The dirty ‘M’ word – Marketing

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

Writing a book is a mammoth task. Editing, re-editing, revising, polishing, revising, (did I mention revising), and pouring over word selection, sentence structure, and punctuation line-by-line is harrowing. And then, if you are an indie author like myself, there is marketing.

Marketing sounds like such a dirty word. I blame that on all those prim and proper writers in their pure ivory towers whose fingers would never deign to touch a marketing strategy let alone draft one… Just kidding. Kind of.

Truth is, there is a perceived touch of the uncouth – the unpalatable – about an author spending time on anything but penning beautiful prose to paper. A (dangerous) stereotype has been born that equates author authenticity with a very limited skill-set (or focus). We want our authors to be creatives – to focus on the words and leave everything else to the ‘professionals’.

But I have never been one to play to stereotype, or expectations, so being an indie author suits me just fine. I’m also a bit of a control freak – my authenticity is intimately tied to my vision for a book, a series, a character… And I want to control how those things are presented – to you, to my readers, to the world.

And that brings us back to the dirty ‘M’ word. Marketing.

As humans, we market ourselves every day – how we dress, what car we drive (or don’t drive in favour of public transport), what words we use, what words we place emphasis on, who we associate with, what we choose to comment on (and not comment on), what posts we promote and tweets we retweet. We don’t think of it as marketing – it’s just our way of communicating our identity.

That’s how I see book marketing. It’s less a manipulative capitalistic venture designed only to pull dollars from weary pockets and more an introduction. It’s a chance to introduce the identity of a book, or a series, or a character. It’s a chance to match-make – to pair one thing of unique interest and beauty with a person of unique taste and desires.

And like match-making, which can end in disaster as often as true-love (probably more so), marketing is a tricky art to master.

Recently, in the process of finalising Rebellion (the second book in my Divided Elements series), I tried to contact the cover artist who had created the beautiful cover for the first book, Resistance. After multiple attempts, and with a looming publication deadline, I had to start my search for a new cover artist.

This was a tough undertaking – so many readers loved the original cover and (as the cover of my first ever published book) I had also developed an attachment to it. It took me forever to find an artist that I was comfortable to approach, and even then I was skeptical I would end up with a cover that was as imaginative and original as the first.

I shouldn’t have worried.

I first contacted Ethan Scott, an independent artist himself, on the basis of a striking cover he had imagined for HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’. It was the closest thing I had found to capturing the tone and genre and audience of Divided Elements. I told him about my series, gave him some general parameters, and asked him to come up with something striking.

And then he started working on it. And what he came up with was beautiful. Different from the original – as it should be – but still capturing the abstract illustrative style, the theme of a fractured identity, and the singular focus on a strong and independent female protagonist.

This new re-imagining of the series – this new representation of its style and content – is like a re-introduction. Like updating your profile, or putting on a new shirt, or using a new word to describe yourself. Sometimes it’s an improvement, sometimes it’s a detraction, and sometimes it is just different. But, each time, it is an evolution.

I’m so proud of this evolution of Divided Elements – it’s like the visual has caught up to the original vision of this series, that it speaks more honestly to its character. And I’m so pleased to share it with you. To re-introduce you to this world that I have loved crafting (and will continue to craft).

So, here they are – the re-imagined cover of Resistance (Divided Elements #1 and the new cover for Rebellion (Divided Elements #2). Both books are available now for purchase and, if you want to stay up to date with the progress on Book 3 and gain access to exclusive offers and content, you can sign up to my ‘author updates’.

Divided Elements - Book 1 and 2



Discover the Divided Elements series now with award-winning Resistance (Divided Elements #1) and just-released Rebellion (Divided Elements #2). Available as paperback or ebook on your favourite device. Just click to start reading!

Divided Elements - Award-winning speculative fiction

The dirty ‘M’ word – Marketing

Website Launch & Cover Reveal!

