Jill Mettendorf is the sales and marketing manager of Mira Digital Publishing, a self-publishing and book printing company based in St. Louis, Missouri. Jill is also the author of Real Answers Real Authors, her book chronicling the key information she has gathered after helping hundreds of writers self-publish. This is her first book and it releases today.
I connected with Jill about a year ago when I priced and ordered books a client of mine had written about his industry. One of the questions below touches on genres of self-published books. No matter the line of work you are in, a non-fiction book about your experiences (such as Jill’s) can help position yourself as a leader or expert in your industry.
Jill’s new book focuses on real-life experiences of authors and publishers. What about her own? This is her first book and she opens a window into her world:
200 Words with Author Jill Mettendorf
Write Naked: I like that you have been promoting your book’s release date – it builds anticipation. What length of time did you choose as a pre-launch period?
Jill Mettendorf: I started pre-launch marketing 2 months in advance. I needed to start some social medial channels and talk about my process. The idea was to engage my authors step-by-step so they can see what I am doing and follow along. My hope is that people will also feel invested in the project too.
WN: This is your first book. Now that you’re in the author’s shoes, what have you learned so far in the early stages?
JM: I will do another marketing book and then turn my blog into a book…another reason for me to publish was so [that] I could empathize and relate to my authors on a different level. It has totally worked. It is really daunting to think of all the things you have to do: Pre and post marketing, printing, eBooks, distribution, press release, etc.
WN: When it comes to marketing a book, what genre is most challenging and why? (Novel, memoir, non-fiction, poetry, etc.)
JM: They are all challenging. The basic rules of marketing apply to all though – know your audience, find them and promote to them. Not everyone will be interested in your book. It is better to be a big dog in a small world then a small dog in a big world.
WN: Book formatting is notoriously as daunting a process as marketing for a novelist. With your degree in visual studies and your experience helping so many authors, you probably have a keen eye for visually appealing cover designs. Whether a writer chooses to design their own cover or if they work with a professional designer, what should they avoid in their cover design and what characteristics in design have you seen on successfully self-published books?
JM: A clean design is best. Do not be afraid of white space. Pick an idea and go with it. Sometimes people want to shove everything they know about their book onto their cover. It is also very hard for someone to just come in and design a great cover for your book. They need to know the feel and tone of the book to portray it correctly…You can waste a designer’s time and your money by not providing good direction. I will tell authors to visit stock photo websites and brainstorm…Also, go to the bookstore and look at your shelves at home. Find book covers that you like and figure out why you like them. Font choice, colors, images? Always seek a professional’s help, but give them as much guidance as possible.
WN: Why would an author want to purchase their own ISBN rather than using a publishing service’s ISBN?
JM: When you purchase your ISBN#, then you own it and all the rights to it and your book. I would recommend this because if it is a publisher’s ISBN, then they may have some say or control. You will want to read contracts carefully if you go this route. It would suck to become a bestseller and know someone else is coming for a piece of the pie.
WN: This is my James Lipton tribute question. What is your least favorite word?
JM (laughing): I am sure you get typical words like can’t or won’t, but I am going to go with moist.