Welcome! Every month I feature an Indie Author and ask them to tell us a little about their books and their writing process. My featured author this month is non-fiction author, Lillian Brummet, who along with her husband Dave run the Brummet Media Group and have published several non-fiction books. So grab yourself a cuppa, get comfy and let’s get chatting to Lillian
I’m curious why you decided to become an Indie Author, Lillian. Have you been traditionally published? If so, can you explain to us the main difference to you as an author, between the two?
I’ve always liked the term Independent, as opposed to the former term: Self-Published. Of course, these days everything is shortened for convenience, (she laughs) and so we have “Indie”. I chose this route after building the skills and the knowledge to fully understand the marketplace and the industry. I didn’t just rush out as a new author (“newbie”) and go it alone without any preparation. Initially we worked with two traditional publishers, and when the contracts ran out we switched over to smaller publishers who had a more intimate relationship with their authors. We learned a great deal from those experiences. I think we turned to going it alone in 2012, but our first book was actually published in 2004. Prior to this I worked as a professional book reviewer, staff writer, freelance writer and assignment writer. There were many years behind the scenes taking courses, learning from other writers, improving existing skills and office systems, and I’m still constantly learning new skills. The learning never ends, however having a background in the world of writing and with experience of running a business in the past – we felt we no longer needed a traditional publisher. Going without a traditional publisher does involve some hurtles that one has to over come. For instance, retail stores do not order from Amazon and so authors have to find interesting ways of working with retailers instead. For myself, this involves purchasing a case of books at my author discount and ensuring I have 25 copies or more on hand at all times. Armed with a signed contract (specifying the details, their discount and refund policies) and a receipt book, we then check in with the retailers periodically. Sometimes new contacts will want a guarantee that the author will purchase unsold books (refund) within a specific time frame. You have to do a lot of work after that to ensure you are driving traffic in their direction.
Can you talk us briefly through the processes of developing the business?
Sure – Dave and I work together utilizing each other’s varied skills to balance out the tasks and get things done. The business started, really, with Dave’s drum repair and teaching services back in 1998/99. Later we changed the business name to Brummet Media Group and this acts like an umbrella, housing everything that we do under one name – from books to blogs, dog sitting services… the Angle Hill studio that offers drum and percussion teaching and repairs services… everything.
In the past we have written articles that were assigned to us, we produced a syndicated international column for 6 years; we also did special feature interviews as a staff writer gig. Quite a number of years doing this kind of work were put in before we delved into producing books – resulting in the 6 books we have today, and the trilogy we have coming up later this spring (2021).
Writing offers numerous opportunities to constantly evolve – being both flexible and diverse is the key to business success. In the past this involved managing the Brummet’s Muse newsletter for 6 years, the Conscious Discussions Talk Radio show for 10 years, and the Authors Read podcast for 2 years. I also did work as a professional book reviewer for about 7 years.
Today we have 6 books available on Amazon. I manage the Brummet’s Conscious Blog, the Drum It With Brummet blog and the Brummet Media Youtube channel as well. Dave and I are currently working on both a trilogy and another book manuscript behind the scenes in between his band gigs, drum repairs and drum students.
Can you tell us the pros and cons of self-publishing as opposed to traditional publishing?
Ok so with a traditional publisher the author will have access to their team of professional book reviewers, book designers, cover designers, formatters, proofreaders and editors. Some publishers will help the author face issues, answer questions and provide some marketing tools. Traditional publishers will not do a lot of book promotion activities but they will enable the author to do so. They will send announcements to the author’s mailing list and utilize their existing channels to give some exposure to their authors. They might provide e-postcards or e-announcements for the author to use. They often have forums and groups that authors can join. They usually have a section giving marketing advice as well.
Self-publishing companies vary as to what they offer the author. Some are vanity or hybrid vanity – where the author pays in advance for some or all of the book production costs. There are self-publishing outlets that act very similar to traditional publishers and the author will receive a percentage of royalties. Extra services or contract amendments can vary – based on the publisher’s flexibility, the author’s name recognition and skill levels. Extra services, like marketing advice, usually come with a price.
Independent Authors are those that do not go with either of these genres of publishers but instead go directly to the distribution centre – typically Amazon. These authors are confident in their abilities and connections and feel that they can bypass all of the different genres of publishing outlets, and go it themselves. Some authors are able to do this because they have the budget to outsource services like professional book cover designs.
How do you decide on the cover and title for your books?