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

The website is now LIVE! Check it out to catch the cover reveal and apply for an advance reader copy of Divided Elements (Book 1) | Resistance


Website Launch & Cover Reveal!

The Quick Six – With CP Patrick

Welcome to this week’s The Quick Six – an ongoing series of posts, where I interview independent authors on their self-publishing stories, using six quick questions to gain insight into their processes, thoughts and works.

This week, I’m interviewing CP Patrick, a fiction and fantasy author hailing from Washington DC, with qualifications in African Studies and Law, and debut author of The Truth About Awiti (to be released 27 March 2015) – a historical fantasy novel covering the rich tapestry of tropical storms and hurricanes, restless spirits and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

1. What has been the most rewarding thing about self-publishing?

I would say becoming a part of the writing community. There are so many writers, editors, and artists invested in each other’s successes. It’s very encouraging. For example, my book cover art was developed in South Africa by Damonza and my author sketch was drawn by a very talented student artist, Guillermo Meraz, in Mexico City. The indie publishing community is focused and driven on charting their own course in the publishing world. And I would also say publication. Looking at your finished work product, holding your novel in your hands, is perhaps the most rewarding experience.

2. What has been the most challenging thing about self-publishing?

Learning! There is so much to learn! But the information is out there and again, there’s a community of indie writers who are willing to help us newbies navigate the process. The first book is definitely the hardest. I suspect subsequent works are not as tedious (I hope!)

3. What have you learned during the process that you wish you had known from the start?

Everything! 🙂 Seriously, I wish I had known from the start that I would need to hire a professional copyeditor. Sounds crazy right? But I honestly feel like most indie writers don’t think they will need to hire a professional (or beg a dear friend who is a professional copyeditor). I spent many unnecessary hours editing until my eyes bled. Towards the end of the writing process I read an article on the importance of indie authors hiring a professional editor (often we hear the cover is the most important thing). Hands down, hiring a professional copy editor was the best decision I ever made. I wish I had known about my copyeditor, Emma Simmons (, from the start!

4. Who or what has been your biggest source of help or inspiration?

Many authors and writers have served as help and inspiration, but I would have to say, more than anyone else, poet Sonia Sanchez. I met her at the 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, which celebrates writers in the African diaspora. I grew up reading her works so it was wonderful to meet her in person. When I told Ms. Sanchez that I wanted to be a writer, she blessed my writing and blessed my writing journey. It was a life-changing moment for me. I look forward to sending her a copy of my novel.

5. What do you think the future holds for indie authors and self-publishing?

I think the future looks pretty darn bright for indie authors thank-you-very-much! 🙂 Self-publishing affords writers control of their destinies. There are really great manuscripts that are easily overlooked, lost in a slush pile, etc. Rather than waiting (with hope and confidence diminishing with each passing hour), writers can say, “If I don’t hear from agent/publisher by X, I’m going to self-publish.” And even for writers who hope to enter the traditional publishing market, self-publishing can be used as a vehicle to get their work into the hands of readers and gain a following. That being said, I believe there will always be a market for both traditional and self-publishing.

6. What is your published work about and why are people going to love it? 

My debut novel, The Truth About Awiti, is a historical fantasy that focuses on a common theory in the African diaspora – the spirits of restless slaves are not at peace. They seek restitution and revenge in the wind and rain of hurricanes. Through the story of the protagonist, Awiti, and the voices of those who have encountered her love and wrath, readers will experience a non-traditional approach to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It’s a tragic tale but Awiti is a relatable character – she desires love, makes poor choices at times, and struggles with reconciling her past.  The novel begins in 15th century Africa and ends with the onset of Hurricane Katrina. I hope readers love it as much as I enjoyed writing it!



The Quick Six – With CP Patrick

The Quick Six – with Sara Whitford

Welcome to this week’s The Quick Six – an ongoing series of posts, where I interview independent authors on their self-publishing stories, using six quick questions to gain insight into their processes, thoughts and works.

