This post is for the writers among you. Publishing is changing and there are more opportunities for authors than ever before. We finally have the ability to take charge of our careers in ways we couldn’t before Amazon brought out the Kindle. Seriously, the Kindle was a game changer. Add in all the other e-readers, and the invention of the iPad, and we’re rolling along into a revolution that finally gives authors the means to reach readers directly in far greater numbers than they ever could before (printing books and selling them out of your trunk will only get you so much exposure).
Many of the Indie authors who’ve paved the way have been so generous with sharing their numbers, so I decided I’m going to do the same. I am what is properly termed a “hybrid” author. I’m self-publishing and writing for a traditional publisher. I believe there is sense and value to both things, so I’m straddling that line and having some fun. I’m learning a lot too.
Today is officially one month since HOT PURSUIT has been for sale on Kindle. It went live on Kobo and Apple on July 17th, though it was in pre-order at this stage. And it was live on Smashwords and B&N around the same time as Amazon. HOT PURSUIT is a departure for me in terms of the kind of books I am known for with Harlequin. I write for Presents, the line that’s all about angst, passion, glamor, billionaires, etc. I love those kinds of stories! I also love romantic suspense, and I love anything to do with a military special operations team. Which is where my HOT series goes.
I am a known author and I have hit the USA Today list back when they only counted print sales. So how would that translate to my self-published books? Pretty well, it turns out, though not well enough to propel me onto any lists. Everyone says you need more than one book in a series to really see an effect, and I only have one book out there (plus a free short story that’s military but not in the same series) but I cannot complain about the numbers thus far. In one month, I’ve sold 1800 books and made nearly $4k. No, that’s nothing like my Harlequin numbers (which are still primarily in print), but self-publishing is long tail and this is only one month worth of numbers. In the same amount of time with a Harlequin, I can expect to sell far more books. And, in some respects, the Harlequin sales are long tail too because of the foreign translations. And now, with ebooks, if someone discovers you, they can go back and read all your books. That’s a nice departure from the days where you could only get the books for a month and then never again.
HOT PURSUIT was a Golden Heart finalist in 2008. I had hoped my agent could sell it for me, but she didn’t think it was ready. And it wasn’t. I had some hard work to do first, and once I did that work, I decided I’d rather put it out there myself and see how it went than sell it to a publisher and take my chances. At least this way, if the book (and series) failed, it was all on me. But I don’t think it’s failing. Your emails, blog posts, and reviews tell me it’s not. You seem to like this story and you seem to want more. And that makes me *very* happy!
So, one month, 1800 books sold of a book I was told that New York wouldn’t want, and sales show no sign of slowing down. This is only the beginning. HOT MESS (Book 1.5) will be out sometime in September, and I’ve been asked to contribute to an anthology of holiday novellas by some of your favorite Indie authors. That story will be a HOT story, and then I’ll follow it with DANGEROUSLY HOT, which is officially Book 2 in the series (though maybe I need a new numbering system since there will be another novella before that, LOL!).
If you are a writer who is looking at self-publishing, there are a couple of things you need to do. First, you have to spend money to get a good cover and good editing. You’re going to need developmental edits, not just copy edits. I’ve written nearly 20 books with Harlequin and I still paid a developmental editor for my HOT books. I need editing and so do you. Readers will notice if you give them crap and they won’t buy you anymore. There is a difference between not liking a story because it’s not your thing and the story being poorly written and edited. If you don’t have a lot of money to invest, save money until you can afford the editing at least. Trade services with other writers who are good at things you aren’t (like cover design, maybe). Do everything you can to put out the best product you can. Self-publishing is NOT a get rich quick scheme. It takes money, time, and a commitment to the process to do it right.
Here are the things I did for HP: hired a developmental editor, hired a copy editor & proofreader, hired a cover designer, hired a formatter. I’ve not really advertised HP, other than on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I decided not to advertise yet because I only have one book in the series. I might do something when the next story comes out next month. Or I might not. This is a marathon, y’all, not a sprint. If HP continues to sell at the level it’s selling for an entire year, well, that’s a living. I can’t predict that, of course, because things happen and books fall off the radar. But I hope readers are excited enough about this series to try the next one and to recommend the books to their friends.
So there it is. My Indie Journey, one month in. Any questions?