Cover design is Dave’s forté; he chooses them based on how the image relays the content. Titles are chosen with great care – based on if it will relay what the reader will receive.
What was the inspiration for your latest book?
The most recent brand new book was From One Small Garden – Over 300 Delicious Nutritious Recipes; the cover shows garden images and harvests, with a few over-layed images of recipes from the book. This is the ultimate guide to utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens to farmer’s markets – the purest source of food we can draw from. This book is not only loaded with nutritional and historical information, it also shares tips to save water, reduce energy costs and food waste, and other frugal ways to extend your budget. Learn how to make your own chicken coating, or taco seasoning, air fresheners and cleaning supplies – – without the use of harsh chemicals, packaging and numerous plastic bottles.
How do you go about your research?
Methodically, orderly, organized and with a tenacious dedication backed by strong self-discipline and one or two cheerleader behind the scenes urging us forward.
How difficult do you find it to market your book?
Marketing is like a lifetime marathon – For authors we are talking about the life of each book. The life cycle goes beyond the first edition with the first publisher – it can involve 2nd or 3rd editions, additional book formats, and fresh contracts with new publishers or additional books in a series.
As such we need to pace out the marketing activities and creating a do-able action plan each month. We have our 5-year business plan and marketing plans, but then we break that down to this year’s action plan. From there, a monthly plan of action helps us follow through with today’s activities.
We have monthly or weekly meetings where we discuss issues, concerns, actions the other must take on, things that are overdue or reaching a deadline and to brainstorm, coming up with new ideas. I’ve never had to hire out and rarely had to pay for advertising (except amazon ads) because there are so many promotional opportunities. I keep a 9 page file listing opportunities that I find to follow up on when the schedule allows it.
I’m a member of 160 online groups, on a dozen shop-local and Canadian or BC small business listings, operate 2 blogs, run a YouTube channel and appear in the media 140-180 times per year. Finding marketing opportunities is easy… having the time to do everything is a whole other thing entirely.
What social media platforms do you prefer?
Social media… I use BlogSpot.com for both our blogs. I use article distribution sites for sharing articles and press releases. I also utilize Youtube to host our channel. The blogs are very useful for networking, collaborating, increasing contact lists and reaching readers in an intimate way. The articles are picked up by online publications, mainly, who use them as free content and while I am not paid for those articles, I do gain exposure through the by-lines, bio, or links that accompany each published piece. I am also a part of a small writer’s group that meets online on Tuesdays.
When it comes to social networking websites, I am on about a dozen of them but tend to focus on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter (@Brummet) (in that order). Your readers can find our most relevant online sites here: https://linktr.ee/LillianBrummet
Is there something you would really like to write but haven’t attempted yet?
Of course! I’ve delved into fictional poetry and short stories and I would love to get into that sandbox of wordplay. I have been urged to write a memoir, but I’m not ready to do that emotionally, mentally. Perhaps one day. Right now we are focusing on completing that trilogy celebrating Dave’s late father’s lifetime collection of photographic, poetry, short stories and family memoirs. Behind the scenes I’ve gotten back to work on the next very rough draft manuscript for a book we hope to release in 2023 or ’24. Marketing and managing the business takes up most of my time and the house, gardens, dogs and hubby are always needing attention too. It’s a fine balance between what we want to do, with what we can actually do, and what our home life demands. There’s never a dull moment!
Lillian and Dave’s Latest Book
This collection of recipes is the ultimate guide to utilizing fresh fruits and vegetables from backyard gardens to farmer’s markets – the freshest, purest source of food we can draw from. Loaded with lots of interesting tidbits of historical and nutritional information, this book is more than just a recipe book – it is a way of treating yourself to the healthy, delicious rewards of one small garden…
About The Brummets
Lillian and her husband Dave are the team behind Brummet Media Group, high-fiving cheerfully as they pass each other on the way from checking off one item or other from their long to-do list. Their business includes Dave’s music studio and percussion accessory products and graphic design work as well as numerous award-winning non-fiction books and popular blogs. Today we help them celebrate their latest book releases – From One Small Garden, with over 300 delicious, nutritious recipes! – and – their recently revised Purple Snowflake Marketing guide for authors Visit the Brummets @: www.BrummetMedia.ca -&- drop by their Amazon Author page @: https://amazon.com/author/lillianbrummet
Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us today, Lillian. Wishing you lots of luck with all your future projects.