Heather Marie Adkins Gets Jack’d

This week I have the honor and privilege of having fellow Louisvillian, Heather Marie Adkins primed and ready to Get Jack’d. Let’s see what this fantastic writer has to say.

JW: Keep Louisville Writing. That’s the campaign we are planning on starting. This was a brilliant idea of yours to feed off of Louisville, Kentucky’s desire to keep things local. Honestly I’m surprised other local writers haven’t though of this yet. I know so many people that live here in Louisville that so vehemently follow the “Keep Louisville Weird” credo (I try very hard to be one of them) and it makes sense that they would apply that same philosophy to local writers. Brilliant, say I!

Marketing is a beast, plain and simple. It takes time, effort, and a lot of luck. There’s no magical incantation that can be made and no fairy glitter to be sprinkled in the ink before it dries. And while we all wait for that luck to strike, we sit back and we watch our sales reports. Or at least we did (the “we” being the collective we that live within my skull – taking a nod from everyone’s favorite vampire writer Shea McCleod in referring to myself in the third person). Now, I’ve decided to just let it happen in the background. No sales watching for me. I just want to be surprised at the end of the month. This, of course, comes at a good time as my day job has forsaken me and begun to play the part of Big Brother. So I don’t dare do anything that might be seen as recreational or beyond the imaginary lines that have been drawn in order to try to force me out.

Funny that…as if life weren’t busy enough…we writers have to try to squeeze in as much work and promotion as we can in the waining hours after we arrive home, pre-exhausted, from work. Life? What’s that? Peek tweet hours? Can’t make those. Time to blog? Forget it…must write. It’s all a huge cluster f%*$ and only makes us long for the day when our book sales will be “enough” to take the place of that day-job income.

If I seem a bit bitter…it’s because I am. But I’ll take off my tiara and play nice now.

HMA: Day jobs are hell, plain and simple–or night jobs, if you’re me. Like you, I’m facing a lot of upheaval at work lately. I’m a law enforcement dispatcher and we are currently, um, just a bit short on dispatchers. It puts only two of us on our shift, 11p to 7a, and it’s wearing me out. I’m not sleeping well, my nerves are frayed, and you better believe my writing has taken a turn for the nonexistent. We both have that seemingly (at this point) unattainable dream of getting out of our current posts and writing full time. It’s a paradisaical island in the middle of the ocean and we’ve yet to find the boat that will get us there.

That’s where I got the idea for Keep Louisville Writing–of course, the idea may be mine, but you came up with the killer name. Our big-city-little-town has a great bohemian population that screams of supporting the local economy. Why shouldn’t we assume local writers wouldn’t be a part? I’m excited to get the ball rolling and see where it can take us. While marketing does suck, and I’m lucky to get my name out there on any given day due to the fact I’m, you know, a vampire who sleeps while the rest of the world lives…I do believe this could be a good thing. I most certainly think it’s worth a try How neat would it be if the local mags picked up a whiff? Leo, Velocity, hell, even the Courier. The exposure could go either way; it may tank, or it may explode. We won’t know until we try..

Yes, Shea is a terrible influence through her posting vocabulary. I find myself SQUEEing all over the d*mn place now (and loving it, I won’t lie). I’ve yet to pick up the royal “we”, but of course, just give me time…this part of next year, I’ll be penning the “Shea MacCleod” thesaurus. I blame her living in London 😉

JW: What I find to be quite refreshing is this community of indie authors is growing large but staying “small”. I mean that we all seem to beginning to know each other and, in such short shrift, are helping one another out so much. Whether it’s doing a of promo work another writer’s book or just dropping names now and again – it’s amazing. I already feel like I know so many of my fellow indie writers as if they were old friends.

I just read something today that extolled the virtues and strengths of the indie writers.

  1. We are tech savvy.
  2. We are ready to reach out to readers.
  3. We are flexible.
  4. And more…but I would add to that the following:
  5. We are well connected to one another.
  6. We have a vested interest in promoting our work.
  7. We are pioneers of something that is going to be huge.
  8. We are, for the most part, patient.

When I first started writing I was pretty much ignorant, alone, and probably would have been completely overlooked. Why? Because what I was writing was bending the rules. It seems I have made a profession, all of my life, of bending the rules. But now, thanks to the new world order (with a nod to Jacob Plummer and I Zombie I) the rules beg to be bent. The readers of our works are finally able to see through the thin veil the publishers placed between them and the writers to see that there is, in fact, much more than meets the eye. All of the genres can now happily intermingle and weave tales of glorious new genres. This can only end well for both readers and writers…yet one more aspect we indies consider a strength – passion for the readers.

HMA: You’ve touched on the two things that I absolutely love about indie publishing: the idea of crossing genres and the incredible support network.

There’s something to be said for having comrades-at-arms.  Doing this indie pub thing can be a roller coaster ride of unspeakable terror, and knowing there are others who feel the same as me, well, that’s priceless.  Especially with Indie Writers Unite; I feel like we’ve built an incredible base upon which to stand.  Our group has surpassed 400 strong; 400 people who love to write and share with one another.  I have a place I can turn to when I need a question answered or a favor to ask, or if I just need to bi**h because I haven’t sold a single copy of my novel in three days.  I’ve been lucky enough to have IWU since before I published my first ebook, so it really is a huge part of my life.  There are so many supportive people there, not the least to say the moderator Cheryl Bradshaw.