This week, I’m interviewing Sara Whitford – a stay-at-home, work-at-home, homeschooling mom living on the North Carolina coast, who also juggles work as a web designer and part-time magazine editor.

Sara Whitford - The Smuggler's Gambit

I first met Sara through the monthly writing challenge and was impressed with her support and encouragement of writers and self-publishers. Sara has recently published her first novel –  The Smuggler’s Gambit – the story of 17-year-old Adam Fletcher, who upon being bound into an apprenticeship finds himself a pawn in the middle of a smuggling war.


1. What has been the most rewarding thing about self-publishing?

​My first novel, The Smuggler’s Gambit, is only up for pre-order now. It won’t debut until March 20, so my answer may change once my book is in public circulation, but for now, I’d have to say the most rewarding thing about self-publishing is tied directly into the reason I did it in the first place. I wanted total control over my own creative work.

Let me put it this way: As much work, as much research, as much heart, as much everything that goes into creating something like a novel—I just can’t see doing all of that and then signing the rights over to a publishing house so that they can pay me a fraction of what the book is bringing in. Not to mention, the only deadlines I had were those I imposed upon myself. I designed the cover art for my book. I did the layout for the interior. I hired my copy editor. I developed the website for the book series—all on my own. It’s a labor of love for me. There was no one else standing over me telling me what to do and when, and I think that was​ the most rewarding aspect. Total control, which also means whether my book really takes off, or whether it tanks, I will know that, by God’s grace, I was able to bring it all together and make it happen. I was able to create something that’s never been in the world before—this unique story, with these unique characters, and the circumstances they live through.

2. What has been the most challenging thing about self-publishing?

​The most challenging thing about self-publishing is ​the same thing that makes it rewarding. Total control. That also means the pressure is on. You have to not only make sure you turn out a great story that’s clean, well-edited and with a nice layout and cover, you also have to do the work of marketing the thing. Then again, I’ve heard from some traditionally published friends that even authors who have books with the big publishing houses—unless they’re already bestsellers—have to do a lot of the marketing for the books on their own… so maybe that’s not unique to self-publishing.

I do know that once my book launches in a few weeks, I’m going to have to do some public events—things like mini-lectures with question and answer sessions at the end, along with a book signing. I have to confess, I don’t mind promoting my stuff online all day long, but when it comes to getting out in public, it’s a struggle. I’m pretty introverted, as writers can often be, and so it takes a lot out of me to do public speaking—at least I’ve found that to be the case in the past when I’ve done local history lectures.

3. What have you learned during the process that you wish you had known from the start?

​I wish I had realized that writing the first draft really is just getting the basic story down. It’s not meant to be anywhere near perfect, and it will go through so many revisions, and then hopefully a good copy edit. The final product will be quite different from that initial draft.​ I am glad that I learned a great technique very early on in producing my first draft. I call it “writing as if.” I won’t elaborate on that here, but if anyone is interested, I have a post about it on my website.

4. Who or what has been your biggest source of help or inspiration?

​I have a son who’s nearly twelve. He’s a huge inspiration to me—in fact, I dedicated my book to him. I hope that it will show him that if you set a goal and you are willing to work hard to achieve it, then Lord willing, you can make it happen.​

I’ve also had some great motivation along the way from the community, in fact, that’s how we met, Mikhaeyla.

As far as help, I have had two very good author friends who have both been a tremendous help to me: Terrance Zepke and Kevin Duffus. Terrance has had lots of advice for me relating to the publishing industry and the business of actually producing my novel. Kevin is a very knowledgeable historian when it comes to North Carolina coastal history. He has been there answering any of my questions along the way about historical details in the novel.

5. What do you think the future holds for indie authors and self-publishing?

​I am so excited about the future for indie authors and self-publishing. And along with that, I’m even excited about what this will mean for traditional publishers and their relationships with authors. As time goes on, traditional publishers are going to have to work a lot harder to convince authors to sign on the dotted line.

