February 12th, 2013 | Add a Comment
BIO: Jesse Pohlman is an independent writer from Freeport, New York. His latest novel is Physics Incarnate, released in Jaunary 2012, but before that he was better known as the founder of The Weekly Freeporter, as well as a Dystopian Literature reviewer for Suite101. Besides scribing, he’s a fan of skiing, fencing, roleplaying games, and paintball! In the immediate future he’s planning to complete and independently release another batch of novels, to use his “Ramble About Writing” blog to help other aspiring writers, and finally to find something totally new to create. Let’s try to find out what!
His most recent novel can be found at Amazon. Physics Incarnate draws heavily from three ideas – conspiracy theories, psychological misdirection, and super-heroism. Throughout the first half of the novel, a reader will question the sanity of it’s protagonist, the physicist Emmett Eisenberg. His perception is strange, and his friends are convinced they’ve worked for the CIA or other shady organizations in the past. But when the truth about their history is revealed, just as the time since it’s release has revealed its ending, we learn that Emmett is far more than an ordinary man – even if the problems of the Average Joe, such as women and guilt, still plague him. That the characters are easy to empathize with, and (for the most part) their motivations to greater deeds are the same as our motivation to protect a friend at work, is the strongest selling point of the novel.
Your latest book Physics Incarnate was made available to the public in 01/2012. How well has it been received by the public so far?
Physics Incarnate has been received really well, actually, and that’s in huge part to the advantages Amazon offers publishers as well as social media. We’ll get to that later, but according to most of the feedback I’ve gotten, Emmett Eisenberg comes off as a person most of us can imagine knowing and never suspecting anything unusual about. He’s fallible, which is good, because without an imperfect character you’ve got no depth to your plot. Believe me, readers notice.
What do you think is the main factor, other than writing a quality and professionally edited books that differentiate a successful self-published writer from one who remains forever out of the limelight?
I’d say that in the social media era of marketing, the biggest contributor to an independent authors’ success is the ability to build a digital fan-base and directly target readers. We use Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and anything else we can figure out to help us set up a base. One thing I did was “exploit” the lack of an efficient, digital outlet for information in my hometown. So now I provide a pretty vital service (we even did next-day video reporting during Hurricane Sandy), and in return local residents help spread anything I write. Its a win-win And it helps out, big-time. It’s well established that indie authors can’t really snag a huge price for their work, since they aren’t named Stephen King or Margaret Atwood. So when it comes to novels, we cling to the idea of our first-time readers “taking a punt,” as I’ve heard it called, on a low-priced digital copy. Our already-existing fans will probably pick it up on merit, and if they encourage their friends to read it, and they’ll hopefully see the low risk/high reward situation and give it a shot! So really, it comes down to your fans, and I have some great ones!
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
Well, Robert McNamara once suggested that an interviewee answer the question they wish was asked; and it just so happens that I find success to be amusing in its own right, as I love when people read what I write! When I was releasing Physics Incarnate, I was searching for the up-front money to lay out on the ISBN, distribution, and advertisement campaign. I turned to Kickstarter, and they advised that I put together a video. Now, when it comes to stuff like acting or interviews, I’m okay on camera. But when it comes to shameless self-promotion? Created with genuinely bad equipment? Yeah. I can’t watch that video and avoid cringing. On the upside, I reached my goal and raised well over $500, paying off all my expenses and even giving me some left-over money to create new promotions!
How did you get to be interviewed on radio shows?
Strangely enough, I went out to dinner. I happened to go to my favorite hibachi restaurant, and we ended up seated next to both the owner of an about-to-open Jake’s Wayback Burger, and a local AM radio host. We got to talking, and eventually he offered to put both of us on the air! It wasn’t a very long interview, because they had so much going on, but it was a chance to promote myself and – if I’m going to be true to my feelings! – work on my interview technique. I’d never been the interviewee on a live broadcast. It was kind of hectic.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
I already talked about social media, but since the name of the game of publishing (indie or not!) is “growth,” which is so often conflated with “sales figures,” I guess now is a good time to go back to Amazon. My previous books were published through Lulu, which had it’s place in time, but Amazon’s Kindle Select program really helps authors by allowing them to knock a readers’ barrier of entry down from an already-low number to zero. Every contract renewal, the author gets a number of days to make the book free on the Kindle. Also, their books are part of the “lending library” for Amazon Prime subscribers. Greater access generally means greater sales, more people reviewing your book, and – maybe best of all – an excuse to talk about it without sound like a jerk!
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
To be honest? Not much. I guess I could say I just block my time out so that “marketing time” doesn’t overlap with “creativity time.” “Creativity time” is when I’m writing, or drawing, or whatever. It’s typically laden with loud music (headphones or no), something snacky to pick at, and a drink to sip. Incidentally, while I’ve read about and understood the value of writing in an altered state, I don’t really do that – I generally dislike alcohol, and I don’t think I’d be able to string a sentence together under other circumstances. So, no, I’m no Aldous Huxley. When I focus on writing, I focus on writing and try to avoid distraction, which is funny because of the music blasting or the episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd or whatever happens to be playing. I guess it gives me feedback on my senses so I don’t start searching for it? And it’s the same with marketing!
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