We had the good fortune of connecting with L.J. Suarez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi L.J., we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Well, I first got the entrepreneurial itch back in my late 20s (I’m 36 now), and had no idea at the time what kind of business I wanted to start. I loved the idea of doing my own thing and having full control over my schedule. But if I was going to go into business for myself, it couldn’t be strictly for money because I knew that if I did do it solely for the money, I wouldn’t have gotten very far. You have to have a driving force besides monetary gain in order to push yourself forward because as we all know, starting a business is not for the faint of heart. For me, the two questions I ask myself before starting any business are: 1) Do I love the industry I’m considering entering into or at the very least have a genuine interest in it? 2) Can I find a way to monetize my idea in said industry? When I discovered self-publishing back in 2014 and saw the success many indie authors were having, I got really excited about the possibilities. Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to write a novel but didn’t think it was possible for me to get a deal with a traditional publisher. Thanks to online outlets like Amazon, I found a way to get my stories out directly to the reader without having to go through the middle man. I dived in headfirst and watched countless youtube videos from the top indie authors as they revealed how they started on their journey and got to where they are now. Guys like Mark Dawson for example showed how up-and-coming authors like myself could take their talent for writing and turn it into a successful business through his online courses. Finally, I found a way to take something I love (writing fiction books) and build a business around it. Mark Dawson’s self-publishing courses were instrumental in shaping my writing career. From what I took away from all of this is that there are six key ingredients to giving yourself the best possible shot at commercial success as an indie author: 1) Have a good story that engages the reader. 2) Treat it like a business, not as a hobby. 3) Get a professional designer to create your front cover. 4) Have your book professionally edited, 5) Build an email list. 6) Engage with your readers regularly via your email list and social media accounts (in other words, build a brand behind your author name). I still have a lot to learn. But I’ve come a long way over these last six years and I’m really excited about what the future holds.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I write science fiction novels. The books I’ve written thus far have to do with ordinary people caught in the middle of extraordinary situations, and you as the reader can’t help but follow them along in their thrilling journey to find out just how (or if) they get out of their predicament. My first 3-book sci-fi thriller series called ‘The Ancestor’ is available now on Amazon. Set centuries in the future, the story centers around a man who awakens in an Earth ruled by an advanced alien-like race who are descendants of humans and that humanity itself has long been extinct. Think ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Matrix.’ What I’m most proud of about these books is that despite its fantastical setting, at its core it’s very much a human story that anyone can connect with. There are layers and overarching themes such as love, family, loss, sacrifice, and bravery. My goal with these books to have a little something for everyone, whether you’re someone who loves a good sci-fi story or a story about the themes I discussed above. Being an indie author can be a challenging business, just for all the competition that’s out there only. But I learned that you have to get your name out there any way you can and know your audience and what they want. I also get a lot of great advice and support from the Facebook author groups I’m apart of which has gotten me to where I’m at today. You need to be authentic in who you are as an author and tell stories that will not only entertain a reader and connect with them on an emotional level, but also make them want to come back for more. It’s not easy, but definitely doable if you put in the work. I’ve been building a brand for my author business that revolves around being relentless. It’s a theme very much present throughout my books. The ‘David and Goliath’ troupe of overcoming the odds despite the odds being stacked against you. It’s a metaphor for life that I try to live by every day. To keep pushing forward no matter what obstacles might be in front of you. I created a Facebook group called ‘L.J. Suarez’s Relentless Readers.’ It’s a growing community where readers can come together and discuss anything they like; from books to movies, to motivational content, etc.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in South Florida so there’s plenty of fun spots to check out. For nighttime, I would definitely check out the downtown West Palm Beach area, close to the river. Lots of cool bars and restaurants to try out as well as people-watching opportunities lol! During the day, brunch is pretty popular around here. Many restaurants have great brunch specials. If you’re more of an outdoorsy person, you can go to the bike or running trails at the local parks. You can even rent a boat or jet ski for a few hours or so if you want the full Florida experience. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Definitely, the Self-Publishing Formula Facebook group run by Mark Dawson and James Blatch. I also need to shoutout to the 20booksto50k Facebook group put together by Craig Martelle and Michael Anderle. If it wasn’t for every single person in those communities, I would’ve been totally lost.