Dragon Fire increases for that day. There may not be a direct relationship between the tweets and that day’s sales, but the frequent exposure that Twitter provides certainly does make a difference.
8. What online sites do you prefer to network with authors, publishers, editors or readers?
I visit the Amazon KDP Support Forums frequently. This all being new to me, I find the postings in KDP very helpful. I’ve learned a lot from the experiences of others and I have found many opportunities to promote my book.
The World Literary Café is also an excellent site to network with other authors. Its tagging and liking exchange exposes the Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon pages of my work to a wide audience.
9. What advice would you give aspiring authors about publishing or self-publishing?
Having held on to Dragon Fire for many years before I took the plunge and decided to publish it, my biggest challenge was finally letting go. There comes a time when you know that your work is ready to be shared with the world, and yet you hold it close for fear of so many things.
With sites like Amazon, self-publishing is a relatively painless process. My advice is to go ahead and do it. Let go and share your work with the world. Believe me, the excitement of seeing your book on the Amazon site overshadows any fears you may have had before.
10. What do you think authors should know about book marketing?
Marketing is a lot of work. It is an activity that you must do daily to make sure your book does not lose momentum. You have to put aside some humility and learn to sell your work as the best-seller you know it is.
11. Where do you see writing and publishing going given the success of electronic reading devices?
I think the future of publishing will be a merging of the various media in which “books” can be found today. I foresee buying a hardcover book that comes with a direct tie-in to its electronic form. Perhaps the two are bundled together, where I can scan the barcode on the back cover of the book with my eBook device (e.g. a Kindle) and download the electronic version.
I like the eBook medium because it makes books so much more accessible to readers. When a book is published electronically, one can browse the book, and in many cases read a few chapters, before deciding to buy it. This is good for both the reader and the author. It gives the author a chance to make a more accurate first impression than the traditional print book. If your book can grab the reader in the first chapter then you make a sale right there and then. In the traditional book store setting, your cover and back cover descriptions are the only first impressions you can make.
12. What projects are you working on now? Please describe.
I have two other novels in the works, of a different genre. One is a police suspense thriller and the other is one that straddles science fiction and the supernatural. I’m very excited about both of them and I’m currently trying to balance each of their demands to be written.
DRAGON FIRE by Pedro L. Alvarez is available on Amazon as a Kindle eBook.
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Pedro L. Alvarez is a Cuban-born writer who immigrated with his parents to the United States at the age of 8. He grew up in West New York, NJ where he first discovered the joys of reading and writing short stories.