Sramana: Another strategy that I have noticed appears in all of your success stories is the presence of series and interconnected stories. Are there other strategies that we have not discussed yet that you think are good secrets to your success?
Hugh Howey: I can throw in a couple of things. First of all there is a lot of luck involved. You have to put the hard work in and you have to have the books written. If you sit in slush piles and you are unwritten forever then you are not giving yourself a chance. The things you can do to improve your chances are to really put yourself out there as an artist.
I notice that a lot of the success with Jasinda and Bella is that their readers love them. When they go out to a public event they line up around the block to meet them. That is because of how they interact on Facebook. They are hilarious and interact with their readers. A lot of authors don’t do that. They get into writing because they are avid readers and a lot of writers are introverts. I’m an introvert. I get nervous around a lot of people but I would not give myself a good chance to make it as a writer if I was not able to get out there.
Even when I was an unknown writer, once people discovered I was a writer they would ask me to talk to a middle school classroom or a college classroom. I took every opportunity I could to make myself available publicly, even if it was uncomfortable or it required a lot of travel and expense. I did that to give myself a shot and I see successful independent authors do these things. They hold events, they do meet ups with their readers, and they do signings online and in person. All of that plays into building a devoted reader base.
Jasinda Wilder: That is something that I also think is very important. That is one of the things that sets us apart. We open ourselves up. I notice that all the independent authors that I follow are very transparent and open. They have relationships with their readers. I saw that with Hugh and I wanted that kind of relationship with my readers. I do travel often, typically several events a month. I want to have the interaction and connection with my readers.
Sramana: Do you organize the events yourselves? Do you create the meet ups or do you have bookstores organizing the meet ups?
Jasinda Wilder: They are all different. I get invited to events. I have one this weekend in Detroit and Chicago. It’s just a group of us that came together and decided to rent some hotel space. We have hundreds of readers coming to see us.
A lot of independent authors organize these themselves because they want to have those reader connections. They take the extra time to set them up to have that reader interaction. Having that personal connection can set you apart. I saw that with Hugh’s interaction with his readers and I always thought that was very important.
Sramana: What is your experience Jasinda?
Sramana: Hugh, you used video to have this type of interaction as well, correct?
Hugh Howey: Yes. For me it is a little bit of laziness. I fire up the webcam and talk for 10 minutes and be myself. I make mistakes and bumble a lot. If I was doing an honest blog post I would leave every typo in there, but then nobody would buy my book because they would think that I could not write. I feel much more comfortable typing my thoughts out.