Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?
I knew part of the back-story would contain the Emperor Constantine, so I read a biography on him, and did plenty of internet searches as well. I’ve been reading the Bible daily, or mostly daily, for the last thirteen years. I also researched ancient puzzles, the development of paper, and other intricacies.
Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?
I went the indie route. We have our own publishing company that we published my Jason Conrad Thriller series under. I did pitch to one agent, and him only, but he wasn’t interested at the time. That’s okay, he gave me some great pointers that made the manuscript better. I like going the indie route because I can establish the timeline for my book release.
If self-published, did you hire someone to format the eBook version for you or did you do it yourself? Can you tell us what that was like?
I formatted the book myself. I use an iMac and the software program Vellum. I made the switch from Windows a couple of years ago and the time-saving has been amazing. What used to take me a week to do, hand-jamming into MS Word (which I still use to write on my Mac), I now do in a couple of hours.
If self-published, how did you determine the price?
It’s determined by the comparative market out there. The quality of my books are as good as traditionally published books in the marketplace, so they’re priced to match. Of course, since I’m an indie, I can adjust it how I see fit. Sometimes you have to bend and flex to reach your goals. Also, this is the first time I’ve printed a hardback. Because it is outsourced by another printer, you’ve got to price it high enough to return just a little (very little) profit when sold online.
Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book? Why?
Not really. The Pilate Scroll was completed for six months before it was released. Again, a benefit of being an indie; sometimes, life gets in the way. I pushed the launch back to April of 2021 for my own convenience and I’m glad I did. It also gave me more time to look at the book two or three “last” times.
How did you choose your cover?
I used Damonza, the same cover artist I use for all my books. The first two samples he gave me weren’t quite in the vein of the story. But when he sent the third, he nailed it. The cover tells you there’s an adventure inside, just waiting to happen!
Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?
I write straight through the first draft without any revision. I heard Brad Thor explain this years ago and I made total sense. He said, “Never be afraid to let yourself write a bad first draft.” His point was, if you’re constantly revising the book during the first draft, you’ll never finish. Keep pushing through the first draft and fix it in the re-write. I actually love the re-write process. I’ve rearranged paragraphs as well as chapters. Its where you fix the story so that it makes sense. I think new authors tend to revise while they write—I know I did on my first book. Part of that was because I was teaching myself the process. It took five years to write my first draft of my first book. But I wasn’t working on it full time, I went to three different aircraft schools, two different military educational schools, and finished my master’s degree during this time. Like I said earlier, life gets in the way.
Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?
I did! Quite by accident, I found these tiny scrolls with Bible verses on them! They are quite cool. I sent them with the hardcover book that I sent to the people who helped me with the book. I keep buying as many of them as I can, so I can give them out once I start having book signings.
Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book? If so, what’s the link?
No, I make my own book trailers using iMovie on my Mac. You can see them all here: https://www.michaelbyarslewis.com/media
What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?
It’s a necessity. It’s a very competitive world out there. As an indie author, you’ve got to get your book in front of readers. Fortunately, the digital age makes it not only easy, but affordable for the indie author to do this. It’s best to create what’s called a ‘Reader Magnet’. Something you can give away for free but is used to draw the reader to the rest of your books. Of course, the downside of giving away something for free, is that it usually sits in the e-reader longer or sometimes forever, because people are going to read what they pay for first.
What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?
- Find a good editor.
- Find a good proofreader.
- Find Beta Readers who will be honest with you.
What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?
- Start writing the next book.
- Keep pushing the book into the marketplace. Indie authors don’t have the advantage of big budget advertising. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
- Network, network, network.
What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out?
I redesigned my website and set up pre-sale links to all the major retailers. I had a cover reveal; first on my newsletter-then on my group page & author page. I got as many endorsements as I could as soon as possible. All of my social media pages were updated with the pending release date and pre-sale information. As the date got closer, I experimented with some pre-sale advertising on BookBub and Facebook, but not much. I also set up a lot of Amazon advertising, which has been running continuously for about four months. Two months out, I set up an eBook giveaway on Goodreads and I also had a newsletter signup where I gave away a Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible.
Do you have a long-term plan with your book?
Keep marketing the book, reaching new readers and expanding the audience. At some point, I may take the eBook exclusively to Kindle, but that remains to be seen. There are too many readers on those platforms right now to stop that lifeline. I’ll look into making an audiobook soon and people have talked to me about translating the story into a film. Like I said earlier, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. This book has such depth and breadth, there’s a lot of audience out there that are looking for a book like this, we’ve just got to get it in front of them.
What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?
The Pilate Scroll came out several weeks ago and the reviews have been fantastic! There’s nothing else out there like it. This is the kind of book that parents can read with their kids and actually have a conversation about what took place. As one reviewer said, “Fun read! My kid is at the level where he's ready for more exciting and mature topics, but the mom in me sides away from graphic or too 'adult' themes. This book was perfect! An engaging thriller that he really got into, and I enjoyed as well. (In fact, I had a hard time putting it down.) We're hoping Mike Lewis has another one in progress!” Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.