Things are so much easier now—especially with the print-on-demand services by CreateSpace and IngramSpark—that there’s really nothing holding anyone back these days from being a published author.

Some say that ends up creating far too much inferior work for readers to wade through, but I am a big believer in the idea of the cream rising to the top. I think good books will be enjoyed by readers. And readers will see to it that those books are successful. Of course it’s also on the indie author to make sure folks know about their book. With the ease of creating websites these days, and all of the social media outfits where you can enjoy all kinds of free publicity and interaction with potential readers—there is no excuse for people to not know about your self-published books.​

6. What is your published work about and why are people going to love it? 

​The Smuggler’s Gambit is the first book of the Adam Fletcher series. The back of the book blurb describes it like this:

Port Beaufort, North Carolina — May 1765When 17-year-old Adam Fletcher is forced into an apprenticeship, he unwittingly becomes a pawn in a smuggling war.Soon, he’s forced to make a tough decision. Will he agree to become a spy performing a civic duty to the Crown? Or will he risk everything — possibly even putting his own family in danger — to protect his new master?Secrets will be revealed, loyalties will be questioned, betrayals will be uncovered, and a young man’s character will be put to the test in The Smuggler’s Gambit.

Why are people going to love it? Well, it remains to be seen whether or not they will, but I can tell you that I love this story and these characters. It is a mild adventure—at least compared to the wild circumstances Adam will find himself in in book 2, Captured in the Caribbean. ​In The Smuggler’s Gambit, the action builds slowly as the full cast of characters is introduced, but once the ball starts rolling, readers aren’t going to believe how things turn out!

The Quick Six – with Sara Whitford

The Quick Six – Interviewing Indie Authors on their Self-Publishing Journey

by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky

As you all know, I am keen to self-publish my debut novel, Divided Elements: Resistance. I get a lot of inspiration from other authors who are going down the same path and I thought it would be great if I could tap into (and share) their unique and fascinating forays into the self-publishing world.

And so, The Quick Six was born. Over the next couple of months (and hopefully well into the future), I will be interviewing independent authors on their self-publishing stories, using six quick questions to gain insight into their processes, thoughts and works.

Keep an eye out for the first quick six hitting the Indie Authors page in the next couple of weeks.

Screenshot 2015-02-22 10.30.44

(Featured Image courtesy of Holly Gramazio via Flickr Creative Commons)

The Quick Six – Interviewing Indie Authors on their Self-Publishing Journey

Supporting Indie Authors

Indie authors don’t have the benefit of corporate machines behind them to generate awareness and excitement about their works, which is why reviews and recommendations from readers are so important for generating the kind of exposure that can lead to sales.

Recently, I wrote about the importance of community for indie authors and self-publishers. To practice what I preach and engage more fully within this community, I recently set up an account with Booklikes. 

Booklikes is pretty much the blog version of Goodreads – a place where you can discuss the books you love and hate in detail.

My Booklikes blog – pen, ink and pixels – is dedicated to reviewing the indie and self-published books that inspire, engage and challenge me. It is part karma-generator (giving back to the indie community that I love and that supports me) and part journal of discovery (a commitment to proactively seeking out indie books to read and enjoy).

I’ve just posted my first review – discussing my reaction to eden Hudson’s “How to Kill Yourself in a Small Town” – a book with great characters and a light, youth-with-attitude touch (despite the ominous title). Every seven reviews, I’ll post a summary here on my [w]rite of passage blog in celebration of the joys of reading great fiction.

I hope it inspires and encourages you to seek out your own indie masterpieces and share the love by writing your own review or recommendation…

Supporting Indie Authors

5 Reasons why Community is critical for indie authors and self-publishers

Being independent doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Check out my latest post on Publishing Insider on how a strong and supportive community is critical for indie authors and self-publishers.