Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cunning Relations - Who? What? How? Tips? Job Openings Too?

I had the honor of interviewing Kirk Cunningham of Cunning Relations, a new Consultation Firm that opened it's doors on September 9! Read on to discover more about who they are, what they do, and find out how they can help you with your novel!

Make sure you stop by their social media sites! 

1. Tell me a little bit of background on the creation of Cunning Relations. What makes Cunning Relations different from other companies/services that are available to authors?

Cunning Relations is, best put, a collective of book professionals, including key members from Jolly Fish Press, accomplished authors, prominent journalists and book reviewers, and award-winning designers. Most of the members of Cunning Relations are handpicked freelancers who only focus on a few projects at a time, ensuring each client gets ample attention.

Cunning Relations is first a consultation firm, and second an “author services” company. We make this distinction to show that while we are a company that offers various services in editing, publicity, and design to help authors, our first priority is to act as a consultant to each of our clients to make sure they’re following the correct path to success, usually free of charge.

2. What would be the advantage to authors reaching out to Cunning Relations? What exactly will you help them achieve? Are there certain pros and cons to using a service such as Cunning Relations?

As a whole, Cunning Relations is a simple company. We offer everything an author needs to polish, promote, and design their books. Whether you need a large bundle of services, or one service, we’re here to help. This allows authors to come to one trusted source for their book, compared to taking a gamble on shady companies or unproven friends. This provides authors of all sorts the opportunity to take control of their book and publish the high-quality product readers expect.

Of course, you’ll have to pay for these services, but we see this more as a required investment than a con. All successful products and businesses require capital. Books are no exception, especially when it comes to self-publishing.

3. Based upon you & your team's expertise, what are some of the key must-have aspects of not only creating a great novel but also successfully getting it out to the target audience?

You almost only hear about the heavily promoted self-published novels. Even if a book is a masterpiece, if it doesn’t have a strong marketing campaign, the chance of success is nearly nonexistent.

Of course, polishing the book with editing, copyediting, attractive layout, appealing cover design, and more is also important, but promotion is king.

4. What will be the process involved for an author using your services? Once they contact you for help, then what?

Whenever an author contacts us for help, we’ll send them information on all of our standard services and preliminary prices. After this, we set up a consultation session to get more information on the author’s book, goal, and publication status. From there, we will customize our suggestions and propose a package. Should the author be interested, we’ll arrange payment and begin right away on the services they purchased.

On a side note, we will never suggest a service an author doesn’t need. We take this very seriously.

5. As you're aware, there are differing opinions regarding Traditional Publishing versus Self-Publishing. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you feel the gap can be bridged and Self-Publishing can become a truly respected profession. How will Cunning Relations help?

The main problem with self-publishing is a lack of quality. Now, before your readers pull out their pitchforks, I want to clarify. This lack of quality is not due to unskilled writing—it’s because most self-publishers have limited access to what a book needs, namely: editing, layout, design, and PR & marketing. Self-publishers will never be able to compete with publishing houses unless they utilize these services.

Cunning Relations is, we believe, an answer to this problem. We offer the same treatment a traditionally published book receives at a reasonable price. In addition, our services can be purchased separately, so if you already have a great editor but still need a cover design, then we can offer the exact service you need.

Soon, we hope to alter the industry mindset regarding self-publishing. Through author service companies like Cunning Relations, we hope to establish self-publishing simply as a different avenue to publishing a book that requires up front costs but provides higher profit margins. Once this is established, self-publishing will become a truly respected profession.

6. Let's say that I'm a self-published author striving to create my best work yet. Explain to me how you feel that individual should go about creating their work starting from "once the initial draft is finished" to "it's now available for the public to purchase." What sort of steps should the author take in order to ensure the novel is in the best shape prior to making it available to the public.

There are many different avenues of self-publishing an excellent book, but here’s a good guideline to follow:
1.    Polish, polish, polish. Find writers groups, editor/author friends, and others to go through your book.
2.    Once you’ve polished, find a professional content editor. Even the best writers need a good writer. Whether you pay an editor you know or hire editors through firms like Cunning Relations, just do it. It’s crucial. Copyediting is also crucial.
3.    Pay for a high quality cover design from a professional designer. This is probably most often ignored by many self-publishers, which is a major mistake, especially if you’re offering a printed version of your book.
4.    Develop a publication plan. What’s your release date? How will you release the book? How big of a print run? When will you plan a tour?
5.    Develop a marketing plan. How will you market your book? What PR will you do?
6.    Send out ARCs! Many self-publishers avoid this, which is a huge mistake.
7.    Release a book trailer.
8.    Layout / Proofread / Convert your book. Find a professional like Cunning Relations or a designer friend to do this.
9.    Publish your book. Make it a big event!
10. Once the launch is over, don’t slow down! This is a problem that plagues all authors, self-published or not. The launch party is so hyped that if authors don’t sell thousands in the first week, many will give up. Let’s be honest about this: launch campaigns are only successful with famous authors or outrageous marketing budgets. For an author, the real work begins after the release date.
11. For every step of this process, run a strong social media campaign. We don’t just mean post every once in a while. We mean constant activity, consistent interaction, and overall likeability. This is probably the most important step, and it can be applied to personal networking (conferences, phone calls, conventions) as well.

Of course, there are several items I did not mention, but this is a good overview.

7. For those that would like to know more about Cunning Relations & the services that will be offered, where can they go? (the website + any other social media links or email contacts that you'd like to share)

To see more about our services, visit or email us at and we’ll send a full price quote and set up a consultation session, should you be interested.

We also provide news, tips, and advice for authors here:

We’d love to hear from you!

8. For professionals who have experience or are currently working behind the scenes and helping authors better their work (editors, designers, photographers, publicists, etc.), can they reach out and join the Cunning Relations Team?

We are always looking to build our team. Any interested professionals can click here for more information or email us your resume and area of interest at

While we’re currently open in every department, we’re specifically looking for the following:
1.    Designers
2.    Illustrators
3.    Ghost Writers

9.  Any closing thoughts/words of advice/other information to share?

The book industry is both wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because, well, books! Terrible because it’s also rampant with dishonesty, outdated practices, and low quality content. Cunning Relations is on a mission to change that. By providing self-publishers and published authors who have limited backing with the services they need, we hope to give the power to the author.

On a side note, we’re running a giveaway via Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like the chance to win 4 weeks of our Social Media Support service, all you need to do is post the following:
1.    #authortips
2.    @CunningRelation (or for Facebook).
3.    A tip, piece of advice, picture, video, or link relating to social networking, publishing, self-publishing, writing, etc.
4.    Optional: link to our website,, so others can join the giveaway.

We hope to establish #authortips as a common hashtag marking advice for authors. Click here for more information.

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Thanks for stopping by & chatting with me! I try my best to respond to every post but it does take me a few days! Don't think I'm ignoring you - I promise, "non-fiction" life just gets me bogged down sometimes. :) Thanks again!!! I <3 my followers