J.J. Hebert is first and foremost a best-selling author, but he also founded and operates Mindstir Media, a book self-publishing and marketing company in North Hampton, New Hampshire. You may have seen Mindstir Media on well-known TV networks such his OWN, Fox Business, Lifetime, or the Biography Channel. And it’s common to see Mindstir Media authors and books in various online news outlets such as ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliated sites, thanks to Mindstir’s publicity services. Hebert works directly with every MindStir Media client. He oversees the production of each book title and collaborates on marketing as well. His self-publishing knowledge is extensive, so much so that the popular Good Men Project website branded Hebert as the “Self-publishing Guru.” J.J. has reached thousands upon thousands of aspiring authors through his blogs, publishing consultations and book publishing services.
What was your favorite subject in school?
English was always one of my favorites in school. I was one of those rare folks who enjoyed reading the assigned books and writing reports. Writing a 5 to 10 page book report came easily to me and I actually enjoyed it. In hindsight, that was probably one of the earlier signs that I was destined to become a writer.
What was your first job?
Well, officially my first job was in a local grocery store stocking shelves in high school. But I rarely count that as my first real job. It was part time, just a few hours a week. My first real job was working in the valve industry. Yeah, that’s right, the valve industry. I worked in the sales department and sold valves to representatives who then resold the valves to fairly well-known companies with power plants etc. The work wasn’t very satisfying but I learned a lot in terms of customer service and sales while I was there. I handled millions of dollars worth of accounts, so there was a lot of responsibility on my shoulders.
Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
That had to have been over a decade ago, close to fifteen years when I began writing seriously. I went through seven drafts of my first fantasy novel, which didn’t end up getting published. I took it upon myself to hire a local editor, and he took me under his wing and showed me the way. That was my first taste of the book publishing industry. I later on landed a literary agent to represent me but ultimately decided to self-publish instead. That’s when I came up with the name Mindstir Media and used it to self-publish my second book, Unconventional, which was actually the first published book of mine. It became an Amazon bestseller early on and then I ended up taking on clients through the Mindstir Media brand to help them also self-publish.
Have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
Yes, definitely. Even looking back at the valve sales job, I now use a lot of what I learned there — in terms of customer service — on MindStir Media today. And thereafter, with all of the writing and publishing of my first inspirational book, that really set the tone to help other authors down the line. By the time I was ready to take on other clients, I already had printing and distribution in place, along with marketing strategies that I knew would be effective.
Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
That’s a really tough one. I’ve had many great days at Mindstir Media throughout the years. I guess if I have to narrow it down, it would be seeing Mindstir Media authors land on Amazon bestseller lists. Last year, for instance, I worked with a 13-year-old author and helped her self-publish her book. Her father was also a huge help. The book ended up landing on an Amazon bestseller list. The author’s name is Chelcie Oparanozie and her book is “Reptiles vs. Amphibians.” Mindstir Media sent out a press release announcing her best seller status and I remember feeling a great deal of pride that day for her and having been part of the journey.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
My love for books keeps me motivated for sure. I love working with books and authors on a daily basis and I have to admit, this is definitely my dream job. Actually, I shouldn’t even really call it a job. It’s more of a career. Time flies each day, and there’s almost never enough time in the day, but working at Mindstir Media is a true joy. That’s really all the motivation I need.
What of business ideas excite you?
I’m a huge fan of online business marketing, specifically social media. I’m the brains behind the MindStir Media Facebook and Twitter accounts. The Facebook page has about 65,000 fans, for example, and we’re able to reach a huge number of people on a daily basis through that platform. As far as business ideas in general, anything unique that fills a customer need is always something that excites me.
Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
Yes, back 2011, I created a Twitter competition/giveaway. I was working to grow the MindStir Media following on Twitter and so I basically created an entry process to get a person to follow the MindStir Media account, answer a question and then send out a tweet with a hashtag. I’d say that was fairly unorthodox at the time. There were several winners and we gave away a Kindle Wi-Fi, some best-selling Mindstir Media books, and a Mindstir Media coupon for publishing. You see Twitter contests or giveaways a lot nowadays but it was more of a rarity and definitely more unorthodox back in 2011.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Probably the success of my debut novel, Unconventional. It’s been the number one inspirational book on Amazon many times and it has sold over 100,000 copies or downloads.
What wisdom would you have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
If I could go back in time, I would definitely tell my younger self to not spend so much time on emails. I outsource a lot of my emails to an assistant nowadays, and that cuts down on my overall workload. I wish I had done it sooner.
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