BookSurge Author Strikes a Chord with Music Fans: An Interview with Robin Meloy Goldsby
Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Robin Meloy Goldsby, author of Rhythm: A Novel and 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist. Robin has been independently producing music and writing books for many years, and after taking control of her publishing dreams through BookSurge, she is finding success that is music to her ears.
How did you get started in publishing?
My first book, Piano Girl: A Memoir, was published by a traditional publisher, Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Publishing. Piano Girl received a Publishers Weekly starred review, an endorsement from BookSense, and landed feature interviews for me on All Things Considered, The Leonard Lopate Show, and NPR’s Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland. Steinway Hall in New York City sponsored a Piano Girl reading and concert. After the publication of Piano Girl, I was awarded a spot on the Steinway Artist Roster. I'm very honored to have their support and encouragement.
Backbeat Books had an option to take my second book, Rhythm: A Novel, but they don't publish fiction. I concentrated on the writing, made a few half-hearted attempts to find a publisher, but my instincts told me to go the independent route, using my record company as a jump-off point for the book business.
Why did you choose to self-publish Rhythm: A Novel?
Publishing Rhythm independently was not a last resort, it was a choice I made willingly. There's still some stigma attached to self-publishing, but that's changing. Twenty years ago, the same thing was true in the music business. Now it's a badge of honor to produce your own recordings. Here's the thing: Good books, like good music and good films, will find an audience, regardless of how or where they are published.
As the owner of a record company, Bass Lion Music, I was already aware of the tremendous opportunities awaiting those who chose to produce "independent" music. For some time now, it has been clear to me that the publishing industry would follow the music and film industries, and that artists/authors who chose to control their own projects by producing or publishing independently would have a tremendous advantage over those who stuck with traditional methods of publication.
What approach are you taking to marketing your book?
Rhythm is a novel about music, in particular, about a female drummer. Because it can be considered a niche book for music lovers, I've focused my marketing efforts on publications (on-line and print) that cater to the music world. Endorsements by prominent people in the music business created some buzz. Star drummer Peter Erskine chimed in, along with NPR's Marian McPartland, and Robin Spielberg, the celebrity spokesperson for the American Music Therapy Association.
In recent months I've had articles published in The Writer, Steinway Magazine, and Expatriate Living. All of them ran extensive by-lines that mentioned my new book. In fact, everything I write or post includes my website address, all magazine articles, books, CDs, networking sites (MySpace and Facebook), my Amazon Connect Blog and Amazon profile, plus everything I post at forums online. The address is always there: www.goldsby.de
I've maintained a growing mailing list of people who wrote to me after the publication of Piano Girl, and after the release of each of my CDs. These people like music, or they wouldn't have contacted me in the first place. I make the effort to write back to every person who writes to me. It's not always easy. My last NPR broadcast prompted an avalanche of wonderful emails that almost buried me—an excellent problem to have. I think it's important to maintain a personal connection to people who have contacted me—just a sentence or two in reply makes a big difference. And I genuinely enjoy hearing from my readers and listeners.
How has your participation in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award affected your marketing efforts?
I had the good fortune of being "ready," since I had just completed a final draft of Rhythm when I heard about the contest. I was encouraged by the excellent customer reviews the book received, and excited by the emails I got in response to the excerpt. The contest helped boost sales of my first book and my CDs. The decision to go ahead and publish Rhythm myself became clear. It was fabulous that Amazon carried my ABNA reviews over to my finished book. It really helped to go "live" with the book with 48 5-star reviews already posted.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
I learned a long time ago that artists and authors should concentrate on producing the best possible creative work. There is a time to worry about marketing and publishing, but that shouldn't occur until the book has been finished. When I'm in writing mode, I don't think about marketing. This becomes more difficult as I add new books and CDs to my catalogue—there are times, like now, when I'm simultaneously working on a new project and marketing one of the old ones—but I've figured out how to schedule my work day so that I can do both without distraction.
Also, don't be fooled into thinking that the marketing involved with independent publishing is more difficult than with a traditional publisher. Once your book is out there, regardless of how you publish, you will have to work hard to find your readers.
Do you have plans for future titles?
Yes! I'm working on a third book now, a collection of essays. And since I should practice what I preach, it's time to close the marketing office and start writing.