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It's great to learn from successful indies who can share their insights into lessons learned on the journey. Today I have a laughter-filled chat with horror writer, J Thorn.
J Thorn is a bestselling horror writer, consistently one of the Top 100 Most Popular Authors in Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy, with his bestselling books selling over 100,000 copies. J is also a podcaster, entrepreneur and speaker. His latest book is the Black Fang Betrayal.
J and I have a complete laugh and discuss:
- On genre and categorization. Why we need to put things in boxes, but how J writes stories, regardless of how they are categorized. You don't have to write in a hot genre in order to sell, just write what you love, and readers will find you. If it has a demon in it, is it horror? It's up to the author to claim the tag.
- On being entrepreneurial. Taking risks, trying things out and then moving on if it doesn't work. Iterations and pivoting apply to authors as well. For example, J started PremiumBoxsets.com to market multi-author box-sets but it didn't work out, as box-sets have started to be less successful. You have to leave the ego behind and just take risks. Try things out, go play and just get on with it. None of us know what we're doing – we're just trying it.
- Lessons learned from going indie: You have to make risks and you will fail most of the time. You also have to GIVE, authentically, without expecting a return. It's not a barter. [I also believe that social karma and generosity are at the heart of the internet eco-system.]
- The Black Fang Betrayal – a collaboration with 10 authors on one single story. It's not a box-set, it's one story managed and published by J. The writing part is the easy part. The management piece was positive, but a challenge!
- On being control freaks and loving the freedom of being indie.
- On branding and website. Rewriting bios and product descriptions. The pain of getting to a consistent brand. J's brand is authentic as it's who he is. As a heavy metal and horror fan since a teenager is natural. It's taken a long time to be proud of who he is, but J talks about how all of our journeys are about reaching this point.
- On email marketing. Having 2 lists – one for general signups and a special ‘street team' kind of list. J refers to Dan Blank, who I interviewed on email marketing here.
- On the Horror Writer's Podcast and reaching people through multimedia – although we always need to consider the reader's perspective. We talk about book trailers and whether they are worth doing. I mention they are good value for translation. You can find my Youtube channel here. Here's the interview with Martin Lastrapes about writing horror, vampires and cults.
- On joining Associations as self-published authors. Why we think it's a good idea. I'm a member of International Thriller Writers and J is a member of Horror Writers Association.