If you work really hard, amazing things will happen. ~ Conan O’Brien
I am true blue Indie author. I have been since 2011. I am in charge of my writing, formatting, tweaking, and social media. I do hire out my edits (Faith Williams) and cover designs (Erin Dameron-Hill). I make all my own decisions: what to write, where and when to promo, and when to release my books. There are several pros about being an Indie author. The main one is that you know even before you begin your book, it will be published.
When I began this venture, I hadn’t a clue about publishing. All that I had was a strong desire to write. I understood nothing about social media, formatting, editing or trolls. I learned quickly. I have four facebook accounts under my pennames and real name. I will let you in on a secret. I’m absolutely awful at social media. I have over six thousand facebook friends I don’t know. Why? Because I was told that I needed a presence on Facebook. I have over 45,000 twitter followers. I will confess—I must be the most boring Twitter person. My whole focus is my books or someone else’s book. But I am there and that is important.
I will tell you how out of touch I am…how engrossed I am in my books. The night of the presidental election, I was shocked when Donald Trump won his first state. I thought Hilary was going to win by a landslide. I guess that’s what I get for using Saturday Night Live as my news source.
So, the hardest part for me as an Indie is keeping up with the ever changing world of publishing. I’ll delve into that more in a minute.
In the past, I will admit I have tried to get my books published by the traditional Big- 5 publishers with no success. I have even tried to get an agent. Last April, I attended the NECRWA Conference with only one intention—talking with an agent. At these meetings, you have an assigned time. At this one, it was a fifteen minute time limit. They were running behind with the agent I was meeting with, but I was assured I would get my full time. Didn’t happen. I was trying to pitch Framed, my release last September. I wanted to branch off into contemporaries and I thought I would give it another shot at getting an agent…at getting published by a Big 5 publisher. The truth was I realized that my mother didn’t have long left on this earth. Even though she had read my books, I don’t think she considered me a true author. I wanted…I wanted her to know I was. Unfortunately, that didn’t happened.
Back to my appointment, the agent…I loved her…the 5 minutes I had with her. As with most of the times at these meetings, she asked me for a longer sample and told me to email it to her. Well…I did. I got a standard response back that if it wasn’t solicited, the email would be deleted. I didn’t worry. I did as requested, submitted as requested, but I got no reply. After I waited the required amount of time, I sent another email. Sadly, I got the same standard response and there, again, no reply. Once more, I realized I wasn’t going to get an agent. I released Framed as the second book in Boston’s Crimes of Passion. The lesson I learned—my sales pitch must be sorely lacking.
I believe trying to get a Big 5 publisher was not only for my momma, but for the acknowledgement to myself that I can truly write. Over the years, as an Indie, you are bombarded with one thing after another…external forces pounding into you must not be good enough to be called an author— like not even getting a response back from an agent. I have tried different things to get respect from the gods of writing. Some examples: I submitted Belle of Charleston for review to Publisher Weekly (Got an awful review. Said they hated the ending…they, too, ignored the warning that it was a serial). I submitted Belle of Charleston to Kindle Scout and got shot down. I asked Amazon if I could release Southern Legacy as a true serial. They said no. So I had no choice but to release it in four installments. But sometimes, they are wrong. Southern Legacy serial has become my bestseller.
I guess you can say I’m pretty stubborn. You see, I think I’m a damn good writer.
There again, my stubborness is probably what has made the agents and Big 5 pass over my writing. I write what I feel. To make money writing historicals, you should write Regencies. I don’t write a lot of true Regencies. I have three under Colleen Connally. One of my pride and joys is Seductive Secrets. But even writing a traditional romance such as Seductive Secrets, I deviated from the formula. My secondary character…whom I absolutely love…Charles is gay. Even though the Big 5 say they want originality, they don’t want controversy. Same as when I had tried to get an agent for Southern Legacy, I got the book was too long. I understood, but I couldn’t cut the story. So, you see I brought a lot of the rejections upon myself. That is why its a good thing I’m an Indie.
I am perfectly happy being an Indie, but the face of publishing is ever changing. Now, we are facing another change— AMAZON
In the past, Amazon has been the reason Indies could break into the tremendously competitive world of publishing. Amazon is the reason I make money doing what I love. Now, the rest of this blog is only my opinion, but I think AMAZON has become the sixth big publisher. I think it is the most powerful force in publishing…at least from my perspective. They have their own imprints. They have changed the rules in publishing. Some that were beneficial to me, but the ones they made recently have hurt. For a while, I had all my books in KDP. Amazon made it worthwhile, but then it changed. My KDP numbers dropped dramatically. Why? I saw somewhere it had to do with the Kindle flip-page. Could be. But there was another avenue Amazon opened up —Kindle Unlimited. My books weren’t included in Kindle Unlimited. Now, I have pulled about half my books out of KDP and have gone back to the other sites: Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.
Everything is changing, but it can’t stop us Indies. This is only one more obstacle for us Indies to manuever around. The most important one on the business end for Indies is PROMOTING! It is a must. You have to get your book in the hands of readers and no one is going to do it for you. So, where do I promote?
First and foremost: BOOKBUB.
I love BookBub, absolutely adore BookBub. I can’t say enough good things about Bookbub. Even if they never took another book of mine, I will always promote BookBub. BookBub is the reason I’m still writing. Back in 2012, I got hit hard by trolls, trolls that dug their nails into my back and wouldn’t let go. I had one that it seemed like it was her mission to save the world from my writing. I don’t ever want to relive that time. I ended up having to take down the book the trolls were going after, Daughter of Deceit…aka Seductive Secrets. I took Daughter of Deceit down and put it back up under a different title and penname, Seductive Secrets. I gave it away perma-free for a time (It is now one of the books I left in KDP). This was back when BookBub was just coming up. They posted Seductive Secrets and I haven’t looked back. After a year of hell with this troll attacking me, I had seriously thought of giving up on writing. The attacks on me were horrible. I believe fully it was because the gay character in the book was presented in a positive light. I wrote Charles specifically for a special person. She said that growing up, gay characters were always portrayed in a negative way. So I wrote Charles into my next book which turned out to be Seductive Secrets. But there is a price to pay for going against the grain. You can expect consequences. I just didn’t expect the trolls to be so aggressive.
Didn’t mean to get into that…but to put it simply BOOKBUB is the best place to advertise.
But BookBub promotions are hard to get for Indies. There are some other really good places to promote. Some of the ones I use: BookSends, Ereaders News Today, Kindle Nation Daily, Digital Book Today, Many Books, Great Books Great Deals and FreeBooksy. There are others, too. You just have to search for them.
I post books on Romantic Picks. I post my own along with other authors that I think you will enjoy. Everything I do on Romantic Picks is free for the author. It’s my way of giving back. Also, if you are just starting out, join author groups, especially Indie author groups. Indie authors are awesome at helping each other.
So, my conclusion, can an Indie make it in today’s market? Absolutely! I think the message is write a wonderful book, work hard, and believe in yourself. Good luck!