Brand Interview: Jeremiah Kleckner – The Writing Teacher
How long has your company been in business? Please tell us a bit about your company, its mission, goals…
I started writing in 2011, but I’ve been a teacher since 2003. My best friend, Jeremy Marshall, pitched an idea. I countered with a second idea and Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan was born. He and I are not onto different projects, but we are coming together again to write two more Captain James Hook novels.
My mission as an author and educator is on my website: www.JeremiahKleckner.com.
MY PHILOSOPHIES ON WRITING
When I decided to make my work public, I envisioned my three philosophies on writing. Although they are focused on the practice of teaching writing, these thoughts are a strong reminder for anyone who holds a pen or taps a keyboard.
Writing is evidence of thought.
If you can’t write it simply, then you don’t understand the topic. This applies across all content areas and careers. Not everybody needs to write thesis papers, but this is why most certifications have a written test component. Unlike a live verbal discussion, writing takes time to plan and process. You can blank in a conversation out of nervousness. You can only blank in your writing through a lack of understanding.
Writing is your first impression.
People develop an opinion about you through your writing before they have a chance to meet you. Increasingly, as technology stunts our interpersonal growth and drives us further apart while ironically tethering each of us to one another, people will meet you first through social media. Do you not use Facebook or Twitter? The wording in your text, email, resume, or cover letter reveals more about you than you may realize. The Letter of Introduction may be lost to history, but your status update is telling and permanent.
Writing has to mean something.
Authenticity shifts the burden of accountability onto the student. It doesn’t matter what the writing assignment is or from which content area it is assigned. Kids like challenges and even a short writing piece takes on more emotional investment when it is tied to the outside world. If a strong connection is made, students will take their work more seriously and own the task.
Do you donate to charities? Tell us about that also and why.
Part of the message in Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan is a new perspective on Peter Pan’s irresponsibility and mistreatment of the Lost Boys.
But that is fantasy.
There is a reality of child abuse, neglect, abandonment, and homelessness.
MCCNY Charities “MCCNY Homeless Youth Services is committed to turning the short time (up to 90 days) that youth spend as residents into a time of growth, safety and opportunity. MCCNY Homeless Youth Services provides: emergency overnight services, connections to long-term housing, case management, advocacy groups, showers, and hot meals. MCCNY Homeless Youth Services prioritizes the most underserved LGBTQI youth, including transgender and intersex youth, youths experiencing trauma, and those living with HIV/AIDS.” – Quoted from: http://www.mccnycharities.org/hys.html
By the end of 2013, I want to donate $1000 dollars to MCCNY Charities exclusively through book sales. Together, we can help support the essential services this shelter provides.
Tell us about your brand.
How did you know what typeface (font) would be right for your company wordmark or logo? If your logo has an illustration, describe why that art was the right thing, animal, place, object, etc…How did you decide on the right color palette to fit your company look and feel?
For the www.JeremiahKleckner.com website, I wanted a clean look. I am a teacher as well as an author, so I decided that black, white, and blue were strong and professional colors. The black and white photo I use in all of my promotions was taken at the moment I decided to take my writing seriously, instead of hiding it away in a drawer and weeping over its lost potential. I didn’t realize the photo was taken at the time. It was candid and is the most honest representation of me as an author. I created the banner to bring it all together with a familiar, unassuming font.
How did you decide which type of designer to work with, or did you design your own identity and web presence?
I made all of the decisions for my brand on my own.
In what order did you present your company to the world? Did you start with marketing and products, or website, blog and social media?
The product came first. It had to. Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan was out on Amazon in June of 2012. The website, blog, Facebook Page, and Twitter account all grew around it. The book became an anchor. It was a starting point for me to build the brand. It didn’t make sense to me any other way. Why would someone pay attention to you on social media if you have nothing to offer them aside from your own thoughts? Everyone has thoughts and everyone thinks that their thoughts are important enough to be heard. The book (soon to be more than one) is where every part of my outreach directs people to go. There has to be an endpoint.
How long after the launch of your company did you start pitching in social media? Did you do research or study any software, take webinars, teleclasses, before approaching any area of your marketing or web presence?