Plus, like you said, I’ve made some amazing friends that feel like they’ve always been a part of my life.  Author Julia Crane has become one of my best friends, and I’ve built some wonderful friendships outside of the IWU group with the aforementioned Shea MacCleod, as well as Talia Jager, Ed McNally, Lizzy Ford, and PJ Jones..  Of course, through Keep Louisville Writing, I’m hoping you and I will build a great “business” relationship as well as friendship!  the connections we forge in this world can only help us all on our journey.  If anything, they keep me sane.

What a great list of virtues; and true.  I never realized how tech savvy I was until I started this nonsense.  I recently wrote a blog about how much I enjoy formatting ebooks, creating book covers, and making book trailers.  I’m dying to build personal relationships with my readers; if they ever come.  For the most part, I’ve only been read by other authors.  Though their praise has been completely wonderful, I still feel like I’m not there yet.  Speak for yourself…I’m impatient!  I’m holding out for the day when I receive my first piece of fan mail from a stranger; I’ll probably print it and hang it on the wall.

But most importantly, yes–we are absolutely pioneers of something that is going to rock the foundations of the publishing world.  I’m sad to see the destruction, as in Border’s closing and Barnes and Noble searching for a buyer, but I’m excited to see where it takes indie publishing. As book stores close in smaller towns, what will they be left with?  The internet.  Sure, they could order boxes of books from Amazon, but why?  Every time they open Amazon in their browser window, they’re met by the increasingly cheaper and more attractive Amazon Kindle. It’s only a matter of time before ebook readers become more and more popular, simply because print stores will no longer be available.

What we have in the multi-genre movement are books readers just cannot find in stores.  I have the hardest time putting my books in categories when I upload them to Amazon because I love to dabble in everything.  There’s almost an entirely new level of creativity available to us in indie publishing.  It’s a certainty many of the books I’ve read and enjoyed by indies would never have seen the light of day through traditional publishing; that’s not saying that trad pub is terrible, just that they’re stagnant.  How can new talent and new stories be discovered when one won’t branch out to bring those new ideas in?  Despite the resistance, we are a revolution happening.

JW: Well said, well said. I honestly believe what is going to happen is a new breed of publisher is going to show up where you have a “collective” of indie authors working together to promote similar genres. I wanted to (and still may) start something very much along that lines. I want to help my fellow indie writers (as well as myself) be more visible. That doesn’t necessarily mean creating an “imprint”, but more create a collective of writers that promote one another’s work and can do so from a single location (web site) to drive traffic to books of similar ilk.

It’s only a matter of time before these sorts of collectives appear which will allow the readers to more easily search for the books the want to read. As it stands, the search engines for the major distributer aren’t so great. And search from the devices themselves (the Kindle in particular) is a challenge. I know that sites have popped up, like the Indie Book Lounge and various Facebook pages, but I would bet the majority of these pages are seeing hits from writers and not readers. The readers of the books are not hip to the best locations to find the best reads out there. It’ll all fall into place, I have absolute confidence.

As far as book sales are concerned, I have finally decided I am no longer even bothering with looking. My goal is to now just wait until the end of the month and have a pleasant surprise. My books have only been truly on the market (in their current incarnation) for about three months. I like to think the momentum is only just beginning to build and it is going to become something absolutely incredible. I only hope, at some point, the traditional publishers out there wake up and see they are being left behind. Big publishing houses have always had trouble being flexible enough to do what we do. We are so lucky to be a part of this revolution.

HMA: One of the things I keep hearing over and over is that the more your name appears around the internet, the more opportunity you have to be found–and possibly make sales because of it. One of the other guiding lights in creating our Keep Louisville Writing page. I love your idea of an indie “collective” and the targeting of certain genres. Readers definitely choose a favorite–for me, I’m a sucker for a good cozy mystery or a horror novel (pah, apples and oranges). How nice for a reader to have a one-stop-shop to discover other authors who write similar to somebody who is already tried, tested, true for said reader.

People like to point out the “cream will rise” but how will we rise when we can’t be found? Someone has to actually be looking for me in order to find my books. I doubt I’ve sold any novels where someone has just run across me while browsing Amazon (though the same can’t be said for my free short stories, they go like McDonald’s hot cakes). Maximizing our exposure is crucial to our success in this, and what better way to maximize our exposure than by working together? I am adamant that helping each other is the best marketing there is. I want to see the reading public find the indies; like you said, it’s mainly writers at these places already created. So we understand some of the best books out there at this time are indies, but the general public hasn’t reached this level of understanding yet.  There is way too much propaganda out there turning them towards the trad pub industry, and away from us.  It’s a shame, but we do have the power to keep this from continuing. The internet is an amazing gift for the entrepreneur.

Ah, book sales. The “unlucky” part of the indie revolution…so far. I wish I had your compunction. I do well not to check everyday, mainly because I just don’t have a lot of time to do so (and I hate being depressed). I’m not sure I could wait until the end of the month, though it would be great. Pull up that dashboard and see your final sales? Id call that validation. I’m terrified, myself, that this month won’t go as well as last month because I took part in a giveaway that drove some nice sales my way. Everybody says “release a new book!”; well, I did. Nada. I truly believe a lot of this is just plain, dumb luck.

About Heather
Heather Adkins is an independent fiction novelist and avid bibliophile with the library to prove it.  She is the author of paranormal mystery The Temple and romantic fantasy Abigail as well as upcoming chick lit novel Constant State of Disaster.  Her current projects include a horror novel with a ghostly protagonist, a collection of paranormal romance short stories, and the first in a new witchcraft mystery series.  A practicing Witch, Heather lives in North Central Kentucky with a house full of animals and the love of her life–all of whom drive her crazy.  She can be found daily (mostly) at heather.bishoffs.com.

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