Thanks for taking time to speak with us today about self-publishing. Claude is a crime thriller writer from Montreal. He has seven titles out plus two titles that are compilations of his first four novels. At the end of this interview, you’ll find a link to his website and other contact information where you can learn more about his writing and publishing, his artwork, and his humor.
I met Claude through Twitter. He followed me, I followed back, then he asked me to check out his website. After visiting his site, I invited him to discuss self-publishing and he graciously agreed.
I’ll dive right into the self-publishing questions. As a writer, what pushed you into self-publishing? Was there a defining moment where you decided if you were ever going to get your work published, you’d have to do it yourself?
Claude: I actually wrote the first three novels of my crime series in the mid to late 90s and, though I did do a little agent querying at the time, I can’t say I was really dreaming, hoping or expecting to make my mark as an author and had no intention of quitting my day job in human resources management. Professional obligations, studies and an active interest in oil painting led me to put my writing aside for a number of years, until 2009, in fact, when I pulled up my first manuscript to the computer screen after over a decade.
Following another round of revising and editing, I published Vigilante via Lulu, my goal being simply to see my novel in a real book format. I did the same with The Consultant and Mind Games and by the time they were done, I had the writing bug again. Then, people actually started buying my books and I was on a new, unknown and exciting career path.
Donna: Did you have any trouble finding an editor that could do justice to your work?
Claude: Not at all as Joanne, my wife, wears the chief editor hat and does a mighty fine job. She is a voracious reader and has a firm grasp of all things grammar so I’ve never found the need to seek editing services elsewhere.
Donna: How do you handle the challenge of cover design?
Claude: I’ve looked after the cover design for all my novels. For some, I used purchased photos, others were done with photos taken by myself or Joanne and two of them feature water-colours I did specifically for the books. I enjoy designing the covers and feel it’s part of creating the complete end product.
Donna: I saw that you chose Createspace for your individual titles and Lulu for the compilations, and that you’ve listed yourself as the publisher more recently on your titles. How did you make those decisions? Have you been happy with Createspace and Lulu?
Claude: A few clarifications if I may. I’m registered as a publisher with the Canadian government and have been listed as the publisher of my novels since the beginning in 2009.
I initially published via Lulu and all my novels and compilations remain available there. However, Lulu’s pricing structure is not as favorable so I’m forced to set higher prices there than with Createspace so I don’t use them as a primary supplier. My books via Lulu are not distributed to any other retailers.
The six novels in my crime series are also published via Createspace which allows me to offer them in print on Amazon at a lesser price thanks to a more reasonable pricing formula. As an added bonus, CreateSpace now also distributes to Amazon entities in the U.K. and Europe.
My two compilations as well as ASYLUM are also published via Lightning Source in addition to Lulu. I had decided to put together the compilations and deal with LS to allow global distribution of my books which wasn’t possible with CreateSpace at the time. LS distributes to a wider number of retailers world-wide but charges set-up fees, annual catalogue listing fees and offers a less beneficial pricing structure. All three suppliers produce high quality print books but CreateSpace wins for me in terms of pricing scheme and distribution.
Donna: I saw that you use Bookbuzzr for promotion. How does that work? Has it been as effective as you expected?
Claude: When I first decided to self-publish and sell my books, I started looking for cost-efficient (free) ways to get my name and works out there and Bookbuzzr (or Freado.com) is one of the avenues I discovered. What Bookbuzzr basically allows one to do is present an excerpt to readers onscreen in book format. Auto tweets can also be sent to attract readers. It’s difficult to say how effective this is but I do know that each of my book excerpts have had thousands of views. It’s all about exposure and every little bit helps.
Donna: I was surprised to discover that you have nearly 300,000 Twitter followers and you’ve put out an amazing number of tweets, well over 100,000. How did you grow your follower numbers, and how did you find time to write and send so many tweets? Did you use a service to find followers and post tweets or is this something you’ve accomplished working solo?
Claude: I accomplished this working solo and explain how in a blog post I wrote in March which you can find at http://www.claudebouchardbooks.com/apps/blog/show/13534768-how-i-really-got-a-1-4-million-followers It’s actually quite simple and requires little time. As I mention in the blog, I don’t use automation excluding one tweet per novel per day sent by Bookbuzzr and welcome DMs sent by Social-Oomph. As for my writing, I do so in between tweets. J
Donna: Has this huge number of Twitter followers had a significant impact on book sales? Those of us with smaller numbers sometimes assume our tweets are not impacting our bottom line where self-publishing is concerned.
Claude: As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about exposure and every little bit helps. I have no doubt that my presence on Twitter has had an impact on book sales though I’d be hard-pressed to determine how much. It’s more the combination of many elements, one of which must be good books, which translates into sales.
Donna: Did you consult any self-publishing how-to books? If so, what title was the most helpful?
Claude: No, I did not but what I have done and continue to do is research on the internet whenever a how-to question comes to mind.
Donna: Are you a member of any writing or self-publishing organizations? How have they impacted the way you write and/or publish?
Claude: I looked into a few writing organizations over time but never felt I would gain anything with membership. I am involved with the World Literary Café founded by Melissa Foster where I regularly exchange with a number of wonderful writers.
Donna: Are there any other sources of info and guidance you could recommend to current or prospective self-publishers?
Claude: There is a ton of information out there on thousands of websites and blogs available to anyone willing to make the effort to search for any answers they are looking for. The WLC at www.worldliterarycafe.com which I mentioned above is one such site of interest.
Donna: Anything else you’d like readers of this interview to know about your writing, self-publishing, or life in general?
Claude: I would just like to mention that although our discussion today tended to lean towards printed books, particularly when we spoke of suppliers, the ebook market is certainly not to be neglected as this is where the bulk of sales are made by indie authors, at least in my experience. Millions of people are reading on Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, iPads and so on so ebooks is the primary market to head to for self-published writers. I do like to have a print version of my work available for those who prefer that medium but ebooks end up being 90-95% of my sales.
In closing, allow me to thank you, Donna, for this wonderful opportunity to share with your readers.
Donna: Thanks so much for visiting with us today and sharing your experience and knowledge as a self-published writer. I wish you continued success with your series, and hope you’ll visit here again sometime! (Readers, be aware that Claude’s writing contains “adult” language. You can check out the excerpts on his website before making a decision to purchase.)
Below are Claude’s links and contact info. Check them out!
My website: http://www.claudebouchardbooks.com
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Claude-Bouchard/e/B002BLL3RK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Do you have unanswered questions about self-publishing? Anything you want to say to Claude? Leave a comment or question below.
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