Hi again and welcome to the next fascinating interview in the popular series, Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors. This interview is with the very interesting Armand Rosamilia. Armand is a staunch indie author who has been at the coal-face of digital publishing for many years. Along the way he has written many great horror books and has supported and implemented many initiatives in the indie publishing world, especially in his favorite field of zombie horror fiction. Anyway, make sure you subscribe now to get on the mailing list for all updates and new-release information (there is a link with a special offer at the end of this interview if you'd rather get straight into it). Here he is, the talented Mr Armand Rosamilia.
Do you think that your life experience has gone some way towards making you a successful author in your chosen genre? Where do you get your inspiration from for your writing and for the way you brand yourself as an author?
I think life is definitely a great motivator for writing, and especially for my horror work. I use an old joke that I’ve killed my ex-wives over and over in stories, and it isn’t far from the truth. I can channel some of the negatives from my past and find closure in horrible thoughts and people. And kill them. In a story.
You write across a number of different genres, how important do you think diversification is for the survival and success of an indie author?
Build the Brand that is you. I am a horror author who’s had much success writing zombie books. I also write horror erotica, erotica, thrillers, contemporary fiction, ghostwritten a military romance… as long as you stay true to your voice you’re just writing a story with horror or thriller or erotica elements to it. The reader needs to love your writing style and voice first and foremost.
If you could pinpoint one thing in particular that has grabbed readers of your work, what would you say it is? I.e. what is it about your books that keeps your readers coming back for more?
I’d like to think the readers care about my characters and not just the main ones. They are invested in what happens to these people. They cheer for the ‘good guys’ and sneer at the ‘bad guys’ although sometimes it’s hard to tell who is really who. My favourite compliment was from a reader who read my “Dying Days” zombie book and said she dislikes zombie books and at a few points forgot it was a zombie book because the characters are so interesting.
Is there a particular moment in your career as an author that you realized that you had done something right to get where you are now? Can you pinpoint what it was that spiked your success to date?
I believe in Karma and helping others. I learned through trial and error simply yelling ‘buy my book, buy my book’ might get you a few initial sales but it pisses off many, many potential readers. I sell more books by helping other authors now, like my two massive zombie blog tours each year, Winter of Zombie and Summer of Zombie. I also love guest posts on my blog, I belong to several re-tweet groups and I collect author-signed books for soldiers in remote areas called Authors Supporting Our Troops. I am a mentor to a couple of new authors and try to answer every question anyone asks. I also do two podcasts on Project iRadio interviewing other authors to promote them.
You formed your own publishing company (Rymfire Books) to independently publish your books – would you advise other authors to set-up a publishing company to publish their own books, or do you think that the same results can be achieved by a self-published author without forming a publishing company?
Rymfire Books was formed by a man who had money and thought he’d get rich in the publishing business about 5 years ago. He put out my book and some anthologies, got bored and handed it to me. I put out a few anthologies and some of my work but it got to be too much work. I sold the anthologies to Charon Coin Press, who does an excellent job with the “State of Horror” series. I concentrate on my self-published work through it now. In today’s world no one cares if you are self-published and don’t hide behind a pseudo-publishing name. I kept Rymfire Books around because I like the name…
You have collaborated with many different authors, do you think that collaboration is key to growing your audience or do you just enjoy working with other writers on projects?
Both. I really enjoyed working with Jay Wilburn, Brent Abell and Jack Wallen on the “Hellmouth” trilogy. I just finished the first book in “The Shocker” trilogy with Frank Edler. I’m also writing 3 other projects with other authors I can’t talk about just yet. It helps grow the audience because you get your name in front of other readers who might not know who you are, and it is a fun challenge to see if you can work with someone else and if your ideas mesh.
You have your own radio/web show – is this part of your promotional strategy or is it just something you enjoy doing? I.e. would you do it if you weren’t an author and/or do you utilize it to help publicize your work to some degree?
I used to do a local radio show for about a year and loved it. Another author and I would talk about writing and have authors guests on but it became too much work for me to travel to the studio. The easiest move for me was doing a podcast, because I’d been interviewed on a few and loved the experience. It goes back to helping others and, in turn, helping yourself. I get to talk to other authors about their work, who they publish with, the craft and business part of writing, and anything else I want to learn about. I do it because I love to talk ‘shop’ as well.
You have been writing for many years now and have remained staunchly independent for the most part - what kind of marketing did/do you do to establish your author brand and in your opinion (in light of your experience), what do you think is the most successful marketing for self-published authors?
I can’t stress enough to help other authors. We are in this together. There is no competition because readers don’t read one book a year. They want to read all of the interesting ones. As far as marketing [goes], I will try anything once, but don’t put too much stock in running expensive ads. I’ve never seen a return on them. Word of mouth and having so many releases out (150+ to date) keeps me out there. I believe in building you as a brand naturally and just being yourself. It’s what sells more books for me than anything else.
Are you a trend-watcher in terms of what’s selling and what’s not? Do you write for the market in any genre you might not necessarily enjoy reading? I.e. do you think that successful indie authors should be prepared to write genre fiction in order to pay the bills?
I think you need to choose your path based on what you think is important. I write book adaptations of movies for a Hollywood company, and it pays the bills most months. It also allows me to write what I want to write and not worry too much about what pays the bills. I think chasing a trend is worthless because by the time you finish your ’50 Shades of Twilight’ book, the market has moved on to something else. And you’re stuck with a book a reader can tell you weren’t 100% committed to writing.
