We had the good fortune of connecting with C.L. Cannon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi C.L., what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I have a goal, sort of a New Year’s resolution, to learn a new skill every year. I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I decide on a skill that I think would help me in the future, and I leverage free information on the internet like blogs and Youtube videos to help me learn and master the skill by the end of the year. I think that has greatly shaped the businesses I participate in daily and my level of success. I can never be content with knowing what I know today, and I’m always reaching for tomorrow. I’m hungry.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been an avid reader and writer my whole life and have always had a very creative imagination. A lot of my storytelling was wish fulfillment at first. If I didn’t like how something ended or if there was a different angle or a what-if scenario I wanted to explore, I would write out a new adventure for the characters I loved.
Once I became an adult, I used writing to help pay the bills, and then one day, I decided that my love of fiction was a passion I could also turn into a business. I could enjoy my job if I was prepared to take writing seriously.
I am extremely introverted, but I’ve always had a knack for networking on social media. It’s probably a carry-over from my fandom days when I ran websites dedicated to my favorite tv shows and movies. Being an author is much the same as running a successful fansite. You have to make connections with other industry professionals. Writing a book will only get you so far, and then you must edit, query, find a designer for your cover, etc. And that is when I realized that I could probably teach myself to do many of the things I would need to produce a book.
I threw myself into learning the ins and outs of marketing books and the techniques that professionals used. I also used some of my skills from my fandom days to start graphic design, video editing, website design, and even copy editing. As my skill set grew and I taught myself more and more, I started helping friends I had made in the industry through networking. Finally, I decided to incorporate and open my own publishing house, under which I would publish other authors in our bi-yearly anthologies, and where I would start offering my design, marketing, and editing services to other authors for extra income.
I also do several charity fundraisers, auctions, and events every year because fundraising and organization are also part of my life passions. We’ve raised money for childhood cancer research, preemie care, autism awareness, hurricane relief, Australian fire relief, The International Red Cross, Scoliosis research, healthcare and education support in struggling countries, and more.
All the achievements I’ve mentioned may seem like easy work or that I came to learn these skills without too much effort, but I did all this with several chronic illnesses and two children to take care of. There was nothing easy about it, but I always believe that if you work hard enough and want something bad enough, you will achieve it.
What I think sets me apart from others who also offer marketing services for authors is that I am actively invested in marketing the right books to the right people. Many marketers will take on any client that will pay them, while I take a look at the overall potential a book may have to make the author a profit, and also the genre and sub-genre of the book. I take on clients in the Fantasy, Sci-fi, and YA categories only. I act as a mentor to the author so they can learn more about the industry, marketing methods, and sales in general. I try to be accessible so they can feel free to ask questions and get genuine answers so we can build their readership through trust and quality content. I like to be honest about expectations, and I will turn clients away if I don’t feel their book has the potential to recoup their marketing costs. I don’t do this lightly, and also offer advice to make the product more successful.
I also do lots of free advice and spotlights on other authors. I participate in many panels and regular video segments, including a show called The Indie Connection, where I highlight four independently published books a week. I believe that we all do better when we work together and see other authors as our allies instead of the competition.
I like to think that honesty, affordability, and helpfulness are part of my brand.
I have a company that helps over 500 authors a year sell more books, build their readership, perfect their products, and is entirely sustained through word-of-mouth advertising. I have been cited in no less than five marketing books by other professional writing coaches and gurus as the woman to help authors on their marketing journeys. I also get messages, emails, and reviews from the authors I’ve helped over the years, thanking me for helping them succeed, and that is something I feel awfully proud of.
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 a small town that doesn’t necessarily always reflect my personal views, but the scenery is amazing. I am also a huge film geek, and so is my best friend, so I’m sure we would hit the movie theatre and then maybe go out to the lake for a picnic. The day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the book store. I have a large collection of books that I just can’t seem to stop adding to! Mr. K’s is probably the best shop in our area and filled with new and secondhand books, plus music and movie memorabilia! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d love to give recognition to my dad who has not only worked hard his entire life but has always encouraged me to reach for the stars and to help others along the way.