Indie Insight with DV Berkom
Indie Insight is a blog series about book marketing and social media for authors.
Author: DV Berkom
Bio: DV Berkom is the USA Today bestselling author of action-packed, fast-paced thrillers. Known for creating resilient, bad-ass women characters and page-turning plots, her love of the genre stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, action/adventure books, and crime thrillers.
A restless soul and adventurer at heart, she spent years moving around the US and traveling to exotic locales before she wrote her first novel and was hooked. More than a dozen books later, she now makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband Mark and several imaginary characters who like to tell her what to do. Her most recent books include the Claire Whitcomb Westerns Retribution, Gunslinger, and Legend, and the Leine Basso thrillers A Plague of Traitors, Shadow of the Jaguar, Dakota Burn, Absolution, and Dark Return. DV’s currently hard at work on her next thriller.
1) If you could travel back in time to chat with your novice-self about how to market a novel, what advice would you give?
Use professionals for your covers and editing. I bootstrapped everything early on, and even though I was able to trade for editing, the covers were awful. I waited much too long to invest in my work.
2) New writers are often told they need to "build their platform." What does this mean to you, and how do you envision your platform today?
Building your platform is one prong in a multi-pronged approach to generate “discoverability.” The more you’re out there, the better off you’ll be, both sales- and publicity-wise. Network, find like-minded authors and readers, build a community. And start an email list yesterday.
3) Do you have any advice for new authors about how to convince potential readers to sign up for their newsletter?
Give them something of value for their time and email address. I’ve given away tons of stuff, but the most bang for my buck has been to give away the first book in a series. They’re longer novellas, and are a great way to introduce readers to my work. Also, don’t spam them. Try to deliver value with each message, and treat each member like gold. Because they are!
4) What's the latest insight you've learned when it comes to book promotion, and how will this impact your next marketing efforts?
I’ve been lucky in that I decided to write series early on. Standalone novels are tougher to market. If/when I decide to write another character/world, it will definitely be a series.
5) If you could change one thing about the publishing world, what would it be?
That all the scammers would be caught and prosecuted for preying on vulnerable writers who just want to get their work out there. Alternatively, I wish that writers, especially those new to the business, would educate themselves so that they weren’t such willing prey.
6) How important do you think it is for indie and self-publishing authors to pay for editing services?
IMO, it’s one of the most important things an indie can do in order to be taken seriously as a writer. I’m fortunate in that I’ve been with the same editing team for several years now. Laurie and Ruth are the best editors a writer could ask for, bar none. Both have become friends, and the best part? They don’t pull their punches.
7) As a writer, how has your process changed in terms of drafting and revision since you first started out?
I was a “pantser” when I started writing. I’d have a vague idea of a story, and I’d just sit down and write. I tended to write myself into corners and spent a lot of time working on plot holes and trying to get out of said corners. Now, I tend to outline, giving me a roadmap from chapter one to the end. My outlines usually consist of chapter headings and a brief explanation of what I want to achieve in the scenes, which gives me a ton of leeway as to how things will go.
8) Please tell us a bit more about your latest novel or work-in-progress!
My last release came out at the end of August this year and was the eleventh book in my Leine Basso Thriller Series. A Plague of Traitors is about a terrorist who steals an engineered super-virus and former assassin Leine Basso’s attempts to thwart its release. I started writing the book when COVID appeared to be waning in the spring. We all know how that went! In the book, Leine trains a group of Syrian women who fought against ISIS to help her on the mission, which was amazing to research (yes, these women actually exist). Their true story is one of incredible bravery. As for what I’m doing now, I’m currently working on the as-yet untitled Leine Basso sequel. I’m afraid I can’t divulge much about this one yet!