How important are ‘series’ books to your success as a self-published author?
Very important. My “Dying Days” series is easily my biggest seller, but I have many series going right now. I think a reader wants to immerse themselves in a world or setting they enjoy and keep reading about these characters. I know I always do.
Do you design your own covers? How important do you think cover design is to a potential reader and how big a part do you think it has played in your success to date?
I learned early on I was horrible at making covers. I mostly use Ash Arceneaux for my covers, especially my zombie stuff. She also now does the Hollywood book covers, too. You truly judge a book by it’s cover. so it better be great.
In your opinion, is traditional publishing on the way out? Do you think that traditional publishing can continue to keep up with the rise of self-publishing?
I don’t think we’ll ever see it truly die. It will eventually adapt but still lag behind independent publishing, in my opinion. But who really knows? So much has changed in the last four years since I began writing full-time. Would I work with a traditional publisher? Of course. As long as the deal was good. I do a mix of self-pub and small-press publishing right now. I work with as many different models as I can to get my work into as many reader’s hands as possible.
Would you ever consider signing all your books to a traditional publishing house or will you always manage some of your titles yourself through self-publishing?
I enjoy self-publishing and the marketing and everything that comes with it, like 70% royalty and doing it on my own schedule. But I wouldn’t be opposed to having some of my titles with a major publisher in hopes it would open up my readership for my independent work as well.
Have you ever used free book promotions? Do you think they are a worth-while marketing tool for self-published authors? If so/not – why?
I have done free giveaways in the past and they used to work quite well, but I think it’s no longer a viable option long-term unless you have a real reason and plan for it. For instance, my “Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer” eBook is perma-free. It’s the prequel to my “Dying Days” zombie series, and once I put it as free I saw a huge rise in sales of the series. It gets people in to read me and they seem to like it enough to pay 99 cents for the first “Dying Days” book and $2.99 for 3 through 5 (I’m writing 6 and it will be out in early 2016).
Do you feel there’s a good sense of community within the self-publishing industry?
I do. For the most part, people are trying to help one another. Sharing blog posts, mentioning fellow authors who would be good for my podcasts, recommending other writer’s books and just being friendly to other authors and fans.
What would you say is the single biggest advantage of deciding to self-publish?
The freedom to not worry about deadlines and contracts and when/if you’ll get royalties. Again, I’m lucky because I have several different revenue streams so I can better balance the sporadic royalty checks from small-presses with my monthly Amazon payments and my movie payments.
Are there things you feel as though you missed out on by not going down the traditional publishing route (working alongside an editor, for example)?
I think working with a major editor once in my life is on my bucket list. I want to see through their eyes what my work is like. I think if I’d gone through a traditional publishing route and was accepted I’d potentially have a ton of new and different readers, but I have enjoyed the path I’m on and wouldn’t trade all of this fun for a big paycheck… unless we’re talking six zeroes at the end!
You use social media a lot and interact with your readership – how important do you think this is to becoming a success as a self-published author?
It has made all the difference. I am usually not a very social guy in real life. I get panic attacks in crowds. Author Brian Keene said it best at a convention I recently attended with him: ‘I turn on the writing persona when I’m out of the house so I can interact with others’ and I thought it was fitting. Online I can have fun, answer questions, support others and have a great time.
Your books are published both independently and traditionally – do you think it is a crucial way of staying afloat as an independent author to have more than one income or publishing option? I.e. do you think that the successful self-published author needs to be prepared to work alongside traditional publishers in order to maximize their readership and income?
I never want to put all my eggs in one basket. Like I’ve said, I want to diversify my revenue streams (it sounds impersonal but this is a business and I do pay my bills with it) and see what other ways I can make money and get more readers. Audio-books are beginning to pick up for me, too. If there’s a new way to market and sell your work I want to check it out.
Are you in regular contact with other self-published authors and how important was any input you may have received early on in your career? Do you have a mentor in terms of your self-publishing success – someone who may have inspired you to ‘give it a go’?
When I first got serious about writing I asked many questions of author Scott Nicholson, and read the entire blog of JA Konrath. I am in contact with so many self-published authors because we help one another, I do the book drive, the podcasts, the blog tours, the guest posts, etc. etc. It gives me great pleasure when an author asks me questions and I’m able to help them.
Where to from here? Are you currently represented by an agent and are you working with any publishers on future projects?
I have an agent interested in one of my horror novels. Nothing definite yet. I’m always working on 5-7 projects at a time, and should have at least 4 of my short stories released before the year ends in anthologies as well as a dozen of my self-pub releases. Shopping 2 different book series right now to small-presses and finishing the first books in 3 more by year’s end. I like to keep busy.
Can you offer any advice to fellow writers if you could go back in time and “do it all over?” What’s your top tip for other indie authors?
Read. A lot. Make time for it. Then start writing and never stop. It doesn’t matter if it sucks. Finish stories. Keep writing.
Finally, thanks for sharing your thoughts on self-publishing. Where is the best place for readers to find your books?
I am everywhere on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and just search my name and you’ll find me.
My blog is http://armandrosamilia.com
My podcasts are on ProjectiRadio.com http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/arm-cast-podcast/
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question or just want to chat!
Make sure you check out Armand's wicked books and subscribe to his blog and podcasts. See you soon for the next interview with up-and-coming indie horror/thriller star, Jeremy Bates.