Thursday, 20 October 2016

A Gem in the Dirt: My Self-Publishing Journey

There's been a lot of buzz lately about indie publishing.  It's saving the industry, it's killing the industry, it's a godsend, it's a curse.  There are more opinions than people to express them.

I'm indie published.  Which means that I did not go through one of the traditional New York publishing houses or a small press.  I accepted a deal directly with Amazon, a deal which is available to anyone willing to abide by the terms.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to pursue my publishing career.  I knew I wanted to write stories.  I've been doing that since I was a kid and "author" is a job which allows for a fair amount of flexibility, something I need in my personal life.  I knew that if I wanted my writing to be more than handing around stories to friends and fans, then I needed to treat it as seriously as my day job.

I joined professional writing organizations, specifically the Romance Writers of America and the Ottawa Romance Writer's Association.  Both of them are known for their professional resources and as promoters of skilled writers.  I joined critique groups and tossed out my first manuscript as it became apparent how much I still had to learn about the craft of writing.  I spent hours each week in front of the keyboard, fighting to keep it in my schedule.

Eventually I had a new manuscript, one I was proud of and ready for the next step.  I began sending it out and was met with an odd mixture of deafening silence and encouraging rejections.  One of my good friends, Theresa Morgan, shared how she'd had the same experience.  Publishers told her that no one would be interested in her sheikh romances, but she'd decided to self-publish them and found a healthy niche market.

I decided to see if superhero romance would be a similar undiscovered niche market.  I hired three editors and spent a grueling six months polishing my story into a brilliant shine.  I hired a cover artist who told me I'd have to wait a few months but then came back to me a few days later with a design he said he couldn't get out of his head.

I hired a company to help me set up blog tours to get my name and my book out there and then, on February 1, 2015, I released my creation into the world.

I got encouraging feedback from reviewers and bloggers.  Those who read the book loved it, with an incredibly small number of dissenting votes.  (Out of over 60 review copies, I only had one return a negative opinion.)

That was when the real work began.  The endless grind of promotion and ensuring that new people saw the book.  And I was still trying to write the next book, manage my family and household, and keep my day job.  I look back and I'm still not sure how I did it.

But I did.  On February 14th, 2016, Metamorphosis joined Revelations on my Amazon author page.  And in March 2017, the third book in the series, Inquisition, will be added.  I also put up two Halloween-themed short stories, Whispers in the Dark and Rose on the Grave.

The work is starting to pay off.  I've gone from having irregular sales to seeing at least one spike in my royalty report for every month.  I've used the tools that Amazon offers, including Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Countdown Sales.  I've had a number of people share with me that my book has appeared on their Amazon Recommends emails and suggestions.  By having my books exclusively through Amazon, I've reaped the benefit of their sophisticated promotion and I'm grateful for the support they've offered.

In some ways, I see my achievement as more impressive than those who got triple and quadruple digit sales in the early self-publishing days of 2013 and 2014.  I put out my first book into a market which contained over 6 million options and still managed to convince people to give it a try.  I worked hard to ensure that I offered quality rather try to put out quantity.

There will always be those who point to the plethora of poorly written works out there and decry self-published authors.  But the point isn't that every self-published author has to be amazing.  The point is that Amazon gave an opportunity for the few diamonds to shine among the masses of coal, allowing both the industry and readers to realize that they had missed out on some of those precious gems. 

No comments:

Post a Comment