Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bestselling Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff Shares Secrets Behind Writing Success

Part Two - Interview with Bestselling, Award-Winning Author Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff

After working as a music composer for television, what drew you to write about such grisly topics – your titles alone sound gruesome: “Killing My Boss” and “Diary of A Madman”? Why did you explore these particular topics?

I wanted to be a writer and I worked as a commercial writer throughout the years. I was always drawn to Stephen King – the grisly, sci-fi type books – and it was in my creative DNA. When I became a 'writer' writer, the horror, darkness and weird stuff just naturally flowed out of my fingertips. When I started my podcast “Pacific Coast Hellway” in my car, I pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment and it was like ‘hmmm, what can I get away with?’ My podcast JUST exploded and became very successful. I was driving in my car screaming into my phone all kinds of crazy stuff. It turned into a full-time gig on Sirius radio five nights a week.

I learned that when I stopped filtering myself – if I just let myself express my crazy, dark evil thoughts – I could actually connect with people. That taught me a big lesson: when I do something MY way, opportunities just come up and turn into a full-time job. I continued to follow this pattern with my writing and books. It always fails some way if I don’t do it my own way and let it loose. If you are an artist – let it happen without letting it happen. Take a process, create and don’t worry about it. I stopped shielding that I have a dark and twisted personality – that’s who I am. I am not ‘Mr. Skittles and Sunshine’. “Diary of A Madman was a foray into extremely twisted fiction with graphic, violent scenes. I got bold and started to podcast my own stories – a serialized novel for “Diary”. I quickly found out there is a huge audience for the really twisted and dark stuff.

For self-published authors who don’t know where to start with their self-publishing journey (especially with ebooks), what are the biggest lessons you have learned? What sage advice do you have to pass along to newbies?

Writing and publishing is my full-time gig. It helped me a lot that I have a footprint online. Google is your best friend. You need to have a presence online; it lends more substance and significance and people will take a chance on you.  It’s one thing to ask your friends and family to buy your book – the people who know you as that goofball who they don't take seriously. Only five percent of your friends and family will pony up and actually buy your book; everyone else will wait to jump on the bandwagon. Brand yourself! The stronger your brand, the more people who don’t know you will take a chance on you. It is one thing to get people to click on your link, but it’s another thing for them to get out their wallet and spend money.
Appeal to people who have interest in your subject matter. I never promoted my nonfiction. I used Google Adwords because I got a coupon. I can’t even tell you how many books I sold that way. All the proper online resources – social media, blog etc. - need to inspire and be worth glancing at. Offer FREE content. The content MUST catch their eye in order to cross your threshold.

It’s REALLY important to remember that every ebook you publish is a long-tail business. With an indie publisher, it’s a long tail philosophy – it’s all about planting a seed. My book “Latte” was a total goof for me. I got a call from Access Hollywood after Lindsay Lohan assaulted her assistant and they asked me to come on the show and talk about Hollywood assistants. This happened in 2008. That afternoon I was in Burbank doing the show, and they showed the cover of my book during the story. As a result, I did a podcast and told some stories related to “Latte”, but I stopped doing it. I didn’t want to be known as “that” guy who wrote a book about Hollywood assistants. I hate being pigeon holed.

The book came out in paperback in 2007. The first year it was out I made “beer money” off the book. I totally forgot about it and wasn’t focused on it. For two years, I didn’t look at my sales statements. In March of this year, I opened up the statements and it jumped from beer money to “car payment” money. What happened??!! I realized that the book had started selling copies. How did it go from nothing to making THAT KIND of MONEY?!! I dug around and found out that when the Kindle 3 came out, there was a huge explosion in sales that coincided with Kindle apps for mobile devices: the more devices, the more people bought ebooks. It ramped up, and now “Latte” is making significant money. It now has jumped to making “mortgage payment” money. It helps that it’s on Amazon’s bestselling list, and has been consistently number one in the subcategory TV/Entertainment. I notice that it jumps up during weekends and sells more copies. On an average weekday, it sells between 100 to150 copies.

My best advice is not to be discouraged – wait a year from now. I don’t worry about doing a big big marketing blitz for a few months. I’ll wait and let my book get picked up by search engines. My sales have grown ridiculously – 100s to 1000s books a month. But lot of factors came into play. I’ve had a presence online for awhile. I have worked full-time as an indie media creator and artist. Since 2005, I have put stuff out there on the internet and it’s grown. I don't have nearly the reputation like other authors out there, but I still have a good reputation and following. I have completed dozens of different projects—all kinds of crazy stuff. I do it different than others. I created a petri dish and experimented, and received valuable feedback as a result.  Your success depends on how hard you want to work and where you focus your time and energy.

Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday - the last post in my interview series with Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff. Find out what's on the horizon for Mark and his "Angel of Death Chronicles" series! 

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