I started right away. Within weeks, I had a website, twitter account, and Facebook page for the book. I did it all wrong at first, but it was all there.
Not long after seeing weak results, I began educating myself. No one teaches authors (or other artists) that they need to know at least some marketing strategy if they plan on getting their work noticed, no matter how good it is. I dove into it all: blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, magazines (they still make those), and self-publishing books by successful authors.
It’s important to do your homework.
Do you belong to community sharing websites? Which ones and how effective are they in building your audience? What are the best features that help your business?
I started selling my writing with the goal of making it a zero-sum game. I knew that I would have to pay for a professional cover and for editing, but it would all even out in the end. The benefit of having a full-time job is that I can earmark all of the money coming in from the book as money that can be reinvested in my writing career (as well as donated to @MCCNewYork, of course).
With that in mind, I refuse to pay for attention. As a new self-published author, I had to build credibility before I could be seen as someone whose books are worth reading. Paying a newspaper or magazine would have been a waste of my money at first. Now that CJH has hit 15,000 readers, I can start looking more broadly.
The Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Marketplace and Create Space are free to upload. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Goodreads are all free to use. I set that all up and bought my name as a cheap domain to tether it all together. I am on Twitter most frequently, but most of my brand is housed on my WordPress page. Goodreads is the most valuable resource for authors. They are a fickle group, so if you do well there, then you’re set.
When you printed your products, packaging, business cards and other print marketing did you choose an online printer or visit a local vendor? Did you know anything about different types of papers, when you wanted to print your marketing materials? Have you ever used “green” technology in printing, using FSC certified papers or recycled paper and if not, how likely are you at trying this on a next project? If you sell products, are they produced in the USA or abroad?
The paperbacks are printed online for a simple reason: money. Remember, I’m running a zero-sum game here. CreateSpace allows you to upload your content for free and sells in the Amazon store. It even allows you to link the paperback to the ebook, so readers can more easily find the product and decide which they prefer.
Marketing materials are a different story. My one-pagers and poster boards are locally printed on recycled paper. There’s no reason why I would need to go online for that.
Ninety percent of the books sold are digital, which is infinitely more green than recycled paper. Even so, if I am looking for a mass printing of the paperback, I’ll certainly choose recycled paper.
Do you speak at events? If so tell us about that.
I did one speaking event this September at Van Vorst Park and I’m looking forward to many more. There are a few ways I’ve reached out locally in recent months.
In the spring of this year, I contacted the Jersey City Free Public Library regarding their fall event. The “Tales of Our Cities” event in September was a great way to gain exposure for the book. My co-author and I signed a few copies and I did a reading for the crowd. In addition, the library bought ten copies of the book for their use.
Jersey City Free Books is located on Griffith Street in Jersey City Heights, blocks from my door. Books are collected for trade in a manner that fits everybody’s ideal of a socialist utopia. The concept is simple: take a book, leave a book. There is no money exchanged and the books are generally not tracked or cataloged. I dropped off a few copies for them to give away and, in return, the owner posted on his Facebook page.
JC Made is a store that sells work exclusively from artists who live in Jersey City. When you walk in, you will see a collection of vases, t-shirts, lamps, cards, and now… books. In October, I signed a contract to sell my book there, making it the first place where you can walk in, see a copy of Captain James Hook and the Curse of Peter Pan, and pay for it at a register.
What is coming up in the year or two we should watch for? Is there anything you haven’t yet tackled, but will want to do soon?
2014 and beyond should be a wild ride. Jeremy Marshall and I are working on continuing the Captain James Hook series. In addition, I’m chipping away at two other pieces, one in historical fantasy and one in realistic fiction. Now that I’ve tasted some modest success, I only want more.
My goal is to write 1-3 books per year until I die or lose interest, whichever comes first.
To learn more about Jeremiah Kleckner, visit the links below:
Everything can be found at: www.JeremiahKleckner.com
Amazon Store: http://www.amazon.com/Captain-James-Curse-Peter-ebook/dp/B008D8M7PC
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3 thoughts on “Brand Interview: Jeremiah Kleckner – The Writing Teacher”
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You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work
you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to
say how they believe. All the time follow your heart.
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