Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
I currently have two series running right now. The first series is a superhero action one which takes place at the end of WWII (Literally. I have the first day of my book start on the day the war ended in Europe.) with super soldiers created to be weapons of war. They were created by this man, Gerald Hackney who calls himself the Commander, as advanced weapons to help any country take over the world basically. Most of their training is in the form of mercenaries missions they went on. They gain superpowers later and understand it is up to them to help save the world against this man and his other batches of engineered soldiers. Currently there are two books (Betrayals and Project Winter) available on the Soldiers of Legend series. The third one Collision is due out in spring with two more to follow.
I also have a YA urban fantasy/mythological series running as well. Each of them is about 20k words – about the size of a Babysitter's Club book. Dragons exist in the world right now just they are hidden among us. They fight dark creatures known as the Unseen who feed off of the energy humans have. The caveat is the humans can't see the creatures so a group of knights come after the dragons to kill them. It is a lighter version of most paranormal YA fiction out there.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did not. I did not send my book to anyone else. I thought about it for sure. The problem was I had no idea who I should be sending it out to and who would be the best person. It kinda overwhelmed me.
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
When I was younger, I belonged to a group. Things did not go too good. I tend to be the person who would derail the conversation from the serious topics. As far as helping to improve my writing, I have a few friends still who help. They know I can take them giving me a hard time on my writing without throwing a diva tantrum. It made me realize everyone does have a unique style when it comes to writing. Once you find your own voice, go with it. You don't need to write like King to be the next best-selling author.
What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
The money. Plain and simple. Amazon is one of the largest book sellers in the world. Through them, I am able to get my book into the hands of people from all over who otherwise would never have the chance.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I hired someone for my first book and it ended up horrible. A very bad way to learn. I edited my next few books by myself and they came out much better. That is only copy-editing though. For content, I once again trust on my beta readers and friends. They can tell me if a part is too long, doesn't make sense, I forgot about a dangling plot, etc.
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
The indie author, blogger, publishing, etc community is extremely positive to one another. I actually heard horror stories about how people would cut others down, try to steal their work, commit just about every literary sin in the book. That has never been the case for me. When you're down, they pick you up. If you are doing great, everyone cheers you on.
As for publishing itself, it is a lot harder than just putting a book out. You need to market for your audience, promote whenever you can, and try to get reviews. I never knew how important reviews were before I started getting some for my books. Negative reviews are not the death of a book either. Most of the time they can actually help to sell more books. The market is also constantly changing. What worked yesterday, doesn't work today. You need to stay on top of everything.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your book are for sale?
Right now, the Soldiers of Legend series is only available on Amazon through Select. After April, they will once again be available everywhere. The entire Dragon's Fire series can be found on Smashwords and all of its affiliates.
What kinds of marketing (twitter, facebook, blog, forums) are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
Not much. I do tweet (@DaniKazemi) and I have a Facebook author page (http://www.facebook.com/DaniWrites). I have a blog (http://daniellekazemi.mywapblog.com) for people to visit but the topics range from almost everything. I also visit Kindleboards but mainly for talking to other authors. I think I created a topic for my books but I haven't been promoting them there.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Extremely. I hate marketing to start with. I always feel guilty – like I am forcing people into doing something they might not ordinarily do. This is also why I was never a good salesperson. I prefer to write. I will let something go free to do marketing for myself.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Make a playlist of really positive songs you can turn to when the first bad review comes in or when your sales stall. Both will happen but both will pass. Don't be afraid to ask others for help. We all started somewhere. There are no stupid questions. Absolutely none. Covers, titles, and blurbs are all very important.
What's next for you?
I am just coming off of a break I took from writing to goof off, connect with people, and catch up on everything I missed last year. I have the final three novellas in the Dragon's Fire Season 1 (Yes, Season. There will be a start-up of Season 2 in the fall due to popularity). The third book in the Soldiers of Legend series Collision is coming out around spring (most likely April). The fourth book in the series is coming out in the fall. I tend to place six months between each release.
In 2012 in general, I have a contemporary fantasy/soft scifi coming out about aliens on Earth. Another contemporary fantasy/mythology book called The Phoenix Token which is a novel about a game held every twenty five years in which the male main character is actually a Phoenix who plays in the game. This summer comes a new book from what might be a new series (I want to test and see if people like it or not) called The Minotaur Chase. It's a group who saves paranormal creatures who are being targetted by humans either for sport or just personal enjoyment.
It sounds like a lot but I really love doing it. Hopefully at some point I would like to try writing a screenplay but that might not come out until next year.